Today is Chinese New Year, and as Google has commemorated, it's the Year of the Rat. This is my year, since I was born in Nov. 1972. A friend just posted on my Facebook wall that he came across this description: "Rats are said to be imaginative, charming and very generous to those they love - although they do have a tendency to be quick-tempered and over-critical. They are supposed to make good writers, critics and publicists."
I've seen that description before (probably on a restaurant placemat), and it's funny because I've been a writer/author, a book critic/reviewer, and a publicist. The Wikipedia entry says that rats' positive traits are: Meticulous, intelligent, shrewd, compassionate, charismatic, charming, ambitious, practical, industrious, honest, eloquent, versatile, familial, creative, hard-working, neat, organized, lovers of music, loving. But their negative traits are: Controlling, obstinate, resentful, lacks-a-sense-of-humor, manipulative, cruel, vengeful, power-driven, critical, possessive, stingy, bossy, fickle, defensive.
Hmmm. I think zodiac/horoscopes (whether Chinese or other) are generally a bunch of hooey, since if this were true, then everybody in each high school class would have basically the same traits. But a few of these are close to the mark. More than once I've been advised to be less critical and to let things go. My lack of humor came out recently when commenting on a blog about the use of humor.
The way these things are written are usually general enough that anybody can find themselves somewhere in these categories. Or we interpret these descriptions in light of our own experience to make them fit. Wikipedia says that rats' professions include "espionage, psychiatry, psychology, writing, politics, law, engineering, accounting, detective work, acting, and pathology." Well, that's long enough a list that folks will find at least one thing that works (like writing, in my case). I think it's interesting that espionage, detective work or acting are listed, as that might suggest a common theme of pretense/stealth/being someone you're not. I was in theatre in high school, read mystery novels and like James Bond movies. Played an espionage role playing game in junior high and dubbed my character "005." But I'd be of no use to anybody as an accountant or engineer. I'm not wired that way.
As I've mentioned before, I find Myers-Briggs and Enneagram typologies much more useful. One career book I have says that ENFPs are well-suited to be journalists, columnists, musicians, reporters/editors, copy writers, publicists and conference planners - all of which I've done in some form or another.
At any rate, this is far afield of my initial impulse in posting on Chinese New Year, which was to celebrate my ethnic/cultural background and to also to let it serve as a prayer trigger for the church in China. If the 19th century was the British century and the 20th century was the American century, the 21st century may well be China's. And despite decades of repression, the church in China has seen explosive growth, with estimates possibly running as high as 100 or 130 million Christians in China.
And actually, I'm a second-generation Taiwanese American, so I actually have more of a sense of affinity with Taiwan than with mainland China per se. Part of me resists Chinese identity because of China's oppressive relationship with Taiwan, but I also am reminded that Chinese history goes back 5000 years and predates the political situations of the 20th century. I'm proud of the feisty independence of the Taiwanese people, whose identity has been distinct from mainland China for generations. Christianity in Taiwan is minimal, with less than 5% of the population Christian of any kind.
But a century ago my great-grandfather Ong Liao came to Christ through the work of a British missionary. Though my great-grandfather was blind, he started a church and school for the blind and translated the Bible and a hymnal into Taiwanese Braille. This was the beginning of the Christian story in my family heritage, and I am grateful for God's work in Taiwan and in China throughout the decades. He has not left himself without witness. So happy Chinese New Year, and do pray for the church in China and Taiwan. Thanks!