Religion

So today I saw an article on facebook credited to Ben Stein regarding the controversy over calling Christmas trees holiday trees.  It was really good, but it got preachy towards the end and made me think he hadn’t actually written it.  Turns out he hadn’t written the preachy half of it (hooray Google, for answering all of my most unimportant questions!), but he did write the part that resonated with me:

“I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. “

You can read the entire article here.  It’s short.  But you’ve already read the part that I like the best.

I am going to school at a place called Shimer and for the most part I really like it, but one thing that is driving me crazy is how prejudiced against Christianity (in particular) and religion (in general) people there are.

I have trouble calling myself a Christian most of the time.  Sometimes I think I might be one.  Sometimes I’m certain that I’m not.  Sometimes I don’t really care either way.

But I hate hate.  I hate condescension.  I hate intolerance.  I hate close-mindedness.

If I, as a person who barely has a religion at times, am offended by the disrespect displayed by the student body at Shimer, something must be wrong.  In the conversations and classes I have had, there is enough condescension, quiet hate and intolerance going around at Shimer to have passed passé and entered into the realm of super shitty and pretty boring.

I guess I’m just trying to say that it’s just nice to have someone who agrees a little bit.

Ben Steeeeiinnnn.

Good Ole Uncle Screwtape.

This morning I had coffee with a dude from my church.  I spent the first half hour of this excursion reading a really cool compilation of short stories called The Universe in Miniature, In Miniature, by Patrick Somerville while I waited for him.  It’s a really cool book because Somerville writes a page long short story followed immediately by one 30x as lengthy, and the actual material ranges from the quasi-fantastic to the thing that you probably saw happen across the street two weeks ago.  So much variety in one tiny book = pretty tight.

Anywho.

The conversation I had with my church buddy was really good, and, as is true of most good conversations, it made me realize something that has been bouncing around in my head, looking for attention but not getting quite the level of focus that it needs to be resolved.

Every generation of Christians seems to pick and latch onto a part of Christianity that they think their predecessors and then they turn that part of Christian theology into Who Jesus Is and What Christianity Stands For.   For those of you who are not aware, Social Justice (I felt obligated to capitalize that) is huge in the church right now.  The Western church, its young people in particular, are tired of fire and brimstone, condemnation, and conversion-centric Christian teaching.  The new focus is on relationship, community and looking after human needs, which is, imho, awesome.

But I’m one of them, so I would think that.

Enter C.S. Lewis.  Not only did this dude write one of the greatest series of children’s books ever, he also wrote some of the most accessible, hardcore and relevant theology out there.  One of my personal favorites is The Screwtape Letters, which is a set of letters, written from one demon to another, that were “discovered” and published as found.   The writing demon, Screwtape, is older and wiser and trying to school his nephew, Wormwood, in the art of tempting humans away from Christianity.  Wormwood is a novice and not very good at what he does, so with every new error that he makes with his “patient”, we get one more glimpse into what those wily demons do to make us slip away from the “Enemy”, ie Jesus Cristo.

It’s amazing to see how consistent human behavior is, because almost every single issue that Lewis brings up in this text is something that we are still struggling with today.  Sometimes our struggle has changed its focus a little bit, but we have the same exact problems and the same exact inability to perceive our problems for what they are.

For example, one of the tactics that Screwtape suggests to his nephew is to convince his “patient” to take up an admirable “cause” and then to:

“…quietly and gradually nurse [the “patient”] on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ’cause’, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can offer in favor of the [cause]… Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.  Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours.” (p. 34-35 in linked text)

Right now the church’s cause seems to be Social Justice and, if Lewis is on the right track, by becoming so interested in Social Justice we are only succeeding in slipping away from Christianity in a different way than our predecessors, rather than getting any closer to perfecting it than they may have been.  Once the cause becomes a Christian’s main focus and the relationship with Christ takes second place it is over because it is, according to Lewis, not Christianity anymore.

It is activism.

About a month into Acts 29 our team split into smaller groups for a week and a half and each group went to a different town in India.  One group in particular came back really confused/angry.  The mission they had shadowed was doing really good things in its community, but no one who benefited from the mission even knew that it was run by Christians.  They never thought to ask the organization why they decided to help them and the organization wanted to do good things without ruffling feathers, so that’s exactly what they did.  They waited to be asked and the questions never came.

In other words they were all Social Justice and no Jesus, which is the way missions through the church are leaning these days.

And I can’t decide if I have a problem with that or not.

Half of me does.  This half of me says that if you believe (which I don’t know if I do) that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that Jesus is the only gate to Heaven (hullo, John 14:6), then how can you possibly spend so much time and energy on a group of people and only improve their lives on Earth?  You are, based on your own theology, making their lives more comfortable here, only to knowingly damn them to whatever hell is because you didn’t want to offend anyone by suggesting that their beliefs (or lack thereof) were wrong.  And that’s mean in an eternal way, rather than insensitive in a finite way.

The other half of me does not have a problem with all Social Justice and no Jesus because a) I’m kind of confused religiously to begin with, and b) how can you have a problem with something that is doing good?  You are giving microloans and helping people take care of themselves?  Cool.  You are putting food in hungry bellies?  Awesome.  You are curing diseases that they don’t have the resources to cure on their own?  Right on.

Also I have that same fear that holds any Christian back.  I gauge people really carefully before I am completely open with my religious views, and I usually only tell half the story anyways depending on who I am talking to (secret’s out, thank you interwebs).  If I’m talking to someone who seems more agnostic, I lean that way.  If I’m talking to someone who seems more Christian, I lean the other.  It’s lame, but it’s true and my inability to pick a side is probably what confuses me about this question so much.

But that doesn’t answer why my believing friendskies don’t pick a side.  And why they don’t pick what seems to be very clearly the RIGHT side for a believer.  We are just as bad at picking and choosing what parts of the gospel appeal to us as our forebearers were, but we pick the friendly side instead of the mean one so we can convince ourselves that we are making some mythical kind of headway that we are, in fact, not.

There is not a singular face to Jesus.  He, like all of us, has personality quirks that seem like contradictions, but, in reality just make him real.  Was Jesus into social justice?  Well, he spoke of and to the ostracized with fondness and familiarity, which seems like a yes to me.  Was Jesus insistent that he was the only way?  Sorry, yeah.  Did Jesus say that everyone was welcome to the eternal party in the sky?  With the help of God, yes, but sometimes life on Earth is too good.  Was Jesus welcoming, despite that strictness?  Pretty much…he spent time with and protected tax collectors, adulterers and children, despite people thinking that he was wasting his holy time with them.

Jesus was a fricking smorgasbord of philosophies.  He knew when to lend a hand and when to preach and if we actually want to be followers of the dude, we need to find that balance as well.  And yet, despite this, we have somehow convinced ourselves that Jesus would approve of a church that is all about social justice and neglects the spiritual consequences Christianity almost entirely.

Sounds to me like our demons are listening to good ole Uncle Screwtape’s advice.

And it’s working.

The Sabbath Quandary

Yesterday I got an email from a friend of mine.  She asked if I could meet her for lunch on Sunday so we could talk about the film festival we worked at last fall.  She was one of the integral volunteers at the festival, not quite a director, but probably one of the five most important people involved (we will call them the ‘Fly Five’ here on out). The festival could not have functioned without this friend. Now she wants to get my opinion on how the festival ran last year and how I want to be involved this year.

I do not, for a few reasons.

1.  I did not feel particularly needed or appreciated last year.  I was somewhere in between a run of the mill volunteer/flunky and the Fly Five), which basically meant that I worked more than other volunteers for less perks.
2.  The work that I did was the work that the Fly Five did not want to do, which is fact, not speculation, because they told me as much.  I took a lot of time out of my schedule to make sure that everything I did for them was exceptional, regardless. On the second to last day of the festival they told me that my work was not very important.
3.  Men.

I will keep you posted on that half of the story as it updates (if it is entertaining), but there was something more interesting in that first paragraph:

She wanted to meet on Sunday.

Background:  Recently, I decided to start doing two things that I did not even do when I was a hardcore, obnoxious, in your face, move-out-the-way variety Christian.

I have started tithing.  When I was young I did this as a formality.  Whenever I got birthday money or cash from babysitting or I would take 10% and put it into an envelope labeled “Tithes”, which was then meant to go to church or a charity I thought God would like. Somehow the money never made it from the envelope in my sock drawer into the offering basket.

I have also decided to observe Sabbath, which I have never done for more than five hours at a time (which does not count.)  My current plan is to not do anything work related on Sundays or use any technology.  This definitely covers computer and cell phone and I am pretty sure that I will extend the ban to television (and therefore movie theaters) and music players as well.  Cameras, I think, do not count.  Sabbath is midnight to midnight.

Reaction:  When I was trying to figure out how to respond to my friend, I realized that this will probably be a rather common occurrence.  I will get invitations to gatherings and meetings and I will have to turn them down on religious grounds.  Will I be honest about why I cannot attend meetings, see movies or make a little extra cash on Sundays, or will I hide the truth?

There are both religious and secular reasons to hide the truth.  “Do not let your left hand see what your right hand is doing” would be the religious reason.  The secular reasons are too many to name, but can probably be summarized in a word and a short phrase:  “shame” and “fear of seeming pretentious.”  It seems stupid to lie, though.  If Sabbath is important enough for me to clear my Sundays, it only makes sense that I am honest about it if it comes up.

This dilemma is new territory for me.

Religiously (spiritually, if you prefer) I have no idea where I stand.  I enjoy praying, especially the long thankful prayer that has become my morning standard and covers everything from sunshine to family, a nice bed and friends who care about me.  I do not read my bible often, but I read the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers), that Vicki gave to me.  My dedication to that is great enough that every day I read the assigned entry several times, with highlighter and pencil in hand.

I do not think I am a religious (spiritual) enough person to have this issue, but that is probably why it is one.  I have the desire to explore further and have realized that I can do that through the Sabbath, but due to my uncertainty, I do not yet have the confidence to own that desire.

Concisely, I believe in my gut, but not in my head.  Oswald Chambers says this is ok.  Oswald Chambers is not God, but maybe God agrees with him.

The hope is that, like my prayers of thanksgiving, Sabbath will give me an opportunity to get a little bit closer to this big, invisible something that the me of my childhood loved.  The hours devoid of technology, worldly problems and money will be filled instead with prayer, church, introspection, conversation, and the reading of all sorts of religious texts and commentaries.  I am not limiting my Sabbath to Christianity.  I am limiting it to the big Something.

Winding Down

T-minus 12 days and I will be boarding a plane for home and I only have one thing to say about that.

Tonda kwa nzambi tata.

India is amazing.  This country is huge and diverse in every way that a place can be diverse.  It is rustic in some places and modern in others.  It smells like trash and shit and cows and, for a little variety, burning trash.  But it also smells like the kind of food you’ll pay too much money to eat in the States, incense and flowers and early morning rain.  There are more temples here than there are Starbucks in my part of the world and clothes is colorful and faces are painted daily out of reverence for self and God and tradition.

Some people warned me against India before I came here.  They told me that it was dangerous and gross and the people have a tendency towards ludeness.  They were right, but they missed the something else that makes India worthwhile.  India is everything all at once and it’s not shy about it.  Everything here shouts; whether it be  sight, sound, smell, taste or touch.  It’s overwhelming.  In a good way.

I’m here with a Christian program and Christianity shouts here, too.  (But it shouts inwardly because it’s not necessarily safe to be a Christian in some parts of India.)  Last night we had a devotional wherein we called for the holy spirit to come down upon us so we could speak in tongues and prophesy…and it was weird.  People cried and laughed hysterically for no reason and someone fell over.

Due to my self-imposed honestly clause I am going to be honest here.  Generally speaking I am not comfortable with this sort of Christianity.  It seems staged and fake, but if there is something that I have learned here in India it is that there is a spiritual world of some kind (there are levitating monks here…that has to mean something) and to pretend it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t conform to the natural laws I was taught as a teenager is just as stupid as blindly believing in them would be.  So I abandoned by cynicism for a night and opened myself to it.

I was the first person to go up because everyone else was being shy, so they prayed for me for way too long so it actually got to the point where I started laughing at the people who were praying for me because their prayers weren’t doing jackshit and I didn’t feel like standing there anymore, but the one time I tried to back off the lady praying for me started making me sway back and forth.

I cried when I finally extracted myself and sat down again, but it wasn’t hysterical and it wasn’t for no reason.  It was because I was trying to get through and once again there was a fucking brick wall there.  I wound up yelling at God (surprise) and I still can’t understand how if this stuff is real (which it seems to be…especially in India where spirituality runs so deep) nothing happens when I want it to.  Jesus promises, in the bible, to answer any prayer that we have so WHY DOESN’T HE.

If someone is making a conscious effort to find him and asks him to make his presence know, why doesn’t he?  Why doesn’t he answer the prayers we put to him when he says he will?  In the bible he doesn’t not say that his answers are yes, no or not now, as Americans tend to say his answers are.  His answer, if you ask in the name of Jesus Christ, is always supposed to be yes.

So wtf.  Where is my yes?

That is not what I meant to talk about.

I am starting to wonder what will happen when I get back to the States.  I want to live in MN this summer, but I’m definitely hurting for cash right now and would do just about anything that pays good money and isn’t obscene or illegal.  Alaska, as usual is rearing its ugly, money-filled head.  (Don’t make me go baaack.)

If anyone has any suggestions I would be open to them.  Or if you want to find me a job before I get to the States for me, that would be even better.   (Fingers crossed.)

The point of this entry was supposed to be that I am glad that my time here is almost done.  I think I like India, but I want to be out of the program that I’m in because it is frustrating and full of drama and, although interesting, not particularly educational.  I want to come back to India and trek and whitewater raft and see the flying monks.  Imma come back and be a dirty hippie tourist with a backpack the size of a teenager.  Imma come back and visit my favorite Indians and not have to be closed minded because of the people I’m with.

You hear that, future-self?

Ketchup

Once upon a time there were two friends (who happened to be tomatoes) that went on a trip together.  They were walking across a road when suddenly a car came out of nowhere and crushed the second tomato.  The first tomato looked behind at the squashed, juicy remains of his friend and shouted:

“Catch up!”

That might be one of those jokes that works a little better when it’s told orally.  The point is that I need to play some “ketchup” now that I haven’t blogged for so long.  We’re going to do it with headings because it’s been so long and there is so much to say.  Here goes:

I have a new best friend, but he shouldn’t be.

There is an Indian boy in Acts29 whose name is Sachin.  He is amazing.  He is funny, has a huge heart, asks deep questions and truly looks for the answers, has been a gangster (legit) in his past, and is almost exhaustingly invested in any friendship he deems as worthwhile.  He is also amazing with kids, charismatic, super welcoming and buys me cute little presents when he makes me mad.  (He is also engaged to be married to the love of his life, Payal, and not my type, so all of you romance sniffers out there can put away your sniffy, nosey noses.  It wouldn’t work.  I would never ever, ever marry an Indian boy.  I don’t think I would even date one because gender relations are way too different between Indians and Americans.)

Suffice it to say, though, that we get along really well and we love each other in a platonic way.  We spend a lot of time together, as well.  Too much, evidently.

About a week ago a leader asked me to stop hanging out with Sachin.  Another leader asked Sachin to stop hanging out with me.  Why, you may ask?  Because the kind of friendship that we have is not done in India.  Girls and boys don’t spend time with each other as much as we do and a few of the Indian girls were offended enough by our friendship that they felt the need to talk about it behind our backs to our leaders and our leaders felt that this assault on what even they saw as a simple friendship was valid enough to tell us to back off.

We are here in Acts 29 to learn about culture, but what they mean by multi-culturalism here is conform to Indian standards and ignore the others.  It gets more offensive every day.

I wanted to sit down with a leader as a facilitator and talk to the people who don’t like our friendship.  I was told that it wasn’t worth it because the way the argument happened was “cultural” and it wasn’t worth anyone’s time or energy to fix it.

There were two cultural issues:

1.  Males and females shouldn’t relate the way Sachin and I do.  ( I feel as though I should tell you that Sachin and I barely ever touch each other…we are talking simply about frequency when we talk about closeness.)
2.  In India you resolve issues through a middleman.  In the United States you resolve an argument face to face or you are accused of being passive aggressive.

Sachin and I have won the first point.  We still spend copious amounts of time together, but we’ve both been made to feel uncomfortable about an innocent friendship, which is sick, wrong, and was created by a bunch of Christians who are supposed to be our friends.  So even though we are still friends we were both hurt a lot by our “brothers and sisters in Christ”.  Imma call bullshit on that one.

I also got an almost tearful apology from Sachin.  He felt bad taht I had felt so shitty about our friendship that he felt obligated to apologize for the hurt other people caused me AS THOUGH he had caused it himself.  Literally.  He said he was sorry that HE HAD HURT me through our friendship.  Sicknasty.

The second point the Indians won 100%.  I was asked (and being the respectful mofo that I am, I consented) not to talk to the girls who were offended.  I don’t get why.  I need the resolution that I think it would help them to understand that there is more than one way to relate to boys (the only way they relate to boys i8s through fear…I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told that “you don’t know what Indian boys are capable of”.)  They could also learn how to have a healthy argument instead of telling stories behind people’s backs. 

These are the bits of culture that I think are important.  We can teach each other things that our cultures do that WORK BETTER and help each other grow as people.  Assertiveness in disagreements is something Americans have to offer to Indians, but they aren’t interested in receiving it.

I know for a fact that there are parts of my life that they could help me live better, but we never talk about culture.  We brush our disagreements aside as being cultural in nature and therefore unalterable and not worth our time.

What are we doing here?!  BLARGH.

Dehradun is a beautiful fusion of home and India, which is exactly what I need right now.

It is abnormally beautiful here.  It is cool in the evenings and warm during the day.  There are waterfalls and trees and big rocky things that they call mountains and I would call glorified hills.  There are evergreen and palm trees growing side by side.  There are waterfalls and rivers.  There are monkeys and parrots and chipmunks and it’s just straight up amazing.

Half of what I look at oozes Minnesota, and the other half prods me gently and reminds me that I am in a beautiful foreign country that I better appreciate while I can.  I love this place.

Funny sidenote:  Dehradun is considered a small town in India, but 800,000 people live here.  What happened to the small towns of 80 something in the US?

Charismatic worship is creepy.

Since we have gotten to Dehradun we have had some new speakers and people who share their testimonies and a lot of them worship in a more charismatic way.  They pray out loud and all at the same time, with several people singing as their own individual prayers until all that you can hear is this really creepy, religious babbling that makes me, honestly, feel like I am sitting in an insanitarium.   The leaders pray dramatic prayers and knock people over and people cry loudly and out of nowhere and lay flat on their stomachs in the middle of the worship area.

I have seen this kind of worship once before in an African American church (although it wasn’t so extreme there as it is here) and many times on television (usually documentary, not fictional stuff) and it has always freaked me out a bit.  Let me tell you, it is even worse when you are in the middle of it.  Half of it seems like theater, and I don’t understand how people can take their faith seriously if they are pretending to feel something so that everyone will see how big it is.  The other half is just creepy.  I don’t think I want to be struck by the spirit if the spirit is going to make me cry like a blubbering fool in the middle of chapel.

Just saying.

God doesn’t want me to be a Christian.

The other night we had four people visit us.  They were charismatic worshippers as well.  One of them gave a testimony and then the four went around praying for us for a while.  Two of them prayed for me.  One of them was a very sweet British lady who asked if there was anything in particular for which I wanted prayer and then prayed and talked to me afterwards to check in a little bit.  Very considerate. 

The other was an elderly gentleman who prayed silently and by simply putting a hand on my shoulder and without ever actually speaking to me.  Strangely enough, I actually thought that I felt something when he was praying.  I said something in my head about being completely empty, which I do feel rather often, and being willing to be filled.  And in a strange, spiritual kind of way, I actually started to feel like I was being filled.  I don’t know how to describe it better than that.  And then, being very spiritually unaware the man who was praying for me stopped before it had finished, and one of our idiot leaders came over and put an urgent hand on my shoulder and stared me straight in the eye and told me that God was telling her to tell me that I had to decide.  Was it going to be all or nothing?  I had already made the decision and was trying to be filled, but she interrupted it.  Thanks, lady.

That’s how it always seems to go, though.  I will feel on the verge of spiritual epiphany.  I can already walk the walk, talk the talk and think the thought like nobody’s business, but I don’t feel it, so I don’t usually bother doing what I know I can.  Why wake up early to go to church when I know that God isn’t going to be there?  If he’s not going to extend me the courtesy of making his presence known every now and then, why should I do the same for him?

Relationships require two parties, even when it is a relationship between God and person.

I just don’t get how whenever I get close to feeling what I imagine God feels like he backs off.  To me, that sounds a lot like a God who doesn’t want to be found, and if he doesn’t want to be found maybe I’m looking in the wrong place.  Maybe God doesn’t want me to be a Christian.

Leaders who act like children don’t make very good leaders.

The other night I went to get Indian Burgers (potato!) with Brenda, Sachin and Allen.  I told a leader that we were leaving, got her permission and told her we would be back in time for dinner.  We left immediately after I spoke to her (which was a lot closer to dinner time than I realized) and got back an hour after dinner.  Oops.  Holly made two mistakes:

1.  She didn’t know what time it was when she left.
2.  When it got dark outside and she realized that it was probably dinner time, she stayed at the restaurant anyways because they had already ordered their food.

When we got back to campus I immediately went to Carina’s room (the leader I got permission from in the first place) and apologized to her for our tardiness and told her that I wanted to take full accountability for everyone being late.  She said she was disappointed that we were late and that we might have to talk later.

20 minutes later I was called into her room again and this time Asher was there.  I repeated that it was entirely my fault and that I wanted to be held accountable if there were to be any consequences.

He told me, and I quote, not to give him that crap.  He then proceeded to yell at me for about 10 minutes, which I let him do after he made it clear that he did not want to even hear my side of the story.  When he finished I told him that I was no longer interested in telling him my perspective of the situation because he had made it clear that he did not care.  He softened a bit and told me to tell him.

I consented.

After at least a half hour of yelling at each other (which was the only choice…I swear Indians will not listen to you unless you are yelling) I had won both of them to my side and they realized that their faulting me for the entire situation was completely off base.

Carina realized that she had made assumptions about my motivation for being late, which made it seem like I had been disrespectful, but after giving me a chance to actually EXPLAIN myself, she realized it was simply a couple of mistakes.

Asher evidently didn’t care either way, because when he realized that he was in the wrong he gave up on the argument entirely and said that it had solely been Carina’s problem and he didn’t really care either way.  And he said this to me while texting someone on his phone.

The issue that I have with this is not that they tried to lecture me for something.  It is that they both acted like children during the conversation.  Asher would rarely let me finish a sentence and Carina would talk about her feelings when I was trying to explain a logical argument.

From the first moment I felt attacked by both of them and that feeling didn’t ease off until after they had been proved wrong.  I was shouted at and it was only after I pointed out that we were not conversing like adults and that we should have the conversation another day that they calmed down a bit.

That was not my place.  That was theirs, but they were too busy yelling to realize how rude, argumentative and childish they were being.

I think that they both owe me an apology, but I don’t expect to get one.

I don’t think I told that story very well but due to the way the screen is set up on this browser I can only read half of what I’m writing so I can’t go back and edit it.

No beautiful prose this time around.  Apologies.

I finally have seen some of India that feels like India! 

We went white water rafting last weekend.  It was beautiful and amazing and exciting, and I made friends with an American named Sam who is from Maine but currently working in Japan.

The best part, though, was afterwards when we walked through the town.  I can’t remember what it was called, but it was beautiful and crazy.

There were people who had their entire bodies and faces painted and were dressed in ornate costumes.  They were beggars, but they were pretty beggars, and who can fault a pretty beggar?  We were on the Ganges River, so there were a bunch of dipping locations where people could walk down a set of stairs immediately to the water and dip themselves in the holy water.  Unfortunatley theere was also a lot of trash in this part of the river, which was kind of gross.

The architecture was stifling and a brilliant mashup of Indian and British and something modern and not particularly interesting.  Street vendors were out in full force and white people with dreds and heavy backpacks were everywhere.

I want to go back.  The rest of my group complained about the spiritual unrest that is clearly going on there.

Christians are very annoying sometimes.

And finally…getting your ears pierced in India is…how you say?  A BAD idea.

I got three piercings in my right ear two weeks ago.  They still hurt a little bit, which I am told they should not.  Also, when we were playing in the river the other day one of them fell our and the earring that I got to replace it yesterday literally GREW INTO MY EAR overnight.

Brenda was kind enough to push it out again and Kapil let me wear one of his for the rest of the day (yes, we sanitized it first) but it’s disgusting. 

Brenda also got her ear pierced and hers looks even more infected than mine.

Life lesson:  if it only costs $2 including the new earring to getyour ear pierced, it’s probably not going to be the best piercing money can buy.  In fact your skin will probably turn purple or yellow and start spitting blood or pus out at you.

Just saying.