Friday, December 02, 2005

Being Better Than Our Superiors

If we limit our growth to only what we see in our parents, the world cannot become a better place.

We must become better than what we see demonstrated in their lives.

For some, it can seem quite a daunting task if your father is Michael Schumacher or Michael Jordan.

But that is only one aspect, i.e. career wise. What I mean is character growth wise.

If our parents are crabby and complaining we must be positive and gracious. If they are negative we must be positive.

If they are lazy, we must be hardworking.

If the children of the world only aspire to be like their parents, they world would not become better.

Unfortunately, there is a problem here. A lot of parents want their children to be made in their own image and be the extensions of their egos. A pygmalion project perhaps. But how many parents have ever said to their children, "please become better than me, kinder, gentler, stronger, wiser."

Perhaps, if they were to say that, it would be admitting their own shortcomings. And humans do not like seeing their shortcomings highlighted.

I want to become better, and better than the person I was yesterday. I also want to tell my children to be better heights than me, to become better than I am, to receive a double portion of what I received.

But in the meantime, before I do have children of my own, I'll make sure I'll become a tough challenge to follow.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Lives Of Quiet Desperation

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Birthday Jack!

His mother died when he was 10.
Two weeks later he was sent to boarding school.
Headmaster was clinically insane.
Bullied in school.
Wounded in World War I.
Once a staunch atheist.
Converted to Christianity at 33.
As Oxford tutor, chased one of his students with a sword.
Beer drinker.
Friend and mentor to JRR Tolkien.

Literary and Christian apologetic genius.

C.S. Lewis.
(29/11/1898 - 22/11/1963)

C.S. Lewis: Apostle to the Sceptics

George Best (1946-2005)

Soccer Legend George Best Dies at Age 59 - Yahoo! News

George Best, one of Britains greatest footballers passed away this week.

It is a shame for someone who had the gift of playing football so naturally and able to charm almost any woman he met.

He had what the world offered, what people crave: Fame, glory, riches (though squandered away), women?

What was George Best running away from? What was it that he couldn't face? What was the meaninglessness that he faced? Shouldn't he have been happy and fulfilled? No, because there was a void inside of him that he was desperately trying to fill with drink. He tried desperately to deaden his senses with alcohol

What is it that makes alcoholics drink?
Why do some people classify alcoholism as an illness? It is classified as one because the person under that addiction cannot help but do what he doesn't want to do. It is termed "beyond his control".
So if it is beyond our control, we need a power beyond us to bring it under control.
Perhaps, we must ask the question, what is the poison that we drink? Be it alcohol, gambling, drugs, sex, TV, internet, computer games, news, anything that we use to get away from facing the realities of life.
Sin is a disease that infects us all. Only by turning our lives over to God, to Christ to can He turn our lives around.
One of the most successful programs to overcome alcoholism was started by a Christian, it is the 12 Step recovery program in Alcoholics Anonymous.
I sometimes wish that cell group would come together like an alcoholics anonymous group. Each knowing that we are sinners and accepting one another.
The 12 Steps are listed with a little tweaking. I have exchanged alcohol with sin, whatever it may be pride, lust, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed or any other sin.
  1. We admitted we were powerless over sin (alcohol) - that our lives had become unmanageable. (Romans 7:14-15)

  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to holiness (sanity). (2 Chron 7:14)

  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Col 3:3)

  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Psalm 32:5)

  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (James 5:16)

  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (1 John 1:9)

  7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings. (Psalm 51)

  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. (Numbers 5:6-7)

  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Luke 19:8)

  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (1 John 1:8-10)

  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (Matthew 6:10, Romans 12:2)

  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to sinners (alcoholics), and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (Acts 1:8)

I think the 12 steps makes an excellent sinner's prayer, don't you think?

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Problem of Divorce

The verse of the week I chose asks, "What problem is there that God cannot solve?"

I am always mystified by why people divorce one another. I cannot see why after marriage, that someone would break his vows of marriage when he/she entered into it at the altar promising "till death do us part".

Since there is no problem that God cannot solve, where then lies the source of the problem? It is in the people involved who don't want to let God solve it for them.

Yet, in my naivete I realized that my background is like that of a fish swimming in water. I grew up living with godly Christians around me. LIke a fish, I assumed that there is water always around me. Until now, I only know personally 2 persons who are divorced. It came as a startling fact that for one of my friends about 30% - 40% of her friends were divorced!

Divorce is such a strange concept to me. I think I understand it, yet it is something that I don't really understand. I think a better phrase would be that divorce is like some disease.
I know that it exists yet to see it manifest itself in human beings is like seeing them afflicted with a strange horrible disease that shouldn't be there in the first place.
The irony for me is that I do come from a broken family.
I've talked to lawyers who've handled divorce cases, and divorce happens to both Christian and non-Christian couples alike.
But of course, as I pressed on my question "but what if both of them submitted to Christ?". The answer was "Of course not, if both submitted to Christ then there would be no divorce."
I really hope I do not personally get first hand experience in the pressures of this.
From observation, it seems to be stubbornness of one of the parties to change or shift position in attitude, behaviour, or values. LIke a dance partner who doesn't move in tandem with her partner, it doesn't make a good dance. (Maybe one of my tests for a good marriage partner is to see how well she dances.).
Perhaps another reason is that there is no respect in the marriage. The other partner isn't a person in the other's eys, but instead a sex object or security object that has lost its value. If that was the case there wasn't true and deep love in the relationship in the first place. Like what Martin Buber described, it was an "I-it" relationship and not an "I-Thou" relationship in the first place.
There is also something else I learned. A term like "work hard to make the marriage last" objectifies the relationship, as if marriage is like a machine that needs tuning or oiling or repairing. It puts marriage as something that is outside of us. It paints some imaginary machine that both parties have to fix when in reality both parties are the machine and the only way to solve it is to fix themselves.
(Ah, the deficiencies of our natural language, despite all the richness of English it fails by far. Perhaps when we finally speak and know the language of angels would we change in our understanding and knowledge.)

Verse Of The Week

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
(Mark 10:27)

Do You Feel Lucky Punk?


"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" by Emma Lazarus, "The New Colossus". Inscription found at the Statue of Liberty

The green card lottery. Yes, despite all the spam mail about it, it is a real lottery from the United States to bring in New Immigrants to the land of the free, the land of opportunity.

Unlike other countries that only want to bring in foreign talent, this lottery allows anyone with at least 12 years of education to enter and even if that isn't met, 2 years of work experience are enough.

This year's green card lottery is now purely internet based, no more last minute rushes to the post office or taking of that crazy 2 inch x 2 inch photo size. (Why couldn't they ask for standard passport size before?)

I was done like within 1/2 hour after reading the form, scanning in my photo and cropping it according to specifications.

The United States, the land where White Elephants are welcome, and pilot union heads don't get their PR revoked.

If you want to try, go to the official website. Any other emails sent to your inbox are just scams to get you your money. You wouldn't even know if these so called legal officers really did submit your application after paying their "processing fee" since it is a lottery. Just do it yourself. It's free, fast and no hassle.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Salsa @ Union Square

26112005 - Union Square.jpg

After the last day of class at Two Left Feet. Some of us decided to go and check out Union Square at Amara Shopping Centre. It's one of two most frequented places in Singapore for salsa; the other being XenBar in Pagoda Street.

I tried dancing, but really, I need more practice. Just having only 4 sessions of lessons, I wasn't going to make the cut.

Though I did learn something new. You can actually know a persons character when you dance with her. Some get frustrated and complain, some are helpful and patient.

The most amusing thing to happen was some guy who asked me to dance, only to realize when he saw my face that I was a guy. Having long hair together with dim lighting can cause some confusion!