Awe and Wonder are hard feelings to come by, and we often turn to inspired fiction in order to experience this in an otherwise hard and uninspiring life. But what if we cannot find it there through writing or reading?Awe And Wonder in Fiction from the Christian Perspective – A Relationship As Much As a Process
In Japan many of my Korean-Japanese friends were bullied or made fun of when they were younger because they looked or spoke differently. Some later got into gangs, the Japanese mafia or became loan sharks (‘Chinpira’ チンピラ・’Yakuza’ ヤクザ ・’Sarakin’ サラ金) to regain a sense of confidence and control or get revenge physically or financially on those who had hurt them in the past. In America during WWII, most Japanese Americans were put into internment camps partially to protect them because they were ‘seen’ as the enemy by the general public and partially to prevent them from committing domestic acts of terrorism, while most German Americans were allowed to live freely because they ‘looked’ like most other Americans (Caucasian), even though many were harassed or hated anyway if they had German accents or names.
In Hawaii, sometimes white people (haole) are teased or discriminated against by people with darker skin. According to Wikipedia, “‘Kill Haole Day’ is the term for bullying incidents that occurred in most Hawaiian schools, when non-white students would harass and attack white students. The incidents saw their height in the late 1970s” and “on December 31, 2008, the U.S. Department of Education released a report that concluded there was ‘substantial evidence that students experienced racially and sexually derogatory violence and name-calling on nearly a daily basis on school buses, at school bus stops, in school hallways and other areas of the school.'” While mixed ethnicity or ‘hapa’ people are more accepted there, sometimes in other countries they don’t feel they truly fit in to or are accepted by either/any culture. In India, the discriminatory class caste system has been outlawed since 1955, but is still informally in place. ‘In some rural areas of the country, marrying or associating outside of one’s caste is still discouraged. Despite laws that aim to create equality, the caste system continues to have a strong impact on society.’ In countries around the globe, people of differing religions are often hated, discriminated against, put out of business, property destroyed or stolen, jailed and even martyred for their beliefs.
When my family moved off a military base and I started going to civilian school in SoCal in America, on my first day of school during recess a black girl came up to me, ordered me to get off the teeter-totter and called me a racial slur word. Since I had never heard that word before, I asked her what it meant. She got in my face and said, ‘It means you’re trash.’ On the base, color or culture didn’t matter so much as what military rank your mom or dad was. Being a tough military brat, I stood my ground and refused to get off the see-saw. But I will never forget how much it hurt. Many people of African descent have felt that very same sting of ‘racism’. So why do ‘hurt people hurt people’? The sin of unforgiveness plays a huge part in keeping people in bondage long after they have been physically set free. C.S. Lewis said, “Unforgiveness is like taking poison but expecting someone else to die. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
The Bible tells us that we are all one human race, descended from Adam & Eve (Genesis 2), who committed the First Sin (Genesis 3) by disobeying GOD. The First Family in the Bible first became separated further by sin when their son Cain killed his brother Abel. GOD punished Cain by sending him away to a different land (Genesis 4). Later people were divided even more by language and distance when a massive, rebellious part of the post-Flood population was scattered across the earth after trying build the Tower of Babel to Heaven against the will of GOD (Genesis 11), which created major differences in color and cultures within the human race. This ties every ‘race’ into one human body, with the difference being culture on a large scale and personal choices on the individual level.
In Scripture we are also told that as Christians we are aliens, sojourners on this earth (1 Chronicles 29:15). We are encouraged to be in, but not of, this world (John 17:14-16). We’re reminded that we will be hated because they hated Jesus first (John 15:18). And yet, we’re instructed that people should know us by our love (John 13:35). That’s a tall order considering the constant threat of persecution personally, socially, fiscally or physically. In 2017 Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity released its annual report on the persecution of Christians, which found that as many as 90,000 Christians died for their faith in the year 2016 — or one Christian every six minutes. And, of course, we must never forget the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, the World War II genocide of the European Jews, Gypsies, Christians and other enemies of Nazi Germany. ‘Between 1941 and 1945, across German-occupied Europe, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews.’
When you’re treated unfairly it’s easy to want to get revenge, but even with that we’re assured by the LORD, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’ (Romans 12:19). Our war is not against flesh & blood, but principalities of evil (Ephesians 6:12), spiritual satanic forces trying to discourage, harm and destroy our faith, our very lives this side of Heaven. And if, on this earth, our methods of gaining revenge unknowingly – or even knowingly – injures and inflicts wrongdoing on innocent people who have never treated anyone wrong through our own prejudice, it is sheer lunacy to expect and demand a sudden ‘no punch back’ rule for the sake of forwarding a cause. It will only create an atmosphere where, for those who had been trying to live rightly, it doesn’t matter in the end how they behave, because they’ll be blamed for ‘the sins of their father’ anyway. Resentment, ‘re-revenge’ and continuance of the cycle of discrimination is inevitable and peace will be illusive. Love and forgiveness are keys to resolving conflicts among peoples, so caution must be taken when certain people or groups continually stoke the fires of hate, division and revenge.
No matter what country, no matter what society, sinful people will find reasons to hate, divide and discriminate against each other by class or color or culture or religion. At the end of WWII, General Douglas MacArthur said, “If we do not devise some greater and more equitable means of settling disputes among nations, Armageddon will be at out door.” As Christians we know it’s all a sin issue at the core. Only Jesus can heal the deep wounds of division. “And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war (Isaiah 2:4 NASB). So for those who believe, we know that in Heaven every tribe and every nation will eat together from the Tree of Life and there will be no more hate or division or violence or tears – finally and eternally united as one in peace and love. And there will be sin and war no more.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9 NIV
As believers we shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and speak biblical truths, and don’t let calls of ‘Don’t judge!’ make you shrink back. Warning/correcting/exhorting/admonishing others of sins against the LORD is not judging others – it’s educating or reminding them of how they will be judged on Judgment Day.
We are called by the LORD to warn/correct/exhort/admonish others when they are sinning against to Him. In fact, we are told that if we don’t warn them, we could be held accountable for their sin. “If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ but you do not speak out to dissuade him from his way, then that wicked man will die in his iniquity, yet I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you warn the wicked man to turn from his way, and he does not turn from it, he will die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.” Ezekiel 33:8, 9
Remember that John the Baptist was jailed & beheaded because he called out King Herod for taking his brother’s wife, and Jesus said that there was no one greater born to women than John. Jesus didn’t hesitate to call out sinners and hypocrites as well. In Matthew 23:33-36 Jesus said, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the sentence of hell? Because of this, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and others you will flog in your synagogues and persecute in town after town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation.”
Acts 20:31, Romans 15:14, 1 Corinthians 4:14, Colossians 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, Titus 2:4, etc.
One evening my older sister (姉 “ane”) and I were in an elevator in Roppongi (六本木 – a district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan, famous for its popular night club scene), on our way up to a top floor venue. As teens we had long looked forward to seeing a Beatles copy band (ビートルズのものまねバンド “Beatles no mono mane bando”) called ‘Beatlemania’ at the ‘Cavern Club’ since we were too young to see the real band in its heyday (全 盛期 “zenseiki”).
Although we were beyond excited and our dress and spiked hair screamed rebellious rockers, our demeanor spoke otherwise. We quietly rode up in the crowded elevator alongside conservatively-dressed Japanese businessmen (サラリーマン “salary men”) and women (OL – オーエル “office ladies”), eyes diverted downward in polite reverence as is common behavior in Japan. We were also raised ‘Navy brats’ (ネイビーブラット、海軍人のガキ “kaigunjin no gaki”), actually a misnomer (異名 “imyou”), because as military kids we were trained to behave appropriately and respectfully in public.
Suddenly at one of the many stops to the top, a few American sailors noisily boarded and punched the button for their desired floor. They were loud, boisterous and reeked of alcohol. My sister and I shot embarrassed glances at each other as we noticed the disgusted look in the eyes of the Japanese. We were ashamed (恥じらう “hajirau”) at the behavior of these rude fellow Americans (although we lived in Japan at the time, my sister and I were born in Hawaii and California). To our relief, the Japanese group quickly exited on the next floor.
All at once I felt an anger boiling up inside that I could not contain. How dare these foreigners (外人 “gaijin”) bring humiliation and disgust to the image of the U.S. Navy and Americans in general in the Japan I loved! With clenched fists, I blurted my outrage at the dumbfounded drunks who towered over my shaking frailer frame. After a quick apology, they were blushed and quiet the rest of the ride. As we exited at our floor, their eyes were diverted downward in shame.
Just as we all need to remember that we represent our mother country when we travel abroad, as Christians we also must remember that we’re representatives or “Ambassadors for Christ” (キリストの大使 “Kirisuto no taishi”), sojourners representing Him to an unsaved world at all times, everywhere we are, even if we never leave our hometown (古里 “hurusato”) here on earth.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB
Hail fellow adventurers! I know that this blog has been inactive for a while but that is because I have moved over these past couple of months. To be completely honest, it’s a new frontier crossed for myself. And honestly God has been moving me to take new steps. Specifically He’s been moving me to […]
Today’s American public and private schools and colleges have watered-down and stretched-out general education far beyond what is necessary for the average citizen to be employable upon graduation for various reasons, including obtaining funding from the federal government, babysitting children for working parents, employing and funding union pension plans for teachers and administrators, maintaining and upgrading the facilities, and basically indoctrinating new generations into a liberal socialist agenda.
Okay, so I’m biased. I’m a Christian conservative who did high school through the mail (albeit in liberal SoCal), lived in Japan when I was younger (and therefore compare the outcome of their education system to America’s), and my husband and I went on to homeschool our own son Pre-K – 12. (Did I mention that he’s in a top Christian college, on the dean’s list and a member of two honor societies? Not to brag – just to show that children can learn and thrive outside of the American education system just fine.)
Let’s go back to how education began in America. Why were so many of our Founding Fathers already in college in their early-to-mid teens in a casual learning environment (many were homeschooled), yet many modern teens can barely graduate after twelve to thirteen years of 180-days-a-year-school setting? Take a look at the Blue Back Speller, one of the most used textbooks created by Noah Webster to be used by five generations at the beginning of this Republic’s education system. Compare it to modern textbooks for grade-schoolers. (Yeah.) With access to the internet and the ability to learn anything at the touch of a button or screen, it’s almost unconscionable to hold kids back to the turtle’s pace of learning in American schools today.
It’s obvious our current schools are “dumming down” students and expecting far less of them. Back in the day, children were expected to learn quickly and be done with their basic education by sixteen years old. Most were done by twelve or thirteen if they weren’t going to college! Then they worked. Sure, jobs nowadays are more complicated and require more training. But most Americans aren’t doctors or lawyers. They’re working in blue-collar or white-collar jobs that rarely require more than the basic “Three R’s” of learning – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic. Going much further beyond that is usually a waste of time and money.
After the basics, which could be completed by Junior High, Americans would benefit more financially, mentally, emotionally and socially from moving on to on-the-job-training and trade schools. Keeping most kids in school through High School and College benefit schools financially more than the students’ future employment odds. It also encourages students to delay maturing. Again, compare the maturity of the Founding Fathers to today’s party-college students. Forcing teens and young adults to sit through boring classes to learn things they’ll never use only causes them to lose their creativity and excitement for learning and working and they end up relying on sometimes negative extra-curricular activities to work off their pent-up energy. Time would be better spent letting them quickly get into the race of their careers that they’re chomping at the bit to run!
Of course there are pros and cons to the Japanese school system as well. And comparing American and Japanese systems really is like comparing apples to oranges, because the business culture in Japan is very different also, so preparing kids for the workplace requires a whole different set of standards. That said, Japanese schools adhere to the same kind of K-12 system, but the subjects are accelerated and they’re far ahead of America. For example, my husband’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was fourteen years old, and even though in Japan he was one of the worst math students in his class, when he started the ninth grade in NorCal, he was suddenly one of top math students. The level of math the American school was teaching in ninth grade was comparable to sixth grade math in Japan!
Another difference is the level of respect and discipline taught in Japanese schools. There’s very little time for messing around and students are expected to not only show respect to their teachers, but to the school itself. It’s very common for students to help clean the classroom (even scrubbing floors and taking out the trash) and help with lunch service starting in Kindergarten. Being polite, respectful and orderly is ingrained at a very young age. Learning is taken very seriously. The Japanese could easily graduate in Junior High and still be miles ahead of American students, but Japanese businesses are much more demanding because the same high level of intelligence, social and moral standards are required, so the schools prepare them to achieve and meet or exceed them.
One of the downsides to this system is that if you “get off the escalator,” it’s hard to get back on. In Japanese it’s called 落ちこぼれ “ochikobore,” which literally means to “drop out” (of school or society). So if you have a learning disability or fall behind for any reason, it’s very difficult to catch up or fit into the typical college or サラリーマン “salary man” business culture. This leads many to suicide or living a very isolated lifestyle (引きこもり “hikikomori”- more on this in another blog) if they can’t find another niche industry in which to work, such as the creative or food industries, etc. And that isn’t all bad, either. The Japanese are well known and admired for their arts and crafts and cuisine, and they take apprenticeship very seriously. When a Japanese person breaks out of the mold after the educational foundation is firmly formed, with some training and ingenuity, they can be quite successful!
Ideally, the American education system would do better going back to teaching the basics at a more accelerated rate like the Founding Fathers and Japan, but they’d have to give up all of the liberal socialist grooming and get serious about education and not indoctrination. And they’d have to go back to teaching respect and obedience with proper discipline in order to control the classroom, which lends to a healthier learning environment. On top of that, American businesses need to open more apprenticeships and internships for younger people and schools need to have more work-for-credit programs so students can get started on their careers in their mid-teens and bypass college entirely, especially if it has nothing to do with the field in which they’ll eventually work.
These ideas are not foreign – America used to educate this way! So how do we get back from here? The education system needs to return to its roots and vet administrators, teachers and textbooks to make sure they go back to teaching the basics. In short, they need to get schooled on schooling again.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 KJB