30 November 2005

Changing the bedding

I made the decision to finally wash my bedding after a year and half of restful bliss. I know what you're saying: "Come on. Another three months wouldn't have hurt," and you're probably right, but I've been noticing that when I get into bed at night, my nose stuffs up immediately. Coincidence? I think not.

Cleaning them was a pain in the ass, but as I pulled them off my bed in the daylight, it became pretty clear that something needed to be done. This is one reason a wife or some sort of live-in consultant might really do me some good. Someone to say, "The substances that involuntarily come out of you on a given good night's sleep are only natural, but you need to imagine your blanket soaking them up day in and day out for a year and half. You do the math, dumb ass."

One good thing about living in Japan as a large Caucasian man is the ability to pull the "I don't speak your language" card when someone comes to my door. This has been coming in handy when someone comes to collect a tax or bill or sell some product like say futons or god. The Jehovah's Witnesses sell god here too. I suppose the word "sell" is strong. It's more like a god give away and all you have to do is commit to some meetings and not doing some things that you might normally do like, say, celebrate Easter. The last time they came I just looked very confused and said in my best broken Japanese, "I don't understand your culture or your language." They bowed and apologized and left me alone, and I thought, Well, there we are.

Turns out the Niigata JWs have an English-speaking pinch hitter that they can send in at times like this. He's a very nervous man, but sincere, I'll give him that. He gave me his card and a magazine with a picture of a Hispanic, a black woman, and an Asian — the white people were noticeably absent. I told him I didn't have time to chat which was a lie because all I have is time. He left and I went back to dicking around.

I have of course wondered "What does God require of Us?" and this magazine appears to be wondering the same thing as this is the question printed across the front of it. Turns out that God hates my fat ass, but I'm sort of like, that's a no-brainer. What's not to hate. You might not be surprised to hear that God hates smoking as that's understandable, but apparently God also hates blood transfusions. That's right: "Remember. Jehovah requires that we abstain from blood." God also hates the Trinity and apparently style because all these people in the magazine look like they were dressed sometime in 1995.

I've thrown the magazine away and recommitted to not answering the door.

Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld, everyone's favorite lovable sadistic ass, is at it again. Keeping up with what's hot and what's not, our Secretary of Defense decided that the word "insurgent" is out of style because it sounds sort of like we're talking about fighters that have a legitimate cause. No, "insurgents" will not do — from now on we can use "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government." That's nice, but it's kinda cumbersome. Maybe we could think of something a little simpler. You know, like the same idea but in one word. Oh wait, we DO have a word that means exactly that. It's "insurgent." Look it up — that's what it means.

Another letter? That's right, this one to Mr. Scott Hodge of www.scotthodge.org:

Alright, Mr. Hodge, I will take this on. Briefly, about me: My name is Stephen. I live in Niigata City in Niigata Prefecture in Japan. I teach English at a private high school. I have lived in Japan for just over two years, originally coming as a kind of English teaching missionary with the Evangelical Free Church. After deciding that there were big problems with not only the idea of missions, but also my faith, I decided to become a teacher. I am also a graduate student in an open distance program through the University of Birmingham (UK) and am studying Applied Linguistics. I would like to continue life in Asia teaching, writing, and loving my lady who I hope will be, in the not too distance future, also my wife.

I am a Christian (as I told a Jehovah's Witness that came to my door today), but I also have rather serious problems with the idea of Christianity and would say that being a Christian (for what I can see right now) means believing everything Jesus said about himself was true and hoping in resurrection. In the meantime, I think helping the poor and the loving others is pretty damn important, more so than signing a belief statement.

I also am prone to use vulgar words and if this offends you, let me know and I'll stop. I just think "pretty damn important" sounds so much better than "pretty important" or "pretty freaking important" or any other way you might say it.

How did I find your site? It was all a part of my David Crowder obsession that lasted most of last week and seems to be carrying on into this week as well. You must have come up in a search or something. Or maybe I came across your podcast first upon searching about Christianity. Anyway, it doesn't matter:

Okay, so I have questions for you Mr. Hodge about Starbucks and consumerism and the church and evangelicalism and America. But I will limit my question this week to Mr. Crowder (as, like I said, I'm sort of obsessed). You seem to be a fan of his and I'm curious, why do you like his music? I don't remember what exactly you said on your podcast, but something to the extent of the CD being great or powerful or something like that.

I'll attach my letter to Mr. Crowder to the bottom in case you haven't read it. I won't mince words: I think Mr. Crowder's music is pap at best and very dangerous at worst. Why? Because it teaches us to shut off our minds, I think, and feel something (something?). Granted, I'm all about feeling, I love to feel. And I think the greatest art gets you to feel. But feeling in great art is always backed up by substance. You read a line of Faulkner and are amazed at his command of language and image, but you dig a little bit and you find even more. And more and more. It unfolds in front of you. I have trouble thinking that about a song like "You are holy, you are God, I worship you." There is nothing being said (I don't think).

Forget what I think though, what do you think?

This may seem kind of combative and if it is, really I'm very sorry. You certainly don't have to respond. But I am really, honestly looking for someone to explain this to me.

Also, I'll probably post some if not all of this letter on my site, but if that weirds you out, I can not do that too.

Mr. Hodge, you seem like a good man and I am eager to hear what you have to say.


Finally, as an afterthought: I think in a contest between Hussein and Rumsfeld, Hussein would easily win as the world's most lovable sadistic ass. Why? Because he's wacky. And he has a beard. That's what these sadistic guys need to understand. You can get away with anything if you're wacky enough.