September 30, 2018

On September 17, 1995, I was baptized by the hand of the Rev. James Ou at Chinese for Christ, Church of Hayward, into water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It was not the beginning of my Christian journey, according to the theology my family professed at the time, and indeed, in mysterious ways, I can still now justify our formulations then in apostolic terms. I had, as the evangelicals say,… Read more

September 29, 2018

The past Thursday was the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy and Life-giving Cross. For those of us on the quarter system, the school year began on that day. New school years, I find, are like any other kind of new year. The beginning feels fresh, and I find myself with renewed determination. It is only later that I discover that the going is harder than I thought. My students and I joke about a morale dip around week seven…. Read more

September 28, 2018

Today is the day. Actually, I am a little late to post. But this is the day that in the aftermath of eighty-seven volleys of tear gas shot into a crowd en route to taking back Civic Square in Hong Kong for the people, tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents came to the streets shouting, ‘Protect the students!’ and occupied Admiralty, Causeway Bay, and Mong Kok. As civil society seemed to unravel, a new Hong Kong social order based… Read more

September 26, 2018

  Once upon a time, the Jesuit scholar Matteo Ricci impressed the Ming imperial court with his brilliant memory. His tricks are, of course, no longer just the stuff of legend, but also the stuff of contemporary television drama. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock doesn’t only deduce who your lover is like Arthur Conan Doyle’s nineteenth-century hero. He has a memory palace where he remembers them, and he fights baddies who also have them and use that information for blackmail. I have… Read more

September 25, 2018

It will be hilarious if, by the end of this blogging journey of self-narration, this endeavour turns into a lifestyle blog. I suppose there are worse things, like Jordan Peterson’s entire academic career becoming an extended exercise in self-help. I am relatively unconcerned about either of those two things happening to me, though, because my posts are more like reports in spiritual progress, which is incremental and gradual and frustratingly so, and if I will have blogged effectively through most… Read more

September 24, 2018

I want to write a little more about the writing chamber that I have been referencing in my previous posts. It is the zone of focus, I have been saying, in which the work of words can take place. With focused concentration in the depths of solitude, prose is crafted, poetry is set to meter, and words are measured out before they can be used as a map to represent phenomena in the world. The writing chamber is both literal and metaphorical,… Read more

September 23, 2018

As I was going about my day on this fine Sunday Before the Exaltation of the Cross and Postfeast season of the Nativity of the Theotokos, my friend, colleague, and brother Eastern Catholic scholar Adam DeVille posted on my social media. It turns out that September 23 is the anniversary of the death of the great male theorist of the death-drive, the one we have dubbed St Sigmund of Vienna, known by the secular world simply by the name Freud…. Read more

September 22, 2018

I depart from Richmond for Chicago today after a long and productive summer. I leave family and church behind, whom I will miss until my Winter Break beginning in December, but I also go to dear friends and a mission in Chicago that I have missed dearly as well. I think this says something about the nature of my spiritual reflection over the summer, that it has been a good time to work on my heart so that I can… Read more

September 21, 2018

Of the many brilliant lines in the Internet scholar Yasmin Nair’s lengthy critique of the online left, one in particular stands out to me. ‘Call me a luddite,’ she says, ‘but I happen to think that intellectual work needs to originate and be nurtured away from, not in the public eye.’ The ironies of her writing this sentence, and me liking it, should not be lost on our readers. Nair has spent her career writing public pieces online. I have… Read more

September 20, 2018

When I was about seven years old, I sat with my grandfather as he drank his daily mug of tea. He was a great storyteller, and from him, I learned the basic form of what I do in my career studying Chinese Americans today. He told me the tales of the Four Great Novels, especially the travels of the Monkey, Sun Wukong, and his sidekicks in Journey to the West, but also enough of The Three Kingdoms for me not to be an… Read more

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