Tag Archives: family

The Mystery Flu

English: Logo of the Centers for Disease Contr...
Logo for the U.S. Center for Disease Control (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine this.

You’re driving home from work next Monday after a long day.  You turn on your radio and you hear a brief report about a small village in India where some people have suddenly died, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before.  It’s not influenza, but four people are dead, so the Centers for Disease Control is sending some doctors to India to investigate.

You don’t think too much about it — people die every day — but coming home from church the following Sunday you hear another report on the radio, only now they say it’s not four people who have died, but thirty thousand, in the back hills of India.  Whole villages have been wiped out and experts confirm this flu is a strain that has never been seen before.

By the time you get up Monday morning, it’s the lead story.  The disease is spreading.  It’s not just India that is affected.  Now it has spread to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and northern Africa, but it still seems far away.  Before you know it, you’re hearing this story everywhere.  The media have now coined it “the mystery flu.”  The President has announced that he and his family are praying for the victims and their families, and are hoping for the situation to be resolved quickly.  But everyone is wondering how we are ever going to contain it.

Continue reading The Mystery Flu

What If My Children were Gay?

An old friend found my reflection about gay marriage and Satan ridiculous and challenged me to consider what I would do if I found out my children were gay.  My eldest daughter is now two years old and the other is just four months.  I have about six years or so before their sexual awareness.  So, I have time.

Nevertheless, it’s a very good question to explore, now.

Same-sex attraction is as natural as concupiscence.  It doesn’t make them bad people just as my tendency towards sexual immorality doesn’t make me a bad person.  We’re just broken in different ways.  What will bother me the most is the vitriol thrown at homosexuals by self-righteous people.

Moral Insiders Treating Others Without Dignity

Moral insiders often do not treat homosexuals with human dignity; I’d be even more sensitive to that if my girls were gay.  I think it is an injustice, the way we moral insiders treat moral outsiders.  I’ve been reflecting on the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  As the elder brothers, we should be going out to find our wayward younger brothers who are squandering our Father’s inheritance.  We should not be brooding in our Father’s house, objecting to His mercy.

My girls, if they are imperfect, need to be confident of my love for them – just as I am confident of Our Heavenly Father’s love for me, as imperfect as I am.  They need to understand the true meaning of free will, and the reality of God’s prodigal mercy.  Our goal in life is to become the best-version-of-ourselves.  If my girls discover that they are gay, then my job as their father is to help them become the best version of themselves, despite the heaviness of that Cross.  I am to be like Simon of Cyrene and help them carry their burden, not like the Pharisees who are ready to cast the first stone.

Maya drinks a bottle of milk and then a bottle of water or two before bed.  So, she needs to go to the bathroom three to five times before falling asleep.  My wife finds going potty that many times is excessive and that Maya is merely trying to avoid sleep.  When Maya sneaks out of her room and finds mommy, she cries while being told “it’s the last time.”  When she finds daddy, she gives a sheepish grin, takes his hand and skips to the bathroom.

Maya learns discipline from mommy, forgiveness from daddy (what Anne Marie terms “spoiling.”)  In matters of the Spirit, our Mother Church teaches me what is right and wrong, and our Heavenly Father teaches me about His abundant mercy.  Our home is our daughters’ first experience of the Trinity; if they cannot be accepted in our family for being gay, then we would have failed as parents to live out the Gospel message of love.

My love as a parent, though, doesn’t give me the right to define what is moral.  If my daughters choose to live a sinful life, then I will continue to love and bless them as God even now continues to love and bless me in my broken, sinful state.  How is their father any better as a Christian, any less of a sinner?  How is their sexual sin any worse than mine?  The sun will continue to shine on them as it does on me.

If they insist on gay marriage and children from that marriage, I will tell them that this is not what God wants.  There will be consequences, but I will be there for them.   I will continue to love, pray, fast and sacrifice myself for their sake.  I will care for their spouse, when she is sick.  I will babysit and cook for them so that they can have a break.  I will love them and the new community they’ll bring into my life, even though they are living a life of sin because God loves me even though I myself live a life of sin.  How can I do any less than my own Father?  Christ surrounded himself with moral outcasts and gave them hope.  Perhaps I am called to do the same with the help of my daughters?

Being a Christ-like example of love and mercy may not be enough to inspire my children to a life of conversion.  They may harden their hearts against any religious message because it contradicts the life they’ve chosen.  If that’s the case, then I will offer up my own life in exchange for their immortal souls.  There will be consequences to their actions, but I will pay those consequences myself if, in the end, they do not repent.  For God so loved the world that He gave up His only son for the expiation of their sins.  For I so love my daughters, I will give up my life for them.  What will my Passion be?  That’s for God to decide.  In the meantime, fatherhood is a training ground for that ultimate sacrifice.

So, to answer my friend’s challenge, while I cannot change God’s definition of marriage, I am willing to pay the price for His forgiveness of their sins.

Harry Potter, Gay Marriage, and Social Media

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ...
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of my friends recently have come out on Facebook in support of gay marriage.  I suspect that my friends, like myself, are appalled by the persecution, demonization and condemnation of homosexuals in modern history.  It is our strong sense of justice and love of our neighbors, families, friends and co-workers who happen to be homosexual that stir us to stand by them as California’s Proposition 8 is being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Lord Voldemort uses Harry and other people’s sense of justice and love against each other.  Lord Voldemort is the epitome of

evil and a genius at warfare.  Voldemort successfully convinced the magical world that he did not exist.  In the meantime, Voldemort quietly infiltrated all the institutions designed to protect the world from his return.  When the magical community realized that Voldemort indeed was alive, it was too late.  He was too powerful, and all the good wizards and witches went into hiding.

What if Satan was real?  Then, Satan would be our real-world equivalent of Rowling’s fictional Voldemort.  Satan would do well to convince the whole world that he doesn’t exist, that he is just a superstition of a bygone era while he quietly infiltrates all our public institutions designed to hold our society together.  What better way to destroy the fabric of society than by unraveling the very basic unit of community: the family?  What better way for Satan to get good people to fight for his cause than by appealing to their sense of justice, equality, and love of neighbor?


Back in high school, I competed at the National Championships in forensics by playing a homosexual character.  It was Harvey Fierstein’s Torchsong Trilogy, and I played the part of Arnold Beckoff and my partner played Ma Beckoff, Arnold’s mother.  It’s funny now that I think about it: a Chinese-American teenager play-acting as a gay, adult Jewish man arguing at the gravesite of his murdered lover with a Latina from Alhambra who is supposed to be a typical Jewish mother.  We were good enough to go to Nationals, though, and I really got into the part.  From that point forward, I was always sensitive to the persecution of homosexuals.  Why can’t two committed gay men or lesbians get married?  Who are you to tell others whom they can love?  Promiscuous heterosexuals are no less immoral than promiscuous homosexuals, but if two people want to be in a life-long commitment, why should we stop them?  A child growing up in a loving household of two gay men or two lesbian women is just as good as a loving household with a father and mother.  Studies that show differently probably can find cause from the child being bullied for growing up in a different type of household.

I was so convinced by my sense of justice, so disgusted by religious people violently condemning homosexuals like the Pharisees who were ready to cast the first stone.  Even if homosexuality was a sin, where was their compassion for the sinner?

Fast forward, I became a Catholic.  I never even tried to reconcile what the Church and God teaches about homosexuality, until recently.  My friends on Facebook forced me to look at my internal contradictions.  Why did I have a change of heart?  The most compassionate explanation of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality came from this segment produced by Catholic Answers.  Still, it wasn’t enough to explain why I so quickly adopted God’s teaching on homosexuality.  Even the non-religious arguments against gay marriage, although compelling, did not explain my change of heart.

After much reflection and a meaningful conversation with my wife, I’ve come to understand my change of heart is because of Lord Voldemort — Satan.  I believe that the devil exists and that he is actively trying to unravel the very fabric of our society.  It’s crazy, I know: how can any person in this day and age still believe that the devil exists?  It was easier for the Ministry of Magic to refuse to believe the return of Voldemort than to acknowledge the existence of someone so evil and so powerful.  Just as Harry’s sacrifice at the end of the book protected his friends at Hogwarts, so Christ’s sacrifice on the cross inoculated us from the worse effects of Satan’s powers.  But, we’re not completely immune.  Just as I know the Harry Potter series ends happily, I know the war ends in Christ’s victory, but all the battles in-between are undetermined; my soul and those of my friends and family are still up for grabs.

How does changing the definition of marriage affect society?  I’m not smart enough to foresee the consequences.  I just get the stinking feeling that our real-world Voldemort is trying to use our love for each other against us.

Rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriage

This article provided non-religious arguments against same-sex marriage.  There’s been a lot of activity on my Facebook page from friends who are supporting California’s Prop. 8 that is currently under debate at the Supreme Court.  It’s forcing me to look at my reasonings for believing in what I believe.


Rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriage

Examining the most common arguments for redefining marital unions …and understanding why they are flawed

By Brandon Vogt – OSV Newsweekly, 1/13/2013

Perhaps no issue is more nerve-wracking today than same-sex marriage. It’s a magnet for controversy, evoking strong reactions from those on either side of the debate. But beneath all the fiery passion and rhetoric, there are real arguments to evaluate. In this article, we’ll examine the 10 most common ones made in favor of same-sex marriage, many of which you’ve probably heard before. By pointing out the flaws, we’ll show how each argument ultimately comes up short.

Continue reading Rebuttals to arguments for same-sex marriage

Forgetting Sex is Sacred

It’s easy for me to forget that sex is sacred.  Twenty-first century U.S. society has redefined sex: at best, it’s the culmination of a unrequited romantic courtship; at worst, it’s a commodity to be traded, a tool for violence.  The messages that surround me is that sex is a normal biological process, a form of recreation, and a right to happiness that needs to be protected/defended.  I rarely hear that sex is sacred.

I forget that sex is sacred, but I’m reminded of this truth today through the birth of my second daughter.  God, thank you.  You blessed me with an awareness that I pray I can articulate here in this journal entry.

[instagram url=http://instagram.com/p/SrZP2bTCfo/ width=400]

I love my wife.  She is a saint and she is helping me become one.  In marriage, I learned that self-giving is the inner life of the Trinity.  The self-giving needed to make a marriage work is a mystery to outsiders.  The self-giving in our marriage creates a loving bubble, protecting us from the world.  This loving bubble is a living cell within the Body of Christ.

Similar to the 40 days of Advent leading to Easter, my wife and I prepared for 40 weeks for the birth of our new child.  My wife and I were joined together as “one flesh” through marriage.  Our self-giving to each other is united and led by the love God has for each of us as individuals.  It is because God is forgiving, self-sacrificing and generous to me that I am forgiving, self-sacrificing and generous to my wife.  Our love for each other (wife, husband, God) form a triune body for the Holy Spirit.  The invisible reality of our love is made visible with the birth of another immortal soul: Hana Therese.

The invisible reality of the love between Christ and His Bride (the Church), is made visible through new Baptisms, Confirmations and First Communions.  As Hana takes to her mother’s breast for milk, so I take to the Church’s altar for the Eucharist.  As Maya (Hana’s older sister) has grown these past two years in a loving household, so has my soul grown within the loving household of God’s Church these past three years.

Sex is sacred because “it is the only door by which God himself regularly enters our world to do the miraculous deed he alone can do: creating new images of himself.  Sex images God because it makes new images of God.”

Families are the basic building blocks of Christ’s body, not the individual.  I cannot create immortal souls on my own.  My wife and I cannot create immortal souls together.  Only with God.

If I push you out of the bedroom, God, it’s because I’ve fallen victim to the world’s redefinition of sex as something profane, something vulgar… something I should be ashamed to let you see. Help me accept the presence of the Holy Spirit during sex because the act is sacred. We are creating immortal souls with you.

To Be or Not to Be Our Parents

A young Ned seen with his beatnik parents
A young Ned seen with his beatnik parents (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We grow up to be like our parents. Is that true? Could be. The better question is, “Do I want to grow up to be like my parents?” I am as unsure of my answer for that question as I was for the first one.

I have always maintained that the whole of myself is the best of both worlds that my parents each represent. My father, for instance, is forward thinking and very intelligent. When he sits quietly looking out at the lawn or at the fish tank, I know he’s thinking about the future. I know because once I asked.

“Nothing is wrong, Dad?” I asked in Cantonese. He was staring at the fish tank for such a long time, not reading his newspaper as usual.
“No. I am just thinking about the family’s house.” He was always worried about how the mortgage was to be paid. The family depended so much on him, the money that he worked so hard to bring home.

Being a child, when he told me of his troubles, I knew not what to do. There was not much I could do but be a good boy — and I don’t think I succeeded at that very well, either. Well, I am more eager to be a good son now if I was not much of one back then. More importantly, the point I was trying to make is that I am also very forward-thinking. And, being a good son is a goal in which its value would not have been realized if I did not have my dad’s critical self-reflection.

My dad has a coherent code of ethics because of that self-reflection. He doesn’t adhere to the rituals of the family’s religion, Mahayana Buddhism. No words actually declare this, but his behavior and facial expressions clearly say it’s a “crock of shit.” About the rituals of any religion, I have also come to the same conclusion: they are perfunctory. I think I inherited the same cynicism towards religion that my father has. Yet, even without the fallible guidance of a priest, monk or rabbi, I have developed a code of ethics of my own that I live by.

My mother has a high interpersonal intelligence. She is honest and does not put on any air of superiority (probably because she hasn’t the riches to justify it, hehe…). She is sincere. That sincerity in her actions with other people make trusting her a very comfortable thing to do. This sincerity, I think, I inherited from her.

My mom is also empathetic. She is no Gandhi or Mother Theresa, but she feels for other people’s suffering as (what I have come to learn) good people should. Without this influence from my mother, I don’t think I can cry at sad movies or care about the many disenfranchised people in this world.


So, there are many good characteristics of my parents that I like in me. Yet, I fear I might have inherited some bad traits, too. Don’t we all?

My anger, for instance, is very explosive. My dad’s anger, likewise, is very explosive. Neither one of us is physically violent. My father has never hit my mom, and I am vehemently against domestic violence. Yet, our loud, deep voices become very threatening when we shout. The tension in and the extreme contrast from our general jovial faces both have a very imposing effect to the receiver in a conflict. I never liked my dad when he was mad. He was scary. Similarly, the few people who have seen me angry have commented on its intensity.

My mom is very emotional. When she gets stressed out, she cries. When I get stressed out, I cry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but crying isn’t very manly, either.

There is a point that I am trying to make, but the night is getting late and I want to go to bed. I suppose I conclude that I like how both my parents are, but I am concerned about certain traits such as my dad’s anger and his stonewalling when he argues with my mom. I want neither to be unconstructive with my anger nor stonewall my significant other when in conflict. Is recognizing the tendency enough to keep it in check? Perhaps. Wanting to be a good husband, I certainly hope so. Divorces will get pretty expensive in the years to come.

“Senioritis,” the Fear of Success, and Dawkins’ Memes

The King of Masks
The King of Masks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I turned in my film analysis for Relational Communication Theory today. The film that I used was The King of Masks. Unfortunately, I had to skip work and the class itself in order to finish it. The paper was, at least, well done.

There are some concerns with my Relational Comm class. I began the semester thinking it will be the easiest class to handle. The material is simple enough to understand, but the work is piling on top of me. For instance, I owe the professor three discussion papers and two abstract papers. The discussion papers are on the reading — something that I don’t do until the three or four days before an exam. The abstract papers, unfortunately, I have no excuse. I simply did not want to do them because they were pointless busywork. The reason why the professor assigned them were so we would start the research on our projects. I have already done that, so doing the abstracts serve no other purpose other than wasting my time.

My grade is on the line, and that is what is bothering me. One would think that I would be compelled to do even menial busywork if I was concerned about my grade. So, why procrastinate? Am I truly infected with “senioritis”? I hope not. There is still so much work to do.

My cousin Sheila called me the other night. That was an unexpected surprise. Her life is preoccupied by her sorority and, apparently, that has had a small effect on her grades. Though that may be true, working at a major in which she really isn’t passionate about doesn’t help either. I suggested for the millionth time that she change her major to music.

“I would like to,” she says. “But, how am I going to make any money? You have to be famous to do that.”
“Don’t you want to be famous?” I ask.
“Yes….” She pauses. So, I finish the sentence for her. “But, you don’t think you’ll get famous.”
“You shouldn’t think that.”

But she does, as we all do. We all fear not achieving our goals. Sometimes, that fear is strong enough to keep us from trying. This is my fear of success, and I’m sure others can relate, as well. We are people who seek happiness. Many of us don’t even know what would make us happy. For those lucky ones who know what they want, there are still problems. What do I have to do to reach those goals? What if I don’t know how to do what’s necessary? Those are legitimate fears. They are the very chains which bind so many of us who have goals to achieve.

“You needn’t worry about money,” I say to my cousin, finding those words ring hollow from my mouth. “Remember, you are a part of a Chinese family. You will never be without a place to live or food to eat.” Now, that, I do believe. One aspect of the Chinese culture that I would like to preserve in my family is mutual assistance. There is great security in knowing you have people who will help you when you are down.

There is a problem with that tradition, though. How do I deal with the freeloaders? When I become wealthy, how do I prevent family members from being reckless? Knowing that the family will bail them out, they might behave irresponsibly. This fear is not unfounded. There is precedence. My third family perpetuates this exploitative meme. [A “meme” is analogous to a gene. It is a term coined by Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene. He defines a meme as “a unit of intellectual or cultural information that survives long enough to be recognized as such, and which can pass from mind to mind.”] Back in the day when the sixth family was well-to-do, they agreed to stand in on the title for the house that the third family wanted to buy. In other words, on paper the sixth family owned the house, but in actuality the third family was making the payments.

One day, corporations decided to downsize. My sixth uncle was laid off, and he lost all his fringe benefits. Luckily, they had some money saved, but they were without any healthcare. If any one in his family got seriously ill, they would be in deep trouble. No one in the family has the free cash flow to pay for large medical bills. Needless to say, the sixth family was stressed. He wanted the third family to claim the house so his family did not look wealthier than it really is, but the third family refused. Not only did they refuse, but they had no sympathy for the sixth family’s situation. They did not even attempt to lighten their burden, knowing full well how much the sixth family has helped them in the past.

This is a meme that cannot be replicated. Families are supposed to help each other, but the security of mutual family assistance is threatened when a family that takes advantage of the group is not punished.

There must be a solution?