What kind of country is this?, etc.

A number of Americans, apparently unhappy with the direction of the country, have asked me what kind of country is Brazil. Happened again recently. I even wrote a post last year encouraging Americans to move here. So here’s another swipe at the same idea. I slightly tweaked my reply to today’s querist.

Brazil is in many ways a wonderful place, with people who are warm and kind. The majority are Catholic, though few are practicing, with Protestantism and especially Pentecostalism growing strongly.
There’s a lot of bureaucracy, but people generally don’t have much problem getting permanent visas after the two-year period of waiting.
Social conditions vary widely. We live in a more developed city than most. The Brazilian economy has grown a lot in recent years, strengthening the middle class.
Brazil is “Mostly Unfree” on the Index of Economic Freedom (ranking at 100), with heavy taxes and lots of laws. Though it’s a democracy, socialist influence is strong. People often expect government to solve their problems, so the federal government has its fingers in many pies.

I sometimes mention, especially in tweets, unflattering things about my adopted country. Doesn’t mean I don’t love it. Sometimes it illustrates the need for our presence here.

• Both Brazilians and Americans ask me, far too often, which country I like best. Are they looking for compliments, confirmation, affirmation? The question stumped me for some years. I’m not good at thinking on my feet. A debater I could not be. Finally, I came up with a reply that seems to satisfy most people.

There are things both good and bad about both countries. One has to learn how to appreciate what is good about each one, and leave the bad to the side. How does that answer strike you?

• I didn’t come to Brazil for the climate or the fruit or the good exchange rate. I came because I had a calling. (No eery ooohing, please.) I stay because I have a calling. If it were the climate, I would have moved to Alaska. I hate the heat. If it were for the fruit, well, back when, I was not a fruit or veggie eater. I am now, so that’s nice. If it were for the touchy-feely, I would have gone to Scotland, my original plan, where I fell in love with the place.

• I came to change the country, and I wound up being changed by it. I learned openness, sensitivity, maturity, brotherhood, friendship, love. I learned acceptance, patience, an easy comfort with self. I still need a lot of those, in abundance. But the country made its mark on me, in a good way, perhaps more than I made my mark on it.

• You might want to skip to the next paragraph … I like Friendica, TiddlyWiki, TiddlySpace, Posterous, Twitter, Hubzilla (too tired to link to them all, just search). Facebook, not so much. I wish one of them had everything under the hood I was looking for. Each one has some darling features. Each one missing something or other important as well. Waiting for the perfect solution still. (UPDATE: My latest social spots.)

• A “simple, practical, and well-tested technique” gets people to say yes more often to an offer or request. Say, “but you are free.” Or, “but obviously do not feel obliged.” That’s gospel, too, is it not? Free will. Choose what is right, but know you have the freedom to choose.

I did say something similar to this in the study I’ve been teaching lately. The young man said he wants to be baptized. Maybe the idea helped?

• Mar. 10. Somers Avenue church, North Little Rock AR. We talk evangelism morning and afternoon. Be there. Of course, you are free.

• Lift-off is Monday from here. Arrived quickly. Two weeks in the US turned into three and a half, but for a good cause. The overcoat goes with me this time. Do I have to take a tie? I am mal acostumado. Spoiled. Nobody wears them here.

• I might make it to hear my good buddy Weylan D. speak at Tenn. Bible College Feb. 23. Just an hour from where we’ll be. See you there? But you are free.

• Then there are the SEIBS Lectures the following week. Would love to pop over there, about two hours away, for a day or so. Who knows?

• Taking The Missus out to the little French restaurant tonight — in a few minutes — for V-Day, also E-Day for us (engagement). Do something for your love on this day, men, because you are not free.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

1 thought on “What kind of country is this?, etc.

What do you think?