Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Working Class Hero (It's Something to Be)

An announcement: there will be a slight change at Danifesto. You know all those frequent posts filled with interesting tidbits and clever asides? I'll do my best to maintain this site but I want to warn you now that it's probably going to get sporatic from time to time. The era of my footloose and fancy freedom has drawn to a close. We all knew it was too good to last. Yes, I can now confirm the crazy rumours and wild speculation.

Danifesto is now employed full-time.

This past week I had three interviews and one asked me back to do some trial classes on Thursday. That enjoyable experience turned into an invitation to join the faculty of the Canadian College of Business and English as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for international faculty.

I find it highly ironic that my hiring was due in part to taking that crummy hagwon (private language institute) job in Seoul last year. While marking time waiting for our Canadian immigration to be processed, I was able to have the ESL teaching experience to back up the ESL graduate classes that I took from Wichita State University before leaving Kansas!

So this week I start a new teaching job. I welcome all the changes that will inevitably cause me stress. And I bid a fond farewell to hours of leisure spent drinking coffee, reading the newspapers, chatting online with my friends and family, reading news blogs, writing blog comments, watching the occassional DVD, meeting up for spontaeous afternoon coffees and getting lost in a book. I will miss the perpetually clean apartment but look forward to making new friends and growing as a professional. While this is an hourly gig, it's my hope that I'll get a contract elementary school position this fall that will not only pay more, but offer benefits and greater job security.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex Baby

Last month I had this to say about people who use "nature" as an argument against homosexuality. Last week, an Anglican bishop came forward to argue that Christianity needs to redefine how it views sex. Now everyone's in a tizzy. I truly think it's a moot issue. Most Protestant churches have moved beyond thinking sex is solely for procreational purposes. Most are still against premarital sex and of course, god forbid that a same-sex couple enters into the holy bonds of matrimony because that would make their heads start a'spinnin'! But don't take my word for it- read over this article (edited, see title link for full text)and tell me what YOU think! (oh- bold highlights are my own additions btw) Do you think changes are warranted? Would such changes be that big of a deal? Or would this be a slippery slope into chaos?


Bishop demands a 'better theology' of sex
The Christian church has a deeply flawed understanding of sex that has led to morally groundless objections to masturbation, birth control, abortion and homosexuality, says a leading Canadian Anglican bishop.
In particular, the church has been wrong for centuries on the notion that sex exists only for the purpose of procreation, Right Rev. Michael Ingham, bishop of the Greater Vancouver Diocese of New Westminster, told a conference in Ottawa last night.
"Christianity as a religion stands in need of a better theology of sexuality," he said, "a better understanding of the complex role sexuality plays in our human nature and of the purposes of God in creating us as sexual beings."
He said the church has misunderstood references to homosexuality in the Bible, wasted energy in persecuting individuals who have argued for a new understanding of sexuality, and failed to comprehend how much the Bible and church doctrines have been shaped through the lens of male experience.
The forthrightness of Bishop Ingham's address on sexuality is without precedent in the Canadian Anglican church. It not only puts him at odds with much of the Anglican Communion but with Roman Catholicism, most Protestant sects and the Orthodox Church.
The Bible's Christian New Testament condemnation of homosexuality, he said, is "almost certainly" a proscription of sex between adult males and young boys -- tolerated in the 1st century AD in Greek society -- and not a proscription against adult homo-eroticism.
"[The Christian biblical writer] St. Paul understood same-sex relationships only in terms of the older-man and younger-boy relationship of the Greeks, which we call pederasty, or in other words child abuse. . . . But no difference was perceived [by the Christian church] between child abuse and adult same-sex love.
"Today we have a better understanding of homosexuality as a basic and natural orientation experienced by some members of the human community, just as we find the same thing among some animal species, and in Christian terms we must come to think of this as not only natural but also God-given and good.
"But these developments in the social sciences and therefore in popular understanding are still relatively new -- since about the 19th century. They have not yet penetrated the church's thinking except at the edges of its consciousness and greatly against its will
Several times in his address, Bishop Ingham referred to the church's inability to get beyond a fixation on genital intercourse -- and a negative view of sexuality for any purpose other than procreation as tainted, impure and evil -- isolated from a full, loving interpersonal sexual relationship.


Bishop's take on sexuality ignites debate
An Anglican bishop's call for a new theology of human sexuality would require a shift rivalling the Reformation in size to move Christianity away from the shadow of patriarchy and the too-narrow view of the human person, several theologians said yesterday.
Bishop Michael Ingham of B.C.'s New Westminster diocese told a church conference in Ottawa this week that the church's opposition to birth control, abortion, masturbation and homosexuality is morally groundless because its traditional teaching that sex is reserved for procreation is wrong.
"If we believe that we are created in the image of God, that we carry in our very selves the icon of God's own self in our earthly existence, then we must be able to say that our sexuality is not an accident, not a mistake and not simply a tool for the making of babies -- presumably God, in his infinite wisdom, could have devised a much less potent and complicated way of regenerating the species if the purpose of sex was simply that," he said.
Charles McVety, president of Toronto's evangelical Canada Christian College, talked about a huge and growing chasm between Christians who see the Bible as allegorical and those who see it as the teaching of God. He called the bishop's remarks whimsical, a passing fancy and a distortion of the Bible.
"Scripture is crystal clear," he said. "Sex is not a sport."
And while the Anglican primate of Canada, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, said The Globe and Mail had overblown Bishop Ingham's remarks, academic theologians talked about the enormity of the redefinition of the church that the bishop was trying to get at.
Christopher Lind, former director of the Toronto School of Theology, explained that what the bishop is saying is that "sexuality is a lot bigger than genital activity, and that's hard for people to hear because people hear the word sex and they think intercourse.
"The whole culture has a hard time hearing that sex is something spiritual, that it's something bigger than just intercourse. And when we talk about the [church] blessing of same-sex unions, he makes the case that relationships should be judged on the basis of fidelity, trust, values other than the regulation of genital activity.
"He's starting to go into what's the meaning of patriarchy. Patriarchy is a distortion of the gospel [the central Christian teaching], a social sin which the church has to confess. But to correct it is enormously hard to do. We've been living in patriarchy for thousands of years
It requires a cultural change, Prof. Lind said, comparable in size to the Reformation, the 16th-century movement to reform the church in Western Europe. He added: "I have said for some years now that the church should actually shut up about sex because the church doesn't know what it's talking about. We really have not thought this through."
Richard Leggett, professor of liturgical studies at Vancouver School of Theology, agreed that "to come to grips with the cultural context of [biblical] scriptures will take a Reformation. I think it's been in the works for probably the last hundred years or more as we engage in so-called higher criticisms of the Bible."
And Bishop Victoria Matthews of Edmonton said Bishop Ingham was talking about more than patriarchy, which she called "only one chapter" in the need for a fuller theological understanding of the human person.
"The question is are the other major churches ready to do this or are they going to hide from something that's really a need? That is at the heart of the challenge in Michael Ingham's comments."

Lady Madonna

As some of you may or may not be aware, March 8th was International Women's Day. Now I know Danifesto readers probably hear more than they want to know about "man-love" but I haven't been adverse to showing a little "girl-love" in the past, and I'm more than happy to take this opportunity to do so once again.

I recently won a contest in the Eye Weekly newspaper. The prize was a poster and a DVD of The US vs John Lennon. This documentary was an interesting look at what was going on at that pivotal time in US history. I will post more about it later, but suffice to say, it did give me food for thought. One of those thoughts came while watching the "special features" section yesterday. Different people were giving their thoughts to this controversial song that Lennon penned after reading an interview Yoko Ono had given years previously for the New Yorker magazine where she coined the phrase. Coincidentally I had just posted about how "hate words" are used and whether they have a place in our society at all.

Anyway given that it was International Women's Day and March is Women's History Month, the words of this song got me thinking thinking about how badly women are treated in our world. Although the situation has improved in some places, globally it still tragically dire. Even in a modern country like Canada, 70 per cent of minimum-wage earners are women, more than half of whom are immigrants or visible minorities. The average woman makes just 71 cents for each dollar a man makes. If you're a woman of colour, that figure drops to 64 cents. If you're Aboriginal, it's 46 cents (source).

After reading my last blog post, one of my friends sent me this YouTube clip to watch. It's the first half of a film called "Submission." It's by Theo Van Gogh (in association with Ayaan Hirsi Ali). The film deals with the oppression of women in many Muslim countries. Van Gogh was killed by a Muslim fanatic in 2004 because of this film. I found it to be powerful as well as very sad. The element that inspired me the most was that these women kept their faith in God despite all their questions and doubts about the religion they were following. I'd recommend watching it if you have ten minutes free.

Over in Asia, women are being mistreated by Japanese Prime Minister Abe. In the words of Katherine Heigl (when referring to Grey's Anatomy castmate, Isaiah Washington's denial of dropping the "f-bomb") "He needs to just not speak in public. Period." PM Abe delusionally believes that 200,000 Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese and Filipino women volunteered to serve as "comfort women" for the Japanese military during World War II. Abe stupidly said there had been no “coercion, like the authorities breaking into houses and kidnapping” women. Flying in the face of logic, he believes his government played no role in forcing women (many too young to be married) to travel to foreign countries hundreds of miles away in order to "service" as many as twenty soldiers a day for years, resulting in numerous abortions and often sterility.

“Prime Minister Abe is in effect saying that the women are lying,” Representative Mike Honda, the California Democrat who is spearheading the legislation, said in a telephone interview. “I find it hard to believe that he is correct given the evidence uncovered by Japanese historians and the testimony of the comfort women.”

Look, it's bad enough that the Japanese government ruined these women's lives, making it almost impossible for them marry and have children. What's in the past can never be changed. But now these elderly women have to contend with a world leader implying they were "professionals" or nympomaniacs? I'm really appalled that someone could be so unfeeling (Here's your sign!). In my culture, people respect someone who honestly admits to wrongdoing and makes amends.

Unfortunately these are just two of the many places in the world where the contributions of half our population aren't equally valued. Why is it that women are most affected by genital cutting, incest, domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual slavery, stalking, and trafficking in human beings? With all this going on, I am ashamed that people will still use the word "feminist" as an insult! If I've learned anything from this life, it's that we are all in this world together. Imagine a world where we treated each other with dignity and respect. Whether I'm labeled a feminist, humanist, enviromentalist, or socialist, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, to love one another as we have been loved is still the commandment that transcends all others.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Week of Seoul

A dear friend asked me to use my experiences to organize a little schedule for an acquaintance of her mom's that was traveling to Seoul alone. It took a lot more work than I thought it would and I thought it might be nice to post it here for other travelers to refer to if they have a week to spend in Seoul!

I've heard that you are going to visit my home for the past 5 years. I would love to be there myself to show you around but I've immigrated to Toronto instead. In lieu of that, I've written down some things you may wish to do. I've grouped the days by neighbourhood so you can do all the things there. These are just highlights. I could (and do) go on and on. I am assuming you will have access to the subway when you are there.

Day 1: Gwang-hwa-mun
This is downtown and probably a good place to get started. Get there by subway (station name is same- line 5) Palace- Gyeong-buk-gung- I think is open most days. (Museums are generally closed on Mondays.) There are two museums on either side of this palace-The newly moved Palace Museum I would recommend but I dig the whole "lost royalty" stuff. The Folk Museum was just okay. Maybe interesting for you as an introduction to Korean culture.
Lunch- if you walk out the east exit of the palace and turn north (toward the big mountain and away from the downtown) you will find a really cool street (Sam-cheong-dong street) full of cool traditional/hip places to eat. Also there is a cool place for foreigners directly across from the exit called "Seoul Selection"- it has a little cafe, Internet and tourist help. You can relax and get your bearings...
If you want, you can continue walking in that direction until you see the Blue House- this is where the president lives. My brother said it was really cool. I don't know what the situation will be when you are there. Usually certain parts are open to foreigners. Some days there are heightened alerts so they can't go in. If you can't, there is always Samcheongdong Park to the right of the turn to the Blue House. Lots of cool stuff and restaurants there which brings me to...
Dinner- you are on your own here. Perhaps you want to head back to wherever you are staying. I would personally recommend Ganga which is within walking distance directly down the street in front of the Gwanghwamun Gate (east side- down under the Seoul Finance Center Building). Pricey but the best Indian food. Yum yum yum!

Day 2: Arts and Culture
No trip to Seoul is complete without hanging out in In-sa-dong. It's my favourite haunt. To get there by subway go to Anguk station, (line 3) and follow the exit that says "Insadong!".... :) The art street is pretty amazing and I won't get into all of the stuff there but I would suggest walking down the east side, exploring and then back up the west side. Halfway down on the east side there is the bird tea house which I'm not sure how to explain to you how to get there. It's called "Old Tea House" and you can get the directions (sorta) here along with the other tea houses in Insadong. Stopping for traditional tea here is very memorable and I would recommend. For lunch there are numerous places on the side streets. They have pictures outside so be adventurous and find something new. I would recommend pa-jeon (seafood pancake) for lunch but may be too greasy for you?
After finishing the Insadong art street, you have two options. 1. On the parallel street to the west, there is the temple Jo-gye-sa. (center of Zen Buddhism in Korea-very foreigner friendly-they have a visitor's info site and offer tours although the dude's English was painful!) 2. On the perpendicular street to the northeast, there is the palace Cheong-duk-gung. This is my favourite palace of all time. You will be going at the right time to see the spring flowers and all that. You will have to hook up with a tour (no self guided until May and then it's expensive) and it's 5,000won. Check the website for times so you won't miss out. Take your camera!
Dinner- If I were you I would walk down the Insadong street again (I know, a lot of walking!) and find a place in Jongno. There are tons of yummy places. If you like cheap sushi, this is the place. At the end of the Insadong Art Street there is the small Pagoda Park ( Tapgol). It will take you like 5 minutes but the pagoda in the middle is really tall and really old and really cool. The end!

Day 3: Marketplaces
Other thing you have to do in Seoul is go to the marketplaces. I would start at the Nam-dae-mun Gate. (At Seoul Station (Line No. 1). Exit No.4, walk for 5 minutes. or at Hoeyheon Station (Line No.4) Exit No.4, walk for 5 minutes.) The park is new and you can walk under the gate now (new). Then head into the Namdaemun Market (should be visible from the gate). Wander at will and explore. You will get lost. Don't worry. There are gate numbers along the edges so keep an eye on them. This is the place to get cheap souvenirs if you are into that sort of thing. Lots of busy little places to eat. When you are done or tired or finished...ask how to get to Myeong-dong. It is across the street from the edge of Namdaemun Market. This is a fun area and if you haven't eaten there are lots of hip/cool as well as pricey places to hang out here. Lots of brandname stuff but also some cool things on the street. There are always preachers here and demonstrations. Very quirky and fun.
After this, I would get on the subway at Euljiro 1-ga Station, line 2, exit 6 (at Avatar shopping mall) and ride a couple of stops to Dongdaemun Stadium. Get off at exit No.1 and walk for 150m, then turn right to find Dong-dae-mun Market . This is more clothing stuff. Wander up around but you should eventually get to Dong-dae-mun Gate- this is the end of your day. I like that you get to see the only two remaining gates of what used to be a walled city of old Seoul. (There was a third but it was torndown like the walls. The north was protected by the mountains so no actual "gate" per se.) There are lots of places to eat in this area as well if you are looking for dinner!

Day 4: High and Low Places.
Hopefully the weather is nice today because you are going for the view- Namsan Mountain specifically. Seoul Tower/ N Tower is very well-known and can be seen from most places in the city. It's also a symbol of Seoul. The best way to get there is by Cable Car. At Exit 3 of Myeong-dong Subway Station, Line No. 4, walk toward Pacific Hotel and then walk 10 minutes to the Namsan Cable Car. (Running hours: 10:00~22:30 Fees: Above 14: Return ticket ₩7,000 / One-way ₩5,500). I would recommend walking down on your own for a different view. At the Tower there is a gift shop, bakery and coffee shop, etc. You can hang out there and see the view for free or pay to get to the very top. The park at the bottom is okay. There is a botanical garden and a sad little zoo and some monuments to some people you really don't need to know about. Plus places to lunch on the way down and at the bottom.
Next get on the subway and go to Exit #2 at Ichon Subway Station (Seoul Subway Line No. 1 and 4), walk 100m toward Yongsan Family Park. to see the National Museum of Korea. It's brand-new and holds most of the national treasures. Totally worth it.
As evening comes on, you should check out Itaewon. (Take Seoul Subway Line No.6 and get off at Itaewon Station. Come out through Exit No. 1 or No.4.) This unique neighbourhood has a great mixture of GI's, English teachers, gays, Africans and Muslims. There is a diversity of restaurants and many cool bars that feature live music. There are also dance clubs if that's your thing. Plus street vendors. The mosque is beautiful.

You might be interested in spending the night/day in a Buddhist temple. Here are the ones in the area. You will need to make reservations.
There are also guest houses in traditional beautiful hanok houses that have been lovingly restored. They are being torn down all the time so it might be a treat to stay in one. There are many- here is an affordable one in the Insadong (day # 2) area.
Youth hostels
Yogwans- these are hotels but not geared toward westerners. Cheaper and I think totally comfortable. Some are "love motels" but most aren't. The "love motels" btw don't offer companionship. It's just a place to stay. You have to come up with the company on your own. :)
(Note that everything I've planned for you is on the northside of the river. Only a small portion of the city but this would be old Seoul more or less.)

Other things to do if time/interest permits:
*Han River Ferry Cruise - cheap and fun. Also night is beautiful.
*Cheong-gye-Cheon (stream)- an easy flat walk that you can do for as long or little as you like or have time for. Goes through the middle of the city and has cool art and sights. I would recommend doing the whole bit starting at Gwanghwamun (Day 1) and ending up at Seoul Forest. Rent a bike here and cruise around the forest because it's plenty big!
*Seonyudo- island park- My favourite park hands down. It's totally cool renovated water treatment plant. On Sundays there usually are Korean middle schoolers who dress up in outrageous Japanese Animae characters. Nice little cafe there that also serves so-so chicken and other snacks.
Good luck! Please let me know if there is further information you wanted.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It's Only Words?

For a couple of weeks now I have been resisting the urge to comment on the sudden argument over the "f-word"- no, not the naughty finger kind, but the one that rhymes with "maggot." The one that people have been using for years to refer to someone like me. It seems like this word is getting a bunch of press lately whenever someone uses it. For those of you who have been living under a rock (and it's amazing that you get such a great Internet connection there, I must say!), let's recap shall we? We shall.

*On the set of Grey's Anatomy last October, Isaiah Washington, during a physical fight, refered to then closeted T.R. Knight using this word. At the Golden Globes in January, he denied it ever happened, then met with GLSEN and GLAAD to get sensitivity, then entered rehab for his homo-hating ways.

*Last month, a 72 year-old man started singing on the bus he was riding with his niece. An annoyed fellow passenger, asked him if he was gay. When this was confirmed, the man followed him off the bus and beat him with a pipe while reportedly calling the elderly man a 'f*gg*t' . After a few days in a coma, the gay senior died after receiving the last rites.

*This past weekend, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Anne Coulter tried to make an unfunny joke about the Isaiah Washington incident and then called John Edward the same name. (I have discovered since that it's not her first time doing this.) Last night, she defended her statement insisting she didn't mean to offend anyone. No, rather, Coulter says she used a "schoolyard word" for "wuss, nerd".

*Today I read about a woman in San Francisco (of all places!) who saw a gay couple, rolled down her window and threw fruit at them (Get it? Because they are 'fruits!' Clever!). Then she drove by a second time and yelled the f-word at them. She later told police she "wasn't aware" they were gay. (Again with the cleverness!)

The reason I've been putting off posting about this insult onslaught is that I didn't really have anything new to add this discussion. These are sad/bad events and everyone seems to say the same predictable things about them. However, John Amaechi's (a gay former NBA player and HRC spokesperson) comments on the subject recently changed my mind. He said many things but the statement that captured my attention was "Words have power."

This reminded me of a poem I came across on a friend's MySpace blog. Written by Countée Cullen (1903-1946), it's called Incident.

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee;
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.

After reading this poem, I remembered vividly a similar occurrance that happened to me at university. At the time, I wasn't "out" to myself or others. I clearly remember sitting talking animatedly to one of my close friends. Now usually I took great pains to keep my voice low and my hand gestures at a minimum. However this day, I was particularly excited about something and forgot myself. The jock that was sitting on the chair across from us, suddenly threw down his paper and disgustedly said to me "Are you a f*gg*t or what?"

Time stopped for me at that moment. I was uncharacteristically speechless and felt suddenly very vulnerable. I do remember my friend yelling at him to leave me alone and she and I left for the cafeteria. I thanked her for that and even now I am touched that someone stuck up for me at what was a defining moment in my life. After that, I started asking questions to myself about how others see me and how I saw myself. I've already posted about the rest of my journey so I'll end there.

My hope is that with these recent events, our society can start a dialogue about bigotry towards this certain group of people. Why is this particular word so offensive? Why do some gay people use it? Is it protected by the First Amendment? Is it "hate speech?" Or, after all is said and done, "it's only words?"

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What If God Were One of Us?

I ran across this video clip of Bono's awesome acceptance speech at the NAACP Image Awards after winning the Chairman's Award. It was really inspiring to me and I'm so glad that SOMEONE out there is saying this! AMEN.
"To those in the church, who still sit in judgement on the AIDS emergency, let me climb into the pulpit for just one moment. Because whatever thoughts we have about God, who He is or even if God exists, most will agree that God has a special place for the poor. The poor are where God lives. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes, where the poor play house. God is where the opportunity is lost and lives are shattered. God is with the mother who has infected her child with a virus that will take both their lives. God is under the rubble in the cries we hear during wartime. God, my friends, is with the poor and God is with us if we are with them.
This is not a burden. This is an adventure. Don't let anyone tell you it cannot be done. We can be the generation that ends extreme poverty. Thank you."

Here's the clip of fabulous Tyra Banks and some other less fabulous person (Julian Bond), presenting the award and Bono's speech in its entirety, courtesy of YouTube.

Friday, March 02, 2007

So Lucky

Last weekend one of my good friends and I went to the Bata Shoe Museum. All I could think of before going was that hilarious YouTube video clip "Shoooooooooes!" But when we got there we were amazed at all the implications of a simple shoe. Issues of social standing, religion, occupation, culture, time of life could all be inferred from shoes! I was (am) fascinated. The best part of this museum was a Chinese exhibit that showed dozens of animals that were featured not only on children's shoes but on their hats and jackets as well. Each animal symbolized character traits and of course, good luck. After marvelling at all of this, my friend turned to me and commented on how our western culture seems meaningless compared to the Chinese, so rich in symbolism. With a plethora of evidence in front of me, I had to agree.

However in the days following, I have noticed that my culture (Anglo/Caucasian) does have beliefs that are still surprisingly apparent in our modern world. Watching the scrolling numbers in my apartment's elevator display, I noticed it skipped from 12 to 14. Suddenly my imagination started wondering about this mysterious 13th floor. Perhaps it is sort of a special 1/2 floor, like in the movie Being John Malkovich. Maybe if I hit the emergency stop on the elevator and pry open the door with a crowbar, I'll be able to uncover the mystery (I'll let you know how it goes!). My partner asked me why there was no 13th floor and I automatically responded that it was an unlucky number. But when he asked me why, I was stumped! I had actually never thought about it before!

In Korea, most buildings lack a 4th floor. Or if they have one, it is marked "F" for the English number four. The reason for this is that Koreans use Chinese numbers for floors and the word for four in Chinese (si in Chinese/sah in Korean) for the Chinese word meaning death. And since death is clearly unlucky, people in Asia go to great lengths to avoid it.

But why is the number 13 so unlucky for us that some even have a phobia of it? There are several theories but nothing so clear cut as the Chinese explanation. Some Christian traditions say that at the Last Supper Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table, and that for this reason 13 is considered to cursed. Fear of 13 has also been linked to that fact that a lunisolar calendar (the calendar Asians have traditionally used) must have 13 months in some years, while the solar Gregorian calendar and lunar Islamic calendar always have 12 months in a year. It is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god. This was later Christianized in some traditions into saying that Satan was the 13th angel. Thirteen may be considered a "bad" number simply because it is one more than 12, which is a popularly used number in many cultures. When a group of 13 objects is divided into two, three, four or six equal groups, there is always one leftover object. Looking for 13 everywhere can get so ridiculous it can turn into the plot of the recent film 23 so I'm not even going to get into Friday the 13th!

I was half-watching Just My Luck the other day while I was at a friend's house and was amused by all the lucky/unlucky things portrayed in the movie. I will admit to not walking under ladders but choose to believe this is a matter of safety and just plain common sense. With St. Patrick's Day rapidly approaching, there will be the requisite lucky four-leaf clovers and wearing green to capture the "luck of the Irish."

Getting back to numerology, today's New York Times takes a look at the incredible number of weddings coming up July 7th (07/07/2007) just because seven is considered a "lucky" number in our culture! Couples are paying ridiculous amounts of money *just* to have this date! Understandably not much was planned last year on June 6th (06/06/2006) as that would be 666- traditionally considered the Number of the Beast, ie Satan!)

So perhaps my friend and I were mistaken to think the Chinese "have a corner" on meaningful symbolism. Maybe over years of immigration and scientific emphasis, we have lost the meaning behind our symbols. Our culture may be richer in terms of all the symbolism than we have even imagined!