To Shanghai and Back Again…Now Repeat

We knew for quite some time that our daughter, Anna’s, passport and visa were going to expire soon. We planned to go and take care of it as soon as our son Micah was born. After all, he would need a passport and visa as well. We might as well take care of it at the same time. Plus, Jacquelyn was really in no shape to travel being as far a long as she was.

We Pause now for a Context Explanation: In order to get a new passport for a 5 year old, both parents must go to the Embassy or one of the Consulates and show a photo for every 6 months of life of the child proving that the 5-day old picture of your child on the old passport is the same child 5 years later. Also, before we could get a passport for Micah, we had to get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) – which is like the equivalent to an American birth certificate for us Expats. Again both parents must go and show their marriage certificate and passports along with the new baby’s Chinese birth certificate (which is a rather interesting process in and of itself…I’ll share that another time, I guess.) In both situations, it takes about 10 working days to process the paperwork, make the new passports in the US, FedEx them to China, and, if you do it in Beijing, they’ll mail it to you!

So Micah comes and we’re extremely happy just enjoying our new treasure. Micah was born on a Thursday and the following week was spring break…great timing for a birth, actually. I still had several paternity days, which we were planning to use to go take care of the passports.

During this pre-paternity-days spring break I went online and scheduled the earliest appointment available at the Beijing Embassy. The appointment is 1 week before the Anna’s passport and visa expire. I’m not too worried about it, though. Surely, as long as the passport is being processed, the visa can go over a couple of days. After all, the Embassy could provide proof that the passport was being processed. So, on the first day back to school I check with our visa liaison to make sure this was okay. It turns out that my assumptions were wrong. The visa-processing-people would not be able to accept that the passport was being processed as, “there was no policy for this situation”. If Anna overstayed her visa, we would be fined 500 RMB (75 USD) for each day overstayed…plus she would have a “bad record”. I’m not sure what a bad record means, but I do know overstaying your visa accidentally or otherwise is not something you want to do. You can end up in jail in addition to the fines and bad record.

This was not the news that we wanted to hear. So I get on the phone with Jacquelyn and talk about our different options. We could try to go to Beijing and just do a walk-in appointment, but there was no guarantee that we’d be able to see anyone.

Context Explanation: The lines outside of the Embassy are tremendously long. Of the 1.3 billion people in China, about half are trying to get a visa to the US…okay, not half…but the line seriously snakes around the block for along way. Being American citizens, we most definitely probably wouldn’t have to wait in that line…but still, the thought of being in any line that resembles that one scares me. I actually have a recurring nightmare about such a line.

Another option was getting to Hong Kong. Although the Consulate down there didn’t have any appointments available either, we don’t need a visa to be in Hong Kong for like 30 days. But that would have been ridiculously expensive. Finally, we came up with the idea of going to Shanghai. Shanghai’s Consulate had appointments right way. Jacquelyn finds tickets online for that very evening and books them! We’ve got plenty of time. I can go home from work at 4:30, eat a nice dinner, pack up clothes and head out the door for a stress free trip to Shanghai.

As a review, here is the timeline up to this point:
-Monday 7am – find out we need to get the passport sooner than expected
-Monday 8am – talk to the embassy on the phone and try to figure it out
-Monday 9am – panic
-Monday 1pm – purchase tickets to Shanghai

I get home as planned and have a nice dinner. Just after finishing, I go to the computer and check online to make sure that we have all the documents needed as requested by the Consulate. Marriage Certificate – check; Anna’s age progression photos – check; current passports for the whole family – check; Anna’s CRBA – not with the other stuff. Hmm, okay, the search begins…

Remember, the CRBA is the equivalent to an American Birth Certificate. We cannot update Anna’s passport without it. We tear the house apart looking for it. We can’t find it. I have this faint idea that it is in a green folder. I had to use it to apply for Anna’s SSN like a year ago. Oh, no. Does that mean that I left it at my office? So, I pack several days worth of clothes, not sure if I’ll be matching in Shanghai or not and head out the door to my office. Jacquelyn continues looking for it at the house just in case it’s not at my office.

The taxi driver is not the best driver. He’s one of those drivers that can’t seem to figure out how to slowly press the gas, gain speed at a steady rate, and then in the smooth and calculated way press the brake when needed. If you’ve ever ridden with someone who rides the brake, you know what I’m talking about. We’re a block a way from the house and I’m already car sick and contemplating if it would be too rude to ask to get down sooner than what I already told him in order to change taxis. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for such luxuries. But one things was for sure, I was not going to ask him to wait for me at my office to take me home. I’d try my luck at finding a different taxi – even though taxis aren’t as frequent out at the office.

I finally make it to the school and look everywhere for this thing that I think should be in a green folder. It’s not there. I run up to my storage room in case it inadvertently got moved up there. The lights don’t work in the room, so I’m using my cell phone as a flashlight. It’s not there. It’s got to be at the house. This is not good. I’m 25 minutes from home not helping in the search and just wasted about an hour going to the office. We need to be leaving for the airport in about 45 minutes. There’s no point in going to Shanghai if we can’t find this cursed CRBA. Can we get money back for the tickets that we purchased?

In the taxi ride home Jacquelyn and I go over the places that she’s looked and she starts re-looking in those places. We say a panicked prayer to God asking for help. She opens a backpack – somewhere that she’s already looked – and locates a green folder. Inside is the CRBA! Tears of frustration are replaced by tears of joy.



Whenever I travel I feel insignificant. I see the people around me. They’re talking on phones about their problems, about their business, or just telling someone they’ve arrived and need to be picked up. They’re reading a book. They’re playing on a mobile device. Some are traveling for work, some for pleasure, or in my case, for the loss of a loved one. Each person is caught up in his or her own world. Someone cares about their problems, or business productivity, or even to pick them up from the airport. For whatever reason they are at the airport, or whatever they’re doing, someone cares.

But I don’t.

I don’t care about their problems. I don’t care about the business they are trying to conduct. And I certainly don’t care if someone is going to pick them up from the airport. It’s not that I don’t have compassion on people – I do. If someone sitting next to me starting talking about their problems, business, or even about who is picking him or her up from the airport, I’d enjoy that conversation. But it’s rare that that happens. And that’s the point.

I’m insignificant.

To the hundreds of people surrounding me, I don’t care one little bit about what’s going on with them. Nor do they about me. I’m just another in the mass of people that they pass in an airport terminal. In fact, except for that awkward second when someone realizes that I’m staring at them, analyzing his or her life by the clothes worn, or type of device played with, or interactions with those around and I quickly divert my eyes elsewhere only to return and finish the analysis once he or she has carried on with whatever he or she was doing, they don’t even see me. And those that do, maybe for a fleeting moment they have a thought about me to the tune of, “That weird guy’s staring at me.”

But that’s it.

Everyone’s flight number is eventually called. Everyone lands home at some point. Everyone moves on. That weird guy staring at people is eventually not there any more. His flight number is called, too. Even on the occasion when I do strike up a conversation with someone and a twinge of care is started, I’ll likely never see that person again. They get off the plane and go home, or board another plane for a different final destination than mine. They go home to those people that care about them. Maybe even that person who cares about them is the one who picks them up from the airport. And more than likely, that weird guy will awkwardly lock eyes for a split second before they get a safe distance down the terminal.

And then it’s normal.

Before you know it, your loved one is picking you up at the airport. Embrace. Talk. Catching up. Love. It all returns. The weird and temporary world of being alone and the stress of sharing (or not sharing) with a stranger is over. Work or school, and the hustle and bustle of life resumes. Your personal space is no longer being violated…by strangers, at least. Someone needs you. And someone cares.

It turns out I am significant.

Fouling the Leader

So, an interesting thing has been happening lately when I play basketball. Well, ok, I won’t exaggerate…it’s happened twice…but I still think it’s interesting. I’m not sure of the psychology of it all and what it means. So, I’m gonna try to process it.

Since moving back to the States, I’ve been able to play basketball pretty much on a weekly basis. I haven’t played this regularly since I played basketball in high school. I love it! Not only do I get to play my favorite sport, but I also get the exercise that a sit-behind-a-desk-for-8-hours-a-day guy needs. I play at my church. They have a “shoebox” gym that’s about ¾ or less the size of a real court. On any given night, we’ll have between 4 and 12 people come out and play. 12 is a bit much in such a small place, but we make it work.

Most agree that I’m a pretty tolerant guy in general. It takes a lot to get me mad. In basketball, as long as you’re playing hard and can take as much as you can give, I don’t have a problem with fouls. I won’t call a foul unless you really got me or made an audible slap sound.

Others…well, they’re not so tolerant. Some people just get frustrated by it. They’ll call the “ticky-tack” fouls, or start complaining. Still others escalate the situation by purposely fouling back as a sort of frustrated retaliation. It’s with this final group that I’ve noticed an interesting trend. (Ok, “trend” is a bit strong for a 2-time occurrence, but that’s the word I’m going with.)

So, the situation is this. I’ve got the ball…dribbling, juking, breaking ankles, etc…. Out of nowhere a guy, aka the “escalator”, on the other team – not the guy who is supposed to be guarding me, mind you – comes up and hacks my arm off or pushes me while vaguely attempting at the ball so that I’m forced to call a foul. I call the foul. I then get an earful about how the guy that’s guarding him is fouling. Again…not me fouling, but a different guy on my team. Seriously? You’re gonna come foul me because your guy is fouling you?

Of course, this is pick-up ball. There aren’t any refs. So as a player, you have several options when a foul occurs, you can, 1.) call the foul, 2.) complain and pout, 3.) escalate it by purposely fouling back. And I’m gonna go ahead and add a 4th option – go find and foul J-Dogg.

Option #1 usually solves the problem and everyone has a good time. Options #2, 3, and 4 ruin the game and everyone goes home mad. Here, I’ve made a diagram for you to see:


So, looking into this a bit further. What’s the deal? Why am I getting fouled when I didn’t have anything to do with the play? It wasn’t me that fouled in the first place.

The ego in me wants to say, “Everyone looks to me as the leader, so it’s their way of crying out.” But, unfortunately, there are two problems with that: 1.) I’m not the leader. This isn’t my show, I just show up. 2.) What kind of “leader” has a group of followers who punch him in the face when they need to cry out?

Then, on a slightly less egotistical trip, I think maybe it’s because I’m the gentle giant. (At 6’3″, I’m usually one of the tallest on the court.) The aggressor acknowledges that flying off the handle probably isn’t the best thing to do and seeks out the gentle giant to prove a point and maybe mister giant will take his team member aside and convince him to stop fouling. But again, in this scenario, that makes me the leader, which was already proven wrong.

Perhaps, though, I’m on the right track with the whole gentle giant thing. But maybe they’re not really looking to me as the leader. I don’t think the “escalators” want fly off the handle, but they certainly are getting frustrated. Perhaps they realize that pushing or punching the guy who is frustrating them likely means that a fight or argument will ensue. So, subconsciously, they find the guy who is least likely to punch back and take him out. It’s a sort of last resort to actually fighting with the actual culprit.

Yep, I think that’s what it is. It’s not that I’m the leader, but that I won’t punch back.

So if I’m not the leader, what am I?

A wimp.

Wait…no…that’s not going to work. Since, I’m defining my own words here (see “trend” above), I don’t think I’m a “wimp”.

I’m gonna go with “meek, peace-maker”.

Oh, what the heck…just call me “Leader”.

Anna the Baller

The last couple of weeks I’ve been helping out with Qingdao Youth Basketball League. It’s for kids Kindergarten to 5th grade. There are two leagues – Jiaozi and Baozi. Jiaozi are typically smaller than Baozi, that the younger league is Jiaozi.

Even though Anna’s a couple of months too young, I registered her to play. She’s been having a good time and looks super cute in her Nuggets uniform.

Acting silly while Daddy sets up

The first week we worked on Skills and Drills. And the second, we did Skills and Games.

She’s been doing really well with it…except the first day she had a broken nail and said, “Daddy, I can’t practice anymore. I’ve got a broken nail.” It made me want to shout in a high-pitched, Tom Hanks-like voice, “There’s no broken nails in basketball!”

On the second day, the game had been going on for about 5 minutes and Anna asked me, “Daddy, what do I do?” I said, “You know how when you hold a ball at home daddy steals it out of your hands?” She nodded. “That’s what you do…steal it out of their hands.” She smiled really big and ran after the person with the ball.

Stretches before practice

Anyway, it’s been super fun to be Anna’s and the rest of my cool team’s coach. What can be cuter than watching a bunch of 5-7 year-olds playing BBall?

Excited about QYBL!

For more pics, check out the QYBL Picture Gallery.

Appendix Gone

So last weekend I had my appendix taken out. Friday night I started to feel nauseous, but didn’t think anything of it since I had just returned from a large Chinese dinner with important people. (Large Chinese dinners with important people means lots of strange food.) The pain endured until the next day. I still wasn’t too concerned at this point as I figured my body was just indecisive on how it was  going to get rid of the food.

By Saturday morning my body did make its decision and I threw up 5 times over a 10 hour period. Each time I was expecting some relief of the pain in my stomach, but none came. After about 10 hours of this and becoming paler and weaker each moment,  I started getting concerned that there was something more serious going on. That’s when it hit me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve seen alot of ER and House episodes or what, but I suddenly thought “appendicitis”.

I looked up the symptoms online and confirmed that I had most: Lowish fever, abdominal pain (that was quite obvious), loss of appetite. So I headed to an international clinic (Bellaire) where I was given antibiotics. (Chinese try to control it before removing it.) After several hours on the IV, they sent me home to wait for an ultrasound in the morning. At that point they would make the final diagnosis. It was about 8pm when I got home.

I didn’t make it to the morning. As soon as I got home I threw up again – this time a scary green. Also, the pain had quite localized itself to the lower right quadrant. We called a friend of ours who is a nurse. After discussing our various options, we called back Bellaire to say that I needed emergency help.

The overnight nurse came and picked us up in a taxi and accompanied us to the emergency room. While she was running around paying our various bills (which if you know Chinese hospitals, can be quite a challenge),  an endless amount of people poked at my abdominal area each confirming that I was indeed in pain when they did that. They sent me up to the ultrasound room where they confirmed that I did have an infection. Blood results also confirmed it.

At one point the the doctor asked, Are you ready for an operation? I was thinking, yeah!, Get this thing out of me before it explodes! So, the Bellaire nurse paid some more bills and then we all headed to the operation room.

In the elevator, the doctor asked me if I wanted general or local anesthesia (Chinese usually do local, but he knew foreigners preferred general).

Jacquelyn wasn’t allowed to accompany me beyond the operation room doors. At the doors, the operating room nurses asked, “Where’s your patient clothes”? I said, “You haven’t given them to me yet”. This is when I learned that when you go to the hospital for an emergency operation in China, you should first stop at the hospital store and buy patient clothes…which at that hour was closed anyway. So, I stripped down to my skivvies.

In the operation room all the people made their preparations. At one point the doctor said, “Don’t worry, I’ve worked on alot of foreigners. Just recently worked on a German.” Truth be told, I wasn’t worried. With 7 million people in our small city, I’m sure the doctors have taken an appendix or two out before. Eventually they started the anesthetic via an IV. I panicked for a few seconds because I lost my ability to swallow and I thought that was important. Then I relaxed thinking, surely, swallowing isn’t a necessity.

I woke up being wheeled to the recovery room. My friend Nathan Greene flanking one side and my wife the other. Jacquelyn’s friend was also there, but my vision was so blurry and she was standing in my periphery that I couldn’t see her. I said quite a few funny things coming out from anesthesia. I decided that the word appendix was too difficult to remember and renamed it to my “adidas”. I kept calling myself sexy and sang, I’m too sexy for my ladies when JK and her friend walked out of the room.

The next day we signed out of the hospital and went back to Bellaire to recover in a better environment.

I’m hoping to get the stitches out on Sunday.

My Friend the Movie Star

This past Christmas we got to go back to the States. Of the many areas that we hit, one was to my old stomping grounds (I don’t know where that phrase just came from…sorry). My friend, Rick, who I have been friends with since the first grade , and I were able to get together and play Madden Football. It really felt like we were transported back to the good ole days when we used to play Sega, The Master System and wiffle ball like every single day. I guess the only thing different from when were kids was talking about how cool our kids are…oh, and the graphics on the XBOX are slightly better than the 1987 Sega’s.

Anyway, one of the things he showed me while I was there was a mini-movie where he had a leading role (there were only 3 roles, all of them leading…) I thought it was super cool. Here’s the movie:


China Day: I’m More Chinese than You

Recently the school where I work put on a China Day show. It featured our staff, students, and some local entertainers. I was in the one of the plays. Take a look at the video and pictures.

[flashvideo file= /]

[lg_slideshow folder=”chinaday”]

Some Observations about the Party Scene

For JK’s birthday I thought I’d take her out on the town. There was a band in town called Immaculate Machine. (I forgot the name, though, and kept telling people we were going to see the Immaculate Conception.) The band was from Canada. What they were doing in China, I have no idea. Their music was quite good. I always wonder what motivation rock bands have to go out on tour. This band didn’t seem to be in it for the party scene, or money, or hookin’ up. They seemed genuinely interested in the music…which is nice. Overall it was a good night. We had a fun time together.

While talking together, we made the following observations:
-Neither one of us have really experienced the party scene before
-Neither one of us particularly like it
-Both of us think it is quite smoky
-We both enjoyed the music
-We’re usually in bed by the time the headline band hits the stage
-I think we’ll do it again, sometime

Immaculate Machine’s website:

What I Want for Christmas – An Anna Mae Deluxe…

Things are winding down for us here in Qingdao. In just a couple of weeks we’ll be headed back to the States to spend our first Christmas with the Carman family since we were married. Although we’ve enjoyed the last 5 Christmases in China with our friends, we’re really looking forward to being able to spend it with family this time

Recently we were able to get a remote control car! (Awesomely named, “Land Despot” or “Overlord”) But, as with most toys that 3 year-olds get, Anna enjoys playing with the box much more than with the car itself.

I’m working on it. I’m working on it…

The other day we were at a restaurant ordering food and Anna Mae repeatedly asked me if she could have some juice. She said, “Daddy, I want juice,” in her ever-so-cute way. After the 4th time she asked me, though, I impatiently said, “I’m working on it, I’m working on it.”

A few minutes later, she turned to mommy and said, “Mommy, I want some juice”. Mommy, who didn’t hear me say earlier that she could have some juice, said, “No, babe, I think we’re just going to drink water tonight.”

Tears welled up in Anna’s eyes and she said, “But Daddy said I could. He said, ‘I’m working on it, I’m working on it.’”

I had to laugh at the way Anna took my impatient words to heart.

Jeremy, The Police & The News

The other day some friends and I were invited to hear the local police explain how they can help us foreigners in case of a dispute. A local news crew was there ready with their cameras. We all sat down at the table while the police woman explained that if we have a dispute we can call the police and have a “sit-down” with the other party to resolve the problem. It is actually quite nice knowing that we can do that. After I volunteered to translate for English-speaking foreigners, the news team asked me why I volunteered.

Now, I’ve never been interviewed by the news before. I had no idea who to look at. To make things more confusing, it wasn’t the reporter that asked me the question, it was the cameraman. Should I look at the camera, the reporter, or the cameraman? In the end I looked at the cameraman. Is there a standard protocol when being interviewed?

Obama nothin’, I can make the front page too!

A couple of weeks ago Obama made the the front page here in China when he won the election. Well, it turns out that it’s not that hard to do! (For those of you who have kept up with us, you’ll remember that I made the newspaper another time as well.)

I recently took the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi – Chinese Proficiency Test). It is nick-named the “Chinese TOEFL”. Over 600 students took the test at Qingdao University. In my particular class I was the only “Western-looking” student, as everyone else was *Korean. In fact, on my way to and from the test I didn’t see a single “Western-looking” person!

The HSK test is quite difficult as it is only in Chinese characters. There were quite a few questions that I just had to guess at. I have to wait 50 days before I find out the results. If you don’t see me blog about the results within 2 months, that means I probably didn’t do very well on the test and am ashamed to tell anyone about it 🙂

PHOTO CAPTION: Overseas students take the “Chinese TOEFL”

*The Korean population is Qingdao is huge!

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Obama In China

47-year-old Obama was elected the *56th American President, becomes the first black president in American history.

 奥巴马 (Obama – pronounced: “Au-ba-ma” in Chinese) made the front page of our local city’s newspaper. Not only did he get the front page, but he also got a section-A, 4-page spread.

At the corner store today, I showed the fruit-seller-guy the newspaper and asked if he thought Obama would be better than Bush (**Most Mainland Chinese people don’t like Bush). He said, “There’s no way to tell. He’s not president yet”. Although people in both parties are making their predictions of Obama’s future grand success or utter failure, this Chinese guy has voiced what is probably the most honest, non-partisan remark possible. In other words, “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Here are a few of the other headlines (These are my own translation…could be a bit off):
-Black horse puts on White house
-Obama: I have a dream
-Black man rules the roost, but the “white” in White house remains
-From “little poor baby” to big president
-Kenya takes holiday to congratulate Obama

*Notice the misprint on the front page. It says Obama is our 56th president. The last I counted, he’s actually only the 44th. Hmm, not sure if the local papers can be trusted…

**One of the first things Chinese people ask you is, “Where are you from?” Of course my reply is always, “America”. More often than not, the next thing out of their mouth is, “布什不好” (Bu shi Bu hao), meaning, “Bush is Bad”.

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Halloween Update

We’re not sure if anybody still reads this blog or not, but we just wanted to let you know that we’re alive and well. We had a party over at our house to celebrate the day after Halloween. We carved and painted pumpkins, ate home-made chili and hung out with our friends.

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Don’t cry over spilt milk…just drink it.

Although we like to parade around in 5-Star hotels like the one we stayed at in Vietnam, we readily admit that we are cheapskates at heart. In addition to avoiding the bellboy for fear of needing to give a tip, we rarely took any taxis while in Vietnam.

Further evidence of our cheapskate-ness can be seen in the picture below…

Korea & Vietnam

We’ve been on holiday for just over a week now. We started out in Korea and made our way over to the beautiful city of Hoi An.

We had lots of fun in Korea. We spent the whole time with JK’s “Korean Sister” and her family. They really overdid themselves in hosting us and treating us to the touristy things in and around their city of Suwon. After spending several days with them, we took a four hour flight for Hanoi. The next day we arrived in Hoi An.

Hoi An is a beach town in the middle of Vietnam. Many resorts line the beach. The one we picked is called the Golden Beach Resort. It has a massive pool (I mean huge) and it’s own beach front. We spend our time rotating back and forth between the beach and the pool. Downtown is only a few km away and it is a bustling tourist town. I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced anything quite like it.

JK has been uploading a bunch of pictures to her facebook. Go over and check ’em out:

Annual Goodbyes

If any of you have lived overseas before, you know saying “goodbye” to friends is an annual occurrence. This year is especially rough for us as some of our closest friends are headed back to their home countries or new assignments. Although we’re extremely happy for our friends who are turning a new page in their lives, we’re a little offended they didn’t consider our feelings…

To all of our friends who are leaving, we’re super excited for you. You will always be remembered by the Carmans. Thanks for all the good times we had together.
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Sleepless Nights

For the past two nights I have had serious trouble going to sleep. Last night I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do if an earthquake happened here. Obviously, the earthquake that happened in Sichuan a couple weeks ago is the reason for these thoughts. The worst image that I have came from a person’s description of a newspaper article that he read. He said they found smothered-to-death small children under the ruble with their fingernails gone – a result of scratching at the ruble to try to free themselves. Even further in my own thought process as I unsuccessfully tried to sleep was imagining my little Anna in that situation. It brings tears to my eyes just imagining it. To actually have that happen to her, or Jacquelyn, or anyone else that I know, would just be devastating.

It is interesting the barriers that we create for ourselves. I have built a wall just high enough to shield myself from thinking too hard about the awful effects of the earthquake, but, yet, I have kept the wall just low enough that I can see over it. It truly sucks what happened to those people. To think about it in the slightest truly breaks my heart. I don’t want to think about it. But last night, I couldn’t stop.

In the days following the earthquake I heard many people pray that God would use this event to bring people to Him. This is also my prayer. However, in the back of my head I really struggle with all the suffering that happened…and continues to happen to those people. Of course God is just and whatever He uses to demonstrate His power…or whatever He’s doing…is certainly up to Him.

80,000 people are expected to have died as a result of the earthquake…women, children, men…it makes no difference. Wow. Why are people saying, “Lord, Your will be done.”? Because there is nothing else to say. With a broken heart I also cry out, Lord, Your will be done…

Are Democrats the Christian’s Antithesis?

As a conservative Christian, I find myself trapped when it comes to politics. Conservative Christians typically vote republican. In my opinion, it mainly comes down to two reasons – abortion and same-sex marriage rights. Once a conservative Christian finds where a candidate stands on these two issues, it’s all over. There’s no need to hear the rest of the candidate’s platform. Guns, foreign policy, economy, Iraq – they are all moot points. This frustrates me to no end.

Now, before you go reading into what I’m saying, please know this, pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage are indeed huge issues. There’s no way around it. I cannot, in good conscience and as a Christian, support someone who favors those things. I just can’t. The Bible speaks pretty clearly to these two issues and to vote someone in who supports them seems, as one person put it, the antithesis to what Christians are about. And I agree.

Despite this, though, I would love to be able to objectively and critically evaluate the other issues. Do we criticize and bash anything and everything a democratic president or candidate does simply because of where s/he stands on the above mentioned issues? For example, would conservative Christians be so adamant about the right to bear arms if all things else were equal*? Would conservative Christians support or oppose certain immigration policies, assuming all candidates were pro-life and anti-gay marriage? Would former president Clinton be seen as the evil villain of American conservative Christianity? Could conservative Christians finally be able to admit that Mr. Clinton actually did some good for America?

Are we settling for what we can get? Are we simply limited by our choices? Have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater? Maybe, just maybe, not everything a democrat stands for is a Christian’s antithesis.

As I see it, most conservative Christians will be forced to vote for McCain simply because he is more pro-life and more anti-gay marriage than his counterparts. As a conservative Christian, do I really have any other choice?

Honest questions. I welcome your comments.

*I am speaking of the general population of conservative Christians. Obviously, conservative Christian NRA members will undoubtedly feel adamant about it regardless.


Thanks so much to everyone who was concerned about us with the recent earthquake. We are about 1,000 miles north-east of where the earthquake took place and did not feel any tremors. People as far away as Beijing, about 800 miles away, felt it though, so it certainly was a big one.

One of our company’s schools is located very near where the earthquake happened and was very fortunate to report there were no injuries or damage to the school building.

Our school is looking to somehow get involved with the rescue efforts – perhaps by monetary donation…

Thanks again for you concerns