Friday, March 31, 2006

Movement in One Direction

I have never heard of any Japanese people who depart from the cultural norm in that country of removing shoes at the door. I am sure in a heavily-populated country as Japan, there must be a few eccentric natives who stomp around their homes in shoes and who are deemed freaks by their countymen. However, I have never read about any.

I have read of people in shoe-removing countries like Canada, India and Sweden who depart from the norm by wearing shoes in their homes. However, it seems to me that the cultural wind blows mainly in one direction. It seems to be more common for people in non-shoe removing cultures like the USA and Britain to adopt the practise of shoes-off, than for those in shoes-removing countries to abandon the practise.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Burma!

Myanmar- Wikipedia entry

Burma Daily

Myanmar- Lonely Planet

Free Burma

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Burma (Myanmar), because it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

There has been a terrible increase in the violence that has been going on in northern Burma this week. The military government is waging a war against the Karen people that amounts to genocide. Many of the Karen are Christians. It is a horrific situation.

Burma has been under military rule since 1990, when the military voided the elections and placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. The military junta maintains its hold on power through torture, murder and forced labour. It is awful to think of a government treating its people this way. However, it announced this week that it intended to move towards 'democracy'.

Opinions vary as to whether it is morally right to visit the country.

Burma is a country in which Christians are persecuted. For more information on the persecution of Christians, visit:

Barnabas Fund

Open Doors International

Monday, March 27, 2006

Entertaining Forum- Shoes Off

Entertaining Forum- Shoes Off

An old discussion, but a very fierce one!

Design Your Life- Shoes Off, Please

Design Your Life- Shoes Off, Please

Stewardship

I believe there is an issue of stewardship here.

All that we have is a gift from God. We may enjoy our posessions, but we do need to give account to the Lord of how we have used them.

Carpet cleaning services are necessary to keep homes really clean, but they are very expensive. Replacing carpets costs even more. Having a shoes-off policy considerably reduces the need for maintaining carpets and other kinds of flooring. Therefore, as stewards of God's gifts, I would suggest that Christians ought to strongly consider the benefits of having a shoes-off policy in their homes.

Clean homes can also be more effectively used in the service of the Kingdom. Homes can be put to so many uses; entertaining visiting speakers, providing shelter for those who need it, hosting fellowship meetings (I think a good case can be made for holding all assembly meetings in homes) and Church lunches.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Living with a Chinese Guy

In my second year at university I shared an apartment with my best friend, Jason, and a Chinese student.

He went by the English name of John. All of the Chinese students had English names. He was a nice chap. Most of the time I got on with him alright. He used to leave the kitchen in a mess some times (so did Jason, occasionally) and I used to get really irritated when he spoke on his mobile phone at 2.00 a.m. or when he had his Chinese friends visit late at night. I came to the conclusion that at 2.00 a.m., Chinese is a repulsive language. Somebody melted the kettle lead on the hobb one time. I ma not sure if that was John or Jason.

Back then, I had not yet come to my conviction about shoes-off in homes. I thought removing shoes was a good idea, but I was quite happy to wear them in the flat and at home. I had not yet broken the habit. I did notice that John always wore slippers (or they might have been described as flip flops) in the flat. I also noticed that when his Chinese friend visited, he changed into similar slippers or flip flops. I did occasionally go in his room with my shoes on. He expressed no objection to my doing this. I hope he did not mind. These days, I would be far less tolerant than he was.

I did share my faith with him once or twice. I am not sure how much he understood. He even watched part of the 'Left Behind' movie that Jason and I had borrowed (I do not endorse the film or the book). Apparently one of the actors was famous in China.

John was very supportive of the Chinese government and seemed to believe all their propoganda, for instance, he claimed that most people in Taiwan wanted to live in China.

I did not keep in touch with him. I have no idea what he is doing now.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Thie Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to...Belarus!

Belarus Page in Wikipedia

World Factbook: Belarus

WWW Belarus

The Virtual Guide to Belarus

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Belarus, because it is the custom in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

Informed readers will realise that my choice of Belarus was inspired by this weekend's election.

It is a great disappointment that president Lukashenko has been re-elected into office with a landslide majority. It is higly likely that the result was rigged. Though there are demonstrations against the result and the opposition leader has refused to recognise it, there does not seem to be the energy of the Orange Revolution that occurred in Ukraine just yet.

Lukashenko is arguably the last dictator of Europe. He has domminated the country and prevented democracy for years. Soviet totalitarianism is alive and well in Belarus.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Change of Attitude

I believe my coming to a dogmatic postition on removing shoes in homes has given me a more positive outlook on life.

I used to be a bit prejudiced towards other cultures. I was a bit Xenophobic. I was also a little uncomfortable with the idea of interracial and even international marriage.

However, when I decided that shoes-off in homes is the ideal way forward, I became more open and accepting of other cultures. I began to like the idea of cultural diversity. I stopped feeling so hostile to ethnic mixing and even started to like the idea of travel.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dumb Advert

I saw a television advert for vacuum cleaners. It showed a family dancing about their house with a vacuum cleaner.

The excitable voice-over said that this vacuum cleaner would keep the carpet really, really clean.

If the family in the advert wanted to keep their carpet really clean, they might like to stop dancing about their house with their shoes on. That would be a good start.

Encouraging Answer

I saw something in the newspaper to cheer me up today.

A correspondent had written to the Times' etiquette column. This person was from Seattle and was asking about the increasing popularity of the shoes-off rule. The correspondent described it as a 'fad' and felt it was 'abhorrent'.

The columinist did not think that the practise was abhorrent and urged the propriety of complying with such an expectation. He said the shoes-off policy was becoming increasingly popular in London as Seattle.

I think that the shoes-off rule is probably more popular in Seattle than London, however I have read internet rumours that suggest that it has gained popularity in London. I suspect this is because of the international character of the city, as well as because of its dirty streets. This is a great encouragment to me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Would be Thrilled

I would be quite delighted if I saw a house in Worcester which had a 'Please remove your shoes' sign on its door.

Personally, I think this is not the most polite way to ensure shoes-off, but I would still be very pleased to see a house with such a sign. I would feel that there was somebody of like-mind in this desolate city of Worcester (the English version, not the one in the Massachusetts).

I think if I saw a house with such a sign, I would probably drop a letter of appreciation through their letter-box; just to encourage them in their courageous stand.

Monday, March 13, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Serbia!

Government of Serbia and Montenegro

Serbia and Montenegro: World Factbook

National Tourism Organization of Serbia

Free Serbia Net

The Royal Family of Serbia and Montenegro

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Serbia and Montenegro, as it is customary in that country to remvoe shoes when entering homes.

I heard the news of Serbia's former preseident, Slobodan Milosevic's death on Sunday night. How did he die? It could be that the question will spark an international controversy, now that Russia is questioning the autopsy of Milosevic's body.

The trial of Milosevic for war crimes had been going on for years. It was such an incredibly lengthy process. Would he have been convicted eventually? Who knows. It is a great shame for justice that the process was interrupted by his death. God will judge him regardless.

There are many Evangelical Christians in Serbia, however, as with most places, they are weak and divided.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... China!

China (PRC) page in Wikipedia

China Internet Information Centre

China Today

World Factbook: China

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to China, as it is customary to remove shoes when entering homes in that country.

This one was a bit obvious, as my parents are currently on holiday in China. I had some great discussion with my fellow bloggers about the future of China on my other blog recently.

China is the country that everybody is talking about at the moment. Its economy is doing very well. Some people think this will continue and that China will come to domminate the global economy. Personally, I am rather sceptical about this. I think the idea of China outgrowing the USA is a Left-wing fantasy.

The Church in China is growing, but it suffers fierce persecution. For more information about the persecuted Church worldwide visit:

Barnabas Fund

Open Doors International

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why Do They Do That?

This seems incredible to me, but there are some people who actually put their feet up on sofas, couches and armchairs without removing their shoes. I understand that not everybody has realised the sense in always removing their shoes at the door, but putting shoes on sofas is just bizarre.

I even remove my slippers before putting my feet up on the sofa. My parents do too.

Do they think about the fact that somebody is going to sit where their shoes have been positioned?

Do they just love their shoes so much they will not even remove them to put their feet up? Do they even wear their shoes in bed?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to....Vietnam!

Vietnam page in Wikipedia

World Factbook: Vietnam

Vietnam Tourism

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Vietnam, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

Today, the former British pop star, Gary Glitter appeared before a court in Vietnam, charged with molesting children. As he has served jail time in Britain for sexual offences against children, it is hard not to doubt his innocence.

Vietnam is still an evil Communist regime. The Yanks fought a war to keep those creeps out. Whether that war was a sensible policy or not, I cannot say.

After North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China, Vietnam is the worst country in the world for its persecution of Christians. Christians in Vietnam suffere dreadfully.

For more information on the persecution of Christians, please visit these sites:

Open Doors International

Barnabas Fund