Dear Jack: Webisode 19 of Jack-Man- “Chinese Field Trip”

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

Dear Jack,

Two weeks ago when our family was on vacation in Sacramento, you and I shot a webisode of Jack-Man.

Right across the Sacramento River from Grandma’s house is a little village called Locke, which was populated by Chinese immigrants about a hundred years ago.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

I decided it would make a fun locale for us, so I wrote the webisode around it, also tying it in to the 2015 Camry our family was given that week to review. (I’ll have plenty more pictures and videos of all the other cool stuff we did, too.)

In “Chinese Field Trip,” things are shaken up when Jack-Man and Green Meanie have to work together in order to find their way back from China to Sacramento; when they both mysteriously end up in a geographical loop hole, or portal, that transports them both, along with the 2015 Camry, to the other side of the globe.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

Basically, I just wanted to explore the tiny Chinese village with you, but I figured it would cool if we captured it on camera while wearing our funny costumes.

I also custom wrote this little song for the Webisode 19:

“Keys to the Camry”

The keys to the Camry, I gotta find

This puts me in a bind, not gonna lie

China’s quite lovely this time of year

But I’m not supposed to be here

The only way back to Sacramento’s in that Toyota

If we don’t make it back to California I’d settle for a

Place just a little closer even if it’s Minnesota

I do appreciate this field trip

The culture and the ambience is so hip

Right about now I could really use a selfie stick

I’d impress my Facebook friends

And here it is!

Be on the look-out for several more fun videos and stories coming up, based on our family’s adventures in Sacramento; including a trip to the Monterey Aquarium and the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

Also, here’s the walk around video of the 2015 Toyota Camera that is referenced in “Chinese Field Trip.”

Love,

Daddy

c2 c3

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How Race and Religion are Connected and Why Isaac and Ishmael are behind It All

This is me in a video I made for you, which explains all this in a 5 and a half minute video, in case you prefer that over reading the 1378 word blog post below it, which I wrote 7 years ago.

Meet your great-grandfather Isaac.  Or Ishmael.  Or maybe even both…

How do you determine who ethnically is a “white person” and who is not?  Are Jews considered to be white?  What about Greeks and Italians?  And though Central and South Americans typically have tan skin, why is it there something about them still seems sort of white, as opposed to a person from India or China? These are some of the “side effect” questions that will be answered as I explain my theory on the origin of race and religion.

No, this theory doesn’t start with Adam and Eve.  Nor does it start with Noah and his family repopulating the world after the Great Flood.  It starts 20 generations after Adam, and 10 generations after Noah, with Abraham (the father of the Jewish and the Arab people), being promised by God that he would have a son in his old age.  After waiting and having no sign of this coming true, Abraham’s wife Sarah convinced him to sleep with their Egyptian maidservant Hagar, in order to have a son to carry on the family lineage.  At age 86, Abraham goes with his wife’s plan (like the way Adam ate the fruit after Eve convinced him to) and has a son with his maidservant- the son is named Ishmael.  However, 13 years later Abraham’s wife Sarah gets pregnant with a son, as God promised, and this son is named Isaac.

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Abraham eventually sends away his maidservant Hagar and his son Ishmael into the wilderness (Genesis 21:14), and raises Isaac his as true first-born son.  Today, thousands of years later, it is through Ishmael that Arabs and Muslims link their heritage through.  Accordingly, Jews and Christians trace through heritage back to Isaac.  Now we are in the meat of my theory.

As generations passed and both families migrated from their Middle Eastern homelands, the descendants of Ishmael moved south and east- to Africa, Asia, and America (becoming the Native American Indians in North America and the Aztec Indians in Central and South America).  In fact, the angel of the Lord told Hagar that Ishmael “will live east of all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12).  Meanwhile the descendants of Isaac moved north and west- to Europe, Russia, and eventually to America (killing off, running off, or marrying the Native American Indians).

Notice how today the countries that are represented by the descendants of Ishmael are generally practice religions that do not involve the Judeo-Christian God (worshipped by Christians, Catholics, and Jews) but instead are tied Hinduism, Animism, Taoism, Buddhism, Communism (Atheism) and Islam.  And of course the descendants of Isaac are matched to the Christianized nations: For example, Scotland is mainly Protestant, Ireland is mainly Catholic, and England is mainly Anglican (Presbyterian).

Almost 2,000 years ago thanks the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys to preach Christ where the Jews had already settled (in Europe, specifically the Mediterranean areas) and also the birth of Christianity as a whole, the countries that were already familiar with the Judeo-Christian God were basically the first to get introduced to Jesus as the Messiah.  As far as all the Ishmael-descended areas, like modern day Africa and Asia that were less familiar or not familiar at all with Christianity, they were not and have not typically been as generally open and accepting to “our God” as Isaac’s descendants.

The Ishmaelese Middle East

Ishmaelese Africa

Ishmaelese Asia

I do believe that whether or not a nation (or individual person) is a descendent of Isaac has much to do with their religion, race, and culture.  However, there are obviously exceptions.  One of them is Russia, which had been mainly Christian up until the point of its embrace of Communism.  Another exception is African-Americans, whom most identify with Christianity, as opposed to most Africans living in Africa.

And then there’s the “half breed” nations that make up Central and South America.  For the most part, their blood is mixed of Indigenous Americans (Native American, Aztec, etc.) who migrated from Asia through modern day Alaska, and European lineage from those who “discovered” America.  So in essence, the inhabitants of modern day Central and South America are half Isaackian, half-Ishmaelese; though they have accepted the religious beliefs of Isaac’s descendants (largely Catholic).  Read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas

Yes, I did just now make up and use the words Isaackian (to describe the descendants of Isaac who are prone to believe in the Judeo-Christian God) and Ishmaelese (to describe the descendants of Ishmael who typically do not).  And now that you hopefully understand what those terms represent, I will begin using them frequently.

What started much of this thought process was when I recently began “Climbing the Family Tree” and realized that so many of my ancestors had last names that are Jewish (Schell, Klaar, Ullman, Wiseman, Vite) yet there is no solid proof that I actually am- only family rumors and tradition.  If I assume that none of the people in my family tree were Jewish, well, still, I have Jewish names in my family tree.  So that got me thinking, Jewish people and “white people” are essentially the same thing, coming from the same common ancestors.  Whereas someone who is Japanese (Ishmaelese) wouldn’t have last names in their family tree that would resemble a Jewish last name.

So going back to one of the questions I asked in the beginning, are Jewish people considered to be white?  Yes.  Though their homeland is Israel and though they are a Middle Eastern people group, they blend in with us Americans so well.  And that’s part of my fascination with pointing out which celebrities are Jewish.  Half the casts of Friends and Seinfeld are Jewish (The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of Friends and Seinfeld) as well as The Wonder Years (The Ethnicity of the Cast of The Wonder Years), but the fact that most of us don’t know which ones are or aren’t shows that despite most of us being a mix of European blood, those Middle Eastern descended Jews are still our cousins.

Of course ultimately, it doesn’t matter which of us descended from Isaac or Ishmael or how much blood we have of either (I’m around 12.5% Ishmaelese); it just predicts the tone of our skin and our traditional religion, according to my theory.  By no means do I see the Isaackians as superior to Ishmaelese for the fact that I myself worship the Judeo-Christian God.  But what I do recognize is what God himself proclaimed to Abraham regarding Isaac and Ishmael:

But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish my everlasting covenant for his descendants after him,” (Genesis 17:19).

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold I will bless him, and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly.  He shall become the father of 12 princes, and I will make him a great nation,” (Genesis 17:20).

What’s most important from those verses I just quoted is that God promised to establish his covenant through the line of Isaac.  In other words, the savior of the world would come in the form of a Jew.  Not to mention that the Isaackians coincidently would hold the responsibility of sharing their God with the Ismaelese- that’s why Christian missionaries exist.  That’s why Christianity is now the largest religion of the Ishmaelese country of South Korea, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Korea#Religion

We all have the same great-grandparents at the tops of our family trees.  I try to imagine how different the world would be if Abraham wouldn’t have had a son with Hagar, if he just would have waited another 13 years for his own wife to become pregnant.  But he jumped the gun and changed the course of history (for him, it was the future) forever.  Though if he didn’t, I wouldn’t exist, being that my grandmother is Mexican.  Not only would I have not written this and you wouldn’t have read it, but there wouldn’t have been any of this to write about.

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Why the Word “Dutch” is So Confusing to Us English Speaking People

Who are the Dutch people?  What country do they come from?  Are they the same as the Danish?

It’s time to set the record straight.  The best way for me to learn this is to teach it.  So here it goes.  Let’s go Dutch.

The Dutch are an ethnic group of people who live all over the globe, yet 81% of the population of The Netherlands is Dutch.  So in essence, the Dutch home base is The Netherlands.  This is similar to the way that the homeland of the Jews (who are also referred to as Hebrews) is the nation of Israel, though just as many live in the U.S. as Israel itself. 

However, unlike the Jews originating in Israel, the Dutch did not necessarily originate from The Netherlands; they have somewhat of a mysterious origin, like the Thai people who migrated from China.  In other words, Holland is the home base of the Dutch, not their homeland.

Here are some stats:

13.1 million Dutch people live in The Netherlands

5.1 million live in The United States

5 million live in South Africa

1 million live in Canada

In English, we use the word “Dutch” as both an adjective and a noun.  For example, it could be used to describe a pair of those weird wooden shoes or the Dutch people themselves.  However, in the Dutch language and most other language, there are separate words for the Dutch people and the Dutch adjective.  This is difficult to process because typically we’re used to adding an “s” on the end of word referring to the people group.  For example:  “I see a bunch of Italians eating Italian ice.”  But we don’t refer to Dutch people as “Dutches”.  We just call them Dutch.

To make it more confusing, the country of The Netherlands is commonly referred to as Holland, which is the unofficial name and generic for the country, because it only refers to the major part of a territory.  It’s like referring to Great Britain as England, though Great Britain is also made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

It is also loosely similar to the way our country is the United States of America, yet our nation is often referred to as simply “America”.  Though Central Americans and South Americans are not referred to as “Americans” like we are.

In closing, anything Danish is referring to something from the nation of Denmark, and has nothing to do with anything Dutch. 

Dutch recap:

The Dutch an ethnic group of people who have a home base in The Netherlands (which is also generically called Holland) and have nothing to do with the Danish people of Denmark.

You officially learned something today.  That’s one more wrinkle in your brain.  Oh, and, you’re welcome.

This painting was done by some famous Dutch guy

What Movie Rating Does Real Life Get? (G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17)

If your life was a movie, what would it be rated?

I recently watched a documentary questioning the secrecy and allusiveness of the MPAA movie rating system, called “This Film is Not Yet Rated”. While I’m not opposed to the American movie rating system because I see it as a decent way for parents to decide which movies are more suitable for their children, I also admit there is some humor in the way that movies are arbitrarily given ratings.

In general, more than one f-word grants an “R” rating. “Artistic or comic nudity” can land with “PG-13” or even “PG”, but if the nudity involves romantic or sexual content, then the movie will be an “R”. A panel of judges make a living off of making that call.

By now it’s pretty obvious that most studios want the majority of their films to be rated “PG-13” because more people will be able to see it. “PG” is for young kids and “R” weeds out the kids who are not smart enough to pay for one movie but walk into another.

The thing that most stood out to me from watching the documentary was this:

Compared to Europe, America has it backwards when it comes to sexuality and violence in movies. In Europe, sex scenes are portrayed in a more matter-of-fact/this-just-part-of-life manner. An absence of chiseled abs, large breasts, and steamy music. Not glamorized.

But when it comes to violence, Europe leaves a lot more to the imagination. They’re more offended by violence and less worried about sexual content.

In America, our movies are infiltrated by sex any time there’s a slight opportunity for it. But it’s so fake. Women have the sex drives of men. The atmosphere is perfect. The lighting is just right. And of course both participants have perfect bodies that could be (and often have been) featured partially nude on a health magazine cover. For me it’s just not believable.

Yet despite our obsession, compared to Europe, we’re much more offended by sex in movies. Culturally, America is a Christian nation. So we’re much more likely to be bothered or affected by heavy sexual content in a movie.

So we shy away from sex in movies, but indulge in violence. And not just grotesque stuff like the Saw movies.

We love war movies. We just do. Because there’s nothing more American than seeing the good guys kill the bad guys.

Like any James Bond movie for example. Loaded with countless murders by gunshots. Yet a lack of blood. Therefore, James Bond movies aren’t rated “R”, but “PG-13” instead.

The theory is that violent movies have this undertone that speak to teenage boys and young men: “Just imagine, if you fought in the U.S. military, you could be the one with the gun. Protecting our country. Killing and defeating the enemy.”

The regular presence of violence in American entertainment desensitizes us to it. The more we see it, the more we’re used to it. And it’s not really a moral issue to us.



While we may not be willing to be part of the firing squad that executes an American criminal convicted of murder and rape, our conscious doesn’t bother us as much about killing the enemy in a war who happened to be born in the wrong country with a dictator who is forcing him to fight against us. Yet he may have never killed or raped anyone. Until now, he could be just a another normal family man. But if he doesn’t fight for his corrupt political leader, his life will end anyway.

Both the sex and the violence are fake. We know this. But our conscience doesn’t really bother us about watching Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers (which neither really contain any sexual content).

I’ve noticed that Baptist preachers can mention Saving Private Ryan during a sermon to drive home a point and no one in the congregation thinks twice. We’ll overlook the vulgar language and bloody deaths in the name of war. Yes, it’s violent. But it’s war.

The point: Even Baptist preachers don’t mind violence, as long as it’s associated with war. I know this because I’ve been in the congregation enough to hear it. But if a movie was rated “R” for any other reason than war violence, it would be taboo for the preacher to admit he even saw the movie.

I get it. It makes sense.

America excuses violence. But has a tough time with the other stuff.

Now that I’ve established that America is okay with violence, I will quote Michael Tucker. He is the producer of the 2004 war documentary film, Gunner Palace, which shows the everyday lives of soldiers fighting in Iraq. This film is unique in that it received a “PG-13” rating, despite it’s 42 uses of the f-word and brutal violence and imagery. Tucker had to appeal the MPAA because of course they originally rated his film “R”:

“When a little girl was running down the road in South Vietnam, burnt by Napalm and she’s naked, is that PG? Is it PG-13? Is it R? You can’t rate reality.”

Great quote. I’ve seen the exact photograph he’s referring to. It’s awful. And I’ve seen even more hellish pictures from The Rape of Nanking during World War II, when Japan occupied China, raping all females and killing all men they could find in that city.

That can’t be rated. It’s so worse than “R”. Worse than NC-17. Yet those photographs can easily be found in Wikipedia or in any History section in a Borders or Barnes and Noble. It’s not fiction. It’s not art. It’s reality.

Michael Tucker is right: You can’t rate reality.


In the back of my mind I’ve always wondered what my life would be rated if it were a movie. The question is, how would my life not be rated “R”? Just considering an average workday. Even on a tame day, I know the language I hear around me would be rated “R”. As it definitely was in high school.

I guess I’ve always thought it’s ironic to hear a handful of f-words in a movie and know the movie is rated “R” because of the language itself. Hearing that language has become normal to me. Which of course defeats the whole idea of certain words being vulgar. When they’re common, they can’t truly be as vulgar as we let ourselves believe.

One of my biggest reasons not to use profanity is for that very reason. It just seems cliche to me. I can’t bring myself to do it.

Yet watching a movie than contains a few f-words is at least a little bit offensive and shocking. Why? Because it’s not in real life? Isn’t there a double standard somewhere in there?

Why, in real life, is it not a big deal to us?

Because it’s not real. Watching it happen to someone else in a movie makes it worse. It’s magnified. We pay closer attention. We’ll except it in real life, though.

It’s a funny thought.  To give a movie rating to real life.  Especially your own.

Related post by the same author:

Mixed Reviews  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2y

The Ball  http://wp.me/pxqBU-fv

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on this, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

America the Christian Nation: Are We Using God’s Name in Vain by Having “In God We Trust” on Our Money?

 

If a person has to say “I’m the boss” or proclaim that they are the one in charge, then it’s pretty obvious they are not. People naturally follow the real leader of the group by instinct. Followers ignore the sirens and the megaphones and the buzzers, and instead pay attention to the high pitch dog whistle. There’s no way around a natural leader rounding up his followers.

In the past year especially, there have been some ruffled feathers regarding comments made about our country no longer being a “Christian nation”. Is it true, is it not true? The fact is this: It’s not a matter of any one person making that decision… It’s up to those who are Christians and the true influence they have on those around them.

I can’t help but be intrigued by China. They are known as a Communist/atheist nation having less than 1% of the population professing to be Christians, but a common belief among many missionary circles is that there are just as many Christians in China as they are in America, due to China’s huge population and rapidly growing “underground Christian church” movement in recent years. Many missionaries also predict that within 20 years, Christianity will be the most popular religion in India. Aside from vague statistics and educated predictions, the bottom line is this: The government can not decide or label the official religion of a country- but its people do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christians_in_the_world.png

The pastor of my church has mentioned that in the past several years as more courthouses, schools, city halls, and other government buildings have removed the Ten Commandments, he has been approached by people trying to recruit him to participate in a march protesting the event. His response is always the same to the fired-up believer: “If you can name all Ten Commandments I’ll be glad to join you.” My pastor has yeet to have to join a protest.

Despite government buildings no longer displaying the Ten Commandments, despite each state’s own interpretation of the term “marriage”, despite public schools banning prayer in school, I can’t help but say to myself, “so what?”

A person living an immoral lifestyle which is contrary to the Bible won’t be helped by the courthouse letting them catch a glimpse of the Ten Commandments as they’re being led into their incriminating court case. Nor does it necessarily cause a judge to rule a case in a “more conservative Christian” way. The Bible and the Ten Commandments it contains are not magic relics that within themselves make the world a safer, more spiritual place.

A person has to actually read, study, and apply these teachings to their personal lives. And for that to happen, it often involves parents teaching the importance and relevance of them in the home and instilling those values in children who will make them essential in their adult lives. The reading of the Bible in the home is the key, not the reading of it in a public government building.

From the very first few chapters of the Bible, God Himself ordains the first marriage between Adam and Eve. But as it’s portrayed, marriage is a spiritual union, not a governmental one. Marriage does provide economic and legalistic benefits, but the Bible doesn’t paint marriage as simply a legal contract between a man and woman, it is a holy covenant between a man and a woman. That goes beyond what a government can even touch. No matter how a government recognizes it, marriage actually is what the Bible says it is, not changed by a nation’s laws. It’s the matter of governmental recognition of marriage that people tend to get emotional about.

As for prayer in schools, I agree with the bumper sticker: “As long as there are tests, there will always be prayer in schools.” Our modern nation was largely formed when Europeans fled their countries to escape a government which tied religious customs into the law. (I watched The Patriot with Mel Gibson.) While many of our heroic forefathers were Christians, they made a point to write the law so that no one religion would dominate the way our country is governed. It was only a matter of time that other major religions (Islam, Hinduism, atheism, etc.) would notice how Christianized schools and courts had become on the outside and want to celebrate their own beliefs instead, without being limited by the openly Christian culture infused into the government.

So take it all away on the outside. Does it actually change what’s on the inside? China has proven that even in the event the government makes the Bible illegal and Christianity punishable by death, Christianity still spreads and continues to grow.

Still, I have to admit I found comfort in the fact that “In God We Trust” is printed and/or engraved on our money. This practice was originally put into effect because of the popular demand of the American public as a way to counter the godlessness felt during the Civil War, then made into the official national motto by President Eisenhower as a stand against the Cold War. Like many people, I simply feel better having the motto on our currency.

But in the unthinkable event that in the near future the motto is removed, there is the other side of the coin (inevitable pun). There’s President Roosevelt’s perspective which he revealed in a letter to William Boldly in 1907:

“My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege.”

He’s got a point. Going back to the Ten Commandments, we are told not to use God’s name in vain. Money is about as vain as it gets. The same cash spent on illegal drugs and prostitution by people who don’t know God, actually proclaims that they trust in God. Ironic? Little bit.

Who gets to decide whether or not we are a Christian nation? And which source should we pay attention to? Members of our govern-ment? National statistics? Or the actual influence of Christians in the country?

Stories in the Old Testament tell of God completely wiping out entire countries or handing them over to slavery because they as a nation were corrupt and had forsaken Him. Is that our true fear? The security blankets we mesh into our government don’t change the true spiritual condition of our own individual lives. And from everything I’ve read in the New Testament concerning how Jesus’ death and return back to life changed the Old Testament law, it looks like God is more concerned about our personal relationship with him that what our national religious status is.

We attribute so much of the nation’s success or failure to its collective relationship with God, but I have a feeling our God is much more personal than that. He looks beyond invisible borders that people fought and died to expand and name as their own land, and reaches into the lives of those who allow Him.