Saturday, April 15, 2006

Counting the Cost

A good many people have been bothered by... Our Lord's words, "Be ye perfect." Some people seem to think this means, "Unless you are perfect, I will not help you"; and as we cannot be perfect, then if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant, "The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less...."

Now if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take an ell. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, he will cure it all right; but He will not stop there. That may be all you ask; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.

That is why He warned people to "count the cost" before becoming Christias. "Make no mistake," He says, "if you let Me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest nor let you rest until you are literally perfect--until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with Me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less."

And yet--this is the other and equally important side of it--this Helper who will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection will also be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty. As a great Christian writer (George MacDonald) pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby's first attempt to walk: no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, he said, "God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy."

(Mere Christianity Book IV, Ch. 9)

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Media Generation

We live in a media generation.

This is no longer the information age, it is the media age. The iPod is the precursor and the sign of the times that media will be the underlying theme for the next 25-40 years.

Skills like html, photoshop, photography, videography, music, and the like will be the basis of a lot of communication and entertainment.

People will be judged on how well they present themselves using new media.

It will become a commodity.

But also, the rise of the skilled artist will be ever more increased. Just like sports was an amateurish profession 50 years ago but now paid multi-million dollar professional salaries, so will the creative arts.

The best video editors, the best 3d artists, the best producers and directors.

Hollywood will continue to be a major power together with the games industry and other media institutions like news, publishing, broadcasting entities.

Media will become all pervasive. Instead of reading newspapers and books, media like videos, music, news will be on the go in trains, busses, cabs and the like.

Things to think about:
  • This will happen, the problem is how? There are major economic factors, and policies that will determine who becomes the power players and where success goes to in this age.
  • How can we take advantage of this?




Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Medium Is The Massage

Several interesting quotes from this book. In a nutshell, the medium is an extension of the human being. The medium envelopes us, it feeds us. Therefore it shapes our perspectives. 2 different mediums give different messages. The width of the size of a newspaper article versus the bite sized 1-minute news review sends different signals to us.

"There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago."—J. Robert Oppenheimer

The poet, the artist, the sleuth--whoever sharpens our perception tends to be antisocial; rarely "well-adjusted," he cannot go along with currents and trends. A strange bond often exists among anti-social types in their power to see environments as they really are. This need to interface, to confront environments with a certain antisocial power, is manifest in the famous story, "The Emperor's New Clothes." "Well-adjusted" courtiers, having vested interests, saw the Emperor as beautifully appointed. The "antisocial" brat, unaccustomed to the old environment, clearly saw that the Emperor "ain't got nothin' on." The new environment was clearly visible to him.

Media, by altering the environment, evokes in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act--the way we perceive the world. When the ratios change, men change.

Television completes the cycle of the human sensorium. With the omnipresent ear and the moving eye, we have abolished writing, the specialized acoustic-visual metaphor that established the dynamics of Western Civilization.

The main causes for disappointment in and for criticism of television is the failure on the part of its critics to view it as a totally new technology which demands different sensory responses. These critics insist on regarding television as merely a degraded form of print technology. Critics of television have failed to realize that the motion pictures they are lionizing would prove unacceptable as mass audience films if the audience had not been preconditioned by television commercials to abrupt zooms, elliptical editing, no story lines, flash cuts.

Real, total war has become information war. It is being fought by subtle electric informational media--under cold conditions, and constantly. The cold war is the real war front--a surround--involving everybody--all the time--everywhere. Whenever hot wars are necessary these days, we conduct them in the backyards of the world with the old technologies. These wars are happenings, tragic games. It is no longer convenient, or suitable, to use the latest technologies for fighting our wars, because the latest technologies have rendered war meaningless. The hydrogen bomb is history's exclamation point. It ends an age-long sentence of manifest violence.

The environment as a processor of information is propaganda. Propaganda ends where dialogue begins. You must talk to the media, not to the programmer. To talk to the programmer is like complaining to a hot dog vendor at a ballpark about how badly your favourite team is playing.




Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Building Reputation

We spend our lives building our reputation and name.

That is what certificates, diplomas and degrees are for.

You could jolly well be disciplined enough to study, memorize and practise some discipline, however, without that piece of paper you can't convince others strongly enough to give you that job or to give you that salary level or persuade people for anything for that matter.

The diploma or degree is a communication tool that sums up a few years of study into a glance.

However, a diploma or degree is not necessary if you have other ways to build up your reputation.

Warren Buffett when he took over Salomon Brothers sweated about the requirement to take a securities exam that all heads of must take. He kept on delaying taking the exam when he was interim CEO of Salomon until he could step down.

A man like Warren Buffett doesn't need to pass an exam for him to influence people and markets. Bill Gates didn't need an MBA to be the CEO of one of the most successful companies in the world. Neither did Steven Spielberg need one in film-making to command the ears of studios (though he did get one a few years back to set a good example. He submitted "Schindler's List" as his student project. I doubt the professors would have failed him. :)

Therefore, your resume is your second degree. It is the second piece of paper--your secondary degree, if you may put it--that you are perpetually adding to. It is the summary of your lifelong learning experience. And in cases, it can be much more powerful than a degree, masters or a Phd.

But is a degree important? I would say so, because it jumpstarts your progress in building your reputation. It compresses your learning and provides a kind of seal of approval. Something like a PSB grade. But if you don't have one, there are other ways to build reputation. We should not look at that piece of paper as the standard of our worth, those who have would be prideful, and those without would look down on themselves. And then go around thinking that just because you don't have a degree you cannot achieve something or because you have one you are entitled to certain rights and salary levels.

Somehow, when you realize your own true worth, you will be able to communicate it in the way you talk, walk, and behave.


Thoughts to ponder:
  • It all starts first in life by realizing your own worth, your unique abilities and your strengths--your purpose in life. Then the diplomas, degrees, awards and accolades will come.
  • A corruption of this is that the point of it all is "to make money", "to be better than you fellow man".


"Ordinary People"

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.



All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.



There are no ordinary people.



You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.



This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.



Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself—is truly hidden.



"The Weight of Glory" in Screwtape Proposes a Toast.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The First Job

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists of simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.



We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through your system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When He said, "Be perfect," He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: It would be jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad...



This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there fore...



In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make the little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.



Mere Christianity Book IV, Chapter 8


Monday, April 10, 2006

Either-Or

Either you're a masterpiece of God or you're not.
Either everyone is unique or they're not.
Either every person is a relationship or an object.
Either life is an adventure or its not.
Either life is beautiful or its not.
Either you're going to live life to the fullest or you're not.

Somehow in the end these are the binary choices of our life and how we view it.