J Walking

J Walking

I’m not the devil

Several months ago – around the time I stopped blogging with any regularity – someone accused me of being the devil. And if it wasn’t the devil, then it was certainly one of his minions. It is hard to shake off that sort of thing – especially when it centers around your writing and comes from a friend.
The accusation was that I had exploited some of the children in my writing about Uganda. My friend said that I was using their plight as a way of getting more people to read my blog – that my selfishness knew no ends, not even the exploitation of sick Ugandan children.
This friend is occasionally manic and has leveled somewhat outrageous charges against me and Kim at various points in our lives. Nevertheless, a charge like the one being leveled against me was both serious and sobering. It shut down my writing. Suffice it to say that exploiting the children I’d seen in Uganda had been the furthest thing from my heart or mind when I was writing about that experience. Indeed my hope was that the plight of these children would stir others to action – sponsoring a child through Compassion International, for instance.
All that said, however, I’ve had to – and continue to – reflect on the accusations, reflect on my own heart in writing those posts, other posts and everything else that I’ve written. I can’t say that I’ve had any particular profound insights. I suppose my heart and my motivations on any given topic will always be a murky mixture of good, bad, and unclear. I suppose that is just the nature of life. I hope that my stuttering walk with Jesus makes that mixture ever clearer, ever purer, and ever more alive. But that is the kind of thing I can only see moment by moment, word by word. And to do that means I’ve got to write… I will.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 12:25 am

Yay – David!!!

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posted July 21, 2008 at 12:33 am

Here I thought your horns were for show. Only you and God know what’s in your heart and you’re right to reflect but I have to admit its a weird allegation. Nothing to shut up over. Unless you actually are the dark enemy.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 1:03 am

My dear friend, I was there with you, I was able to experience culture shock with you and I can say with all my heart your motives were pure. ARE PURE! Truth be told we did want more people to read our blogs because that meant more opportunities for people to hear what really is going on in Uganda. We wanted people to understand what it is like living in a mud hut that is being washed away because of rain. We wanted people to know what the AIDs clinic looked like. We wanted people to know what the kids in the slums dealt with. So the more readers the better.
Thank you for being transparent and sharing why things have been quiet! But now it is time to get back in the game. We want you to keep writing. H

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posted July 21, 2008 at 3:42 am

Welcome back. You have been missed.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 8:28 am

I suppose it’s always good to assess our motives from time to time… for the same reason that you were jolted by this one comment; words affect people.
But if I could offer you encouragement, I’ve been deeply inspired by your writing because it is obvious you are challenging yourself even while you challenge us. You are always trying to discern Truth, even in the political arena, and you lead us to do the same. This is the greatest gift you could give as a writer and I, for one, am most appreciative.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 8:51 am

“Indeed my hope was that the plight of these children would stir others to action – sponsoring a child through Compassion International, for instance.”
I can testify that, in at least on instance, it worked.
Pax Christi,

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posted July 21, 2008 at 9:09 am

I’m a sophomore in college, I read your blog regularly and have for over a year. I’ve missed reading! For what it’s worth (even when I disagree with you) I’ve never felt like your motivations were exploitative.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 9:15 am

Welcome back David…you’ve been missed! And like Tap, I sponsored a child (a beautiful little girl from Peru) because of your writing about the Uganda trip. Her letters and prayers are a true blessing. Thank you for the work you do!

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posted July 21, 2008 at 10:27 am

I’ve lurked on your blog for quite a while and I’m glad to see you back. I agree with Loreli that it is good to assess our motives from time to time. But the assertion that you are the devil or a minion of the devil is outrageous – and I for one have seen nothing exploitive in your writing about your experience in Uganda. How are you supposed to raise awareness about what is going on there if you’re not allowed to write about it.
Criticism is good and can be helpful – but its also important to know when it is clearly off-base and over-the-top, no matter the source. Thanks again for your writing – glad you’re back.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 10:45 am

David, it’s good to have you back!
For what it’s worth, I think that criticism sounds totally off base. And even if there are different facets as to why you do what you do, this is why I understand so much of the call to be one of Jesus saying ‘follow Me’. Of our own will, I don’t believe that we can ever live up to a standard of perfect purity of intent–we can instead completely paralyze ourselves trying to analyze our own motivations for everything we do (been there, done that, not terribly helpful). I think we humans will always be a complex mix of aspirations, some unknown even to ourselves (although all known clearly to God!). So I have come to believe that we are not called to try and make ourselves perfect, we are called to do our best to listen and to ‘follow’–and to stay in the relationship with God, wherever it leads. He will do whatever correcting needs to be done, imho. And I highly doubt His correction will EVER come in the form of vitriolic accusation or condemnation, right brother?
I truly believe you are gifted to write, and that your writings have moved the hearts of many–so perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that you have been challenged in this area–but I’m sure glad you are back at it again! :)

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posted July 21, 2008 at 11:54 am

Glad to have you back and blogging, friend. You, Kim, Sam, and the kids have been missed!

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posted July 21, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Edmund Burke is generally credited with the quote that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Now if shining a light on a deplorable situation and bring public attention to it is exploitive, then we should all be guilty of such actions. What a better would it would be when these situations no longer exist.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Who are the demonized among us? It is often the one who is different or the truthteller when everyone has agreed to accept the lie. Girard says there are five kinds of scapegoats and apparently – you fit one of them. Best model – the great Scapegoat – Jesus on a cross. It’s just so damn hard to hang there and “forgive them for they know not what they do”.
A friend once said to me that the mark of a saint is one who can reach the age of 50 and abandons cynicism and suspicion. that does not mean one does not use judgement, but that judgement needs no vengeance, no pay back, no credit. I think it was Reagan who said that the way to get things done is to quit worrying about who gets credit for it. Don’t know where all that came from, but…. the path to spiritual maturity is filled with those who will reject truth and opt for creating someone to blame. Feeling disorganized in thought, but so glad you are back.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 5:40 pm

It is good to see you writing again. Wow – I had imagined many possible reasons that you stopped blogging for a while – but being accused of exploiting sick kids?! I would never have guessed that. I never felt that about your writing. I really appreciated being able to read about your experiences in Uganda. I believe you did a lot of good in your writing, by touching hearts and by educating people like me about Compassion International and the work they do.
I find it admirable that you are humble enough to not dismiss any criticism and to reflect on your motives. This particular criticism, however, seems completely meritless.

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Brian Horan

posted July 21, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Mr. David Kuo,
Nice to have ya back! Dude, if your friend’s manic – really keep that in mind. I have folks in my life that suffer some bi-polar tendencies. Like Jesus said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Most of these seem like great comments.
I got tired of being demonized… Guess nobody ever called me the devil to my face though.
My former church-mates second-guessed me all the time in the church setting. Most of ’em are still my friends; at least I consider them so. I ditched the church thing (i.e., voluntarily left the fold). Mostly, friends and I avoid religious topics.
Life’s pretty cool here in the USA in that respect. Live and let live! If your fellow church goers wanna judge, you have the option of just checking outta the program. It makes their inquisitor’s heads spin.
More seriously, I do have a brother that thinks I’m hell-bound for having the wife I do. Our brotherly relationship is tough to mend because divorce isn’t exactly Christian either. It’s a real funny catch-22 my brother’s got going on in his head. But, it’s sad that we just can’t go in inspite of it… Maybe, David, your friend is really close.
I particularly like Pia’s comments: “…I don’t believe that we can ever live up to a standard of perfect purity of intent–we can instead completely paralyze ourselves trying to analyze our own motivations for everything we do…humans will always be a complex mix of aspirations, some unknown even to ourselves (although all known clearly to God!).”
Pia, I just had an ambiguous situation today and your comments were helpful to me.

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posted July 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Two, Tap.

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posted July 22, 2008 at 3:01 am

I just wanted to echo many of the comments here and say I’ve missed your writing, David, and am glad you are back. That accusation makes no sense to me — to question somebody’s motives, maybe that might be valid, but to call somebody a name like that just makes no sense. I see you as a brother in Christ who expresses himself as best as he can, and whose motives might be as mixed up as my own… or anybody else’s. And we learn from one another and go on with our lives. Blessings to you and your family!

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Pete A

posted July 22, 2008 at 10:24 am

Yes, welcome back, David. My family joins all those who have missed you and have said so above.
David, the “friend” who told you that is 180 degrees wrong. My wife and I both feel that with so much poverty and hunger where you were sent (by God), that he wanted you to help do something about the situation. And by explaining what you saw, you’re communicating the need that is out there for these children. That’s giving us all a chance to love these particular neighbors that we weren’t aware of before. And that’s certainly of God, not of the devil.
My wife says she senses in her spirit that God is dealing strongly in your life to change it. And that if your “friend” is a Christian and spends enough time in prayer, he/she should sense that God IS working in your life, and should NEVER have said that to you.
Our own calling is to make people aware of the many ‘neighbors’ in need closer to them – less dramatic, less hearwrenching, but still real (see So far, we tend to get deafening silence, not active criticism. We hope that will change. As we go along, I expect what happened to you is an example of what will happen to us. And I hope knowing this happened to you will help us be more ready for those less-than-farsighted people.
Your friend was very wrong, David. Keep saying what you see. Keep telling us to “love the least of these our neighbors.”
You’re in our family’s prayers every day.
Pete A.

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New Age Cowboy

posted July 22, 2008 at 11:22 pm

I figured out that there’s no way you can be the devil. Know why?
Cause I’m the devil!

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jen halverson

posted July 23, 2008 at 3:19 am

I’ve missed your blogging and look forward to reading more!

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La Dolce Vita

posted July 24, 2008 at 11:33 am

You were deeply moved by what you experienced in Uganda and you wrote about it. You’ve had a lot to process, my friend. That’s all. Your friend is, unfortunately, wacky. It’s all right to have wacky friends. You just can’t allow their wackier episodes to pull you down.

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posted July 24, 2008 at 5:04 pm

I think it was Carl Jung who said that most people’s lives are filled with projecting their inner life onto the outer world.
From the little you write, I wonder if both of you are, in your own ways, projecting your inner lives onto your outer world. So one of you sees a devil, and the other is worried about what other people think about him.

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posted July 26, 2008 at 1:23 am

God, give us more devils like Kuo.

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