O Dia das Bruxas

Pode ser que é o nome que faz a diferença. Lá no Brasil o dia é conhecido com “O Dia das Bruxas,” enquanto aqui nos EUA o nome do dia é “Halloween.” A tradução é complicada, mas basta dizer agora que “Halloween” não significa nada de “bruxas.” No Brasil o dia é só comemorado nas escolas de inglês e nos clubes, e as fantasias quase sempre involvem vampiros, bruxas e a morte. Nos EUA é bastante diferente. Uma festa de Halloween aqui pode acontecer numa escola de ensino fundamental ou numa casa. As crianças e os adultos podem vestir fantasias de coisas males, mas muitas das vezes as fantasias usadas são de outras coisas, tais como robôs, magos, princesas e palhaços.

Os evangélicos nos EUA não concordam sobre este dia, mas a maioria participa de alguma forma. Tem cristão que não gostam do dia e acha que é coisa do diabo, e estes não permitam que as crianças participam. Eu acho isso um pouco triste. Muitas igrejas tem festas “alternativas” neste dia, dando doces e fazendo brincadeiras com as crianças, mas pedindo que elas não usam fantasias ou somente vestem coisas “boas.”

Eu nasci no “dia das bruxas,” dia 31 de outubro, 1975. Foi um belo dia para mim na minha infância. Me diverti bastante e gostava muito de ter um dia tão legal como data de aniversário. Agora sou adulto e discípulo de Cristo, e continuo gostando.

Follow-ups to the October 2007 Synchroblog

The following are follow-up posts to the October 2007 Synchroblog on Halloween, compiled with comments by Steve Hayes.

Você é Alemão?

Uma vez eu estava na casa da minha sogra no Brasil e queria ligar para meus pais os Estados Unidos. Tinha um cartão telefônico, mas por algum motivo a linha fixa da casa não estava funcionando. Então, andei até um orelhão e fiz a ligação.

Conversei bastante com a minha mãe (em inglês, claro), e enquanto isso um menino de 8 ou 9 anos de idade brincava perto de mim na rua. Terminada a ligação, o rapazinho me aproximou e perguntou: Você é alemão?

Uma criança pode não saber a diferença entre inglês e alemão, mas reconheça quando alguem é diferente.

A bíblia nos fala que os convertidos em Cristos, os discípulos por fé e imersão nas águas, são agora cidadãos do reino de Deus. Naquele dia na rua perto da casa da minha sogra um brasileirinho percebeu que eu era estrangeiro, alguem “de fora” por minha aparencia e pelas palavras que usava. Se você é um seguidor de Cristo Jesus, pode ser que os não-convertidos não entendem que você é cristão, mas eles devem ter como perceber que você é “de fora.”

“Assim, pois, não sois mais estrangeiros, nem forasteiros, antes sois concidadãos dos santos e membros da família de Deus, edificados sobre o fundamento dos apóstolos e dos profetas, sendo o próprio Cristo Jesus a principal pedra da esquina; no qual todo o edifício bem ajustado cresce para templo santo no Senhor” (Efésios 2:19-21 JFA).

CMB Update – Sunday, 28 October 2007

Marcelo continues to do remarkable work in Uberlândia. Besides the church in Pacaembu, which is already outgrowing its available space, the work is now expanding into a completely different neighborhood, Jardim Europa. Here is an extended exerpt from Marcelo’s most recent e-mail to the Christian Church in Martelle, Iowa that supports the mission in Uberlândia:

I am sorry for delaying to answer your e-mail. I’ve answered no e-mail in these last two months. I’ve been exhausted… very busy…my family (after my third son’s arrival, my free time ran out!), my job and a church to take care and also you’re gonna begin another church in Uberlândia. Probably, our first Worship Service will be on November 4th.

Considering the hard times we faced, the church is doing well. 10 people were added to the Pacaembu church so far. There are a lot of people who are studying the bible with us, especially in the neighborhood (Jardim Europa) where we intend to begin a new church. There are a lot of people living together without being married in Jardim Europa and they would like to get baptized… O what do you think about baptizing unmarried people who promise to get married as soon as they can? The only thing that hinders them to get married is financial conditions, for most people, I can see, the fee charged by the Notary is expensive.

In Pacaembu we’ve tried to rent a bigger facility. This is no longer adequate for the number of people who have attended our meetings. But it hasn’t hard to find another place… Please, be praying for us about that.

Concerning the finances, the dollar rate is fewer and fewer. The last time that Christianne sent the money, 1dollar = 1, 7 real. When you were here, 1 dollar = 2,15 real. Due to this and the reform of my house that I had to do, now I’ve tried to sell my car so that I can pay my debts.

Jumo is graduating on December 09th and I’m trying to get a support for him because the church in Pacembu can’t afford to pay his salary.

Please, pray for my wife…my children and for me to be a father and a husband that God wishes.”

Speaking Proverbially (1)

In a speech at the conclusion of a French environmental summit recently, Al Gore quoted an African proverb. Proverbs can be found in every culture and time period, encapsulating some perceived wisdom in a form that can be easily remembered and communicated. The ancient Hebrews had many proverbs, and a significant collection of them can be found in the aptly-named biblical Book of Proverbs. As with everything in the accepted canon, these proverbs share the distinction of being held forth as inspired of God.

While I agree that these proverbs are truly of God and therefore Scripture, I do not believe they can be taken completely literally. They share general principles of wisdom, not detailed instructions. There are issues of translation at some points (compare versions sometimes) and also apparent contradictions. Some proverbs you’ll read and say to yourself, “Yes, but that’s not always true.” In my opinion, none of this diminishes the value of the Book of Proverbs as God’s word.

When I was in my early teens I went to a youth “lock-in” with a friend from school. It was a great night. At one point a preacher made the suggestion that we read the Bible daily, and that Proverbs specifically is an easy book to use. There are thirty-one chapters, one for each day of the average month. For a time I took this advice and did read daily. It was a start.

What purpose does the Book of Proverbs serve? The answer can be found in the very first chapter:

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: For learning about wisdom and instruction, for understanding words of insight, for gaining instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity; to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young—let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1-7 NRSV).

Vending Machines, Body Scans and Mao

Up until a few weeks ago I could buy sodas for 50 cents out of the vending machines at work. That’s pretty good for a can of Pepsi nowadays. This guy from the vending machine company came in, though, and increased the price on the machines to 75 cents for regular sodas, and $1.00 for Cranberry drink and Yoo-hoos. Wow, did people ever complain! Supervisors heard about it from their team members and there were grumblings that no one would buy out of the machines any more. You’d think from listening to them that the vending machine company would go out of business any day unless they lowered their prices. Well, like I said, that was a few weeks ago. The vending machine company seems to be doing okay and nobody’s complaining much any more. I knew they’d get used to it. That’s how people are.

The sad fact is that people will gripe a lot about things, but rarely are willing to make the effort or take the risks needed to effect change. Recently word came out about new body scanners that the TSA is testing and may be deploying on a large scale in the future (read about it here). On CNN the journalists and even camera crew were objecting, saying that this invasive technology that renders the human body nude is crossing a big line. I ask though: What are they or you or I willing to do about it? Nope. People will get used to it.

In fact, with enough fear and repression, people can be made to suffer greatly and even betray friends and family. Look at how far things had to go in Myanmar to get to the conflicts of today, or how far they did go in Mao’s China. Honestly, it doesn’t give me too much hope.

Then again, there are those courageous moments in human history when people stand up and oppose the real evils. High-priced soda probably isn’t worth fighting, but privacy and personal freedom certainly deserve a brave defense. Truthfully, the only man in history whose confrontation with the powers that be (both politically and spiritually) ever made a lasting difference was Jesus of Nazareth, on the cross. His apparent failure turned out to be a resounding victory, turning on its head our concepts of success and giving us hope for our battles. His fight was the climax of our world’s history, the point where the war was won. Looking to his cross, I hope his disciples can find the strength to resist and then fail victoriously for the reign of God.

Oh, and by the way, I take my own sodas to work now!

Xenophobia in a Florida Condominium

Over the years I’ve rented in a few states and in Brazil, but only one of my landlords came close to what I’ve read coming out of a condo in Florida.

This week both the Brazilian Press and the Brazilian Voice reported that a condo president in Florida recently (October 8, 2007) sent a very threatening letter to all residents, advising that legal status of those living in the condo would be checked, and any found to be illegal would be turned over to “the Homeland Security Administration.” It’s so bad you have to laugh. An article about this situation can be found in English here.

The letter from condo president Lilyana Ferrara is strongly-worded, though there are several errors of language, style and legality in it. I wish I could find a copy of the complete letter to link and show just how outrageous it was. Here’s a choice paragraph, word-for-word from the letter with no correction:

“I am requesting that INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) come into our building and do a door to door documentation of everyone’s legal status in this country. I remind you that each unit can have only two(2) adults and (2) children. If you do not make yourself available with your documentation, I will allow the authorities to do whatever they deem necessary, including forcible entry into the unit.”

What?! To begin, the INS was phased out a few years ago and replaced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Then she reminds them that there is a limit per the condo agreement as to how many can live in each unit (the heart of her issue) and proceeds to threaten the residents that if they don’t answer the door, she’ll allow immigration to break it down. Maybe she doesn’t realize it, but unless they have a search warrant, they wouldn’t be able to use any evidence take in court. It would all be inadmissible. In any event, ICE would probably not be willing to spend the manpower and resources necessary to try to capture all the residents of a condo who are not legally in the U.S. At least, things haven’t gotten that bad in the United States yet.

This condo commando has apparently resigned, citing “health issues.” Honestly, it appears to me that she needs counseling. While I understand that the issues that bugged her were related to unknown people (apparently friends and family of residents) moving in and out of the condo and sometimes breaking things in the process, she should have taken the legal approach rather than trying to discriminate against an entire class of people. In other words, she may have been right in wanting to document who was living in the condo and ensure that all were abiding by the rules, but she was wrong to use immigration status to get the job done.