No updates in 2 weeks and then 2 in 3 days. That’s the nature of these pages. It comes in spurts. This one will be short, though.
I just got back from the Veritas Forum talk tonight. Brennan Manning. You may have heard of him. He’s mostly famous now (well at least in my world) for writing the Ragamuffin Gospel and being the hero of Rich Mullins. Rich’s frequent references to Ragamuffins comes from Manning. I have a personal fondness for Manning just because I was reading the Ragamuffin Gospel the summer my mom got sick. But anyway.
It was pretty packed in there, just about as packed as it was for the Garry Kasparov talk. I don’t know where they came from but from looking around I wager the majority of the audience were not Stanford students.
I thought it was a pretty good talk, especially because it seems to coincide with a similar lesson from Experiencing God this week. I tell you, if you can’t already tell, this study is changing my life. I mean, it’s not perfect, but it’s a very good study, I think, especially for me.
Anyway, Manning made some bold bold statements I don’t know if everyone caught. There was one time I just had to say out loud – bold. It was when he said repentance follows forgiveness, it doesn’t precede it. I didn’t take notes so I can’t say exactly what he said, but the gist was, if forgiveness follows repentance than it implies that we do things to change God, and that notion is absurd. Repentance doesn’t change God, it changes us. Pretty bold. Gotta chew on that a little bit.
The general message of the talk is that Jesus loves us. God loves us. Honestly, I really liked it. I like how he refers to himself as preaching the gospel, because I can imagine that his talks, wherever he goes, is pretty similar to what he said tonight, which is that Jesus loves you.
He repeated an interesting point also, that his desire was that we not get what we want. That was the message of the prayer he ended with, that all our plans be thwarted, all our dreams be dashed. The implication being that you can’t understand the fullness of the love of God when you get everything you plan for and want.
This was an interesting message to me because I kind of looked around, and my claim is that the auditorium was filled with people who have pretty much gotten everything they want. Is that bold? I mean, they got the jobs they wanted, into the schools they desired, and all that. With a crowd like that, I don’t know how much of that message was getting through.
A frequent prayer of mine for non Christians is that in their life they be broken. I really believe that the first step in accepting Christ is recognizing your need for Christ, and that often doesn’t happen until there’s some crisis, when there’s little left to cling to. So I often pray for brokenness (often being a relative term, relative to those few times I actually do manage to pray). I feel that this is a danger in the Christian life as well, that self-sufficiency and success / comfortability separate us from the true knowledge of the deepness of the love of God. Knowing a love so deep that it makes you cry. I know I really don’t. I’ve had glimpses, but I think my life has been too comfortable. I’m not naive about that.
I currently know more consultants right now than I ever have in my life. I mean, 3 years ago, I didn’t know a single one. Anyway, I hate to be blunt, but it just totally depresses me, the consultant thing. Don’t get me wrong, these people are my friends. I’m not at all saying they’re bad people. They’re some of the best people I know. I’m just saying the whole consultant thing depresses me. And that’s just me. It’s just a personal thing.
But it’s just so odd to me. It’s so money oriented. Either in terms of maximizing making money for the client, or for consultants themselves making money for themselves. I mean, really, does anyone do consulting because that’s what they want to do? No one stays for more than 3 years. It’s just a means to an end, whether that end is money, business school (and more money) or whatever. I don’t know. That just depresses me, is all.
I guess the attitude that depresses me most about consulting is this attitude that they’ve made it to where they want to be. Does this make sense? They wanted to get into the top schools, then they wanted to get the top consulting jobs (why? Why consulting? This is really what you wanted to do with your life? It’s just an ends to a means). They are where they want to be, and they’re satisfied. I don’t know. My bold claim is that like Manning seemed to be saying (although maybe I’m making it up), it’s harder to truly know the love of God when you have this attitude. I love Mark Lo. He quit his Anderson job after like a year; the atmosphere was just bad for him, and he made the bold claim that the longer he stayed there, the less likely he was to go to heaven. Great quote.
I’m making many enemies now. I shouldn’t be so harsh; leave the judgmentalism to David and John. One weird thing is, last Sunday, our church small group had this little dinner / get together. It went off surprisingly well. I came away genuinely encouraged. And the thing was, like 3 or 4 of them are consultants, but they were the most encouraging ones. Every one of them just had this genuineness about them, and just this general aura of being really good guys, guys you want to hang out with. And a genuine desire to seek the Lord. I don’t know what I’m saying anymore, and I’m probably not consistent at all. I’m simultaneously saying that the consultant attitude is depressing and that all the consultatns I know are encouraging. Oh well.
But if I’m ever a consultant, for the love of natural selection, shoot me please.
One thing that’s been disturbing me is this whole Christian social thing that’s everywhere. Does this make any sense? I went to Passion last weekend. Maybe I should talk about that first. But there’s this movement where they try to get collegians across the country to join in a day of prayer. It’s accompanied with these regional Passion conferences which are essentially praise nights. The funny thing is in the beginning of this guy’s talk, he says how it’s not a praise night, it’s not a movement, it’s something else. Then at the end of the night he asks us to be a part of this movement. Funny to me.
At any rate, the night was OK. Some people loved it. I thought it was OK – mostly because it was really unclear what it was. Was it a praise night? A concert? A conference? A movement? It was really unclear, and it showed. If there was some clearer idea of what it’s supposed to be, it could have been more focused. But it wasn’t. But that’s my view.
The praise was also interesting. One thing for sure – Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble is currently the song. Do you remember that night at FiCS? It was like that.
Anyway, a lot of the same types of people were there, and there’s this schmoozing social aspect to it that makes me uncomfortable. I really don’t know how I feel about the social aspect of Christianity. My views on it swing violently daily. But part of it makes me nervous, when so much of the faith is wrapped up in socialness.
Which is why I thought Manning’s annual silent retreat was so cool. Each year he takes 3 full days (Monday night to Friday morning) on a silent retreat, just him and a spiritual director, whatever the heck that is. I really like that. He made a passing comment about how when there’s no one else around it’s easier to get to just you or God. He spent 7 months alone Spain! Can you imagine doing that? I want to.
Anyway, there’s this social aspect to Christianity that makes me nervous, just makes me want to get out of there as soon as I can. I don’t mind being social, it’s the schmoozing I can’t stand. Does this make any sense? Is there any difference? Maybe just in my mind.
Anyway, I have currently applied to 0 grad schools and 0 jobs for next year. Meaning, I’m doing absolutely no planning for next year. Pretty irresponsible. But I made a decision recently, and it’s kind of irresponsible. But I mean, I am irresponsible, so whatever. Anyway, I want to spend the next 5 years not in pursuit of some goal but just kind of going where life leads me. Kind of like Dave wants to do in Asia, just not as extreme. The main point for me is not to consciously wander, but to not make big plans and goals for myself. I just can’t do that.
Someone mentioned to me that if I only applied myself I could do great things. That’s actually not true. The not applying myself, that is. I honestly think that I’ve applied myself fairly well in everything I’ve had in life. That is, with everything I’ve been given, I’ve averaged an A-, even in things that don’t have grades. For those of you who always knew how to get the A- in high school you know what I’m talking about. But I’ve never failed in anything I’ve had to do, but got that A-. And that involves some application.
The reason I haven’t done “great things” is not that I haven’t applied myself, it’s that I haven’t been driven. I haven’t had some goal for myself in life that I strove relentlessly to achieve. I’m just not that way. I challenge you to argue that, with the things I’ve been given, I’ve been inordinately lazy. I’ve been lazy, but never past the A- grade for life. At leas that’s my own assessment. The difference is not the effort, it’s the drivenness.
Anyway, I’ve said this many times before, but I’m just not driven. It’s just not me. I just can’t have a goal I need to achieve. I neither want it nor do I need it. And that’s why I won’t be successful in this life. I don’t konw, like I said, maybe it’s irresponsible. But I’m pretty comfortable with it. I think I have been fairly (A-) faithful with whatever I’ve been given, and I’m perfectly contect just kind of letting life take me where it will. I’ve survived so far.
Plus the great thing is I honestly have a lot of stories of God’s grace and provision. I’m not even kidding about this. I’ll just share one. So my parents, after I graduated, refused to fund my education. As if to emphasize this, they made a pledge for the church building which made it impossible to help me pay for school at all. So I had to figure something out.
So I was never really worried about it, if worst came to worst, I could just section lead several sections for CS 106. Lead 3 sections and they pay for 9 units. The catch being, teaching 3 sections is a lot of work. I really mean a lot of work – it would pretty much dominate all your time. Plus it’s kind of humiliating being a Master’s student and section leading. But whatever, who cares about pride and time when you need to pay for school.
So the thing is, at the last second, I get in contact with this professor I have not really known and had not talked to in over a year, and I get set up with a research position after the quarter begins. Praise the Lord. If you don’t know this, being an RA or a TA at Stanford is a great deal. You do your work for them and they pay for your tuition (up to 9 units) and you get a stipend. It really is a great deal. It takes a little longer but you get your education for free.
At any rate, I get this position and it lasts for 2 quarters. 3rd quarter I had not applied for TA positions. Here’s why – it’s a little hard to get to be a TA in the CS department. There’s a priority system. 1st priority goes to PhD students. Next goes to Master’s students who have TAd before. Next goes to anyone else who has TAd before. The last priority is other. So you see, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Master’s student or not, the key to getting a TAship is getting your foot in the door somehow and becoming a TA. It’s hard to do in the middle of the academic year, so I didn’t even bother.
So I decide to section lead 3 sections and go to the first meeting. The 2nd meeting, they say that there’s a strange situation – there are too many section leaders for the 106 classes, and not enough TAs for CS 105. So they invite people to move to CS 105. What an opportunity! Not only do I escape the humiliation of CS 106, I get to be a full fledged TA, which bumps me up to the 2nd priority in getting a TAship for subsequent quarters. Plus I get to be Jieun’s TA. You don’t understand how opportune this was in every way. Manna from heaven.
Anyway, every quarter I’ve wondered how I’m gonna afford school and still be able to survive but somehow, miraculously, some great situation occurs. I didn’t plan very well. But the grace of God, baby. Yeah, maybe I’m abusing the grace of God. Oh well. At least I get a story.
Should I tell another interesting story? I don’t know if this is a grace of God story but it’s interesting. Fall quarter job fair, due to my stupidity and some unforeseen circumstance, I only have one copy of my resume. This company catches my eye – SHAI, which does AI consulting. I think, hey, this is the one, and I give them my lone resume. In subsequent job fairs, I distribute many resumes, but the job I end up getting is SHAI. In fact, they’re the only one that even gives me an offer, plus it turns out to be probably the most relevant experience I could have had.
At any rate, my thinking right now is I don’t really care where I end up. I’ll just do my thing and I really believe everything will turn out right. No, I won’t be the most successful person in the world, but who really cares. If my past is any indication, where I’ll end up will be fine with me. Slam me if you want. Maybe you think it’s irresponsible or lazy or whatever, but that’s how I feel.
David is wrong – the only sport he can beat me at is wrestling. There is no question that in any other sport, and I mean _any_ other sport, I am superior. I mean that in all sincerity. You can take that as a personal challenge, twisty.
I always find it interesting when people use the word literally in a place that makes absolutely no sense. They just do it for emphasis now. For example, Dave writes: “I literally think…” Oh! Thanks for the clarfication! I thought, you know, you were just going to symbolically think or something like that. You know, the way when people say they think, they just mean symbolically, not really thinking. That’s what I thought, at least. Literally.
In regards to Jieun’s description of her brother’s humor – it’s just an explanation of where his influences come from. He was a Cutco knife salesman. He loves Pak Chan Ho (e-mail address is chanho) and baseball (and baseball stats) in particular. He’s currently in Washington DC this semester. It doesn’t make sense to Dave because he doesn’t understand the context. Kind of like when he reads the Bible.
Eddie seriously has to stop referring to UIUC people so much. Eddie! You know your main audience is Stanford folk! You gotta write to your audience.
Anyway, I was reminded by tonight’s talk and a friend’s response to it that a huge problem in Korean churches is legalism. Not just that, but insularism. It really sucks. The worst thing is when people like that atmosphere. It makes them feel very safe to stay in that kind of subculture because the world is a frightening place. So much easier to stay in the subculture and do the easy thing. And the easy thing to do is follow a bunch of rules. Pray like this. Worship like this. Live your life like this. Legalism. The hard thing to do is really love your neighbor.
Anyway, Brennan Manning talked about the guy who pays the workers the same amount, regardless of when they come to work. It’s like paying the guy who was there every day from 8 AM Monday and the guy who showed up for the first time at 4 PM on Friday the same amount. He asked if it offended us. And if it does, it means we have a problem with the extravagance of the love of God, that God’s favor is independent of what / how much we do for Him.
The guy I was with was kind of offended, not offended but it’s hard to take. My guess is that a lot of people in Korean churches are like that. Because they set up this notion of better and worse Christians because there are so many rules, and people who do more are better. The more you pray, the more consistent you are with QTs, the more you do whatever, the better a Christian you are. It’s not said, but come on, effectively, that’s how people act. It’s kind of offensive then, that God loves everyone, even the late guy. Unfortunately, that’s the Gospel.
Hey an interesting thought – that parable seems to indicate that rewards in heaven are equal. Weird.