Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Free Will" Makes Us Robots

This is counter intuitive, but it's true: If you hold to "free will" (the way most people think it means), then you are making people "robots". Of course, most people think it works the other way, i.e. people who believe in election or "Calvinism" makes people robots. This is because people assert, "If God decides who gets saved, then we have not a choice. We're just robots." As we shall see. In fact, it works the other way.

Everyone agrees that the human will makes decisions. That's not the controversial part. Those who want to protect "free will" typically mean that people do or should have the ability to equally choose either of two choices, A or B, for example, to follow Jesus or not follow Jesus. Reformed theology (Calvinists) say all people are enslaved to the sinful desires, thus no one has a "free will". Free-willers say human nature is not "totally depraved".

Free-willers say 'free will' means that we can choose to do whatever we want to do. Yet, catch that last phrase. Our desires always make us lean one way or another. My desires do not make me equally likely to choose tomorrow whether I will feed my kids or not feed my kids. My love for them makes it NOT equally likely that I could choose choice A or B.

How do we therefore ensure that people truly have the ability to equally chose A or B? After all, it is suggested, in order to be "free", we need to equally be able to choose A (follow Jesus) or B (not follow Jesus). What you have to do is take away human desire. Otherwise, that desire will tip the scales to actually prefer one choice over another. As a result, we basically have to be robots. Robots don't have human desires so only they can be able to equally choose among any set of options.

So, which theological position makes people robots? Those who push "free will".
For more on this topic, you can see our series, "Why All Christians Are Calvinists (and Don't Know It"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Star Studded Line-Up

There are times when you know that an event is blog-worthy, so you bring your camera and you think up witty one-liners as the event is happening. This afternoon was one such occasion. Chinese love to put on performances. There doesn't really need to be a holiday or celebration, just perform. And do it with vigor.

This little doozy of a performance happened right in our apartment complex this afternoon. This guy kicked things off with a riveting song and dance routine. At one point he leapt off the stage and danced around and then sang to an empty car. With about 63 people in the audience. But to him, it was a sold out concert in Central Park. In my opinion, that made it even funnier to watch.

Next up was this adorable grandma-soldier-wonder woman routine. She marched around and shot an air gun...many, many times. I have to admit, I was brainstorming all the things I could do with these Wonder Woman leggings. Those would sure add some pep to my home schooling routine.

When an older lady performs, usually it's her personal rendition of Beijing Opera. I know that this is a cultural gem here, but honestly it sounds like cats in heat. And at least the cats have some potential good that could come from being in heat. There is no such possible good in hearing Beijing Opera. But the older people in the audience were on the brink of lighting their lighters, swaying back and forth and singing "Free Bird".

The entertainment only got better when I saw who was up next. This guy started by gliding his feet in a familiar fashion. Within the first 10 seconds, I realized that he must have watched Michael Jackson's "Bad" about 183 times in order to memorize not only the moves but also the facial expressions. When I say that his performance made me happy, that is a gross understatement. I looked and looked around for my only American friend that lives near us and she was not to be found. I desperately needed someone to experience this with me.

But alas, I was alone, laughing so hard I was crying. I love Selah's expression in this picture above. Just sums it up nicely. And to top it off, the wind was blowing, so this guys white over shirt was blowing, just like Michael's did. It was pure delight. This picture below was when he was running almost in I think he stole this move from 'Footloose.' I couldn't blame the's a classic move.

As a sidenote, I just re-lived this routine while I was writing. I now have cramps and tears dripping down my face. This routine with be my new "happy place" for the week.

As he ended his song, he rushed to the front of the stage and reached out to grab some of his adoring fan's hands.

Happy place. Happy, happy place.

Makaria got to pose with yoga lady. She was impressed with neither the lunge nor the silver sequin leggings. This lady is super sweet.

Then it was the Europeans turn. That's how they announced my kids as they came to entertain the masses. Did they Did they have But did they have heart....YES! So the DJ put on some Chinese hip-hop. (Which, for the record I really like)

Here they are, dancing and flipping and looking cute as ever up there. I love that our kids don't mind dancing and singing and having fun up on stage.

And when my kids perform, they perform. Malachi pulled out his favorite move..."the Triple Whip". You can see him in mid air in this picture below. It involves a massive wind-up, a jump, a turn in the air and usually a landing on all fours and sometimes a face plant. It's awesome.

Whenever I hear music in our area, I always rush the kids to go and watch. I love the performances here. The make-up, the drama, the suspense and the spontaneity. Entertainment just doesn't get better than this.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Family Photo Gallery

Here's a few from our family's photo gallery:

"I Could Take Him out, No Problem!"

"Sealing the Deal"

"Potty Contemplation"

"How You Doin'?"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our 2 Days Away

Brad and I went away to Beijing for 2 days!

Two whole days of sleeping in until 7, drinking coffee as a luxury and not a drug induced way to stay awake after lunch, and walking around aimlessly with no responsibilities and no purpose. In our youth, our getaway would have been non-stop activities. We would have woken up early, pushed ourselves all day, eaten Mexican food and then crashed. We have grown up and grown old all in one fail swoop. So now we sit and read. We walk, we still eat Mexican food and then we talk. We people watch and read some more. I usually do more of the people watching and commentating and Brad does more of the reading. But by sitting with him while he reads, I just feel smarter. So that's an added bonus.

We went to an art district that we've been spying out for a few years. It's called 798. The area is an old built out factory. They have turned all these factories into individual galleries and cafes. They have even kept some of the machinery and signs, which I loved. It was amazing to see the paradox of the factories and photography displays. They have a few artists each month who are on exhibition and then lots of staple smaller museums/shops.

We ate at this wonderful little cafe. The walls were covered with Andy Warhol pictures of when he visited China. I couldn't resist taking a picture with big Andy.

I also couldn't resist the picture of the police doing his patrol around the art district.

My favorite part of this courtyard filled with sculptures was the beautiful display the Lord gave us with the blue skies.

Here's the typical "riding on wolverine with cell phone in hand" shot.

We had a great time! It was so much fun to catch up, pray together, eat slowly and just relax. Thanks DY!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Swagger Wagon

What are all the cool kids doin'?

They're all drivin' mini-vans.

A rap about mini-vans. 'Nuf said.

Friday, May 07, 2010

"Nap Time"

Kesed wanted to take a nap with Makaria the other day.

Needless to say, not much napping happened.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Cultural Musings on Birds

As I was exercising this morning, I thought of a picture that explains some of the differences between Chinese and American culture.


I'm always looking for ways to describe the vast sea of cultural differences we find ourselves swimming in culturally. This one dives into what we value.

One of the hobbies of the older and much, much WISER generation (your welcome, mom) is to take care of birds. You see the old people take them for walks, whistling to them, carrying them on long, wooden poles, teaching them to gamble, and whatever else they can do to fill up a 16 hour day.

I've asked around and have found out that most people here believe that by getting a bird and putting it into a cage, that they are protecting and loving the birds from the predators and evil elements that are found outside of cages. They will tell me "inside the cage, the birds are safe and well fed. Outside of the cage, they can be eaten or hit or abused." So, the cage offers safety, security and consistency. This is the most loving thing the caretaker can provide for the birds.

Now, we Americans on the other hand, see a bird in a cage (I realize that some Americans still have birds as pets, but I just don't think it ranks up there with dogs, cats, or even ferrets), we think: "Fly away! Fly away while your owner is changing your newspapers!! Get away and find your soul mate and make happy birdy babies while sipping lemonade in a Florida retirement community."

Fundamentally, we believe that birds were meant to fly and soar, to scale new heights and experience the world from a view that nobody else gets to see. We value the freedom that birds have. We see the cage as oppressive and stale.

Neither one is good or evil, just two different perspectives on the same thing...a cage. But it unpackages a lot culturally for both sides.

And to prove just how much we Americans hold dearly to our worldview, I leave you with this:

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

today i saw...

today i saw...

This is Makaria asleep in the bathtub. No fears, for she has squeezed herself into a plastic box. Such a safe girl. She's must have been lulled asleep by the T-Rex, white rabbit and toy monster truck that surround her.
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