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I helped throw a bachelor party for a close friend this weekend. As far as bachelor parties go, this has been a rather tame affair as we rented an airbnb apartment next to ATT park which overlooked the caltrain depot. No adventurous hikes, or adrenaline-inducing activities – just hanging out with old friends, playing cards and video games with the the hum of the latest playoff game buzzing in the background.

We are all old friends (I’ve known most of these guys since college) and of course, as all reunions go,  30+ year old men transform into cursing, smack-talking, 15 year juvenile delinquents. Old friends have a way of doing that, and it’s nice. It brings us back to the old days when we were a little more carefree, a lot more naive, and therefore, a lot more child like (and childish).

Our diet reflects the nature of this sort of trip: with the exception of one classy prime rib dinner, we’ve been subsisting off of: beer, champagne, chips, cookies, peanut butter filled pretzels, more chips, pizza, eggs, coffee, bananas, and yet more chips. I bought an apple this morning to preserve some decency but soon the afternoon gave way to more of the same comfort junk of our youth.

I haven’t had a weekend like this in a long while, and I haven’t realized how much I miss this sort of time. That is, specifically, I miss the unplanned time of just lolling around and making ridiculous but meaningless jokes with friends. In these past not-so-sacred 24 hours, I’m not hounded by the need to perform for others or to be productive. I’m just passing through the open space and time, and, when I have a moment to myself, watching the spray of rain aimlessly falling into the San Francisco skyline from our apartment window.


Which is worse?

A concrete problem that plagues you on a regular basis? Something you can research and works for progress or solution of the problem?


A general malaise, a discontentment with life the origin of which resists definition and therefore any solution to the problem?

How do you teach your will to exercise self control and restraint in this digital age? The phone is an addiction, a magnet, a force that constantly whispers “do something!” We are more efficient and clever with our time, but I don’t know if we’ve gained more time. I’ve gotten more facts and knowledge, but hardly any wisdom.

After a long discussion about how I feel like teaching is a Sisyphian task, I run across a poem by Emily Dickinson while researching diagnostic tests for my English Language Learners. And it is strangely liberating.

I’m Nobody! Who are you? (260)

Emily Dickinson1830 – 1886

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –  
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –  
To an admiring Bog!

I keep returning to Bonhoeffer in these times.

“Dear Eberhard,

It’s your birthday in a week’s time. Once again I’ve taken up the readings and meditated on them. The key to everything is the ‘in him’. All that we may rightly expect from God, and ask him for, is to be found in Jesus Christ. The God of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with what God, as we imagine him, could do and ought to do. If we are to learn what God promises, and what he fulfills, we must persevere in quiet meditation on the life, sayings, deeds, sufferings, and death of Jesus. It is certain that we may always live close to God and in the light of his presence, and that such living is an entirely new life for us; that nothing is then impossible for us, because all things are possible with God; that no earthly power can touch us without his will, and that that danger and distress can only drive us closer to him. It is certain that we can claim nothing for ourselves, and may yet pray for everything; it is certain that our joy is hidden in suffering, and our life in death; it is certain that in all this we are in a fellowship that sustains us. In Jesus God has said Yes and Amen to it all, and that Yes and Amen is the firm ground on which we stand.

In these turbulent times we repeatedly lose sight of what really makes life worth living. We think that, because this or that person is living, it make sense for us to live too. But the truth is that if this earth was good enough for the man Jesus Christ, if such a man as Jesus lived, then our life would be meaningless, in spite of all the other people whom we know and honour and love. Perhaps we now sometimes forget the meaning and purpose of our profession. But isn’t this the simplest way of putting it? The unbliblical idea of ‘meaning’ is indeed only a translation of what the Bible calls ‘promise’.

I feel how inadequate these words are to express my wish, namely to give you steadfastness and joy and certainty in your loneliness. This lonely birthday need not be a lost day, if it helps to determine more clearly the convictions on which you will base your life in time to come. I’ve often found it a great help to think in the evening of all those who I know are praying for me, children as well as grown-ups. I think I owe it to the prayers of others, both known and unknown, that i have often been kept in safety.

Another point: we are often told in the New Testament to ‘be strong’ (I Cor. 16:13; Eph. 6:10; II Tim. 2:1; I John 2:14). Isn’t people’s weakness (stupidity, lack of independence, forgetfulness, cowardice, vanity, corruptibility, temptability, etc.) a greater danger than evil? Christ not only makes people ‘good’; he makes them strong, too. The sins of weakness are the really human sins, whereas the willful sins are diabolical (and no doubt ‘strong’, too!). I must think about this again. Good-bye; keep well, and don’t lose confidence. I hope we shall celebrate Renate’s birthday together again. Thank you for everything. I keep thinking faithfully of you. ”

Letters from Prison, page 391-92.

Quick Reflections:

What does Bonhoeffer mean when he says that the “truth is that if this earth was good enough for the man Jesus Christ, if such a man as Jesus lived, then our life would be meaningless”? I don’t understand that bit. There are billions of people who live on without knowledge of J.C., and they seem to get on well enough. At least from the outside. How and why is life meaningless? Perhaps the finality of death renders all things vain?

Bonhoeffer encourages us to meditate on Jesus – his life, teachings, and especially his death. I notice that he somehow forgets to mention his resurrection. Why did you fail to mention the most important part of that story? Is Jesus a man – even the best – to follow as an example? Or is he the son of God? The fulfiller of God’s promise?

What is that promise, by the way? I love Bonhoeffer’s way of putting it – what we really mean by our unbiblical search for meaning really translates into search and fulfillment of God’s promise. Promise of life. Of Spirit. Of love. Of salvation from enemies, sickness, physical and spiritual death. Jesus is the ultimate for-the-other. But isn’t this all abstract?

And the truth is, at the end of the day, we are weak and long for someone to hold your hand. I don’t want a for-other god. I want joy complete.

When I read other people’s blogs/facebook posts I appreciate the photos they put up because it helps me visualize their experiences better, even if they are “instaglammed” up. I don’t know why I don’t why I don’t do that. Here you go, some pix of Biola:

Update: I must have accidentally deleted/lost photos of the Biola campus on my phone. They were mostly pictures of the library anyways since I spend 50% of my life in there even when I don’t need to. Some things don’t change even in a new environment. To make up for it, I’m publishing some random photos I found on my phone. Enjoy!

Tree Lighting

Macy’s gets to have a tree-lighting event, so why not Biola? The live music actually disrupted our evening class, but oh well. Free hot chocolate and napkins for everyone!


Maybe it’s because I live in a town where almost no one puts any Christmas decorations, but I was pretty impressed/surprised/slightly disturbed by all the inflatable decorations on my neighbor’s lawns. Here I am taking a pic with Santa and his towel.

Chicken stew

I couldn’t find anything Biola-ey so I am posting this picture of a hong-shao-chicken stew. We’re not allowed to cook with alcohol so I tried to compensate with water and chicken broth. Not the same.