19 Jun 2013
in expat life, opinion, travel
Tags: birds, galleries, Insadong, Seoul, tea houses, travel in Korea
Insadong is one of my favorite places in Seoul, South Korea. It’s a neighborhood of tea houses, shops, art galleries and cultural demonstrations. It’s just fun to wander around.
My favorite way to wind up an afternoon in Insadong is to stop at the Old Tea Shop where little finches fly around the antique filled, funky tea shop.
15 Jun 2013
in China, expat life, Uncategorized
Tags: art, experience, generosity, kindness
A couple weeks ago my friends and I visited the gallery at Shandong University of Art and Design. The artist and his wife were so gracious and kind. With the help of a student we discussed his paintings. His wife took us to his studio and showed us where he worked.
Before Dragonboat Festival he sent me a text inviting my friends and I to return to his studio because he wanted to give us some paintings. It was hard to believe this offer was real. They’d mentioned it in the gallery, but we thought he was just being nice. He’s a master painter who’s learned from some top painters.
The text convinced us he was serious. We got a bottle of good red wine and proceeded to the studio on Thursday. As is often the case with these meetings in China there was a bit of confusion about where he lived and when we’d be there. In the end that was all worked out. First the wife welcomed us with cherries from Yantai and tea and soon the artist and his 17 year old son, who speaks very good English arrived. We talked about the son’s trip to Australia and the paintings. My friend Lynne was quite diplomatic and polite about refusing the paintings, which is part of the Chinese ritual. I knew what she was doing, but still got a little nervous about missing this opportunity for some fine art.
In the end he gave us each a traditional ink painting of peonies and birds. It’s stamped (like signing in the West) and everything.
I’m still just stunned. Such kindness and generosity!
15 Jun 2013
in China, expat life
Tags: Holidays, work week
It’s a weird week when the days just don’t feel right. We have had to work on Saturday and Sunday so we can get Monday – Wednesday off for Dragonboat Festival. I’ve felt out of sync all week.
Today’s Saturday, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. It doesn’t feel like a weekday either. It’ll be nice to be off and kick back starting Monday, but Thursday and Friday will feel weird too. It’s not till the next Monday comes that things return to a normal rhythm.I’m not sure when I’ll adjust to this Chinese practice of making people work on the weekend so they get more time off during the week.
15 Jun 2013
in art, Blogging Challenge, China, culture
Tags: China, Jinan, park, postaday2013, postaweek2013, sculpture, Shandong, Weekly Photo Challenge, weeklyphotochallenge2013
At Xiaoqinghe River
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14 Jun 2013
in culture, humor, musing, Review, television
Tags: Carl Reiner, cars, comedy, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Mel Brooks, Michael Richards, philosophy, Sarah Silverman
I’ve just discovered Jerry Seinfeld‘s 2012 web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The premise is simple. Jerry introduces a stunning car, perhaps a 1960 Rolls Royce or a rusty old VW truck. As the camera shows every detail Jerry describes the fine points of the week’s vehicle. Then he calls a comedic legend and picks him (so far there’s only been one woman, Sarah Silverman) up and they go for coffee (or breakfast or tea). All along the way they crack wise about life and examine what makes great comedy work. Often you’ll hear
So far I’ve seen the webisodes with Michael Richards, Larry David, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. The short (17 minutes or so) episodes feature sleek cinematography, elegance and a relaxing, friendly vibe. But if you watch too many, and I’ve decided my limit is two, and the smooth jazz and elegance gets wearing. I mean who’s life is that smooth and easy. So limit yourself.
The 2013 season has just begun with Sarah Silverman.
11 Jun 2013
in art, China, culture, museum
Tags: art, Chinese, modern, painting, Shandong Provincial Museum
I returned to the Shandong Provincial to see their two new exhibits. Today I’m sharing some modern art by Liu Guo-Sung. He started with traditional Chinese painting and then got interested in oil painting in the West. Now he’s synthesized the two media and methods. Pretty cool stuff.
08 Jun 2013
Tags: Christianity, Dallas Willard, Ignatius Loyola, religion, spiritual formation, spirituality
“Living with the Lord always before them”: considerations of spiritual guidance offered by Ignatius of Loyola and Dallas Willard
A Facebook posting lead me on a search of essays about how the Jesuits saw Desolation and Consolation. Now I’m reading the
Nestled in Chapter Six of his inspiring book, Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard emphasizes the importance of identifying and emulating the wisdom of true spiritual practitioners (e.g., Billy Graham, Teresa of Calcutta, William Law, Martin Luther, Ignatius of Loyola, as he names a few) who have “walked the walk” of following Christ as Willard asks the provocative question: “How did they come to be able to live with ‘the Lord always before them?’” (1) Willard goes on to assert in his response: “We learn from them how to do that by making them our close companions on the way.” (2) Inspired by Willard’s inclusion of Ignatius of Loyola, in particular, in his list of spiritual practitioners, the work of this essay seeks to explore the spiritual guidance offered by Dallas Willard in the company of Ignatius of Loyola with the assertion they both can serve as viable and relevant companions for contemporary spiritual seekers who desire to engage in the process of spiritual formation and transformation into Christ-likeness. (3)
As guides who are skilled in the art of spiritual formation, both Ignatius of Loyola and Dallas Willard, although centuries apart, can invite us to ponder how God offers grace in abundance, not only as God did for each of them, but as God desires to do for each one of us. Furthermore, since Ignatius of Loyola and Dallas Willard can effectively model for us a significant depth of personal authenticity, we can relate to them as real persons–especially since their writings give evidence that they have pondered life’s challenges in light of their evolving relationship with Christ. For “at the heart of Christianity, the Christian believer confidently expects to find religious experience: an existential encounter in faith with his [or her] God … Moreover, religious experience is not an esoteric event but a dimension of his [or her] ordinary living.” (4)
Since the writers in the Christian tradition generally offer their spiritual guidance primarily through the legacy of their classic spiritual texts, the work of this essay revolves around the textual settings offered by The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard as a way for us to tap into the rich legacies of both of these spiritual guides. The motivating questions of interest in working with excerpts from their selected texts in the context of spiritual formation can be formulated as follows: First, what is their main message regarding the essence of spiritual formation in each of their texts? Second, how might they offer guidance to contemporary spiritual seekers who desire spiritual formation in Christ? Third, what might be the experience of contemporary spiritual seekers who may look to Ignatius of Loyola and Dallas Willard as spiritual guides through accessing their spiritual texts, The Spiritual Exercises and Renovation of the Heart, respectively? Each of their texts reveals a working document, not simply a text to be read and put aside, particularly since The Spiritual Exercises and Renovation of the Heart are both written in such a way as to invite the reader into a clear response filled with discernment flowing from a desire to embody the teachings of Christ. In particular, their texts have the potential for offering a significant blueprint for guiding spiritual seekers toward fuller and more explicit expression of their spiritual longings. Thus, it may be accurately asserted that Ignatius of Loyola and Dallas Willard have the capacity to be relevant, applicable, inspirational, and devotional as they function as spiritual guides via their classic texts that are intended to be, as Willard effectively asserts, “intensely practical.” (5)
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