May 4, 2009

Spiritual Calling

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This is a picture of my dad's alter. This is where he practices his spiritual calling.

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In this picture you see more clearly as to what is on the table. There are the cow horns that he uses to negotiate with the spirits. There are the finger rings that helps provide a jangle so that the shaman can concentrate in the spirit world. Incents are lit up over by the two red-cloth canister. The egg is provided as an offering, and there are four shots of rice wine also for offering. The two bowls on the side with water are for cleansing.

Traditional ways like this has spread families apart because most Christians do not accept this practices. They are told in church that the offers that we do are done for evil spirits, but as my dad pointed out to many that we are basically doing what they are doing too, driving away bad spirits and seeking help from good spirits. Is it not true that we a person prays in the name of Jesus, he is calling on a spirit?

In the video below, it is one of my wife's uncle performing a spiritual calling in Portland, OR.

April 19, 2009

REPENT, REPENT, REPENT...

Repent and all will be forgiven, repent and I'll be saved. For evil lives in me, and that is the cause of my sins. I was an evil being from the beginning, and I AM an evil being as we speak. I live my life in sin, I live my life to sin. Nothing I do is righteous, nothing I do is worthy. For all I do, I do for me. For all I do, I do for sin. I am a selfish man, I walk in the dark, I stumble for I see no light. John 3:19-21 tells me;

"This is the verdict:" Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil, hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

I will burn forever in hot burning sulfur, I will burn forever as I am condemned. I will not repent my sin, I will not repent my evil. I will not be forgiven, I will not be saved. I choose this life because I know I am evil. Yes, evil lives in me, and I live to do evil. It is said in Romans 7:14-24

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual . Sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I AM! Who will rescue me from this body of death? WHO?

Repent, repent you unholy man, and your soul will be saved from the sin that consumes you...
Repent, repent and the harmful sin that I do will all be forgiven...

April 5, 2009

A Bad Salad Bowl of Culture and Belief

Before ever seeing the six foot tall giants, Hmong people as they knew it, never knew there were people beyond their border. Life was isolated to their own people and their neighbors around them. When the French colonize Indochina in the 18th century, they sent missionaries to spread the words of God to all the people there, and that’s where the Hmong and Christianity begin.

Christian services are very common within the Hmong people in western civilization countries. Most Hmong people who have Christian belief still follow traditional guidelines though. Examples are from the funeral that just pasted and the funeral that I attended over the weekend. In these two funerals, the family and the church that the decease attend, still feel really strongly about the three day process of rites of passage for the decease. It is still believed that whether you believe in the old ways or have become a Christian, you still have to guide the soul back to their place of birth and then back into the spirit world.

Instead of drum beats and qeej (a wind instrument used for funeral) songs to guide a spirit into their new life, Hmong Christian sing songs of hope, they pray for the safety of the spirit, and the pastor reads passages from the bible, to ensure that the decease will find their way to heaven.

These Christian services have caused a lot of debates over issues of what is cultural and what is religion. Many Hmong Christians have now disowned their non-Christian counter partners. They’ve refused to take part in many non-Christian funeral and wedding rites, and have made rules or laws for themselves to govern them. This has stirred a lot of attention among non-Christians Hmong.

Most non-Christian have no problem when it comes to taking part in any of the Christian services, but many Christian feel that the way the “non” are performing their rites are against Christian belief. They are afraid to eat the food that the “non” serves at weddings and funerals, because they believe that the food have been offer to bad spirits. They automatically exempt themselves from performing some Hmong rites like, bowing in thanks for gifts and not offering food or services to non believers.

The biggest issue that the non-Christian see is that, why do they, the believers, follow traditional beliefs if you can’t accept us non believers? At the end of the day, they still need our help to ensure that the wedding or funeral will go smoothly.

What is the problem? This past summer I had my wedding. My wife’s family is Christian and my family believed in the old ways. Because she came from a Christian background, her family wanted a Christian wedding for us along with the traditional wedding. Everything went well as far as planning went except for the pastor of their church, after finding out that I wasn’t a Christian, refused to do our wedding. Many Hmong pastor refused our request for a service so we had to use a non-Hmong priest to give us our service.

March 23, 2009

Three Days: Beginning and End

Three days is very important in Hmong culture.

When a baby is born, it is said that you are to wait three days after birth to have a calling of the child's sprit to come home, and then give him/her their name.

In marriage, it takes up to three days to finish a traditional wedding from start to finish.

And in death, you need at least three days to to guide the decease back to the sprit world.

As spring break began for all of us, most everyone had plan for something fun. I had plans for something fun also, but that didn't work out as there was other plans that was made.

In the first three days, it was set for a cousin's wedding. The beginning for the two newlywed. There was a lot of excitement from both families. Which started with the groom bring home the bride to let his parents know that he wanted to get marry. After informing the bride's family about the marriage, the negotiation between the two families begins. There were talks about if there have ever been a marriage between the two families and if there is any family ties. After all of that is reviewed, then they start to negotiate the price of the wedding, who provides the food, and the drinking begins. Long day ahead of us, after all is said and done, we add a new extended member to the our family.

But it doesn’t stop there, as a new member is added to the family, another member leaves the family. And this signifies the end of my spring break. Three days for funeral services for a great grandfather of mines. Families flying to and driving to Milwaukee, WI for his funeral for the final weekend of spring break. This is where I was, this is where I am. The first night of the service was mainly meet and greet. Seeing all the relatives again from Milwaukee brings back many memories of the past. Following on day two with a Christian service in the evening and visiting hour lasting all day Saturday into Sunday evening, 24 hours round the clock service.
Crazy tire, as I write this blog entry, I really don’t know what to write about. This is my letter to you, the reader, to let you know that I will not be in class on Monday March 23, 2009.

March 1, 2009

My Average Joe Life

Here is a little something I wrote awhile back that I wanted to share for this week.



My average Joe life, marry to my average Joe wife

Living in my average Joe house, you know the one by that field where you saw that mouse.

Driving my average Joe car, going for a drink at my average Joe bar

Wearing my average Joe clothes, which consist of a t-shirt and jean.

This average Joe life, it's so simple, it makes me grin

With my average Joe paid, who is to say? I love my average Joe day...

But they tell me I have to be more than just an average Joe

They say I have to make a lot of dough.

They tell me I should go to school,

They want me to be a doctor so I can use those fancy tools.

They say life will be great, and that I can afford that big house on the lake.

I can take that vacation to France, flying really high. man, everyone looks like ants.

So I'll no longer be an average Joe, I'll have so much money, I probably wouldn't even know.

I'll no longer drive that car, I won't even go back to that bar.

No more jeans and t-shirts, no more eating beans and bratwursts.

Oh how I'm going to miss being an average Joe.

I could careless about making all that dough.

I don't need the big house by the lake, I know I can still be very great.

I just need my average Joe paid, I just want to go home after my 9 to 5 work day.

Average Joe life is so simple, I know I can stand there and smile with my dimples.

How I love my average Joe life, but it's now late.

I have to be at work by eight. so GOOD NIGHT.....


February 15, 2009

Happy Retail Holiday to You...

Another holiday and some more money going back to stimulate our economy, yes what a great valentine’s day it was. So what did you buy the wife, the girlfriend, the lover? Maybe just took’em out to dinner and some flowers? Chocolate? Everyone loves chocolate… So what was it? Every year it's the same old holiday, and every year the retail outlets want you to buy something new and better for that significant other, but when is it ever enough?

Over Christmas, all the jewelry company told us to buy her that pendent diamond necklace. For new years they wanted us to get her the diamond earrings to ring the New Year and also to go with the necklace and now for Valentine’s Day we are suppose to top it off with the brilliant bracelet. eeekkk... If you asked me. Where do I even find the money for that? How many extra shifts do I have to pick up to pay for all of that stuff? And that is if I still even have a job by the end of the day….

I'm all for a little economy boosting here, so how about sending some money my way? I can't afford to try and top out last year's gift, so what the government should do is offer a tax cut for everybody who is buying an expensive gift for their significant other or family member... I mean if they are going to give credit to all those people who are going to buy a car or a house this coming up year; wouldn’t it be fair to let others get a tax break as well? Not everyone can afford to buy or is looking for a house or a car right now, so give me a break, give her a break, and give them a break… After that, create a holiday for each and every month so that there is a reason to spend spend... How's that for simulating the economy? We will all be joyfully spending money during these retail holidays…..

January 30, 2009

Connecting the Dot: America's Down Fall

As the economy turns downward, we all wonder when it will rebound itself back to success again. So what caused this recession that we are in right now? Was it the work of the outgoing president, President George W. Bush? Was it the lack of responsibilities of big companies and their drive to maximize their profits? Or was it something else beyond you and me? In the years leading up to the economic downfall there were three things that I’ve always notice. One, the spend crazy and buy crazy of Americans’ who couldn’t afford to buy. Two, our need for oil or better yet, gasoline, so that we can function in our everyday life. And three, the continuous profits of big oil company even in supposed down economy.

Let us start with the oil company. On Friday, Exxon Mobile just posted a record breaking profit of $44.06 billion dollars. Is it strange to see the oil company post record profits and breaking previous records when almost everyone is losing their job? Yes and No. Yes, I find it strange how the oil companies would tell us that the rises in gas price are due to hard times, nature disaster such as hurricanes, tornados, and floods, and lack of supply. But if we look at the hard times, we see that most people are still buying and most are still spending. We saw it in Hurricane Katrina when gas price skyrocketed up to $5/gal. And we were all told that the hurricane hurt the oil company, but Exxon Mobile still posted a $36.13 billion profit.

But we can simply blame it on them; we crave oil and gas too much. Look at the vehicles that we drive. Look at the distance and just how much we drive in a year’s time. Most people from other parts of the world do not have over 100 thousand miles on any of their vehicle and if they do, they don’t drive the same size vehicles we do. On average there are 3 vehicles for every one person with a driver’s license. That’s a lot of cars and truck for just one person, and that’s a lot of money to be spent by one person.

Which brings me to my first reason about how we buy and spend too much money on things that we didn’t need. Between 2003 to 2006, the housing market jumped up nearly double from previous years. People were buying houses even thought they knew they probably weren’t going to be able to afford it in the long run. Along with that, people started to buy SUVs and Trucks, inefficient cars that didn’t have good gas mileage because they could. And while we were all enjoying the good times, we didn’t foresee doom coming.

Connecting the dots and fast track to today and lets think about what may caused the economic downturn. Our hunger for oil and gasoline. All things we buy and all the money we spend, it goes back to oil in some way or form. From the food we eat, to the work that we do, it all is influence by the oil company. We recently saw that food prices went up, farmers can no longer produce goods for us for the pay that they use to get years ago. Why? Because of the price of oil. The trucker who brings the good to the stores can’t afford to drive across country just so that we can have that Florida orange, airline going into bankruptcy because cost of fuel is on a rise. And to even pay our bills, we have to get to work. How do we get there? With our 1 in 3 cars that we have, even the price to ride public transportation is up. So oil do control us.

So what can be done? Nothing, we need it too much to even try anything. Oil will always post billions in dollar in profit and all we can do is watch. Solutions like “lets not buy gasoline for one day? will never work because they know we will need it in the next couple of days, so they get us back in those next few days by bring the prices up. The real possible solution that I’m sure no one will ever be able to do is to not drive anything for a whole weekend, and if possible a week.