Monday, February 27, 2006

Gone for a week

I will be gone until early March

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Something to Say

I find this blog a bit perplexing.

I always seem to think of the perfect post while I'm riding the bus home. By the time I'm able to post I've forgotten what I wanted to say. I guess that is just part of growing old. I hope it doesn't get worse.

I think I need to put a notebook in my bag and jot down topics on my way home.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Life by the Decades

At times I feel like I am in a time warp. It doesn't seem possible to be as old as I am. Not that I'm that old but I have honestly reached the point where I can say I wonder where the days have gone?

I don't know what age is commonly thought to be the beginning of middle age. But, if middle age is the point where you've lived about 1/2 your life then I'm definitely on the downhill side.

When I turned 30 I decided that I was not going to look back at my 20's and wish that I could be there again. I was going to enjoy the things I could enjoy in my 30's that I couldn't do in my 20's. That has proved to be a momentous decision.

For me turning 30 meant I was watching my children grow up. It meant that I was married long enough to not be considered a newly wed. It meant having more money because my career was advancing. There were all sorts of things I could do in my 30's that were impossible when I was in my 20's. They were good years.

When I reached 40 I did the same thing. I am now 45 and that's a good age. If I go riding with a cycling club and all the 20 something year-old rocket boys drop me out the back I no longer have to blame the bike. I can say: "Hey, I'm 45, they should be faster than me." and it is true.

I can listen to B.B. King and not have my peers sneer because I'm not Rock, Punk, Grunge, Emo, Hip-hop, rap or whatever enough.

I've begun to enjoy and be able to poke fun at the gray in my beard.

When I reach 50 I'll put the 40's down and enjoy being 50 something.

Decade by decade, I'm determined to enjoy my life. I'm going to enjoy my decades for what each brings. I'm not going to look back and wish to be younger or regret chances missed or the road not taken.

Doing this also helps to keep me focused upon today and what I can and should do today. Jesus said that we should not "Worry about tomorrow because each day has enough trouble of its own." My wife will tell you that I don't have any problem not worrying about tomorrow. If it was up to me, we'd have no savings because I'd live hand to mouth with no regrets. But, I could easily have fallen into the trap of trying to hold on to my youth. That is easily as big a sin being too focused on tomorrow because while one denies the ability of God to provide the other denies that God has blessed.

I find the people who try to look 25 when they are 45 to be somewhat sad. I feel they must not be happy with themselves. They have refused to see the good of today because they are trying to relive yesterday.

Me, I'm looking forward to becoming a crotchety old man.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Happily Middle-aged Blogger

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal

The past week has been a tough one for this fat cat.

The stunning wife started a new job and gets home late so I don't have anybody to make sure I get out and run or ride the bike. I've got to develop more self discipline.

All of this is relevant because the past week has, despite some rain been a wonderful week, weather wise. Sunday was pretty brutal because of the air-pollution but since then the wind has kicked up and the rain on Tuesday have combined to make the air quality tolerable. I really don't have any excuse other than laziness for not exercising more. Spring is here in Hong Kong and that is a good time to be in Hong Kong.

I think I'll get the bike down tonight and ride the trainer for an hour or so.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Trying to be Less Fai Blogger

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Good the Decadent and the Islamic

I must apologize to my few faithful readers for being so slow in posting over the past several days. I would only say that they need to read my post on "Billable hours" to understand why I don't have more time.

I have been following the somewhat scary controversy over these Danish anti-Islamic cartoons. I was going to post about this a day or two ago but it seems that many people have said what I would have said equally as well so I have waited until I think I have something to add to the conversation rather than seconding others. In the end; I don't know that I have anything different to say. I had a rather long well reasoned post about this topic written and polished up with all the grammar and spelling in order but I deleted it.

When it comes to Islam, I don't believe reason works. Thus I'd only be preaching to the choir. I give up. There are Christian groups that send missionaries into Muslim nations. I don't plan to join them though I might support them.

I am just going to say this and leave it. If there are some Christians who think I'm being too stern or unloving, so be it.

If it gets a Fatwah called upon my head so be it.

I think Islam is a barbaric religion. It was founded by a man who was probably mentally ill. He practiced pedophilia because middle aged men who marry and sleep with little girls as young as 11 who still play with dolls and are not menstruating are pedophiles. Mohammed did that.

He was petty, brutal and vindictive. He was a murderer. He was a racist. He was a thief and brigand who robbed caravans to support his extravagant life style. He couldn't even live by the same rules he imposed upon others.

Because its founder was all those things Islam is oppressive. It is maintained by force. Islam is abusive. Islam is harmful to all who practice it. Islam is evil.

Muslims would be better off being Atheist because while they'd still end up in Hell at least in this life they could have some fun. Islam is the epitome of self-righteous.

I believe that Mohammed communicated not with an angel but with a demon.

If that sounds a bit too extreme then call me an extremist. At least I'm not calling a jihad to convert anyone to my point of view. At least I don't agitate governments and break laws to force people to pretend that they agree with me. At least I don't hold up a sign that says "Freedom go to Hell" while dressed as a suicide bomber.

I may be an extremist but I'm better than the terrorist that pass for Islamic clerics. I do not try to hide the problems with Christianity by threatening people with violence. I do not seek to silence any criticism of my faith by force. I do not slit the throat of people who say blasphemous things about my religion. I do not believe in forced conversions.

In my mind there is no better example of why Christianity is superior to Islam than by looking at the reaction to these cartoons. If Muslims think that Western culture picks on them and not Christians then they need to look again.

I pray that by September 11, 2051 (I will 91 years old by then) that 800 million Muslims have become Christians. My god, I hope I can see that day. I pray especially for Malaysia and Turkey. I am daily praying that by September 11, 2051 Islam is no longer a major world religion. I am daily praying for the collapse of Islam.

I pray for every individual Indonesian maid I see in Hong Kong. I pray that they would cast aside the veil of self-righteousness that is Islam and take up the true covering of the Holy Spirit.

I heard the Christian thinker and writer Os Guinness a couple of years ago say that the things we see going on in the Islamic world are simply the process of Islam trying to find a way to live in the modern world. He didn't think that Islam was going to be able to reconcile itself to modernity. If he is right then either Islam or modernity will have to be overthrown. Modernity may be decadent but it is better than going back to the middle ages. I pray that Islam would be overthrown soon!

I am praying that the Holy Spirit will decend in Muslim countries. I want to see 100's of millions of muslims come to Christ.

I believe that if Islam disappeared then the world would be a better place. Culture may be decadent but Islam is evil. I'd rather live in a decadent culture than an evil one. If Muslims do not like the culture of Western Europe or the US then move somewhere else. Nobody is forcing them to stay or oppressing them for being there.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The non-Islamic Blogger

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I try not to write about politics. I can't always not do that but I try.

I have two reasons for this.

First I try to use this blog as a form for creative writing. Politics qualifies as technical writing and that looks too much like work.

Second, I feel that politics is an area that is driven by extremes. That is not necessarily a bad thing. But, it does make political blogs a contentious thing. I'd rather be less contentious.

All of that does not mean I don't have political views that sometimes slip into my postings but it does mean that I have to think about subject to write about.

My father used to say that if you want to start a fight then talk about religion or politics. I think he was 2/3 right. I find that it is generally easier to talk about religious differences than political ones. The one exception is when you are dealing with either people who are members of a cult or splinter group such as Mormons or people who are Muslims. I've had quite pleasant and interesting conversations about religion with Jews, Catholics, Buddhist and Atheist. But, I don't even try to talk rationally with a Muslim or a Mormon. I am going to refrain from commenting upon what I think that says about those groups.

Politics on the other hand is always a dangerous topic. For example, I work with several Canadians who have really strong political views. I can discuss religious issues with them that we have disagreements over. However, if anything is said in even a mild critique of Canadian politics I am brow beaten and called all sorts of unpleasant names. I would not consider these people to be political zealots; and, this problem is not limited to Canadians.

I hate to try and talk to people from the edges of the different camps of US politics. I hate to deal with activist. I feel that the hardliners of any issue have generally moved beyond the scope of discussion because for them "the cause" is more important than facts. I must admit that it has been my experience that the left is much more vile than the right in this respect but neither side is plesant if you try and challenge a position.

It gets worse if you try and talk to Euopeans about the politics in the US. Europeans are not even worth arguing with. They are completely wishy-washy on every issue except that the US is bad. I detest their combination of arrogance and self-loathing. I refuse to admit that their culture is superior. I'll just let the Muslims they've allowed to immigrate into their countries kill them or enslave them. I am, I must admit, in large part, a Europhobe.

The problem with trying to not write about politics is that I actually have to think about topics to write about. Politics provide a ready made vehicle for blog post because it never goes away. It is new everyday. Lots of people do it. If I wrote about politics then I could post everyday. I just thought I'd try something else. That means I'm lucky to come up with two post a week.

I am also sneaky. The fact I try to not openly write about politics does not mean that I do not have political opinions. But, I'd rather slip them in on the sly while talking about something most people would agree with. I think it is a better way to change people's minds.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Not Quite Non-political Blogger

Friday, February 03, 2006

The god of fortune?

I go back to work on Monday so as I normally have Saturdays and Sundays off today is the last day of my Chinese New Year Holiday. My wife and I were sick over Christmas and had a generally miserable time coughing and sneezing and stayed wrapped up on the couch watching TV. However, this past week has been everything that Christmas wasn't.

We had a couple of marines from the USS Tarawa come over for dinner on New Year's Eve and taking them around to shop in Causeway Bay was fun. We fed them lunch at a BBQ buffet and dinner at our home. Man, could those boys eat! If they are half as good with an M16 as they are with a knife and fork then they are probably the best soldiers in the history of the Marine Corps. (Dan and Rusty, if you are reading this good luck and God speed!)

We also paid to go on a couple of local tours which took us to places in Hong Kong that we seldom go and that also allowed us to watch the Chinese New Year fireworks from a ferry in the harbor. If anybody reading this ever has the opportunity to see the fireworks in Hong Kong you should. They do them as good anywhere on Earth. Great sight.

I shall return to work on Monday, rested and refreshed after a good break.

The Chinese lunar year revolves around the Chinese zodiac signs which are part of Chinese culture. I've always found Chinese Buddhism to be somewhat strange. Buddhism as practiced in Chana mixes tradition and religion and Confucian teachings into a big hodgepodge of practices that are, according to my stunningly attractive Chinese wife of nearly 20 years, somewhat confusing even to the practitioners. When it comes to Chinese Buddhism I'm not sure just exactly what is a dearly held dogma like the resurrection and what is simply an ornament that has been grafted in like the Easter Bunny. That I cannot distinguish these two kinds of things in Chinese Buddhism makes it all the more confusing to me.

Even though I'm a Christian I can kind of see why someone would be attracted to say Hinduism or Islam. But the Chinese "Good Land Buddhism" is just strange. There are hundreds, if not thousands of gods though there appear to be only five or six major ones. However, it isn't the number of gods as it is that much of what the Chinese Buddhists call religion seems to me to be completely different from almost what every other religion teaches.

Christians are told to be "In the world but not of the world." Islam exhorts it followers to have a rather severe, almost ascetic stance towards the material world. Hinduism doesn't believe that the world really exist. In Chinese Buddhism, they have a god that people pray to receive wealth from. James said "Money is the root of much evil" but in China they say, the lack of money is the sum of all evil.

The God of Fortune, whose name is Zambala, is one of the most frequently seen symbols on the streets and in the temples during Chinese New Year. One of the local tours we were on visited a temple in Repulse Bay. The tour guide gave the people on the bus instructions on how to stroke the statue of the God of Fortune so that their prayers for wealth would be granted. I didn't ask her why, if she is such an expert at this, she was still having to earn money leading tours. Maybe she just likes her work.

Zambala isn't really a major god in the traditional Chinese religion. However, at Chinese New Year, he is everywhere. It appears to me that he actually has quite a following. While he is there in Hinduism I don't think he has quite the same following in India that he has in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the PRC.

In some respects, he resembles a Chinese Santa and you can see guys dressed up as the God of Fortune passing out coupons for buffets or Chinese New Year sales events on the streets throughout Asia. But in another respect, he is not like Merry Old St. Nick either. I can tolerate seeing Santa because, at least in part, I know he isn't real. Zambala is if not "God", then at least "a god." People here also think he is a real god, not a lazy baby sitters' way to bribe children into going to bed on time. I cannot help but think that if a Dallas area Kroger ( A grocery Store chain) tried to have a guy dressed as Jesus giving out samples of Christmas cookies in the deli, most Christians would be upset.

If a restaurant dressed someone up as the prophet Mohammed to hawk a post Ramadan buffet, he'd be lynched in any nation with even a smattering of Muslims.

Would any Jew have a Kosher meat company named Jehovah Deli?

Yet the traditional Chinese gods are routinely depicted as doing these kinds of things.

I guess this is the essential difference between Chinese traditional religions and other religions. They have both a profound devotion too and abject disrespect for their gods. My wife says this is because they are not sure they are really there and that they do the worship and adoration just In case there might be some benefit. The gods of China guard your front door to keep evil demons out of your house; they have little god boxes they live in outside the door. They guard the kitchen cabinet to keep ghost from stealing your food. They give you wealth, health, mercy, longevity, success in school, work or love; there is a specific Chinese god for everything. They can be placated or worshipped by a few offerings of fruit, burning a few joss sticks or donating a bit of spare change to the monks begging on the corner.

I guess this is a better way to practice religion than by believing the easiest way to paradise is to call a jihad and try to kill all the infidels but that is another post for another time.

Buddhist Chinese gods are, in many ways, exactly the gods that I would like to have if I could choose any gods I wanted. They cover every aspect of my life. They are only there when you summon them. They don't intrude. They are seldom angry but easy to placate. They don't require much of me but offer a lot in return.

That is precisely why I don't believe in them.

Traditional Chinese gods are exactly the type of gods that critics of Christianity complain that Christianity is. Gods that are only for those too weak, too poor, too uneducated or too powerless to rely upon themselves.

Paradoxically, they are also gods for those who rely upon their own effort but wish for a fire insurance policy to keep them out of a hell they can't quite not believe in. They are, I believe, gods that have been created to salve our insecurities.

Interestingly, you don't even really have to worship them. Because the Chinese Buddhists believe in reincarnation it is only necessary to do a little more good than evil and then you are reincarnated into a better life the next time around. Thus, over many lifetimes you gain enlightenment and achieve salvation, nirvana, paradise or whatever it is that you think you'll get.

Look at the different picture that Jesus paints of our condition.

We are according to Jesus, desperately wicked because we "are all like sheep who have gone astray." We are like foolish brides who do not wait for their groom but waste their oil. We are self-centered. We are white-washed tombs, Fields ready to harvest. He claimed that we are justified by his death. That we must believe only in him.

Jesus did not say the sort of things that would make us comfortable regardless of the culture or century that we live in. He makes us uncomfortable. He doesn't allow us to kick our sins into a future incarnation. We pay for them at the close of this life.

It appears to me, and I am here using too many other Christian thinkers to cite, that one of the things that gives Christianity credence is, paradoxically, the fact that it is, in so many ways, completely unbelievable. If I were going to invent a religion, I'd invent the Chinese one.

Here is another rub. Both of these religions cannot possibly be right. Jesus cannot be "The way the truth and the life" and simply be part of the process.

It would appear to me then that if I were a person practicing traditional Chinese religion, I'd be very much inclined towards becoming a Christian. Because if, after all, it only really matters that you do more good than evil then I could hedge my bets because I'd have my bases covered both ways. But, if I only practice traditional Chinese religion and I find out that Jesus really was "The way, the truth and the life", then I'm in more trouble than I could possibly imagine.

I think it is long past time that the Chinese who practice their traditional religions began to seriously look at what they believe. I also think they may find the true God of Fortune in Jesus who tells them to "Not lay up treasure on Earth but instead to lay up treasure in Heaven."

It is my hope, my prayer and my desire that this year is not merely the year 4703 the year of the dog but the first year of an eternity of blessings for millions; indeed 1.2 billion Chinese

Hung Hei Fat Choi

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Not Normally This Evangelistic Blogger