Sweden, Think Twice About The Refugees

Sweden is apparently not “Swedish” enough for these Mideastern refugees from Iraq and Syria. While Sweden is known for its peaceful, progressive attitude toward foreigners, they are not assilimilating them as they would. They feel less Swedish than the ethnic Swedes, which makes perfect sense.So maybe Sweden is being counterintuitive. IMHO, these Islamic, Mideastern jihadists are better off uprooting from Sweden and heading either back home or elsewhere in Europe. Because Sweden, like almost all European countries, has a long history of its identity as a ethnic nation, not a “melting pot” like the US. Here in the USA, we lump most European peoples as simply whites.Yet assimilation is inevitable, so it is what it is. (Even if you love the beautiful blonde women of the ethnic Swedish population.). The teachings of genetics tell us that dark dominates fair, though the fair can pop out sometimes in later generations.

But for Americans, this shows a good example of why we emphasize legal immigration procedures.

See why world news matters? in my country of the USA, the news media stresses domestic matters. We need more global awareness. Thank you, BBC!

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Mr. Rogers, Neighbor Extraordinaire

Mr. Rogers, while a Presbyterian minister, didn’t discuss religious topics on his show, but he invited kids across the country to be their “neighbor.” Yet if you can subtly observe, Christians like Rogers are actually engaging in Jesus’ Great Commission! Mr. Rogers showed a robust example of kindness and typical Christian love nationwide over the airwaves without descent into proselytism. And this “neighbor” concept may be derived from the very parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus defined as one who shows mercy to another, regardless of religion, etc.A link to some of his best achievements. Rogers ended his show in 2001 and died in 2004.Rest In Peace, neighbor.

Serving My Town with God’s Gift of Food

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.  (James 2:26 ESV)
In my town of Pottstown, Pennsylvania (United States), several churches are networked in a “Community Meal” program. One of the sites, First Presbyterian, is sponsored by Kiwanis. Today I shared in the rewarding joy of serving people who may not be looking for anything gourmet, but just nourishing and modestly enjoyable. Among them are some of the poor of Pottstown, and a few of them perhaps homeless. Whatever their socioeconomic status, that would not be that relevant, and indeed none of my business.  My role in the Community Meal is to serve, period.
 
Now on to the nitty-gritty.  I arrived at 3:45 pm, started preparing the meal with fellow Kiwanians in my club, and then by 5pm, the meal started and the guests were welcomed.      We wore red hats with the words “Community Meal.”  The pastor said the grace.  I served an option of a chicken breast or one or two pork chops, placing the pork or chicken on their plate in my jolly and whimsical way (e.g., chicken or pork…okay pork, and a one, and a two…my pleasure, enjoy!).  Or, if they opted for chicken, they may ask for a certain piece, and I am delighted to honor their request.  Neighboring me was one serving vegetables, namely whole potatoes, string beans, and carrots.
When all attendants were served, the volunteers (in this case, me and the other Kiwanians) could finally eat the leftovers.  Since I don’t like bone-in chicken breast, all I ate was white potatoes (mediocre) and bread and butter (much tastier).  Other tasty perks were a piece of cake (the literal dessert food, not the idiom), plus icing from both the chocolate and vanilla cakes. Talk about some sweet rewards!
Kiwanis International is a global civic service club with a special focus on children.  While adults obviously also reap their benefits (and this Community Meal is doubtless one of them), remember, all adults are “ex-children” and what you do for children will impact what their do later in life.
And as a Christian, I believe volunteering is a wonderful way to express love for your neighbor.

Highlights & Resolutions for 2018

2017 was great (at least personally, maybe not nationally, LOL) so let’s propose some ways 2018 can be just as great.

1. Pleasure Reading

I loved reading material that the general public could care less about. This primarily included college textbooks, especially on science, which I have always vacillated on their worth. And most of their material tends to bear little relevance to life, unless if I work in that field after college. Basically, texts tend to choke. I’m better off reading popular books, googling the information I need (or want), which is different from a textbook (which potentially gives you a know-it-all attitude toward a whole branch of knowledge, which also varies what book is used, as those on the market differ. Again, the professor decides the text to be used.)

Reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, and for whatever audience, takes much discipline to finish by the book. I think this whole textbook craze is just a yearning to spoil my degree amidst many challenges. It is definitely worth the wait.

It’s a myth that I don’t like fiction. The truth is if I was willing to start a novel, I might get distracted, since there’s so many choices out there. And I’m not anti- nonfiction either. I love to learn, always have and always will. But, when I’m trying to get facts, the popular press suffices, whether printed or online.

2. My third (and final) community college before transfer to a university.

My first two courses at this place, Montgomery County Community College, shall be political science and a speech course. As for future courses hopefully by a university, I’ll just leave that to God for now. Suffice it to say I’ll be busier anyway, and as a perfect segue to the first note, as a student, I’ll be in a place to use textbooks!

3. Thrift & Generosity

There are many ways to be thrifty. Don’t buy things you don’t need. Find the best vaue of a product (which might not be the cheapest, but will hold you over for some time. See what you have before you buy more. And of course, learn from past shopping woes to avoid “buyer’s remorse.” I despise mentioning this a third time, but college texts are a prime example.

Despite popular opinion, thrift does not preclude generosity and giving, once your standard expenditures are taken care of. Luke 21:1-4 discusses the poor widow that gave all her money. While this is extreme, what is important to understand that it is proportional. Furthermore, better budgeting will allow for many purchases, be they donations or anything that (typically unwittingly) could lead to giving.

At the same time, helping can hurt. In many cases, charity can lead to dependency, entering a vicious cycle will demand more supply of giving. (Pardon the economic pun). On the other hand, we don’t want a whole bunch of “Scrooges” not spending anything beyond core needs.

Conclusion

As I leave my 20s this year, we thank the Lord that we have gotten a bunch of blessings in 2017. Pray that 2018 I will get even better wisdom from God’s Word

Putting Technology Where it (Could) Belong

Tonight, I moved the computer to a strategically better place, which happens to be the, yes, dinette set in my apartment!

Bedroom Desk
My bedroom desk, that has now become low-tech.

 

Computer On the DInette
The computer’s home now, where it has been previously placed.

 

Let’s do a “SWOT” analysis:

Strengths:  The computer is now nearby my 1981 print Britannica set (as well as a useful supplement to the modern Britannica internet service) and many other great books.  It also serves as further discipline for the lust issues (sparing the gory details, of course!) which has been, thanks to faith in God, plummeting.  And of course, many other great websites.  My room without the computer allows for quality study without the cares of the internet or other computer applications (the king of them, in my opinion, is most likely Facebook).

Weaknesses:  Many other books are in my own room, so both sites can mutually could be “lending libraries.”  In other words, not only does a book taken from the bedroom need to be returned, but a material taken to the bedroom must also be returned.

Opportunities:  Move as many books as possible from my room to this “information station,” as well as obtaining more bookcases as appropriate.  This allows one library per my apartment.  When I want to get down and dirty with such a reading or study, I shall take it to my room until I’m finished, and thus return them to the (single) home library.Threats:  While there is no loan period (after all, it’s not a true lending library, it’s hyperbole), they should be put back when I am done using them.   The key enemy here is laziness, an trait that makes the autism spectrum a liability.  Also, I put so much debt (not in money, but progress) toward books when the earlier portions are attacked by others.  Therefore, willpower aided by God and His Word will get me success.

Interestingly enough, this SWOT analysis was done after the move.  I must be a good strategic planner already!  Yet, a SWOT analysis is a very helpful tool!

Cheers!

A Tale of Two European Stores

A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
    their constancy is like the flower of the field.
 The grass withers, the flower fades,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
    surely the people are grass.
 The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
(Isaiah 40:6-8, NRSV)

Anyone near Philly remember the French store Carrefour? It had only two locations in the US, quite nearby each other both closed in 1994: Franklin Mills Mall (now Philadelphia Mills, started 1988), and Voorhees (a New Jersey* suburb of Philadelphia, launched 1992). Since its US demise occurred when I was only six or so, I don’t remember much of the store, except a few bits-and-pieces.  (Source: Embarrassingly enough, LOL, Wikipedia)

 
On the other hand, another foreign store that is wildly popular among Americans (and most likely here to stay): Sweden’s IKEA. It not only offers Scandinavian-style furniture, but offers a great cafeteria offering Swedish cuisine, including their world-famous Swedish meatballs. (Some people think their food is “doctored up,” especially people who bear Swedish descent). But who am I to speak for the Swedes? I’ve never been there! Anyway, they sell products from Sweden (and perhaps elsewhere in Scandinavia), and perhaps from kid’s tastes (or even an ultra-American adult taste, LOL), a “bistro.”
 
So Dolores (Dee) would you opt for the bistro, or the cafeteria? (I hope the latter).
 
This may be a pain sometimes, yet it may be a true blessing to speakers of languages other than Swedish. Instructions for building IKEA furniture are strictly pictorial, for they must be globally standardized.

Incidentally, building an IKEA project could be a great task for a person with high-functioning autism, who happens to be non-verbal.  But watch out!  If done in a sheltered workshop, not only might it embarrass “co-workers,” but they could get a competitive (“real”) job!  Now that’s innovation!

Also, while they do set jobs overseas, and thus it is rare to see “Made in Sweden” for an IKEA product, this really doesn’t matter, because they are willing to export worldwide!  With most likely little to owe anyone.  The US, on the other hand, only wants to import.  Maybe that caused the American demise of Carrefour, because all these French goods may have been unattractive to us (think escargot, LOL), or simply the fact that France and the US just tend not to see eye to eye.  But that’s ancient history.  If stores were a boxing or wrestling match, the competitors, in this case, IKEA and Carrefour, the latter would get lots of KO’s.  Carrefour still thrives, however, in many other countries.

But, as they say, all good things shall come to an end.  After all, IKEA didn’t expect to be this good in the USA.  They thought, “why share it with the country that has everything.”   Carrefour didn’t share that success in the US.  But who knows?  You could have too much of this good thing (namely, Swedish furniture), that is, once our country can’t stand it (not only mentally, but perhaps physically!)

Three words that are the heart and soul of economics:

Supply and demand!
*International (and some domestic) readers:  New Jersey is a separate state from Pennsylvania, which is where Philadelphia is located.  However, Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) borders New Jersey on its east side, by the Delaware River, making much of New Jersey a suburban area to Philadelphia, together with its Pennsylvania suburbs to the west.  Alas, concerning these bridges, you have to pay tolls to cross over the river, at least in one direction.

Testimony: Three Dilemmas, All Handled by Faith

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10, ESV)

We’re going to discuss three issues I faced this morning and that a man of faith like me can handle, of course, with patience.  Unbelievers are stuck with their reasoning power, and while God imparted to all persons (Christians and otherwise), Christians have the power of faith, which goes beyond reason to solve much more profound problems that mere reasoning cannot.

  1. Missing wallet
    All this time it was under the bed, within the past few days.
  2. Could not turn on my computer with Apple password, which I have forgotten since I seldom use it.
    I called Apple, after I asked my mother what their phone number.  Upon getting to obtaining the serial number, I talked to tech support, and worked my way through the procedure.  I now have a new password for turning on my computer.  Hooray!
  3. Lack of olive oil
    Of secondary importance to breakfast, but essential for many omelets and other cooking ideas.  While I was busted, a friend brought me to a local convenience store, and bought it for me.

You can see in this testimony, “God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility,” a central doctrine of Reformed theology (“Calvinism”), the Protestant theological tradition I belong to.  While we trust God’s is sovereign over all events of history, man is still responsible for those very deeds, that is, those which are within his control.  So despite loads of criticism (and I’m not trying to convert you to such belief), Reformed Christian doctrine, in my humble opinion,  is one of the most God-glorifying, man-humbling, and indeed beautiful expressions of Christian faith.

But in any faith tradition, always be thankful for what God does for his “sheep” (i.e., Christian believers). and to give more abundant life on earth, as well as eternity with him.