Tuesday, March 17, 2020


As everybody knows, Ching Ming will be here soon, the day when Chinese people clean the graves, burn paper money and incense for the spirits of the dead, and generally spend some time in a somber mood with relatives and food. My apartment mate, being Chinese American and a total heathen, which probably explains why we get along so well, made the mistake of asking a fellow Chinese about certain Ching Ming related details.
A Chinese person whose family is Christian.

Unfair generalization here: Chinese Christians are frequently stuck-up pricks as far as belief systems are concerned; it's a very WHITE thing that crept in at the same time as Jayzus.

My apartment mate always makes sure that her family members are alerted to Ching Ming coming up, and that there will be group grave-cleaning, burnt offerings, and food. One of her siblings is a Christian, who with his Christian wife attends, but is completely useless because as Christians they feel the whole thing is heathen nonsense and any participation beyond being there and impatiently standing by till the cleaning and burning is over may nix their chances of heaven.

Observing the proprieties, logically, does not require firm belief and rigidity.
It simply means respect and shows that you are a decent human being.
Which, clearly, some Christians aren't.

Obviously I get along best with people who use 'Jesus' as a swear word.


Ching Ming falls on the fifteenth day after the Spring Equinox. Weeding and scrubbing. Paper money, and sometimes other paper goods. Fruits and foods in bowls on the scrubbed head stones. Incense. Oranges. Buddhists often include elements from their belief system in the observances, complete cynical unbelievers tend to be scrupulous, and Christians more often that not slapdash and apathetic, only interested in lunch afterwards. Any Caucasians who may have married into the family may go through fits of deep meaningful spirituality and respect for the old way of doing things, blah blah blah, and inadvertently say strange things or ask questions.

I'm not sure whether the sellers of incense and paper goods for the dead are considered "essential goods and services" during the current corona virus lockdown. Fortunately, in case my apartment mate needs it, I have two types of Chinese incense sticks. Which are useful for chasing mosquitoes out of my bedroom during the season.

As well as matches and lighters.

And a patient ear for listening to her vent about the dumb-ass Christians there, increasingly impatient about lunch, sneering about rituals of which they don't approve, and being generally useless lumps on the sidelines.

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