Category Archives: Personal Future

La Ilaha Illallah

This has been a long time coming, but I’m making it official: I’m converting to Sunni Islam. The West, including the Chinese bourgeoisie, has proven itself decadent in every way, and it has become abundantly clear that its destruction is God’s will. The only way to save the Chinese and White races is through Allah and his prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Ummatī, qad lāha fajrun امتي قد لاح فجر.

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Russian and Uyghur for the Children

When I was in high school, I had autistic dreams of having my children natively speak an analytic language, an agglutinative language, and a fusional language. As a Chinese American, I thought Chinese would work well for analytic and Latin for fusional; for agglutinative, Finnish. Even at that time, of course, I knew that it would not be practical, as Romantic as it might be, for the son of a Chinaman to speak Mohawk.

I take for granted that, if I marry and God give me children, they should speak Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and (if possible) my grandfather’s mother tongue, Taishanese; Latin also remains eminently good and useful. In addition to these languages of Chinese and Christian heritage, though, I hope they can speak Russian and Uyghur.

modern-uyghur-grammar-by-haimit-tdmiir-16-638

For that hope, I have my reasons: (1) Eurasian bloc integration and (2) the Back to Jerusalem movement. The two are related, and of this I shall say more later.

To China, My Heart

I wonder if normal Christians find it strange that I feel a special sense of duty to China from sharing my grandfather’s birthday. His birth date is recorded to have been in October, and mine in December, but seems his month and day were in fact according to the Chinese lunar calendar, in which case mine matches his in the solar.

If I were to ask for the intercession of departed saints, I would certainly be inclined to solicit his prayers, not because of any long and exemplary faithfulness to Christ but because of the circumstances of his becoming a Christian. It was nothing short of miraculous, I felt, that the Lord saw fit to convert him to the true faith in the last months of his life on earth. For decades he had resisted this faith, and when my father had converted to it he even had told him not to go to church – with which, being clean contrary to the commandment of God, my father dared not comply. My attempt to ask him about his religious beliefs had elicited a memorably clever reply but nothing of substance. Years later, as he lay dying, his defences stripped from him, with nothing between his soul and the eyes of God, he was compelled to bend the knee of his heart to the one true God by the mediation of Jesus Christ. When I heard the news, I think, I was in the shower on the other side of the country, and it was as if something had washed my family clean. His death, when it came, was great sorrow but also great peace for a man who had been carried by angels to meet his Maker. To a man who has been shown such extraordinary favour for the sake of Christ, will not more favour be shown?

Even today, whenever I go up the hills of Oakland to the land of the dead, to the darkness of death and the memorial of a great cleansing, I feel the holiness of God manifest. When my eye passes over Oakland and Berkeley, over the Bay to San Francisco, and over the ocean to the land of our fathers, it is as if God has given us possession of the earth because he has sanctified this family. No matter what happens in our family, this is the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy, granting that we may eat the flesh of his dear Son, and to drink his blood, to the cleansing of our sinful bodies through his body and the washing of our souls through his most precious blood. When I am there, I am assured as if by a promissory note that this family, sanctified by Christ himself from my grandfather on, will serve God even to the end of the world. By the power of a God who can convert the most stiff-necked people, and who made a noble pagan but a deeply flawed man into one of his saints, there is nothing that cannot be done. To see the land of the dead is also the hear the promise of life.

And Luminous Authority begat Nation’s Hoisting-up, and Nation’s Hoisting-up begat Walking in Righteousness.

And so, marking to what dangers my grandfather once submitted himself in service to China as a spy, my heart wants to do the same in Christ. The line of providence from my grandfather to me seems too great to cast off as coïncidence, since the all-wise Lord knows no such thing as luck or chance. In 1949, he had left China as an exile; near the turn of the millennium, ad te omnis caro veniet. The new millennium in China belongs to the Lord, and what things soever he has ordained for that nation will come to pass. And the power that turned the heart of my grandfather to his children, and of his children to him, that same power is the Holy Spirit in me to magnify and bless.

A Few Thoughts This Easter Weekend

It has been a while since I last wrote a stream-of-consciousness post. At least, I like to think I have most of my posts organized with tighter structure. But sometimes it is good, I think, to use a looser writing style. Who knows? It might yield some aphorisms like those of Pascal and Nietzsche.

While I listen to Bach now, I remember that this is probably the first Easter Sunday on which I have missed church. Funny that my missing church services on Easter Day is due largely to my having attended a Good Friday service.

And Good Friday was a day when I had declared, for various reasons, Taedet animam meam vitæ meæ. But Job is not suicidal when he says that. And I am not even Job. I have a good family and friends who care and who have godly counsels. No, I am not wanting in good things, for the Lord is my shepherd.

And though I may once in a while be tempted to become a priest, I resist that vain desire. To enter the presbyterate for a house of delusion is not blessed by God. For now, I can rest content with what I can do as a layman. And anyway, even if I became a cleric, I would, in order to impose no burden on the Church respecting money, have to hold other gainful employment, even if it were not a career.

But I wonder, is it a middle-class obsession to have a career with a clear cursus honorum? Clearly, tradesmen have also had careers. But perhaps it is a uniquely capitalist middle-class thing to feel the need to have a career in order to know one’s place in life.

Only, I also know not whether I shall ever marry. ’Tis not the time to think about marriage, and (as my father points out) thinking about whether it will ever be the time is also thinking about marriage, so I shall leave off thinking about that one.

A tendency is a tendency; what matters is what we do with what we are given. May the Lord grant me the grace to follow him with all that I am, all that he has made me. It will all be clear in his time, and at the resurrection of the dead he will tell all, and it will be gloriously clear.

Yesterday was the Clear Brightness Festival. I even thought I would go up to the graveyard to sweep the ancestral tombs and cut the grass a little. But, again, what befell me on Good Friday has prevented my doing so. Wednesday will be the anniversary of my grandfather’s death; perhaps by then I shall be able to drive again. We shall see.

In any case, I think it a remarkable coïncidence that the day on which the Chinese swept the tombs was Holy Saturday, just before Easter Day, the day of our Lord’s resurrection. Remember that the dead will rise in Christ.

Aside

‘I shall drink something ambiguous – no, polyvalent.’ ‘Is that the same as polysemous?’ ‘Oh, no, definitely not in this case.’ ‘Ah, well, at least we have some things clear.’ ‘Yes, none of that cloudy crap for Manhattans.’

Western Wind and its Masses

I may see myself writing my M.Litt. dissertation about this poem:

Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,
The small raine down can raine.
Cryst, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again!

Has no one broached the question of why this lyric poem (or something very much like it) became the musical basis of three different Mass settings in England, when matching secular lyrics with the Ordinary of the Mass (as in Missa Entre vous filles and Missa mille regretz) was clearly a Continental trend?

One caveat: St Andrews seems rather poor in library material on medieval and Renaissance music.

St Andrews, Here I Come

So, I’ve decided to go to Scotland in September for an M.Litt. in Mediæval English. Check out the taxonomic breakdown of the reasons for going, ordered in the guise of a phrase structure tree diagram:

Image made with phpSyntaxTree.

I know, only a linguistics geek would think of putting things this way. Believe me, had I so wished, I could also have put out an Optimality Theory tableau.

Am I Still an Evangelical Christian?

My theological shifts and refinements in the past few years lead me to ask whether I’d still call myself an evangelical Christian in the current climate.

Hands Raised: Church Worship Background. Photograph by Brian Petersen.

Hands Raised: Church Worship Background. Photograph by Brian Petersen.

For Evangelical Theology 1833–1856, written as a response to 19c. Tractarianism and its heirs, Peter Toon proposes this definition:

An Evangelical Anglican has a strong attachment to the Protestantism of the national Church with its Articles of Religion and Prayer Book. He believes that the Bible is authoritative in matters of faith and conduct and is to be read individually and in the home as well as in church. He emphasises the doctrine of justification by faith but with good works and a specific (holy) life-style as the proof of true faith. He claims to enjoy a personal relationship with God through Christ, the origins of which are usually traced not to sacramental grace but to a conversion experience. And he sees the primary task of the Church in terms of evangelism or missions and so emphasises preaching at home and abroad.

I’m unabashedly Protestant; I believe the Bible’s the supreme authority in the Church, so to be desired and so to be trained for among the laity that it’s read individually and in the home; I emphasize justification by faith over against any notions that curve us inward upon ourselves in a quest for salvation from within; I enjoy a personal relationship with Christ in the Cross, one that the Father initiates in the election of his people and the Holy Ghost administers covenantally in the sacraments; evangelism is crucial for mankind to know the Lord, but I see it sometimes given disproportionate influence that sometimes sacrifices the integrity of the gospel message.

The need for individual faith I should hardly deny. Continue reading

Till They Find Rest in Thee

If my parents want my help for things here and there and think I’m good enough to get into grad school and law school and all that stuff and think I’m too smart to be as dumb as I am, then why do I seem to be such a useless, incompetent fuddly-duddly in their eyes? – even with their assurances that they love and value me beyond what merit could demand. And if that’s where I am now, how exactly do I get out of such a hole? This line doesn’t resolve.

That’s how my life seems to me. Or there is no ‘seems’, but all my literacy redounds to the benefit of others and not to my wretched self. 懵, blur, ignorant, muddled, I crawl in dreamland to a fantasy within a fantasy, and the embedded fantasy contains the matrix fantasy, and all becomes a mess of inky stasis. Can you not see there must be something to extract from me, something to make you rich? Vaguely.

Come on, I always suspected that none of my skills were actually useful. And then reality comes along to confirm my suspicions, that I, worm that I am, can do nothing that merits even enough pay to pay my own bills in turn. Vapour, vapour, vapour, and no shantih ever breaks into my wasteland (don’t think I’ve actually read Eliot’s poem yet), except for that support and affection which I receive. If I didn’t suck at plot and character, I could just try to make a living by writing. But alas, this is not to be: things take more time than sanity’s willing to invest, because there’s today as well as tomorrow to live, and kal naa ho (‘tomorrow will not be’) without aaj (‘today’). Kal aaja (‘tomorrow, come’); kal ho naa ho (‘tomorrow may not be’).

This is sociologically or psychologically or economically interesting, I’m sure, this investment matter. Now when you find the equilibrium and write your article, can you put my name on it too?

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. In the meantime, with the tons of discouraging news (or non-news, or forebodings), the love of beloved friends is all that’s preserved my sanity alive. And genuinely, truly, the marriage of two friends and the quiet love of others has been joy in my heart. But that verse, which has appeared in our Bible studies, has never before sounded so good to my weary self. Upbraid me not, O Lord, for my offences, but grant in abundance the wisdom of thy holy Cross. Perhaps there is śāntiḥ after all.

St Albans Psalter Research Progress

I may have made a small breakthrough in my mediæval research today concerning textual displacement, veiling and manifestation. It relates (literary and musical) polyphony to the mystery and the knowledge of the Eucharist, and ultimately to the atonement – and is Dostoevsky’s polyphonic fiction related? Perhaps polyphony both conceals and reveals. Work moves ahead.

Thanks be to God (courtesy of Johannes Ockeghem). Still, missa non est.

Medieval Research, and Sumer is Icumen In

Somebody else seems to share part of my intuition about reading (HT: Ron Silliman), which I applied a bit to the St Albans Psalter (12c., written in Latin and Anglo-Norman with copious pictures) last semester. At least that tells me, since I do need some reminding, that the questions I’m trying to answer this summer in my academic work are real and can influence what we do in the world, that my interpretation can be important somewhere.

Fine, some background. In the fall term of 2008, I took Mediaeval Literature with Prof. Jennifer Miller in the English department. The focus of the course was the St Albans Psalter, which was produced in England in the twelfth century and now is held in Germany. My term paper attempted to deal with what seemed to be some inconsistencies in the codex’s presuppositions and agenda about legitimate literacy. As I worked to see what the text of this Psalter (not just the words as disembodied, abstract linguistic representation but as a whole object) was really doing, orality and silence seemed to be a large part of the question – interesting because I’ve always found this issue important, though largely unknown and speculative.

Now my work, as it touches what was practised and commended in 12c. England (by whoever), may pertain to both Silliman’s aesthetic and performative interests – of which I really know nothing, because he’s not my normal reading (though he seems to be Cliff’s) – and the theological (and liturgical) practice of churches today. If I can make an original contribution in this area in the next two or three months, if indeed I can find something worth other people learning, I’ll be pretty pleased with this summer.

I Want My Own Letterpress

And now perhaps I can make my own (HT: Cliff Mak). This is the kind of thing you want to have but don’t think you can seriously pursue without great cost. Well, it turns out that the metal pieces of type will probably cost more than this, the press itself.

Don’t tell me you haven’t dreamt of having a printing press where your kids printed great littérature for you and for themselves, typeset to exacting standards, cunningly wrought – that kind of thing. Or maybe it really is just me, for I want to publish articles and make books when I retire. It would be the grandest little thing uniting sight, sound and sense in the practice of the craft.

Government Adds Water to the Economic Spiral

Obama’s way passes in the Senate. A gamut of other opinions, both from Congress and from academia.

From a reliable source:

The U.S. will be $12 trillion in debt by 2011; it has about $60 trillion in Medicare liabilities and several more trillions in Social Security liabilities. The total is an obligation of about $80 trillion, which amounts to 250k for every man, child and grandma in the U.S. There is no chance that the U.S. can satisfy this through normal taxation. Recklessly printing money is the only option: when that day will come is too hard to call now, but it has to come in the next 30 years. To give you a perspective, the entire U.S. stock market is worth about $15 trillion, so we are talking about more than five times the entire wealth of the U.S. stock market.

Living necessities will be worth more eventually than these U.S. dollars. Give me chickens and rabbits and fish to keep, and I’ll have protein without having to get it from Safeway. And give me a gun, because I may need one for self-defence in these unstable times. Who knows where panic may come from?

Professor Quits

May this never be my life (HT: Rod Dreher):

Will I miss some of my colleagues? Sure. They have a remarkable ability to enjoy their craft, but I have great difficulty believing that I am making a significant difference in the lives of my students. Are my peers aware students are skimming the reading? Yes. They have figured out that getting emotionally invested in the student body is both taxing and fruitless. Instead they enjoy their autonomy and the bucolic campus life without a second thought, or with a deeply imbued cognitive dissonance that I have not yet embraced.

I will not miss all of them. Simply put, too many are intellectually lazy. Many of my colleagues think of the day they receive tenure as the last official day they have to produce research. They consider research as a burden, not as a labor of love that complements teaching.

As for the students, I know that I’ll miss the good ones. Any good professor treasures the joy of seeing in a student’s eyes the “ah-ha – now I get it” moment. It cannot be replicated, nor can it be easily described. It is sadly ever increasingly rare. In fact I think I am doing a genuine service to the better students by leaving. I cannot in good conscience dumb down a lecture, knowing full well that the gifted and talented have read four chapters beyond the syllabus, and that they are not being sufficiently challenged.

Alas for the state of the mind! But some are called to stand in the gap. Where I may, I know not.

Be Not Afraid

I’m not optimistic about any students I might have in the future. I know they’re, for the most part, a generation of spoiled college students who’ve never done anything but lust for money, sex and power their entire lives and tried to compensate by looking generous and hip. Oh, wait, what compensation? Like me, my students would be selfish, prideful, superficial, lazy, negligent, inattentive people who could never save themselves.

But this is not what I’m here to talk about. Continue reading