The most important thing I learned from my three weeks at World Journalism Institute actually didn’t have anything to do with journalism, but had everything to do with journalism.
Sorry, that was confusing.
World Journalism Institute is an organization that equips aspiring journalists like us not just with practical reporting know-hows, but also provides us with a pure biblical viewpoint from which we report on real issues in the world. Our goal isn’t to preach our theologies to our readers. Our goal is, put simply, to extract the truth.
Ask any honest journalist, and you’ll know there isn’t such a thing as pure objectivity. Nobody is truly objective, and that goes the same for journalists. The best objectivity is just to tell the truth.
We try to avoid sensationalism. We try to be as accurate as possible with the facts, down to the minor details. We try to be transparent in our reporting. We try to be “salt”— we report the bad news (even if it may be exposing the sins of a Christian leader), but we don’t ever become cynical, because we believe in an orderly world that is looked after by God.
I was reading World Magazine’s policy book, and I fell in love with this passage:
“We believe that our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever—and forever being right now. We like sex, within marriage. We’re not amoral hedonists, but we’re not stoic moralists either. We like the vines and fig trees God gives us. We read novels, go to movies, and listen to classical music but also jazz. We prefer ice cream to cotton candy. We cover movies, yoga, artists and travel; we aren’t Christians with rules against anything that’s fun because God made fun, too.”
I know Christians get a bad rap. And we sometimes deserve it. But we’re humans, just like any other person. We’re all fallible human beings who can get corrupted by fame or greedy with money or addicted to power. But we’re also human beings who understand that the God we love shares our humor and love for fun, too.
In a way, the bible is my first model of journalism. I believe the bible is true, and I enjoy all the human stories in there that is written not in a sticky-sweet way but a bittersweet manner that doesn’t conceal a character’s flaw and mistakes. For example, the story of King David is not glossed with colorful praises of David. It narrates all the key points of his life, including the murder he committed to steal the wife of his most faithful soldier. That’s pretty hard-to-swallow stuff of Israel’s most beloved king. But the bible doesn’t leave that out just because it’s “inconvenient” or “shameful.”
If there’s one coherent theme emphasized by my instructors, it was to read the bible.
To be honest, I’ve been neglecting my bible-reading for quite some time. I’ve had many excuses: too busy, too tired, too hungry, blah blah blah.
During these three weeks, I’ve come to realize how little I actually know the bible compared to my classmates. Sure, I’ve listened to the gospel since I was a thumb-sucking toddler, but I’m unable to hold my fort when it comes to debating key passages in the bible. That’s embarrassing for me not just as a pastor’s daughter, but a Christian.
As a Christian journalist, it’s up to me to tackle the responsibility of narrating true history on the fly; I don’t have the luxury of sitting back with a file of research and slowly compiling them into a coherent text like a historian. But I can’t report with a biblical worldview without a sound framework of the bible.
So that’s the most important thing I learned from WJI: Read the bible. Already read it from front to back? Read it again. And again. Because each time I read it, I receive a different insight and grace. The bible is just powerful and living like that. But for some reason, it’s just so darn hard to make bible-reading a habit, when it’s already ingrained in my nature to check my email several times a day.
One thing I really enjoyed about WJI is Sunday—and not just because it was the only day we had off. I love not having to explain to my friends, yet again, that no, I can’t go for lunch or watch a movie on Sunday because I have to go to church. I love having that discussion with my classmates the day before–“Where should we go to church on Sunday?”– without it feeling weird at all.
It was super fun exploring the different churches in New York City, although I wish I had more than two Sundays. The first church I went to was Forefront Church, which was recommended to me by a lady in my dad’s church. She told me her daughter, who is studying medicine at NYU, attends that church and she wanted me to meet her.
That daughter’s name is Mimi and she’s just about the coolest being on earth. She’s this tiny person barely above 5 feet, but she’s got the vivacity of 10 men. She was an undergraduate in the Naval Academy, and now she’s studying to become a doctor. It’s my first time meeting her, and hopefully not the last. I’ve extended an open invitation to her to visit Los Angeles.
That first Sunday in NYC, I brought along my friends Christina (my roommate), Rebecca Brittingham (I’m adding her last name because we’ve got two Rebeccas in class!) and Kara Hackett (we’ve also got two Karas—what’s up with that?).
After worship at Forefront Church, she took us down to Union Square.
We made an impromptu decision to brunch at Max Brenner.
Apparently it’s one of the places to visit in New York City, though it’s an international chain owned by two Israeli businessmen by the name of Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner. I’m guessing it’s a place to visit more for tourists and whimsical diners.
Max Brenner is a fictitious bald guy, a persona meshed from its two founders; he’s the modern Willy Wonka, and this Union Square restaurant reflects the same playful, outlandish theatrics of the chocolate factory.
You’ll see chocolate gushing down tubes.
You’ll see chocolate—white, dark and milk—being pulverized into warm liquids.
You’ll see flasks and jars of chocolate that look like they belong to an alchemist’s lab.
You’ll see bricks and bricks of chocolate, enough to build a modest igloo of chocolate.
It’s a chocolate freak show!
Neither of us was very hungry when we arrived. It was still too close to breakfast time and my stomach was still swishing with coffee and bagel lifeboats. So we decided to split some dishes. But first, we started out by sharing a croissant.
A petite ribbon of snow-dusted parcel. There’s something so innocent and cute about this butter-laden calorie-bomb.
Since we decided to share the chocolate fondue, we opted for something savory for the main course.
I let Christina choose our dish, and she went for the eggs. We got the “guilt-free” omelet.
I’m guessing that the only thing “guilt-free” about this omelet is the copious vegetables stuffed in there. It came with mushroom, spinach, onion, tomato, peppers and cheddar cheese (instead of Swiss cheese because Christina doesn’t like Swiss).
The omelet came with spiced home fries and a fluffy, buttery, sugar-crusted buttermilk biscuit.
With a side of butter and melted milk chocolate dip.
The milk chocolate dip felt like a strange addition at first, until we dipped the biscuit into the chocolate with some butter. Hallelujah.
Kara and Mimi got the Asian Chicken & Soba Noodle salad:
I didn’t try it, but Kara and Mimi really enjoyed the dish. Not the typical top choice to order at a restaurant known for sweet things, but it was a smart one because we would have been so sugared out by the end of the meal.
It looks like it had all the right textures and colors to make a nice salad.
Rebecca had a bit of hard time deciding what she wanted.
But she at last chose the Thai-style chicken satays with peanut sauce:
I just love the way they plate things. So fun.
I think Max Brenner is sort of like Cheesecake Factory hyped up with theatrics and the culture of chocolate. It offers everything for all tastes, while sprinkling the menu with liberal chocolate-themed dishes. After all, who doesn’t love chocolate? Even the impossibly skinny Audrey Hepburn did.
It came in three parts: the burner for the marshmallows, the edibles and the three vessels of chocolate and caramel warmed over a candle. We opted for the dark and milk chocolate instead of the white.
The server lit the burner for us.
Our edibles consisted of strawberries, bananas, chocolate chunk cookies, brownies and marshmallows.
I think this was my first fondue. I don’t know if it was anything too special, but it was certainly fun to roast my own marshmallow and immediately plop it into a vat of melted hot chocolate.
I just love melting marshmallow.
After our brunch we crossed the street to Strand Bookstore, and that’s when we parted ways. Mimi went off to her homework, Kara and Rebecca went off the catch a Broadway show, Christina went off to catch up on some work and I got absorbed in filming a Mad Man-turned-Occupy-protestor at Union Square Park.
And then I bought new shoes at DSW for the closing reception. More on that later.
Long-winded story short: I’m gonna start reading my bible more seriously and faithfully from now on. Just had to spin that into a blog post so I don’t forget.
Question of the Day: What’s your favorite thing to dip into chocolate fondue?