Youngest kid of six with an inferiority and black sheep complex, but determined that God saves not just his soul to heaven but the remainder of his manic-depressive life, so others won't say he became a Christian and remained a jerk.


On identity
i won't be transparent before i'm opaque. and you'll get to know me starting from the small things: who my favourite bands are. what kind of movies i like. who are my heroes.

On Christianity
I’m convinced that when confronted with sincere, real love, the Jesus factor will become obvious. But let’s not plant the cross before we carry it. I’m not trying to con you.

On dreams
Some dreams are meant to be achieved. I know that. But maybe other dreams are meant to drive us, privately. Never known to anyone but ourselves.


On melancholy
It is a sadness that, when choosing between crying and sighing, will choose sighing. I'd almost say that melancholy is being sad about sadness itself.

On memory and nostalgia
It saddens me when life moves forward and people decide that certain things are worth forgetting.

On language
I've learnt that the word irregardless is filed as a non-standard word in the English language. That's a lexicographer's way of saying it's not a real word.

On politics
Crowds are fickle things. So when we stand in the thousands and cry against the present government, do we know who we're actually crying for?

On society
People always want the best for themselves. But I want to sometimes take second or third or fourth best, just so that the loser down the road doesn't always have to come in last. It must feel like shit to always come in last.

On growing old
Leasehold property make me feel sad. It doesn't matter how old the family photos are that you put on your wall. It's your family but it's not really your wall.

On philosophy
I ask you, if God loves everyone, and if God is also incapable of loving evil, how can there be such a thing as an evil man?

On a daily basis
One line quips, like this.


Monday, July 31, 2006

What is the texture of loneliness?

I don’t like to talk to people after church. I like to be alone and be quiet and digest the message. I like to think about it. Or even if I’m not thinking about the message itself, I like to sit in my thoughts for a while, maybe for another hour. I don’t see why not. The way church is done, it hypes you up at the start of worship, which is necessary to jolt anyone out of their Sunday morning malaise. Then it homes you in on God, into deeper and deeper worship, and then ideally it hits you with the brutal truths of life during the message. It is for this reason, incidentally, that I get excited every time pastor chew tells us it’s going to be a “hard message” and proceeds to treat us all like thinking Christian adults. I love that. But this sequence of events: (1) jolting, (2) homing in, and (3) the teaching of truths needs to be followed up by (4) a time of contemplation, and then (5) planning and making arrangements for transformation, and then lastly with (6) action.

This, therefore, is the ideal Sunday – (1) jolting right through to (3) learning during church time, (4) contemplating after church and (5) planning in the evening; (6) action is for Monday when we go out into the world. That’s why I don’t like to talk to people after church. Talking after church is always the same old boring superficial nonsense about how your life is and how work is where none of that is a means towards a more significant end – by end, I mean a more meaningful conversation, which would justify a superficial entry – but it becomes and end to itself. Post-church is always a frustrating exercise of social bullshit, if you excuse my language, in the name of Christian fellowship. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me after church to pat me on the back and tell me “Wah, you’ve gained weight uh”. Let me qualify one thing: I’ve taken responsibility for my weight gain and I don’t care anymore what people say. My intention now is to justify calling post-church chatter “social bullshit”, because when people criss-cross after a damn good message and all they can talk about is how fat you are, then by golly I will UNAPOLOGETICALLY call that kind of talk bullshit.

I want to hole up and think and dwell on the thoughts. I feel for my pastors sometimes, and I think I could never be a pastor because I’d get so frustrated that nobody seems to be taking the message seriously. At the first sound of “and all God’s people say, Amen!”, all of these God’s people are up on their feet walking out and talking about the bak kut teh in klang. What happened to the message? Was it like the last song in a concert? Hey, even at concerts, people usually leave the gig humming to the last song, why don’t churches leave humming to the tune of the pastor’s sermon? Is our need to perform our social animalism so strong that at the first loosening of the pastor’s leash, we run like stray dogs into as distant a dialoguescape as we can get from the message? Is church really so hard on everyone?

I’m being judgmental, of course. I’m assuming that people who chatter after church do not take time out after the chatter to reflect on the message and thereonend move the gears up. And I can be judgmental like that sometimes, so please forgive me. But it’s hard, you know, because for the largest part, I don’t really care how they wanna spend their post-church time; I only care that I want to be quiet and contemplative and introverted because nine out of ten messages, I believe, demand that kind of response. And it is in this state that I try to wriggle my way into some kind of solitude and stay that way while getting lunch and while killing time before any afternoon church activities get underway. But it’s hard, you know, because people know you, and out of a good heart and friendliness, they strike up conversations that unfortunately, inevitably, always mean nothing.

And so this was my lunchtime thesis to mel.

And while she helped me balance my opinion and potential judgmentalism on this front, today at least, she could do little to stem my introverted mood. This introversion would follow me all through my afternoon training sessions all the way home circa six.

During which, for the first time in the longest time, I felt lonely.

When we did our casting interviews for my movie – which is about lonely people – we asked many of our actors the following questions:

What makes you lonely?
What is “loneliness” to you?
How do you respond to loneliness?

All of which was part of my cunning plan to decipher their answer to the larger question: what is the texture of loneliness?

Being alone and being lonely are extremely different things. I live alone, but I am almost never lonely whenever I’m alone. I love my solitude and there are few things I cherish as much as coming home to an empty house and having the freedom and soundlessness to mind my own business – incidentally, that business is always the business of cognitive activity. My hobby, it seems, is to lie down on my bed and think about stuff. And I love it! I love it to bits! But today, I really felt lonely. And when I eventually got on the phone with mel after falling asleep and waking up at 11pm, I told her that I had “thought myself into loneliness”.

That’s true. I think that’s what I did today. I thought myself into loneliness. And the benefit of hindsight now tells me that maybe that’s why people don’t think so much after church. Maybe sometimes it’s too heavy to worship and then hear and then think straight away. Maybe any sane person who does that on a regular Sunday will inevitably on one of those Sundays think themselves into loneliness like I did today. And maybe believing that worship that leads to teaching naturally leads to contemplation is about as idealistic as believing that feudalism that leads to capitalism naturally leads to communism. And while I expect my church members to all file into the cafeteria hotly discussing the finer points of the sermon, bibles out, comparing cross-references and debating about the Hebrew infinitive verbs in key verses, you have to admit that that’s probably just utopic, if not downright freaky.

So maybe I am a freak and maybe I wish all my church members were freak like me. If they were, I wouldn’t have to think myself into loneliness, I could actually contemplate with them. I could actually engage and plan future action with them. We could inspire each other and fan the flame of revival like young people once fanned the flame of revolution. And all that over soya bean milk and kuih. And it is only because I’ve been schooled in the “change begins with me” philosophy that I refuse to end this post on a note of defeated resignation that the world and the church is “just like that”. As long as pastor chew’s voice is still ringing in my head, I absolutely refuse to easily engage in nonsensical social banter about nonsensical social issues. And so if you see me after church, or if you see me after cell, and I’m mulling about by myself, it’s not because I’m being miserable. And if you try to chat me up by talking about the latest Honda Civic and I reply with questions like “what is the texture of loneliness?”, please don’t think that I belong to the loony bin. I’m just being one of those difficult Christians.

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Genusfrog [ 9:15 am ]


  • hey dude,

    i moved. just added a hyphen though, heh.

    thanks for your thoughts, i always love reading them!

    By Anonymous di, at 6:24 pm  

  •'re not a freak and neither do you belong to the loony bin! You're a true Christian! Like you, i too do not understand why people can just switch their mood to the 'get up and scram' mode immediately after a worshipful session and talk all kinds of rubbish. Don't all these 'God-loving' people know how to contemplate on His message? Quiet moments following a sermon should be made sacred for it is only in Silence that you hear the Voice of God.

    By Anonymous Sympathiser, at 8:41 pm  

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