Saturday, October 13, 2007

Here's Your Card

Sure... it has been a while since I last bogged. Summer is over, time to get back to work.

Cards. I am sick of cards. It seems like that every store in Taiwan requires you to have a card.

From left to right starting at the top: Office supply store, art & office store, home DIY store, computer store, McCafe' club, book store, second computer store, hobby store, arts & crafts store, pharmacy. These are just half of the cards I have to carry to shop. It is getting maddening. These are not cardboard cut outs, these are credit card style I.D. cards that ONLY give you a membership to their discount services. Hey! Just give the discount and save the money from making these dang cards. My right hip is killing me from sitting on a wallet that is four inches thick.

I FULLY expect to get pulled over by a Taiwan Police man, to hear him say, "May I see your card?" Then, after giving him my Drivers License, hearing him then say, "No, your Driver's Club Card." After explaining that I do not have such a thing, he will say, "Oh, that's too bad. Now I will have to enter your information into the system by hand and you will not be eligible for the Traffic Ticket Discount until your next violation."

Lord, save us from plastic and databases.

Sandy and I were in a town near us called ChouJou (say Chow-Joe) and were buying drinking water when a man stopped to talk to us. His English was pretty good and he wanted to ask some foreigners some questions. In the course of the conversation we of course told him we were Christians and wanted to talk about Jesus. He said he was a Christian and suddenly took on a very serious facial expression. "What church do you go to?" he asked. When I said that I was not bound to a building or a denomination, and that I only wanted to talk about the Bible and about Jesus he became even more serious. He pressed the issue. No answer I gave satisfied for the longest time.

He was asking to see my card.

Taiwan culture is very big on labeling people. People fall into groups. School children even have their level of accomplishment embroidered on their school uniform so everyone can look and see if a child is smart or stupid... no kidding. This man wanted to label us, thus the label "Christian" was not enough. We were not going to get his "premium serivce" of listening and valuing our words until we showed him our membership and repeated relationship with a particular "Flavor" of Church.

When we share Christ we must strive to never share "Christianity." We are not to tell people about how "our" church does it... we are to tell the world what Jesus said and did - and then let them respond to Him in their manner. We use the Bible to teach, we use the Church to fellowship. Cutting people off because they do not carry the card of our own flavor of Church is to deny the most ardent prayer Jesus ever spoke, the one that caused him to sweat blood, "keep them united in love."

-The Haggard


amanda said...

as always, great post.

love the way you make object lessons. are you a pastor-teacher? ;)

The Haggard said...

No, but I play on on TV.

Thanks for the kudos!
-The Haggard

Keith said...

Michael, good to hear from you again..I really enjoy Sandy's blogs though.....and she posts nearly everyday...good for her! Keep up the good work in Taiwan!

Cahleen 何凱琳 said...

Wow! I finally get the pleasure of reading a nice up to date post! This one definitely had me laughing. You'd think with all of these cards, they'd come up with a debit card at least -- how I miss those!

SQJTaipei said...

that's a nice post Haggard. Quality over quantity.
great insight into Taiwan *and* Christian culture.

Michael Turton said...

Interesting culture clash there.

We were not going to get his "premium serivce" of listening and valuing our words until we showed him our membership and repeated relationship with a particular "Flavor" of Church.

Don't think the Flavor of Christianity is the issue. I think, being a good collectivist, he wanted to join your group rather than join your group (as opposed to some other). Decentralized control is a mystery to Asians raised in centralized, collectivist cultures where lineages are so important in defining who is part of what.

Also, everyone in Taiwan asks for cards. It's second nature.

The Haggard said...

Michael -
Thanks for the comment! You are correct in your observations on Asian culture, cards, and collectivism. However, in this instance the man was indeed very exclusive about his flavor and told us that other flavors of the church were NOT going to heaven. He wanted us to join him, and he was not going to join us.

Indeed, cards are common... I have no beef with them other than they get "tai mafan" - however, such "membership" styles are anathama to Christ's teachings... even though American and Taiwanese Churches tend to practice such exclusivity.

My little moral object lesson is more about being inclusive rather than as a negative commentary about Asia... rather it is more negative toward Christians.

Thanks again!