Monday, March 28, 2005

scattered notes / Ents ate D scrote!

The interview with Smoo (Sookmyung U.) was pleasant enough. Won't know results until Wednesday; they had a whole line of interviewees, and we were all doing exactly 30-minute interviews.

I sat at a table across from three very nice ladies-- two Korean, one Western-- and they grilled me gently about my resume, my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, etc. I think I charmed the older lady, but doubt I impressed the Western lady, who saw me right away for the cad I obviously am. The other Korean lady was smiling but unreadable. They had good poker faces.

Seriously, I do hope I get this job. It'd be great on the resume, and it'd be nice to work with high-caliber students. (I know what you're thinking; stop thinking it.)

I'll be interviewing on Wednesday with the medical college, but at this point, I'm liking what I see at Smoo, which has, in my opinion, a much nicer campus than Ehwa (if we're comparing women's universities). I'm not sure if they'll be paying for my plane ticket (for yet another goddamn visa run), but they sounded vaguely amenable. I was happy to discover that teacher's housing does include cooking facilities; don't know what I'd do without that.

They also seemed amenable to my drama curriculum proposal, so I've promised to write one up for them to turn in later this week. That would be pretty damn cool, directing a bunch of little skits or a one-act play for several characters.

OK, moving on...

For your entertainment and edification, check out the following:

Dr. Hodges and his kids say the damnedest things. And check out how he met his wife.

The only Tokdo post you need, courtesy of The Party Pooper.

Daehee looks like he's about to sever ties with some cosmic bullshit. I'd promised a blog about Korean Christianity, but Daehee's occasional rants on the subject are a better source than mine could ever be; I simply don't attend Korean churches enough to know all the dirty workings.

Suffice it to say that Korean Christianity is, like Christianity in so many other parts of the world, big money. It's also a keeper of the original Western missionary flame, still retaining the manic zeal of those first intrepid Christians who flopped or trekked onto Korean soil to spread the Good News. Lots of histrionics, as Daehee notes: the shouts of "Amen!", the weepy prayers, the in-your-face referral to money (despite Jesus' claim that we can't serve both God and money).

Korean Presbyterianism looks nothing like its mainline American counterpart. The ambience at a typical PCUSA service is the very antithesis of drama, and that's why my people are jokingly known as God's Frozen Chosen. Staid, plodding, and boring, our hymns are often sung at a soporific pace. This isn't to say that our style of worship is totally joyless; our church's pastor consistently delivers great sermons. Even if you disagree with him (and since he's a religious liberal, I don't often disagree), he'll make you think. It's not all gloom with PCUSA.

And I need to say something about the theatrics of worship. Because I had to do some superficial reading in ritual studies as part of my MA, I'm aware that theatrical elements are inevitable components of worship. You can't get around ceremony-- pomp and circumstance. But there are times when the drama feels truly integral to the larger context (I've had this feeling at black Baptist services), and times when it seems more like puffed-up buffoonery, people showing off their piety to each other (the creepy feeling I have at most Korean services, as well as at most white evangelical services in the Bible Belt).

From the Sermon on the Mount (Matt., Ch. 6):

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. [NRSV]

This is something I can't stand about most churches, Korean or not. People dress up in their "Sunday best" not because God gives a shit how we look, but because people are busy trying to out-holy each other. It's a silly game, and it goes on every week. And yeah, modern Christianity contains plenty of "heaping up of empty phrases."

I no longer consider organized religion to be inherently bad, but you'd have to be blind to think it's not freighted with major problems.

For a fascinating look into one form of Christianity, go rent Robert Duvall's masterpiece, "The Apostle." Fan-damn-tastic film.

...Did you like my anagram?


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