All the World's a Classroom

Christ and My Career

Christ and My Career

Earlier this summer, the East Coast Korean Camp Meeting team kindly invited me to be part of a series of interviews called “Christ and My Career,” which I happily obliged. While I am not always the most eloquent when I share my thoughts on improv, I’d like to share the recording of the interview here because it may help readers of this blog navigate careers, especially if you are in the technical field.

Personally, this interview was a nice opportunity to summarize my evolution in terms of how I think about integrating my faith and career as an engineer. Some of the points covered in the interview are:

  • My background – where I’m from, ethnic background, and how the social context of my upbringing informed who I am.
  • How I chose my field of study
  • The guiding principles of how I make career decisions and life choices
  • Wisdom from parents
  • What chemical engineering is
  • What it means to live out my faith in a secular environment
  • Tips for those pursuing technical fields
  • The importance of mentorship

 

You can see the recording below or at https://www.eckcm.com/em-2021-recordings/#christ-and-your-career where you’ll find additional interviews with two other professionals. Thanks to Esther Kim and Jane Chung for this opportunity.

If you find this content helpful and would like to hear more about my career journey or career development in general, let me know! If there’s enough interest, I may create more content on professional development on the blog.

 

*Amazon Product links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!

Best Books of 2021: Part 1

Best Books of 2021: Part 1

Hello, All! I am about two months behind from when I typically publish my mid-year favorite books, but better late than never. 2021 has been a slow reading year for me since I’m focusing on my professional development, but here are the few stellar books that I want to highlight.

1. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Buy at: Amazon | Bookshop

Another one of Isabel Wilkerson’s masterpiece (her fantastic The Warmth of Other Suns was my favorite last year). In Caste, she acutely outlines the workings of social strata, linking the caste systems of India, Nazi Germany, and America. She breaks down how societies keep their social classes separate and the levers of power put at work. She describes the attitudes that different classes hold about each other, which frankly, I find so insightful because they are familiar-sounding to me, having experienced both Eastern and Western societies. Most compellingly, however, this book is written with heart. Wilkerson inserts her personal stories with the caste system–some hopeful, most heartbreaking–that helps readers realize the inescapable reality of caste in the everyday lives of some people in America.

Caste is like an explainer of human societies. A must read.

Of the public figures that we lost in 2020, the one I lamented the most was John Lewis. Bearing the scars from Bloody Sunday in 1965, he seemed to me a living watchtower whose presence safeguarded us from (totally) running the civil rights ship aground. The most striking witness of his life was that he saw the Civil Rights movement as a spiritual movement, his political acts as spiritual acts. This biography pays tribute and reverence to this spirit of John Lewis, and it ends with Lewis’ own words that he penned before he died.

See also Lewis’ book from my 2018 favorite books list.

I’ve been following some of the conversation–or reckoning, I should say–in the Evangelical Christian world on women (re: abuse, mistreatment of), race, and Christian nationalism. Barr’s book is part of the vortex of these conversations. Her thesis is that “biblical womanhood” as defined in evangelical teachings is made, as in by humans, not by God. Drawing on her academic expertise as a medieval historian, she paints historical contexts on the idea of womanhood and how it has evolved in Christianity. Let me tell you, this book has generated a lot of valuable discussions in my closest circle of friends that will for sure keep going. I also picked up Jesus and John Wayne as a follow up to this book. 

The next two selections are a switch from the heady, serious topics of human issues to the expansive world of nature and science. This is how I balance my reading experience and prevent it from going too dark! 

As someone who has been following Brian Skerry’s work for over a decade, I was so excited and blown-away by his latest masterpiece, Secrets of the Whales. This book is a companion to the video series of the same name (check it out on Disney+) on how a number of whale species preserves their tradition and culture. They are just…magnificent.

This selection is for those of you who enjoy essays on life reflections inspired by science. Quoting from the publisher’s note: “Drawing on her diverse experiences as a scientist, mother, teacher, and writer of Native American heritage, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.”

Favorite Books Lists

2021: Best Books of 2021 Part 1

2020: Best Books of 2020 Part 1, Best Books of 2020 Part 2.

2019: Best Books of 2019 Part 1, Best Books of 2019 Part 2.

2018: Best Books of 2018 Part 1, Best Books of 2018 Part 2.

2017Best Books of 2017 Part 1, Best Books of 2017 Part 2.

2016Best Books of 2016 Part 1Best Books of 2016 Part 2.

2015Best Books of 2015 Part 1Best Books of 2015 Part 2.

 

*Amazon Product and Bookshop links on this blog are affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!

 

Sabbath in the Time of Corona

Sabbath in the Time of Corona

I leave labor and load,

Take up a different story.

I keep an inventory

Of wonders and of uncommercial goods.

 

Wendell Berry, Sabbaths—1979, IV


 

If anyone is tallying up votes for the 2020 phrase of the year, “What day is it?” could give “You’re on mute” a run for its money. In quarantine, nebulous days, weeks, and months speed through us like a haze. And the cadence by which we previously signified time lost its rhythm, so it’s easy to lose track.

 

Along with the blurring of time, our various responsibilities also melt into each other as home becomes the command center of literally everything. We’re employees, employers, parents, teachers, and caregivers all at once, with thinning boundaries between each role.

 

Because of this, many are working longer and harder than ever before. When my workplace turns into a digital office, the net effect is, in fact, a more productive work force. Perhaps to compensate for our interrupted days, our work hours span a longer stretch of time.

 

This manner of working, I find, heightens a particular problem: it is hard to stop working.

 

When the end of the work day is undefined, and work hours can restart at any time of the day or night, you can really work until you drop. As a result, there’s a collective exhaustion that warns of an upcoming burnout, if it hasn’t happened already.

 

It is certainly not sustainable to live without boundaries. Is there a corrective, though, to our pandemic lives? I think there is at least one: the seventh-day Sabbath.

 

Sabbath as Technology for Living

 

For some of us, the ritual of the Sabbath—ceasing from work from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown—helps mark life’s newly obscured rhythm. Even though it is an ancient practice, it is a relevant technology for living today.

 

In a Washington Post opinion piece back in May, lawyer Jay Lefkowitz reflects on how the Sabbath helps delineate the days of the week during COVID. It also helps separate the sacred—like worship, family time, and reflection—from the common. As rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says, “Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.”

 

But more than just the weekly Sabbath, the practice of delineating time—the ritual of mindfully entering and leaving sections of the day—is necessary not only to make us more resilient, but also to maintain our humanity. We are not an automaton that can produce 24/7. We need restoration and demand a greater measure of our lives’ worth than just how productive we are.

 

In exercising these time limits, we are in fact exercising our humanity. The ability to stop working, willingly, and to act with purpose is a strength of our personhood. For we may work, but we should not be enslaved.

 

Ceasing as a Mark of Personhood

 

In the book The Lost Meaning of the Seventh Day, Sigve Tonstad highlights the relationship between our humanity and the act of ceasing labor. Speaking of the biblical creation account,

 

“The account reports both a beginning and a completion. [Karl] Barth notes that ‘God does not continue His work on the seventh day in an infinite series of creative acts.’ The cessation and completion are markers of personhood and of a definite purpose.”

 

The completion of creation marks two things: someone who has agency in planning the scope of the work and who knows when that purpose has been fulfilled. In a work-focused world, we know too well that declaring a work completed is extremely hard. There’s always more to do and scope creeps everywhere.

 

Tonstad continues,

 

“Extending this thought, Jacques Ellul, the prolific French sociologist and theologian, emphasizes an understanding of Creation that attributes more than a causal role to God. A mere causal function does not have the means to stop the process. ‘A cause cannot cease to be a cause without ceasing to be,’ writes Ellul. ‘It must produce its effects to infinity. God is not a cause, then, for we are told that he decides to rest.’”

 

Here, per Jacques Ellul, he makes the contrast between a Being/person and an inanimate force/a cause. The cessation of God’s creation is an act of the will; no other force causes him to stop, like friction or a brake that decelerates a moving object. He stops, because He wants to stop. We may also call this, freedom.

 

Sabbath in the Time of Corona

 

Quoting Heschel again,

 

“Gallantly, ceaselessly, quietly, man must fight for inner liberty to remain independent of the enslavement of the material world. Inner liberty depends upon being exempt from domination of things as well as from domination of people. There are many who have acquired a high degree of political and social liberty, but only very few are not enslaved to things. This is our constant problem—how to live with people and remain free, how to live with things and remain independent.”

Freedom. Independence. These are odd words to say in a pandemic. But in practicing the Sabbath—that regenerative time and space, guilt-free and restful—we may reclaim some of this freedom, even if it is just for one day.


Also read:

*Amazon Product links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links, which means that each time you purchase something through those links, I get a small commission without you paying any extra. Of course you don’t have to use them, but if you want to chip-in towards content creation for this blog, I’d really appreciate it!

Let's Read Together

Share This