2010/02 – When Holy-days Collide

I’ve gotten through this birthday month all right.
I didn’t send any greetings this year, last Thursday or two Fridays ago…………  I suppose I never will again.
 
 
ELC personnel posted their study-buddy wait list some weeks ago and requested that we inform them if we’d found a study buddy and wanted to be removed.  I was on the Chinese, Korean, and "Other" (Viet) list, and asked to be taken off.  Recently, I checked back and found that no update had been made to the list.
 
On a whim, I sent a mass (blind) e-mail to the several Koreans, few Chinese, and one Japanese left on the list, asking them to let me know if they still needed a study buddy.  A Chinese didn’t; two Koreans did; nobody else replied.  I scheduled the two Koreans: Chong Sook and Hyunji.  Both studied at the ELC last fall, but were not there now (one had gone to UVU and the second was resting).  I had thought the first was a boy’s name…  She brought her small daughter to our appointment on Thursday.  On Friday I met Hyunji.
 
My other three buddies are Eun Young, Hwa-young, and Jeong Yeon.  Stetson has now met with us twice.
 
Chong Sook invited me to a Lunar New Year thing at UVU on Friday.  It was kind of small, and there were mostly Chinese there.
 
Back at the BYU library later, I voice-talked with online friends Cheui Song and Fan, both preparing for Spring Festival, and typed with Munkhzaya, excited for Tsagaansar.  Viet-Californian Ken offered me another ride home.  We met "Hye-seon" on our way out, from Mokpo, near Kwangju, and wished her a happy Seolnal.
 
My phone, the temporary one my brother gave me last month, was missing when I got home.  I remembered having bent forward several times at UVU, and since the phone had been in my shirt pocket, I thought it must have fallen out there.
 
This morning, I bussed back to UVU and spent some two hours retracing my steps and finally leaving a message about my missing phone with the police station that acts as the "lost and found" repository.  I came to appreciate the unique interconnectedness of UVU buildings, and I saw some impressive scenery.
 
Back at BYU, I checked the library "lost and found"… and there was the phone.
 
 
I was perplexed to hear that some younger Chinese were trying to keep both Saint Valentine’s and Spring Festival.  On this side, I’ve thought it funny and kind of sad that all of the dopey yokels here have no idea about the holiday taking place all across East Asia right now.  To them, it’s only their silly little manufactured holiday, this Catholic observance that their fathers kidnapped and mutilated, that they grew up thinking was real, and that they exported abroad.
 
This false observance is a symptom of a much larger problem of "tradition" — people indiscriminately swallowing up the things around them, like babies do.
 
Apostle Paul exposed this kind of infantile behaviour a long time ago, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken advantage of his clarity while few others have:
"[…] If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, […] after the commandments and doctrines of men?"
 
Which traditions should we reject?
 
Whichever ones we don’t understand, that are meaningless to us, that are regurgitations of very old, questionably transmitted rumours… no matter their possible truth or worth.  Even a stairway to heaven, lacking meaning, transforms into a dead end.
 
If in finally shedding the outgrown skin of tradition we find ourselves devoid of ALL observances and ordinances, then we’re left with no more meaning than we ever had — truly, less, because at least traditions ofttimes are fossils of greater things; at least we, though imbeciles and illiterates without history, can dwell in the shadow of the great monuments of our visionary forebears.
 
So if we should reject traditions but are no better off traditionless, what do we do?
 
We create our own traditions, our own rules, starting anew, or revivifying the dead things around us.  We reattach severed limbs to their life-giving source — or, we become the source, and sprout new limbs.  In yet other words, we re-invent wheels — or we simply rediscover their right use.  We should take both paths…  If we create without renewing, we show ourselves without enough perceptive ability to recognize functionality, and we will likely misapprehend our own creations too; but few old theories have no room left for original development, or have application in every new setting.
 
But once we think we understand the significance of something, old or new, then let us keep it for the Lord’s sake, for honour’s sake — never to simply conform with the playground opinion around us, to attract the lying flattery of the blind, the commendation of fools.  We may come to understanding of a doctrine, a holiday, in one brilliant moment, but from then on, keep it only out of custom, forgetting what we had learned.  A memory of understanding may comfort us, but it doesn’t banish recurrent ignorance; only continued understanding does.  Why smash an idol to pieces only to turn and worship the hammer in our hand?  Or why escape the deep dungeon of tradition only to get forever lost in the upper level?  Why flee slavery only to build cages for our children?
 
Either there is meaning in every performance of every ordinance, or there is no meaning, and it’s an entire waste — we’re as well off not doing it as doing it.
 
…And this "holiday" here seems a bit of a waste.  Why favour loved ones but once in a year?
 
-Steve
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