Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Global Persecution

Through you can look up profiles of people who have been wrongfully imprisoned for practicing their faith. These prisoners are from various countries. The Voice Of The Martyrs ministry has even made it possible for us to write letters to these prisoners as well as authorities who can do something about this injustice.

Here is one of the profiles you'll find on

Pastor Zhang Rongliang

Location: China
Arrested: December 2004

Pastor Zhang Rongliang was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison. According to China Aid Association the July 4 verdict was issued by Zhongmu County People’s Court.

Pastor Zhang Rongliang, a prominent Chinese house-church leader, was arrested in a rented apartment at Xuzhai village the afternoon of December 1, 2004. Zhang already had spent 12 years in prison for his faith during five separate detentions. He experienced harsh torture, including electric shock, during his previous prison terms. After being held in prison for a year, the officials attempted to transfer him from the prison in Xinmi to one in Zhongmu. Fearing that because of his fragile condition he might die, officials at Zhongmu would not accept him. He was instead taken to a hospital in Xinmi. Pastor Zhang suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure in addition to other chronic health problems. Later he was transferred to a Zhongmu City hospital where he spent most of February and March 2006.

He appeared in court April 6, 2006, more than 16 months after his arrest, for his third hearing on charges of “attaining a passport through cheating” and “illegal border crossing.” At this hearing the court acknowledged there was insufficient evidence for the case and asked for legal advice from a higher court.

Learn: ChinaAid

Was The Gadfly Project Vandalism?

According to Pastor Eddie Romero (the Gadfly himself) the answer is yes. Mr. Romero visited our community house Monday, and I had a chance to talk with him about his experience protesting in China. I also had the chance to ask him about people's argument that his hotel room transformations were vandalism, and therefore not a Godly act. There have been a number of people, some of them very close to me, questioning Romero's methods and intentions. Of course I believe that questioning is a very important right that every person should have. While I never questioned Romero's motives or the cause, I did have my questions about his actions. How are a bunch of murals on hotel walls going to free people from prison camps and convince China to ratify the ICCPR covenant? Would the Chinese government even notice? Are the complaints about this being vandalism correct? Shouldn't we be more focused on the lives and rights of our brothers and sisters in China? The more I thought/wrote about it, the more I supported the project and the methods it contained. It was more of a gut feeling though, rather than head knowledge. I wanted to fully understand the choices he and his team made.

When I asked him what he would say to those Christians who disagree with what he did, Pastor Eddie mentioned the story of the paralytic in the beginning of Mark chapter 2. Jesus was teaching in a house owned by a local. A large crowd gathered to hear Jesus speak. The house was so crowded that you couldn't get in. Four men heard that Jesus was in town so they brought their paralyzed friend to be healed by Christ. They loved their friend so much that when they saw they wouldn't be able to get in the house they became desperate. They knew Jesus could heal their friend so they had to do whatever it took to get him inside. As illegal as it sounds, the four friends tore a hole in the roof of that house and lowered their friend down to Jesus. Romero explained, "Probably by every society's standards these guys acted illegally. All they knew was that they had to get their friend healed, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get him to Jesus. When Jesus looked up and saw them tearing a hole in this other guy's roof he didn't say, 'Hey! You guys can't do that!' No! Jesus commended those men for their extraordinary faith. I'm just one of those four friends desperately trying to get my friend healed."

Pastor Eddie also mentioned how Jesus cleansed the temple by throwing the tables over. The mention of that story also reminded me of the legalistic Sabbath laws that Jesus broke. It's true that complete disregard for man's laws are not a Godly quality for a person to have. There are times, though, where a believer must have more regard for God's higher law. Sometimes this regard calls us to be counter culture, and call attention to it when that higher law is being broken.

In my opinion, Mr. Romero's actions in Beijing were of civil disobedience. He told me that breaking the law was the point, and that he willingly turned himself in to the police once the Olympics were over. Romero voluntarily subjected himself to Chinese law much like Christ subjected Himself to the law and allowed Himself to be crucified. Efforts were even made to pay those two hotels for the damage. Every effort was made to respect the people of China. It was out of love for the Chinese people that Eddie risked everything. Pastor Romero went on to say, "If you want to call what I did vandalism- go ahead. It was vandalism." It was that vandalism that made the world take notice of the injustice going on in China. The mask that authorities in China tried to put on for the world was shattered even if just for a moment. News groups all over the world reported on the lack of religious freedom in China when Pastor Eddie "morphed" those rooms. They continued to report on it while he hid in China. These issues were brought to light yet again when he turned himself in and was deported back to the States. Awareness was raised, Eddie did everything God asked of him, and now it's time to wait for God's next set of instructions. Mission accomplished... so far.

Bachelor Sauce

So I'm a single guy. I like to live life simply. I don't want a lot of clutter in the bathroom especially since I move a lot, and most bathrooms I've had are pretty small. I've been trying to find a way to condense all of my toiletries (i.e. soaps, shaving gels, shampoos, toothpaste) into one bottle. In my journey to find such a product I didn't know what it's name would be, so I nick-named it "Bachelor Sauce." It's great for bachelors because we usually want limited stuff of hygienic nature, and the word sauce just sounds manly. If you'd put it on your steak you probably, if you're honest, wouldn't mind putting it on yourself.

Well I've found a product that brings me pretty darn close to that goal. Yes my friends, I'm talking about Dr. Bonner's Magic Liquid Soap. Add water to this magic all natural elixir and you will get a lather that you can use for a shaving cream. You can wash your hair with it. You can even brush your teeth with it, and of course you can shower with it. As a very pale man, I've experienced that the Peppermint soap cools the skin which is great for sun burns and for hot days. I've heard that you can even kill cockroaches with this wonder liquid. Tell me that's not amazing. On top of all of that, the fine print on the label provides hours of engaging literature while on the toilet. Now how much would you pay for such a miracle? $50? $100? At most health conscious stores you can find Dr. Bonner's Magic Liquid Soap for only $9. That's right! NINE DOLLARS! Now you might ask me how you can afford to spend $9 on soap. Well friend, my question to you is how could you afford not to? With all of the tasks this soap accomplishes in and out of the shower you can rid yourself of all other products.

Do yourself a favor. Get rid of the clutter and buy Dr. Bonner's lather today!

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mr. J Medeiros: Free Downloads

Echo Park Hip Hop artist Mr. J Medeiros (the Procussions) has put a few gems on his myspace for free download. Basically what happened is that he was looking through his files yesterday, and found a few long forgotten tracks that he had made in the past. Old memories washed over him, so in his excitement over finding these lost treasures he posted them online for downloading. These tracks probably won't be up for very long so go get them now.
One of the more interesting tracks is called Remember Me; the instrumental that eventually became his popular single Constance. Below are the titles and stories behind each track in his own words.

1. Emotional Emergency- made this joint in 2000, first remix i ever made and it was of one of my favorite artists of all time, Bjork. This remix was made because i was unable to say everything i wanted to say to my new girlfriend. partly because i wasnt sure if what i wanted to say was for her or my ex i couldnt get over. it was just like i felt two things, lost and found, both equally deep, important, needed, useful, hurtful,, i said nothing....and made this song. Funny, i spent so much time trying to make this remix because i had just got my equipment and really didnt know how to use it, how to make beats, how to play bass lines, how to sample. I just knew i was tired of feeling paralyzed and not able to express myself outside of words. by the time i learned my equipment and produced this song we had already broke up and it was more of a farewell gift at that time.

2. Remember Me- i made this around 2003. it was one of the first songs i made after moving to California. it was the ground work for what later became "Constance". I made this song as an instrumental, i felt the track so much that i decide i had to rap with it, i had to speak into it...i had to be in it, with it....thats when i wrote the song "Constance" and worked with the beat until we were both in agreement.

3. For My Buddy- when this track first came on this morning, i didnt recognize the drums or what they were doing. as the track started to move i got this crazy feeling of sadness...yes it was depressing but it was much more then that, i could remember making it, but i couldnt remember why, i had a face in my mind i couldnt make out but i knew i missed it. as soon a the cello came in i remembered. corny as it sounds, i thought about the first time my parents brought home my dog...i named him buddy. he use to sleep on my bed, he lived for almost 13 is so crazy to think how angel like, God like, loyal this dog know that i grew up and forgot about him, until he passed and he never held a grudge about it he was just always happy to see me come home.

4. Cup to Pass- this is just a tough one, most people i have showed this too havent liked it the way that i do. i use to love the movie "Platoon", i watched it when i was really young, too young and whatever it did to me, came out on that song and to know that people live in a movie like "Platoon" everyday makes me feel like a rich, snob, arrogant, selfish human being...helpless. i want to make music that inspires people who are smarter then me to do something about it. ha.

5. Restless Things- I have a friend that i have had for a long time, she gave me a lot of things, a lot!....stuff she doesnt even know. this was all i could give her in return.

6. Summer Love- easy. summer+love=Summer Love

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Best Ice Cream in L.A.

I know where it is. I've actually been going to this place for a little while now. As I was sitting in L.A.'s best ice cream shop earlier today it struck me that I've never blogged about it. So I promised my friend I would since everyone in my house loves it so much. The place is called Scoops. Here's the info on this amazing place:
712 N. Heliotrope Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Price range: $2-$4 with great portion sizes
(cash only)
Wi-Fi: Free
Parking: Street
Scoops is probably my all time favorite ice cream shop, and that's coming from someone who used to have Oberweis(Chicago) at the top of their list. If you know anything about Oberweis creamery, you know how big of a statement that is. Scoops has both vegan and non vegan options for their ice cream. I love all of their flavors including the vegan ones, and I'm not a vegan nor do I plan to be one. The flavors are what makes this place so interesting. They have their version of vanilla called Brown Bread, but there are all kinds of off the wall flavors like: pistachio rose water, banana oreo, strawberries and poppy seed, or my favorite- orange mango. They make different flavors in their shop daily so no two days are the same. They even have a marker board where you can suggest flavors for them to make in the future.
The staff is really friendly, and they provide great service. This is a great place for Los Angeles Community College students to go between classes since it's so close by. For the fans of the vegan restaurant Pure Luck- I would suggest going to Scoops right across the street for dessert. At my house we go to Scoops at least twice a week, and it's worth it.

Review: 5 out of 5 stars