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    Mumbai

    Seven islands in the Arabian Sea sum up the South Asian city where smog and soot stain the snot. Sensory overload; a civilized shamble where the sun sizzles and silence is scarce.  Screeching streetcars and speeding cyclists saturate streets; swarms shove at subway stations.  Social class a stand-out split between the silk stockings and the starving.  Scores of shiney saris scramble just before sunset for suppertime sales of seeds and spice.  Skinny schoolchildren salivate over the scent of sumptuous samosas; sugar-savages storm sweet shops. Seductive street snacks secure a sick stomach due to slipshod sanitation.     Sixty-two percent of slum-dwellers short on sustenance; a sad statistic of sorrow and suffering.…

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    Certain Unalienable Rights

    Piscine Molitor Patel got named after his father’s best friend who loved to swim. This friend enjoyed swimming at the Piscine Molitor, a luxury pool in Paris. Instead of giving their son their friend’s name, his parents named him after the swimming pool. But kids at school often teased him, calling him “Pissing Patel.” So he shortened his name to Pi.             I loved this scene from the movie Life of Pi. Late in 2012, friends, family, and coworkers raved about this movie—how it was based on a novel, and starred Irrfan Khan. So my husband and I went to see this movie together in Dec 2012.               After the…

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    No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

    Exodus depicts the story of what God did when he heard his chosen people crying out for justice and deliverance from Egyptian oppression. Enter: the burning bush in Exodus 3. God commissioned Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to save them from the Egyptian tyrants. He told Moses to request Pharaoh's permission to let the Israelites leave Egypt. And Moses answered God’s call saying “Here I am.” But did he mean it? Moses had legitimate fear that the Israelites might not believe God had appeared to him. Because God had not appeared to the Israelites for over 430 years—their whole time in Egypt. Plus Moses had left Egypt under…

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    The Devil Made Me Do It

    In 1985, Richard Ramirez, a Satanist, killed fourteen Californians. Ramirez claimed evil spirits made him mutilate the elderly, women, and children. His savagery even terrified his trial judge. What do we make of this monstrosity? Or of racially motivated violence, where even Christians misappropriate Scripture to deny the basic human dignity of those they deem inferior to them? The testimonies of Christ and the apostles give evidence that demons work by seducing us with pride, greed, and lust. But can we hold demonized humans responsible for the sins committed under demonic influence? Who bears ultimate responsibility for 9/11 or the Nazi genocide of Jews? Satan, or those who commited the…

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    What’s Love Got to Do with It?

    Some would argue that a loving personal God could not allow the existence of evil and social injustice. Others blame an omnipotent God for malignancies like terrorism and the trafficking of young girls for sexual slavery. God foreknew evil. By the act of creation, God instilled evil's feasibility. But does that make Him responsible for it? Not according to 1 John 2:16. Enter: Free Will. Some may scoff at the notion, as if by supplying it God has given us license to misbehave. But free will does not hinder God’s ability to encroach upon choice. He can stop the madness anytime he chooses. And let’s not forget Jesus Christ—the one…

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    The Origin of Evil

    When did evil and sin enter the world? In the Garden of Eden? And who created evil? Some blame God for temptation and evil by default since he created everything. But let’s rewind. In a galaxy far far away, God created all the angels all at once. And they lived in the stellar places amongst the stars. (Since this is just a blog post and not a seminary paper, I’ll let you verify those gems on your own. A good Systematic Theology text should suffice.)   Now because God only creates “good” and “very good,” he made each angel good, or what some would call “holy.” But Jude 1:6 says,…

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    The Whole Law

    After church one day an older woman approached me and said, “I didn’t see you in church today. I saw your husband take communion, but I didn’t see you take communion.” I responded, “You are correct. I did not take communion today.” To which she replied, “I’ve been sitting in the front row for years, and I know exactly who does and does not take communion.” I think she even ended with a, “Hmphh,” but I can’t confirm that. Now, I sometimes just blurt stuff out without weighing the consequences. Lucky for my husband in this moment I did more weighing than blurting. Not that I cared what she thought…

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    To Spank or Not To Spank–That is the Question

                What one considers child discipline, another considers child abuse. Yelling and hitting may break a wayward child’s will but could also crush a child’s spirit. Too many children grow up feeling unloved due to a parent’s harsh critical anger. Some become timid melancholic children who share their time between unloving volatile homes, and schoolyards where they are easy targets for teasing. And these children will often tolerate abusive treatment as adults.              I get it. Parents feel the need to exercise strict disciplinary action so their children don’t grow up to be psychopaths. But yelling and hitting don’t teach a child anything good. Besides,…

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    Dogs and Pigs

                Two years ago I took an Evangelism class—a seminary graduation requirement I had put off. Rehearsing for disaster, I envisioned a mandatory assignment that would leave me covered in eggs and tomatoes. Although my hair would have shone like the sun, I would have preferred a night of thumb-hammering over having to share the gospel with strangers at a grocery store.                 I remembered from Systematic Theology 101 that we cannot prove that the Bible is true. Awesome. At least this frees me to believe without the pressure to convince mockers why I believe. But my eczema still wouldn’t fare well under splattered…

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    Strength and Dignity are Her Clothing

               I made my first overseas flight without my parents in my twenties. I had just finished graduate school, and stayed with them until I could afford my own place. My parents had left for India weeks prior, and I would soon join them. I had visited India twice as a child—oblivious to the cultural differences between India and the US. No worries. My mother prepared (translation: warned) me via written “what to pack” instructions she left on a note taped to the bathroom mirror. “Lots of long dresses. Nothing sleeveless. No short skirts.” (Meaning nothing that showed my knees). I sighed when I saw the…