Tag Archives: america

Art of Misunderstanding

It’s easy to misunderstand. This is especially true when your home country isn’t the one you grew up in.

There are a lot of things about American culture that I don’t know about having lived in Asia most of my life. Going to college was enlightening for me in many ways.

There are still many times when I miss a cultural cue or pop culture reference, just ask my friends. They have many a funny story of me embarrassing myself or saying something silly.

It happened again recently.

On a recent media coverage I met a girl who just got engaged. I asked how they met.

“Playing Cooties,” she answered.

I wished my coworker had taken a picture of the expression on my face at that moment. Having lived in Asia, I do try to monitor my facial expressions, but sometimes it’s just plain hard.

Boys have cooties, that’s what every elementary and early pre-teen girl thinks. But, how do you play cooties? This doesn’t sound PG and I am not sure this is something you tell someone you just met.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Yeah, we were playing in the basement around New Years’ Eve.”

Sketchy. I think this might be TMI. I won’t tell you what I thought she meant by that.

“Will you tell your children that’s how you met their dad?” I thought. I had enough of a filter not to say this out loud.

She explained that Cooties is a game that many kids in America play growing up. I completely missed this phenomenon. She said you play it by adding parts to a cootie bug. You add limbs etc.

“It’s really intense,” she said.

Really intense? Adding plastic legs to a cootie bug is an intense game? I don’t understand.

I did look up the game and it is a legit Hasbro game, so she was not a sketchy of a person as I had initially thought.

Oh the joys of being a third culture kid. Experiences like this add to my arsenal. Next time, I’ll be prepared to joke about how wonderful cooties are.

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Transforming church

I’m not involved in a rural church in America, so my reading Shannon O’Dell’s book, “Transforming Church in Rural America” may seems a little strange.

But, many of O’Dell’s themes and messages can be applied overseas as well as to rural churches in America.

Ministry needs to have calling, vision, attitude, leadership, understanding and excellence. These same elements are needed in churches all around the world.

Many people believe that mega-churches are the only way to go. God seems to be with large churches.

O’Dell uses his experience in taking a small, rural church on the brink of extinction to a vibrant church to paint a picture of how influential rural churches can be. O’Dell shares in his book how his church transformed from a sleepy, lifeless church into one of passion and service.

This is a message America needs to hear. Money or size doesn’t make the church. Every believer is called to worship and serve, no matter the location. The churches in the Bible were small and rural. Their stories are still being told, thousands of years later.

Imagine what would happen if every church in rural America lived transformed, dreaming big and acting on it?

Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program provided me with a copy of this book. My opinions are my own

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Uncle Sam’s Plantation

It’s modern-day slavery. It’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin on Uncle Sam’s Plantation.

Star Parker’s book is a vehement presentation of how big government enslaves America’s poor in a vicious cycle. Parker came out of the same background she writes about having been on welfare.

Parker talks about how welfare, taxes and minimum wage helps, not hurts.

I think her argument could have been presented differently, but I think is very close to hitting home. The book began abruptly and Parker’s tone of anger carries throughout the book. She makes it seem like she’s best buds with Rush Limbaugh as well, which concerned me.

Welfare keeps people dependent on Uncle Sam, Parker argues. To stay on welfare, people must meet certain job requirements, such as agreeing to not get a job. For many in poverty, the security in knowing you have money coming in outweighs the risk of trying to find a job that will probably pay less than the welfare check.

Poverty in the US is not decreasing. Welfare is decreasing the likelihood of the American dream coming to fruition and making it hard for rags to riches stories to take place, Parker argues.

One example Parker gives in minimum wage. Increasing minimum wage drives employers to raise qualifications and education requirements for those they hire because they can’t afford to hire as many people. This rules out many in poverty who don’t have the education or experience many employers are now demanding.

“A thriving economy is not the solution. Although the poor need free enterprise, capital investment, and rising productivity in order to obtain better living standards, the lack of a sustainable moral code and value system brings such endeavors to naught,” Parker writes.

Unless values and morals are addressed, Parker argues, the problem will perpetuate. Moral relativism is not helping Americans.

“Values are transmitted through family, which is why much of the black community is in moral free fall and the rest of American society is unraveling as white family life collapses. Children learn from what they observe. With so many children born outside of marriage, in families with no father present, core values are missing from daily life, and children are forced to look outside to popular culture for guidance.”

Schools and governments are teaching it’s OK for men to sleep around and father children by many mothers and not commit to a long-term relationship.

Raising taxes hurts the poor too, Parker argues. I won’t get into all of her arguments, because there are many, but you get the picture.

Despite many issues, of which I’ll not go into, I think this book hits on many issues Americans need to grapple with. Are our current policies beneficial? Are we helping or hurting the poor? What does welfare do to our economy? Discussions need to happen. The blinds need to come off. This book was an eye-opener.

This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze program. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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