URS Momentum: An appreciation
与曾叔叔闲聊:势的欣赏 (翻译:Andy/Dixia)

I have always had a habit of doing things fast. Sometimes it seemed like when I did things faster, the results were better, which was kind of a surprise, and I was never sure whether it was really true, or I just imagined it. Somehow, I felt that it could be like running, when you are sprinting very fast in the home stretch, after a grueling run, you have a “high” from your brain hormones kicking in, stimulating your “opioid receptors” in your brain, so you feel great, at the same time as you move efficiently faster and faster.


In high school, I used to love to “cram” during the evening and midnight hours before a big test. Even though it seemed to be a counterproductive thing to be deprived of sleep, it always seemed that, as I was cramming very fast, I could feel the brain connections moving faster and faster, and I could see difficult concepts becoming clearer and clearer, until everything became crystal clear just before the exam. And I did well in exams, so I continued this odd practice. This was especially when I was trying to figure out mathematical concepts. I was exhilarated when I found that concepts were crystallizing right before my eyes, sometimes just before dawn, again as if I was on a “mental high.”


Photo 1A: Writing pinyin in full phrase rather than single words makes a difference, novel to me, but instinctive to many using any “pinyin language app.” 2B: Runners often claim to have a gathering momentum and great “mental high” especially towards the end of the race, that drives them sailing through the finish line.

As I’m writing this I’m using a Nuance Dragon dictation system. The funny thing about the dictation system is that if I pause to dictate, the automatic dictation system doesn’t do too well. However, if I speed up my dictation a bit, everything seems to fall into place, and the words come out much better. The computer recognizes the speeded-up words as whole phrases, in a coherent conceptual framework, and is able to type up my words much more accurately than if each word was spoken singly, without the context of the words around it.

我现在用的是Nuance Dragon听写系统来写这篇文章。有趣的是,如果我口述时停顿下来,自动听写系统就容易出错。然而,如果我加快口述的速度,一切似乎就顺利起来,词语的表达也更好。电脑会把我快速说出来的词理解成统一概念框架之内的整句话,进而能够把我的话更加准确地输出来,而这比单独一个个地脱离语境说出每个词要准确多了。

My Chinese language writing skills have always been poor, and I had handwritten only one letter ever using Chinese characters when I was a child. The teacher insisted I write that letter directed to my mother, who ironically did not understand Chinese anyway! And of course, I never “officially learned” how to type Chinese on the computer, but in the last few years, I began to “guess” the spelling of the individual words in pinyin, from my understanding of the spoken words.


And I never had the confidence to type up Chinese phrases in pinyin, until the last few months. But one day, I suddenly realized that if I didn’t stop after each word, but kept typing 2 or 3-word phrases, the computer did much better, and it was even able to correct my deficiencies in pinyin spelling of individual words. I found out, to my amusement, I was able to type out colloquial phrases sometimes quite nicely. I suddenly realized that the system was just like my dictation system: the “smart” computer finds it easier to catch a phrase than to catch single words; again, context counts.


In another story, I related that recently I have been trying to pray in the Chaozhou language. Chaozhou is a language I learned as a child, used sparingly, but recently rediscovered. Surprisingly, recently as I was trying out the language in my prayers, I found out that if I talked faster, actually formerly lost words came back very quickly, much quicker than if I spoke it out slowly.


It’s as if my brain suddenly realized that there was a contextual sequence to all these phrases I was trying, and filled in for me the words I didn’t quite know, within the phrases, drawing I guess from the vast resources of my deepest brain. If I slowed down, I had difficulty remembering each single word, but when I went faster, words that I had not remembered for literally 60 to 70 years, suddenly found themselves inside my phrases, to my great amazement. Again, the brain is able to synthesize all that, much faster than trying to figure out each isolated word!


This might explain also the advice of scholars about reading texts that are difficult, but have deep meaning, like the Bible. Like, read over an entire chapter at quick pace first, before going into the text, word by word. The fast-paced reading, allows a global view of the chapter at a glance, quickly synthesizing various components, however imperfectly, before going into details. Contextual momentum matters.


Photo 2: Mobilizing the world through 2-day visits. Fly in, fly out, mobilize, set up committee, go-go-go. From United Kingdom to New Zealand and points in between; from Boston to California, and arcing over Toronto, and Winnipeg. Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia mobilizations.
照片2:通过两天的探访调动世界。飞来飞去,征召人员,建立委员会,走走走。从英国到新西兰和两者之间的许多地点; 从波士顿到加州,经过多伦多和温尼伯. 香港、澳大利亚和马来西亚的动员会议。

When I was trying to raise up a huge team of people going to serve in the southwest part of China, I went around the world, to nearly 13 countries or territories, 25 locations in all, at a very fast pace. Usually I only stayed in each place a maximum of 2 days, but I realized quickly that a tremendous amount of work could be done, very rapidly and very efficiently within that time. It seemed that because I was only going to be there a maximum of 2 days, the local hosts were well attuned, and very efficiently prepared the groundwork so I would not waste any time.


So, I would fly to a place, stay at the home of a host, arrive usually at a church meeting site, give a 7-minute introduction at a big meeting, and ask for people who were interested to stay behind, so that I could talk to them for 90 minutes, often with something to eat! At the end of my “mobilization” talk I would ask them to sign up, and we instantly formed a small committee, that I could connect up with later. And I “anointed them” as a “mobilization center,” meaning a center that would mobilize professionals from their area, to go to China to serve. Then I flew off.


After I returned home, I would personally fax (do you know what that is?) documents for hours each night, when rates were much cheaper. Soon, email communications came into use, which saved me hours of faxing. I was transmitting to each center, ultimately nearly 1,000 FAQ/ Q and A of my training guidelines and instructions. So that these centers could start training and preparing many teams to visit the 25 locations in China that we connected for them. Everything was fast-paced, but to my great surprise, everything worked like clockwork, sort of. At the end of the first 10 years, we had already organized 5,000 visits, of doctors, nurses and other professionals into China. From the United Kingdom to Singapore to New Zealand! Plus, cities across USA and Canada. I could feel that this was a very speedy process, and there was obviously a great momentum in the air.


For me, it seems like the very short visits packed everything together quickly, so that I could give the mobilization centers the entire picture quite efficiently, rather than losing the main points sometimes, if we dragged it out over many days. The “mobilization centers” caught the momentum of the times, well aware that all over the world, teams were forming around the same time, a very heartwarming experience of togetherness for a common great goal. It became an exciting momentum moving us all forward. I became the drive agent, and some of the spark that made things go. I really wasn’t aware of this kind of dynamic at first, as I was “just doing my job,” but it just happened like that, intuitively, and I could sense a “tian yi,” or divine inspiration, or Spirit, moving things quickly along, literally flying at times.

对我来说,短暂的访问使得我能够迅速将所有内容整合在一起,以便我能够高效地向动员中心传达整个图景,而不是拖拖拉拉失去重点。 “动员中心” 抓住了时代的趋势,充分意识到全世界各地的团队几乎同时组建,这是一种非常温暖的团结体验,为了一个共同的伟大目标而团结一致。它成为了一种令人兴奋的势头,推动我们共同向前发展。我成为了推动的力量,成为推动事物前进的一些火花。起初我并没有意识到这种动态,因为我只是在“做我该做的”,但它就是这样发生的,我直觉感受到一种“天意”、神圣的启示或灵性在迅速推动事情的发展,有时甚至是飞速前进。

I like to think back in history, that probably the fastest momentum in world history, was the 3 “lightning years” of Jesus’ work in the world. It is mind-boggling to realize that, he sped through the land of Israel, on foot (plus an occasional symbolic donkey ride), in just 3 very fast years, from Galilee to Jericho, lakeside to temple, rich to poor, child to very old. Zipping through the land, into the hearts and minds of many, but in such a short time, He produced a faith momentum that now has adherents from one third of the world’s population today, just amazingly.


Photo 3: A typical Sabbath Sunday of rest, modeled throughout the world after the zippy biblical days of Creation, momentum balanced by joyful rest for the week.


Maybe we could even go further in time, and even envision the creation of the world in this manner. No matter what your understanding of how fast the world was created, the biblical 6 days of creation has a zippiness, a momentum to it, that reflects the grandeur of the occasion: in one sweeping period of action, everything begins to emerge.


One of my super-bright Orthodox Jewish fellows in training, preparing to be a super-specialist in neonatal baby care and the beginning of life, put it in a very enlightened way: “I have no problem that God created the world in 6 days, but I would like to ask Him why He didn’t create it in one split-second.” Like a “big bang,” I would guess, a truly explosive momentum. However, the beauty of the biblical 6 days of intense action, followed suddenly by a seventh day of rest, reveals the genius of the Super-Artist. He has raced through his fast-paced momentous momentum of Creation, and stood back, in joyous amazement. The resulting Sabbath break is a biblical day modelled for us, to put our life of daily momentum, in joyous restful perspective!