Monthly Archives: September 2010

Controversially Christian

Hey PLA,

I hope the semester’s treating you all well, and that you’re enjoying the colder weather as much as I am.

I recently submitted a job application packet to my English 202D professor. The assignment included a memo, cover letter and a resume. In my resume I included all of my relevant experiences -internships, languages, G.P.A. -and at the very bottom I included a short list of extracurriculars to give the potential recruiter some info on who I am and what I’m interested in. Most of my leadership involvement at Penn State has been through Campus Crusade for Christ, so I was eager to list the responsibilities I’ve held with Cru. When I got my assignment back though, most details were in order except that a circle and the words “be careful” surrounded the faith-based responsibilities on my resume.

Believe me; I’m not naive. I knew that including info on my faith had the potential to raise eyebrows. I had contemplated not putting it on there, but I also feel pretty strongly that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my personality, and more importantly, that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my faith either. I think that our society has this crazy idea that if you hire someone who puts “Christian” on their resume, they will surely try to convert you and the rest of your corporation. I’m pretty sure that as open as I am about being a Christian, I’ve never tried to forcibly convert any of the other members of the PLA.

So what’s the issue? Scripture tells me not to be ashamed of my identity as a Christian, yet most social forces tell me to view faith as controversial, and something to be played down. But if I choose faith first, then does that mean that I’m condemned to be viewed as threatening? I could probably get used to that. But I wish that our society valued boldness more than it feared controversy.

Thankfully any trial I could be put through here in the western world is barely consequential compared to the violent persecution that Christians undergo today in China, Turkey, India and other parts of Asia and the Middle East. 

Go State, Beat Iowa

China

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Hey PLA,

Sorry for my absence last week. After an uncomfortable few
days of limping around campus, I visited to UHS to find out that the large red
bump on my right Achilles’ Tendon was MRSA. They soon put me on antibiotics,
and I’m now on the mend. This week, however, I’d like to investigate China’s
current business environment. It seems that the past 2 years I have only heard
optimism regarding China’s future. We frequently see Chinese firms moving in to
buy US ones, and even high school teachers are telling their students to study
Chinese to increase skill set. But I’d like to venture the idea that China’s
booming growth is not sustainable -and perhaps exaggerated too.

In a recent NYT article titled “China Fortifies State
Businesses to Fuel Growth”
, two potential futures for China are proposed:
first, that “China has a decade or more of robust growth awaiting it before its
economy matures”, and second that “distortions and waste, in no small part due
to government meddling have resulted in gross misallocation of capital will end
up pushing growth rates down well before 2020.” The latter argument pertains to
Chinese government majority ownership of 99 of China’s largest 100 publicly
listed companies. Cold War history teaches us that government run enterprises
are not efficient, and that the market is the most efficient economic system.
In China, large state run companies are increasingly buying up their smaller
private competitors in business moves fueled by the Chinese government. Although
initially this may show growth, in the long run it decreases competition -thus
disincentivizing the companies to continue to innovate and provide higher
quality services at lower costs to the local and international markets.

Interestingly, some analysts also argue that “the state
owned conglomerates, built with state money and favors into global competitors,
have now become political power centers in their own right, able to fend off
even Beijing’s efforts to reign them in.” In another article I also learned
that China is the fastest growing purchaser of public surveillance equipment,
much of which has to do with recent civil unrest and ethnic rioting. Reports
like these suggest that China is still a long way from social stability. Additionally,
China’s financial system is notoriously more opaque than our own, leading me to
question how representative Chinese financials are of actual growth.

That’s all I’ve got. I hope you are all doing enjoying the
week and getting ready to kick off against Kent State on Saturday.

Grace and Peace,

-Harry

Faith at State

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Interesting week here at State:

If you walked by the Hub on Monday or Tuesday, you surely
would have witnessed quite a sight. Standing off from either side of the free
speech zone on Pollock road were two very different groups: a fundamentalist
evangelical group, and the Penn State Atheist club. I’ve seen this sight many
times here on campus, and it’s usually a rotation of the same 3 groups of
people who show up to tell people about Christianity. I have no problem with
evangelism; I’ve even done it myself -though certainly not the same way that
these guys think they’re doing it. But this week was different, I found myself
losing patience very fast with this group, mostly because I could see how
alienated the crowd had become of evangelical Christians. By the second day, in
response to the evangelical group’s signs, the Atheists and the LGBTA had
decided to bring in their own as an effort to reduce the whole situation to
little more than a joke. Some of them were pretty funny too. I particularly
liked the one that read “Evolution: Bulbasaur à
Ivysaur à
Venusaur”.

But the reality is that at Penn State, I’m willing to bet
that to the majority of students here, is no more than something to mock.
Wednesday night I attended an atheist club meeting in the Thomas building. One
of my friends is writing a term paper on the group, as a Christian, and she
felt awkward going alone. To my surprise, I really liked everyone that I had
the chance to meet there. They were really cool, and not at all abrasive like I
was expecting. And I learned that night that for most of them, because of
Fire-and-Brimstone “preaching” or bad relationships with deist (not theist)
“Christians”, they see Christian faith as hypocritical.

I’m not sure what my opinion is on street preachers yet. I
will say that the Willard Preacher (the older, bearded one) isn’t the most
credible source though. If you are interested in credible Christian teaching
though, I invite you to check out any material from either here or here. Or the Bible; that’s probably a good place to start too (right?).