Saturday, July 28, 2007

this post has been shanghai'd

If you wanted to fly from Chicago to Shanghai, which direction would you go?  I mean besides the obvious and necessary "up."  I would have thought west and my second choice, even though longer, would have been east.  The best answer?  North!  Unlike me, the airlines remember that the world is not flat.  The shortest route from Chicago is to fly north to Canada, skirting the edge of Hudson Bay, on up over the Arctic Ocean, just a few hundred miles from the north pole, and continue south across Siberia and on to China. 

If you have a globe, a fun thing to do is take a string and stretch it between two points.  Although this shows the shortest route, it is almost never the the straight line you'd find if you plotted a course on a flat map.  On one level I already know this but still I am a little surprised each time.

Why do most of us find this surprising?  It is because our conceptual map of the world is two dimensional.  We all know the world is round but our thinking, and often our resultant actions, are based on the images with which we have flooded our mind.  May I go so far has as to say our minds have been trained to misperceive the world?  No conspiracy theory here, it just that we have constantly exposed our eyes and our minds to distorted pictures of the world. In the case of maps, it is easy to correct our mistakes because it doesn't take much convincing us that the world is really round.

Other areas of our lives, the distorted picture is the only one we have.  What seems natural to us is actually quite twisted.  We flood our minds with pornography and romance novels.  (Yes, I endeavor to write a gender neutral blog!)  We also bombard our minds with tv and movies and especially advertising.  We have distorted images of the opposite sex, what is desirable, love and marriage, and a host of other things that lead to relational problems and hurts.  Another example: the victim of emotional abuse who grows up thinking everyone is lying, imagining and imputing negative motivations, unable to accept acceptance.  (Tragically, the victim of abuse very often grows up to become the emotional abuser.)

I could go on and on.  The sad thing is that we are comfortable acting on our twisted perceptions.  It seems unnatural to operate with a truer picture of the world and the godly thing to do often does not seem right.  We fool ourselves in to doing "what is right for me" or dismissing correction by saying "I have to be true to myself " or "I've got to be me."  That is why the Word tells us in Ephesians 4:23 to renew our minds.  That is why we are to surround ourselves with godly people (not just believers).  The process is ongoing and not at all obvious.  It usually needs training and other people to help us.

Actually, this post is just expanding on Ephesians 4:17-23.  Check it out and see if I'm wrong.

. . . I do go on.  Sorry. It is the jet lag talking.  After about five hours of sleep in two days complemented by a shift in twelve time zones, I'm likely to write anything.

It is now Sunday morning in Shanghai.  What I was starting to write about was my arrival in Shanghai. No problems; more pleasant than expected flight; no lost luggage.  When we stepped outside the airport, it was like a sauna, very high 90's and extremely humid.  Our hotel is not a 3-star as advertised, but still is more than nice enough and still a bargain by Shanghai standards.  I have a small room with a double bed,  private bath, ac, tv, and in-room internet broadband.

A mother of one of our students took us out to eat last night and we had real Chinese food.  After dinner we did a little site seeing since XC (one of our Chinese students) had never been to Shanghai.  We went to the Bund, the old financial center along the river.  There is a broad walkway overlooking the river and the skyline of Pudong, the new financial district across the river.  Except for NYC, Shanghai's skyline is more beautiful and more impressive than any in the US.

Be blessed!
RB

No comments: