Twin Bells?

The second bell that Noël Piper and I found in China was at a church in Ya’an, Sichuan Province. Like the bell we had found the day before, this one was cast in a foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio. The pastor didn’t know what had happened to the bell during the Cultural Revolution, and how it had survived. She did know, however, that it had been taken from the old church building (no longer standing) in the 1960s and returned in the 1980s.

BW yaan bell

Inside the main entryway of the downtown campus of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis sits a giant black bell tucked unceremoniously in the corner. Unless you’re paying attention, you will probably not even notice it. But as you can see, there is a striking similarity to the bell in Ya’an. Hmm…

BW bbcbell

Is that just a coincidence, or is there an actual link between the old bell at Bethlehem Baptist Church and the one in Ya’an? In order to learn the answer to that question, you’ll have to read my book, The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China OR come on out to the north campus of Bethlehem on Saturday, February 11 at 6:30PM.

I will be telling the story of these bells as well as few others I found in China. As fun as the stories are, however, the bells also serve as vehicles for telling the story of God’s faithfulness to the church in China.

And speaking of fun, here’s a bonus photo of a very young Pastor John Piper with the old Bethlehem church bell! (Thanks, Noël!)

old bbc bell

Event details:

Bethlehem Baptist Church (north campus)
5151 Program Ave.
Mounds View, MN
Time: 6:30PM

If you’re in the Twin Cities, come on over!

Friday Photo: Delivering Coal

Snapped one afternoon during a stroll through one of Beijing’s remaining hutong (lane) neighborhoods. So much going on: the man delivering coal briquettes; the fresh fruit; the umbrellas. the sign for donkey meat hot pot; the “family style restaurant;” the white sky.

Beijing hutong

Sigh. I do miss Beijing!

 

Bell Talk and Book Signing

I have two “Bell Talk and Book Signing” events coming up in the Twin Cities this weekend and next weekend.

The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China

Here are the details:

Saturday, February 4 @ Bethlehem Baptist Church (downtown campus)
720 8th Ave. S. Minneapolis
Time: 7:15PM (following the evening service)

Saturday, February 11 @ Bethlehem Baptist Church (north campus)
5151 Program Ave., Mounds View
Time: 6:30PM

Noël Piper will be my special guest; we will share background on the genesis of the book and some of the stories..

Here’s a snippet to whet your appetite:

Pastor Zhao fetched a ladder but refused to let Noël or me climb up there. He was happy that we were there, but no way was he going to risk having two injured foreign women on his hands! Ben, who is younger and much more athletic, grabbed his flashlight and scampered up to get a good look at the inscription. It was from this perch, high up in the steeple, that he read the inscription to us.

I will have copies of the book to sell, and will even sign them if you want!

If you’re in the Twin Cities, come on out! If you can’t make it to these, I’m hoping to have more such events schedule in March.

 

Don’t Do This in Shanghai

22 years ago, in an effort to improve the social environment of Shanghai, the city government issued a list of 7 “Don’ts” — behaviors that the citizens were to avoid. It was an attempt to eradicate the bad habits of Shanghai citizens. They included things like spitting, smoking in public, and cursing.

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Earlier this month the office of the Shanghai Spiritual Civilization Construction Commission (what’s not to love about that name?) issued an updated list, one designed to address more modern bad habits.

Here the are:

  1. Don’t let pets disturb neighbors.
  2. Don’t cut in line.
  3. Don’t park vehicles in a disorderly manner.
  4. Don’t waste food.
  5. Don’t make noise.
  6. Don’t jaywalk.
  7. Don’t litter.

If you’re heading to Shanghai in the near future, you might want to keep this list handy!

Related Posts:

Do’s and Don’ts

Eight Glories, Eight Disgraces

Walking Backwards Through Shanghai

Shanghai Sidewalk Cafe

Shanghai!

Shanghai Books

Battle Zone Shanghai

 

Image credit: by Alfred Weidinger, via Flickr

 

Friday Photo: Easy Rider

On a late summer afternoon in Beijing, I parked myself on the side of a busy road and snapped pictures of people on their evening commute. This was my favorite.

She was riding due west, into a bright sun, hence the “Darth Vader” hat. And if you think it’s purpose is to merely shield her eyes from the sun, you’d be mistaken. It is to keep the sun from darkening her skin.

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You may recognize this as the cover photo on my book, Survival Chinese Lessons.

Who Can Turn the World on With Her Smile?

The great actress and comedienne Mary Tyler Moore died on Wednesday. She got her start on television playing Laura on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and later starred in her own show, simply named, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

When my family moved to the Twin Cities in 1973 from Pakistan, the show was already a hit. Having lived outside of the US nearly all of my life, I knew little about life and culture here. Sitting down to watch the show with my family every weekend was an important piece of my “re-enculturation.” It was especially exciting to see my new hometown featured in the opening credits. It remains one of my favorite shows to catch on DVD.

Because the show was set in Minneapolis, it has always had a special place in the hearts of Minnesotans. Here’s what the Minneapolis StarTribune notes had to say:

In the process of creating a pop-culture icon, Moore and the show sold the Twin Cities as a progressive metropolis.

To this day, tourists cruise through the Kenwood neighborhood to catch a glimpse of the Victorian house where Richards resided during the show’s early seasons. In 2002, the city of Minneapolis and TV Land teamed up to erect a statue on the Nicollet Mall, commemorating the moment in the opening credits in which Richards hurls her tam in the air after a satisfying day of shopping.

In 1999, Entertainment Weekly named the shot as the second-greatest moment in TV history, behind only John Kennedy’s assassination and funeral.

StarTribune columnist James Lileks produced a short video on the impact the show had on our city. You can see it here.

Minnesota Public Radio also did a nice story yesterday on how Mary Tyler Moore made Minneapolis a star.

And just for memories, here is a clip of a scene that is often ranked as one of the greatest TV scenes of all time, from “Chuckles the Clown’s Funeral.” (email readers, go here to see the video)

Farewell, Mary! Thanks for the laughs, and for helping me adjust to live in America!

Chinese New Year Nagging — In Song

Do you think your parents nag? Try being a young person going home for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). The questions come fast and furious, and no matter what you are doing or achieving it seems never to be enough.

Singles have it particularly rough. “What? STILL no boyfriend (or girlfriend)??”

This is a big enough problem that some young women “rent” boyfriends to take home with them for the holidays so that their parents will think they are attached. Here’s how the China Daily reports on this phenomenon:

The price of renting a boyfriend to take home with you is surging to as high as 1,500 yuan ($219) a day as Spring Festival approaches, chinanews.com reported on Wednesday.

Some single women, who are pressured by their parents to marry, choose to rent a boyfriend for home to soften or dispel parents’ dissatisfaction with their singledom. Catering to the market, men are advertising their availability at higher prices on social networking platforms.

In a 1,000-people group chat on Tencent’s QQ, many advertisements give personal data about the “boyfriends” for rent, including height, weight and educational background, as well as services the “boyfriends’ can provide, such as “coping with questions concerning marriage from parents and relatives”.

The starting price to rent a “boyfriend” is 1,000 yuan. The manager of the chat group said that the daily price ranges from 1,000 yuan to 1,500 yuan during Spring Festival season, compared to a regular fee of 600 yuan to 1,000 yuan.

Besides the rental fee, the woman renting a boyfriend has to pay for his round-trip tickets if travel is involved and other costs, such as dining out and outings.

A choral group in Shanghai called the Shanghai Rainbow Chamber Singers has come up with a song about the travails of going home for the holidays. It’s called “What Did I Do is For Your Own Good.” The video of their performance of the song has gone viral in China.

(email readers, please go here to view)

Very funny and very impressive!!

Happy New Year!

Recommended: “The Dust of Kandahar”

On a mid-April day in 2013, I heard a news report about an attack on US State Department personnel in Afghanistan in which 5 Americans were killed. I held my breath and said a prayer because a friend of mine from childhood, Jonathan Addleton, was at the time a diplomat in Afghanistan. In due time details of the attack emerged and I learned that, although he had been in the group that was attacked, he was unhurt. Unfortunately, however, his interpreter, a fellow diplomat, and 3 soldiers were killed. I was relieved that he was OK, but grieved for those who had lost their lives.

Jonathan has written about his year in Afghanistan in a book titled,  The Dust of Kandahar: A Diplomat Among Warriors in Afghanistan.

The Dust of Kandahar: A Diplomat Among Warriors in Afghanistan

Here’s the description:

The Dust of Kandahar provides a personal account of one diplomat’s year of service in America’s longest war. Ambassador Addleton movingly describes the everyday human drama of the American soldiers, local tribal dignitaries, government officials and religious leaders he interacted and worked with in southern Afghanistan.

Addleton’s writing is at its most vivid in his firsthand account of the April 2013 suicide bombing attack outside a Zabul school that killed his translator, a fellow Foreign Service officer and three American soldiers.  The memory of this tragedy lingers over Addleton’s journal entries, his prose offering poignant glimpses into the interior life of a U.S. diplomat stationed in harm’s way.

This book is not about the policy or politics of the war in Afghanistan; rather it is a an account of the people who all play their own role in the unfolding events.

We often imagine that the life of a diplomat is glamorous, but what comes through in this book is a certain ordinariness of duty. His days are filled with meetings, briefings, and trips on Blackhawk helicopters. The duty brings sadness as well; most days end with ramp ceremonies to honor those who have been killed in action.

For a fascinating glimpse into the life of a diplomat, I highly recommend this book.

Thanks, Jonathan, for your service to our nation!

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