Sunday, September 15, 2013

A missed opportunity?

"Hi, sorry, excuse me, my car ran out of gas.  Can you give me a ride over there to the gas station?"  The man breathlessly pointed towards the off-ramp of a busy expressway where he had flagged me down from the middle island at a red light.

As my wife continued to shush our frantically crying baby, I rolled down the window and quickly replied, "Sorry man, we're kind of in a hurry.  There's also a policeman right behind us," as the light turned green and I begin to pull away.  I was trying to get our family to Mass for which we were 10 minutes late and as a result, forgot to bring the pacifier to keep our son calm on the ride.

Immediately, my thoughts bounced from super orthodox priests who have called out congregants for arriving after the Gospel reading telling them that they arrived too late to fulfill their Sunday obligation to the priest and Levite passing the injured man by.  Did the fact that there was a policeman right behind me give me a free pass?  Or did I miss an opportunity to serve Jesus?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You know what's awkward? 2

Congregants at a Protestant service or gathering where the Apostles' Creed is being said.  When you get to "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church," lots of people trail off.   It's like, "the holy ca-wait, what?" and then cue any personal anti-Catholic triggers.  Lower-c catholic, people, but thanks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

You know what's awkward?

An over-exuberant, celebratory man picking up a not-expecting-to-be-picked-up woman.  Whether she's wearing a dress, skirt, or pants, all I end up seeing is the woman trying to keep her bottom covered up/whale-tail from showing while trying not to ruin the moment.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Example of Love's Infinity

"A mother loves the baby she has yet to bear — not the abstract idea of a baby, mind you, but her particular, future baby, shrouded in the mystery of who, precisely, he will be, but nevertheless loved as himself and no other."

          ~ Marc Barnes, How Not to Know God

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I don't like him, but I love him

"I've actually heard some Christian friends say something like, "I mean, OK, I love him because I have to, but I totally do not like him at all!" I've never really understood this idea. It just seems like a way to satisfy both divine mandate and personal resentment with slippery semantics.

When I finally came to terms with being gay, I questioned if God loved me. I came to the conclusion that of course God loved me because he was God and he had to, but probably he was disappointed in me, and therefore didn't really like me."

          ~ (Being Gay at Jerry Falwell's University)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Example of Code-Switching

The recently started NPR Code Switch blog has caught my attention.  Though the definition of code switching seems to be broad, it hits home for me in many ways ranging from my use of two languages, having a "work mode" tone when I troubleshoot problems, a ministry voice, and a casual mode that is made up of Bay Area, Asian Pride, hip-hop laced slang.

There are lots of potentially meaningful examples of code switching in my life, but here's an inane one.  During the exchanging of the Sign of Peace during Mass, there are some guys where our sign of peace is a bro-hug.  There are some women where our sign of peace is a hug.  And there is the select one where the sign of peace is a kiss (hi babe!).  Everyone else is a strong, firm handshake and either, "Peace be with you," or "Zhu ni pin yan," which in itself is a code-switch within a code-switch.  

But one of the most awkward situations is when I bro-hug one of my bro's or a particular high schooler I'm fond of and then when reaching to make a normal handshake with the next guy, they assume the bro-hug too and it degenerates into an awkward mess of accidentally interlocking fingers and a half-hearted hug.

Good thing the gif below didn't happen the other way around.  It could have gotten pretty weird with the white guy.

Inline image 1

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ministry Idea

Every now and then I get a bit of inspiration with some aspect of my youth ministry.  Working with a team of young adults that are all volunteers can sometimes be tricky particularly when it comes to defining their commitments.  I often wonder how I can continue to renew and strengthen their hearts for working with the youth. 

After reading the article below about Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, I was inspired to ask some of the more emotionally intelligent high school students to see if they would be willing to write a letter or a record a video that expresses what they observe the young adult volunteers do for them and what they have meant to them.  At our monthly staff meeting, I shared the letters and videos with the young adults and held a casual discussion about their reactions.  It was interesting to see that by default, Chinese American young adults don't always know how to receive affirmation.  However, after some probing, I could tell it meant a lot to them.

Organizational psychology has long concerned itself with how to design work so that people will enjoy it and want to keep doing it. Traditionally the thinking has been that employers should appeal to workers' more obvious forms of self-interest: financial incentives, yes, but also work that is inherently interesting or offers the possibility for career advancement...The greatest untapped source of motivation, he argues, is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other peoples' lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.

Call centers, even on college campuses, are notoriously unsatisfying places to work. The job is repetitive and can be emotionally taxing, as callers absorb verbal abuse while also facing rejection (the rejection rate at that call center was about 93 percent)...Now, at the call center, Grant proposed a simple, low-cost experiment: given that one of the center's primary purposes was funding scholarships, Grant brought in a student who had benefited from that fund-raising. The callers took a 10-minute break as the young man told them how much the scholarship had changed his life and how excited he now was to work as a teacher with Teach for America...The results were surprising even to Grant. A month after the testimonial, the workers were spending 142 percent more time on the phone and bringing in 171 percent more revenue, even though they were using the same script.

When Grant went back and talked to the callers about their improvement, many actively discounted the possibility that the brief encounter with a scholarship student helped...Eventually, having replicated the test five times, Grant was confident that he had eliminated other explanations. It was almost as if the good feelings had bypassed the callers' conscious cognitive processes and gone straight to a more subconscious source of motivation. They were more driven to succeed, even if they could not pinpoint the trigger for that drive.