Obon Festival Returns July 14 (Burke Connection)

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Screen Shot 2018-07-13 at 7.25.15 PMObon Festival Returns July 14
The Fairfax Station Ekoji Buddhist Temple prepares to host its annual festival for everyone in the community.

The Ekoji Buddhist Temple off the Fairfax County Parkway in Fairfax Station will be hosting the only Obon festival in the Washington DC area July 14. Admission is free, and the temple invites all visitors, no matter their religion or culture, to celebrate the annual event.

“It’s a time to show your gratitude and respect to all those people who’ve passed away before us, because they made the world; we are the next generation,” said Reverend Nariaki Rajan Hayashi, who has been Ekoji’s minister for the past three years.

Because of the growing number of visitors per year, with last year’s attendance at 1,700, the Ekoji Temple plans to extend its hours for the festival. The temple and grounds will be open starting at 3 p.m. and will continue until 9 p.m.

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The Harvey Underground Church (Personal Narrative)

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This was a personal narrative for my college creative writing course. I wanted to describe the several nights my cousins, brothers, and I played an intense game of “Underground Church” in my grandma’s yard in Harvey, North Dakota.


Lights in the dark void hovered five feet off the ground, rotating in long, haphazard arcs like small, drunken lighthouses that sliced the night as a sharp blade. One of the lights haunted an old shed, the holder of the flashlight tromping around and pivoting his weight, as if he had nothing better to do than to stand alone in the sea of darkness.

Our soft thuds of sneakered feet were too quiet to alert our hunters. We weaved in and out of trees, our powers of invisibility only compromised when we broke into an occasional pool of house lights. Dark paths, hidden holes, and dangerous strung clotheslines were determined to slow us down, yet we pushed on in a subdued rush.

As my cousins and I tore blindly through the darkness, we knew we were in huge
trouble—bigger than we ever had been before. What awaited if the searchlights caught us in its glaring eye was only up to the imagination: imprisonment, insults, possibly torture.

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God’s Smugglers (Short Film)

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Loosely based off Brother Andrew’s autobiography, God’s Smuggler (and I MEAN loosely!), young Bible smugglers have to move the Word of God from their base and across the country of Russia while avoiding the secret police force.

It’s been several years since we got to make a video with our cousins, so this year we decided to make a new one. The night before, we introduced them to the classic game of Underground Church, but tweaked the rules to support a smaller number of players. The game ended up changing so much that it needed a new name: Bible Smugglers.

The game is similar to Underground Church in that you have to avoid detection while accomplishing a task. Only instead of trying to get every Christian and a sympathetic cop into a designated church location, the Christians must smuggle fifteen Bibles (note cards) from the start to a location of their choosing (only four Bibles can be held at a time). If they’re caught, they’re sent to jail and their Bibles are confiscated and return to the beginning. The goal is to deliver all the Bibles safely to their destination.

We took this concept and decided to document it in movie-form.