Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bangkok and Stages in Travel and Life as a Christian

Stages in Travel

Thanks to the generosity of others, three guides navigated the Bangkok traffic (vehicular, human, tout, pachydermal and otherwise) for us. They also somehow represented (in a corny Chinese-essays-finding-symbolism-in-everything way) certain stages in travel and life.

In our teenage years, Lonely Planet was a book for backpackers. Very poor, we were lower than proletariats. For us were the stuffy dorms of dodgy unmade double-decker beds, tramping on park benches and under bridges where the police didn't chase us off, with backpacks as pillows. For us were the student meals in local university canteens and soup kitchens. For us the week's tipple was to be found at the end of a distillery tour. Rebels (against whatever perceived authority there was), very curious, very idealistic and hopelessly (and ignorantly) opinionated, we arrogantly embraced environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, political activism and world peace, convinced that we alone could stop suffering and poverty.

Later, with scholarship monies and parental stipends, Time Out was the weekly guide of choice for the university student in London with a bit of money, chokeful of listings for the newest holes-in-the-wall, most obscure gigs and experimental indie movie screenings. Film reviews, director interviews, art exhibition reviews, artist interviews, restaurant reviews, chef interviews. Diverse stimulation. Solidifying informed opinions. Understanding the imperfection that is shared by all humankind. Starting to lead and so realising the difficulties of government and the implications and consequences of decisions. Realising that other people (even people in authority!) might be right about certain things after all.

After a few years of work, relatively moneyed and blissful in that time-space between pauperish studenthood and burdened married life with mortgages and the responsibility of kids, Luxe city guides were welcomed for those quick weekend jetaways. Bespoke fashion, boutique hotels, thread-count on Egyptian cotton sheets, fine leather goods, trendy eateries and hip nightspots. Work hard, play hard. Pampering and comfort were key.

Stages in Life as a Christian
Past what was probably our millionth lukchup, we wondered if our Christian life somehow followed such a pattern as well.

Teenage Christianity is not having enough money to buy Christian books and dictionaries and attend talks, conferences and retreats. It is borrowing books from pastors and leaders and poring over them carefully. It is borrowing money from other friends for talks, conferences and retreats and paying them back over several months. It is fiery and idealistic and hopelessly opinionated. If it is evangelical, it sneers, it torches the idols of this world and condemns the charismatics and Catholics and yuppies to hell. It is proud. It is rigid and legalistic. It liberally smashes bibles over heads. It loves little. It thinks it alone can save the world.

University Christianity is getting hands on good literature. It starts to understand the Bible for itself, to be slowly grounded in its truths. But it relies heavily on the guru-of-the-day and his theological-hobby-horse-of-the-month. It starts to see dimly how life is lived under God and how all decisions and actions must conform to that reality. It starts to experience the nuances of sin in its own life and starts to genuinely love other sinners. It begins to show grace.

Yuppie Christianity is reaching positions of leadership. It is about being seen to be "sorted" and "mature". It is about having paid its dues and so being concerned overwhelmingly for its own comfort: steady groups of friends, good food and wine, nice homes, settling down, having a good time. It is insular. It is satisfied. It wants things to stay status quo. God is sovereign, therefore don't ask it to do more than the usual. Anyway it has a young family and/or hobbies. It just wants to relax on weekends and holidays.

Of course these are mere generalisations just as LP recommends the Hilton and Luxe gets its pants in a knot over cheap hovels. But it's interesting how the temptation to sin grabs us in all stages of our lives. Ignorance of our humble condition, disregard of God, self-centredness, arrogance, unlovingness, not forgiving even a little though we were forgiven much, being unconcerned about the purposes for such God made us and Jesus died for us. The sin we face is similar in all stages of life. But the method of sinning is different. And sometimes, we forget that when we look out for each other. And when we examine ourselves.

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At January 06, 2006 12:14 am , Anonymous shoyru said...

borrow ur books? ^_^

At January 06, 2006 12:28 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

no wonder cant find u @ neptune.....hows bkk.......


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