I remember the days of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) back in the early 90s, when as a college freshman, I would waste, waste hours of my life on #korea (a chat room) chatting away, meeting new people. At the time, I considered myself sequestered in Nashville, a city that seemed devoid of Asian American activity, and found myself meeting people from far more interesting and desirable places. Of course, it didn’t help that I was desperately seeking some lonely (and equally desperate) Asian girl to give me the time of day.
I did happen to meet a girl online and we exchanged phone calls, and even a real letter or two (gasp! snail mail) to see if all of that “chat” was anything substantial. Then we decided to really meet in person. Of course, that’s when it all fell apart. Whatever we were building up the other person to be, whatever we were imagining, whatever flint that we were so intent on lighting when our eyes finally met…fizzled, floundered, and, on one other occasion, bombed.
Ah, what a difference a decade makes. That and a wife, a slew of different life experiences, and a God-given passion.
This Labor Day weekend, I’ll be rendezvous-ing with people I’ve only known online, the AA-church maven, DJ Chuang, and the passionate meta-pastor (somewhere between clergy and laity, like myself) Peter Ong at the Eastern Chinese Bible Conference. While these two guys have been encouraging from afar, and it seems that we communicate often enough to be considered friends, I do think it’s mildly hilarious that we’ve never met. Of course, I find it more funny that it’s reminiscent of virtual relationships I’ve struck up in the past, although I can assure everyone I have no alterior motives this time and I’m hardly nervous about what my hair looks like. (OK, OK, I did get it cut last night, but that’s all, really — and my palms always sweat, seriously).
The theme of the conference is “Christ, Culture, and Christianity“. Woot! Can I get a witness up in here? Could I ask for a better-titled conference that I would pay money to go to? I don’t think so.
Can’t wait to write about this weekend…