Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 15

I was browsing at the local bookstore this morning and came across a fascinating book. No, it wasn't the Pope's Jesus of Nazareth which I was intending to buy, nor was it Going Rogue which I intended to poop on. It was actually The Lifetime Reading Plan. Apparently, it's been around for decades and somehow I've managed to overlook it. It basically presents a list of the best works of literature ever written. I've read a handful of those listed already, but realized a simple fact: I'm not well-read.

Sure, I've spent the last ten years cramming as much non-fiction into my brain as possible, but when it came to literature, I simply scoffed. Why would I want to read something that I can't discuss in a modern and practical forum? The answer to this question simple: I'm a Millennial and as such, I pursue only the most gratifying of endeavors. In my life, I have preferred the movie to the book; the email to the letter, the headlines to the coverage and the blogs to the papers. Tweets and Facebook status updates have only perpetuated the problem and now even bloggers are become somewhat outdated and old. Not only do I think this could be the demise of American ingenuity and leadership, but in the face of such global competition (namely in Asia), it appears to be becoming a reality sooner than expected. 

I can't do a thing to stop this. It's not my job to tell others what to do and how to live. When I have children I can boss them around a bit, but even then, forces outside the household will wield much more power than a mother and father's advice. I can, however, control myself and I have decided to spend more time reading the great minds of this beautiful world than pittling away time on repetitive opinion blogs and meaningless political feuding. At this point, I have finished the New Testament and made a major dent in the Deuterocanonicals. I will continue reading every bit that I can before the month is out. I really enjoyed the New Testament and found a whole new appreciation for Paul and am looking forward to reading much more over the next two weeks. 

Back to the literature though, I have decided to start with Walden and Civil Disobedience. I read both of these years ago, but didn't truly appreciate them. After the bookstore, my wife and I loaded up the scooter and headed back to the riverbanks of the Han. It was an excellent day as the temperature was perfectly balanced out by the gentle breeze blowing in from the Yellow Sea. We read, tanned, napped, played, drank a little beer, listened to some tunes and, of course, waxed about Christianity and the Church.

One of the pleasures of manhood is the ability to pee anywhere. Peeing while driving is probably the best perk, though. Last December, my wife and I were cruising across the American West and I used the Gatorade method dozens of times. 

                       I was actually peeing in this picture.  

So when I needed to pee today, all I had to do was casually silk into the brush and make my ammonia offering to the river gods. I even did the soccer player half-stretch pee a couple times. My wife, on the other hand, usually doesn't have that luxury. I guess she could squat in the brush as well, but most Korean women don't partake in such behavior in public. When her time came, she had to walk to the bathrooms which, honestly, isn't much cleaner that the brush. 

While she was gone, a few curious souls ventured down to our spot on the beach. Most of them were intrigued by the tents, but some just wanted to see what a foreigner was doing on the beach with an unusual dog --that being my mutt. One gentlemen ventured over and told me that I was "cool". I mostly agreed. In fact, I was very cool. Simple mistake. A few moments after that, another gentlemen strolled up with his three-year old daughter. Some Koreans want to teach their kids that foreigners and/or big dogs are friendly. From a distance, I could tell that he was clearly smiling, but as he got closer his grin turned into a scowl. 

He surveyed our tents and didn't like what he saw. He went a step further and picked up his daughter while taking a nonchalant gander into the tent. Inside was a sleeping bag, some books and a backpack full of snacks and other time-killers. His face went from scowl to full-blown disbelief with a hint of anger.
"You live here?" he asked.
"Haha! No. My wife and I are just enjoying the day," I replied, but he clearly didn't understand what I had said. 
"So, you sleep here usually?" 
"No. We are here for the day. It's a nice day outside, isn't it?" I said slowly and clearly.

I was getting a little tired of the exchange at this point, but I kept it friendly. He, however, was not convinced that I was on the up-and-up. He took a few more awkward steps towards me. He wasn't squaring up in the least, but it did seem a little O.K. Corral-ish. He walked past the first tent and on to our canopy tent where he proceeded to survey the items resting on the ground. His eyes slowly scanned each item and then almost out of nowhere, he kindly told me to have a great day, put his daughter down, bowed a little Korean bow and merrily went on his way. 

What had happened?

From what I can tell, while he was scanning my items for illegal paraphernalia that would fit his stereotypes of what activities foreigners should be engaging in, he stumbled across the Bible. Upon seeing the Bible, his framing of me changed and he decided that I was in fact NOT  living or sleeping on the banks of Han. He also found it safe to put his daughter down and continue with his day in the park. This is absurd. 

Of course, I wasn't doing anything wrong anyways and perhaps he realized that, but the timing of his turn-around and his identification of the Bible are very suspicious. People blindly seem to trust other because they have a Bible in their hand. Just look at George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. They are loved by the Right for the sole reason that they claim to thump the Bible. In Palin's case, all she needs is an derrick, a gun, a Downs baby and a Bible and then she's a hero. Have people lost their senses so much that simple markers like owning a Bible or having a certain bumper-sticker can alter ones own better judgement?

I'm a solid liberal Democrat, but there are plenty that I don't like or trust. Same goes for Americans. I'm fiercely proud to be an American, but I also am terrified of crazies like Sarah Palin and Jim Demint. Pat Robertson should be thrown into an attic along with Glenn Beck and all the other nut jobs out there, yet people trust them because they have a loosely defined connection to something. 

A guy with a Bible or cross necklace should not be excused from shady behavior. Mark 13: 33-37 tells us to be watchful and vigilant. I think it's solid advice. 


  1. Do I dare ask who was holding the bottle in this picture? ;-)

  2. Obviously this is your personal journey, so my opinion does not matter one bit. But it is somewhat disappointing to see that instead of embracing Catholicism like you did with Buddhism, you appear to spend much of your Catholic month finding reasons to antagonize Catholicism/Christianity.

  3. John,

    Oh, the perks of marriage.

    The Korean,

    It took me awhile, but my experience in Mass last Sunday changed me a lot. Take a look at Day 16.