Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reflections II

One of the unanswered theological questions is why God has so regularly been depicted as opposed to the sexual instincts.

Shedding presuppositions about God, one could, after all, just as readily imagine the character of a deity to be in favour of people having sex for reasons of love and joy – not merely for procreation – as one can presently imagine that he is a stern puritanical killjoy, passionately poised in opposition to ‘meaningless’ sexual delight.

An interesting thing to know would be how many atheists would not be atheists; how many in fact would at least be agnostics, if they were to be informed that, actually, God rather likes sex, and likes humans having it too.

Not, of course, that I wish to speak for God (presuming he exists, of course) regarding what he actually thinks about sex, and what we should do regarding it. But I am aware that at least a certain degree of anti-theism is motivated by contempt for received understandings of God’s anti-sexual stance. And one doesn’t have to be particularly intelligent, I hope, to realize that you cannot with much success argue the non-existence of something just because you dislike certain of its purported characteristics.

Not that this in-itself means that God exists, of course.

Personally, in my Universe, there’d be both God and Sex, and everything would be joyful. While I have time for the dialectic, I prefer it to operate within an ambience of love.

Reflections I

Without the background of eternity as anchor and hope
Conversations will necessarily restrict themselves to the concrete and the superficial.

Even if God does not exist, our dismissal of a useful illusion has nevertheless deprived our lives of an irreplaceable quality of richness aand depth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A White House

This unChinese-looking building is where I work. Not quite the white house that removal vans will shortly be servicing but a white house nonetheless. Except that I don’t sleep here. I sleep in the small pinkish building off to the left which, believe it or not, is a hotel.

You can’t see the window of my office. I’m on the other side of the building. You can’t swim in the lake, or even take boats out upon it. Or perhaps you can, but it might be thought odd if you did. Anyway, it’s now getting rather chilly for that kind of thing.

Actually, a few more buildings have emerged since this photo was taken. Suffice it to say they are not of fascinating design.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The New World

According to many the future is Chinese. If this is the case we have the following idiosyncracies to look forward to:

Warm drinking water. The failure of mineral water machines to cool drinking water to beneath room temperature is apparently not a lazy oversight. It is deliberate policy reflecting medicinal folk wisdom.

No bars, except for western outposts. Alcohol is available and presumably drunk by the locals. But don’t expect much evidence. One or two beers might be stretched to.

Cinemas without schedules. You can find out what’s showing, and at what time, only on the day in question, so you won’t be able to plan ahead. If you don't have the phonenumber or can't speak Chinese you might just have to turn up and hope for the best. It worked out alright for Bond, but luckily I had the whole afternoon off. Oh, and there's no salted popcorn.

Doting waitresses. In restaurants, waitresses stand to attention beside you waiting for you to make up your mind. Try not to feel pressurized. They would think it rude to leave. That said, more than once I felt their impatience and wondered if they might have better things to do.

Paranoid taxi drivers. Some companies must have had some very bad experiences. Their drivers sit behind fortified barriers, insulating them even from the front passenger seat. Taxis are also more expensive in China if you call for them than if you risk death trying to hail them down.

Ultra keen builders. Thankfully, they don’t work through the night, but fear not; the onward march of culturally destructive, growth fuelled construction will wake you up if your alarm clock fails.

Ebikes. No doubt these will take off in the West but they’re already raging here, albeit silently. According to a female Chinese friend, however, they are not for men and would make me look ‘unattractive’. I might consider getting a car only none of the other expats drive, which perhaps says something. You have to pass a written test too (in English?)

No salt. I’m told this lack of the vital table condiment is a regional variation not reflected in all provinces. Anyway, it’s best to learn what the word for salt is (yan, but not pronounced like that ). If you mime the action of salt sprinkling or shaking over your dish, which you might reasonably think would do the trick, don’t hold your breath. It may bring you only giggles, bewilderment, or possibly panic from the waiting staff; and no salt.