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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Fergus: Nasi lemak, biasa, satu.
Makcik: Nasi lemak biasa...
Fergus: Ada kacang?
Makcik: Kacang takde.
Fergus: Oh. Kacang takde ke habis?
Makcik: Takde. Kacang mahal lah.
Fergus: Kalau mahal, makcik pun patut naik harga lah.
Makcik: Tak boleh. Orang complain.
Fergus: Eh, mana boleh complain.
Makcik: Skarang, telur pun dah naik harga! Dulu blah blah blah, skarang 7 ringgit.
Makcik: Dan blah blah blah blah blah pun dah naik, skarang 5 ringgit. Dan blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...
(So i wait for her to finish grumbling)
Fergus: Tapi makcik, kalau naik, you memang patut naik harga. Semua orang pun macam tu. Kalau I makan nasi lemak, makan kacang.
Makcik: Kacang sedap kan?
Fergus: Ya. Kalau takde kacang, orang tak mau beli. Macam I, kalau takde kacang, saya memang akan cari tempat lain beli. Tapi tak bes lah... kerana nasi lemak makcik bes.
Makcik: Ohh.. hehehe...
Fergus: Kalau mahal, makcik boleh simpan sikit. Kalau orang mintak, makcik ada kan? Ah. Bukannye kacang mudah rosak, boleh simpan.
Makcik: Ya eh...
Fergus: Ya. Macam tu, orang yang suka kacang tu, ha tak payah kena pergi tempat lain. Boleh beli dari makcik lagi.
Makcik: Ah... simpan sikit eh. Ah.
She wasn't convinced. I know by tomorrow or the next day, she would still have no kacang to add for the requesting customer.
Where's the problem with her situation? There's one glaring problem with this makcik's business model. Answer? She doesn't account for the cost of each condiment that goes into her nasi lemak. Her nasi lemak is not a constituent of a 10 cent quarter egg, 30 cents of rice and 50 cents of sambal, etc - her nasi lemak is just a generic glob of nasi lemak to her. Hence, to her, that generic glob of RM1 nasi lemak cannot afford to have kacang. It costs too much, and rightly so.
She needs to account for each item including packaging, aggregate it, add her profit and service charge to it and then sell it, right? Right? I'm not a keen business mind, but I'm quite sure this is how you run a nasi lemak stall. I'm so enraged, no, irritated by her simplicity! Lots of other nasi lemak stalls do this, it's the ABC of her trade! Add item A, charge more, add item B, charge even more. Gosh!
But worse than her poor billing system, I am saddened by her contentment with mediocrity. I mean, seriously, this makcik makes some damn fine nasi lemak if she only knew it. When I was talking to her, she said "ada kacang sedap, kan?" and then sighed as if to surrender to the forces of inflation. She's got such a victim's mentality. But it shouldn't be like that! Her nasi lemak should not be mediocre, as it was today - cheap as hell for a dollar but it had no kacang, no ikan bilis and a measly piece of egg. Charlotte , from her desk opposite mine said "but smells very nice wor". Yes, smells very nice. She's damn good at this. She just needs to be brave and up the stakes. We all have to raise the blinds sometimes.
Tons and tons of yuppies drive down the ldp in the morning. I've bumped into three different sets of colleagues at her stall before. Does she actually think these yuppies are gonna grumble over an extra fifty cent charge on her nasi lemak? Who does she think her clientelle is? Peasants? No! Her stall is by a big highway. Where are all these people going? Not to the river to fish for lunch, to offices! Offices where they make enough money to splash on ipods, gym memberships and 12 dollar lattes at starbucks.
What saddens me is that this makcik has completely failed to understand what opportunity lies before her: a sea of people to whom RM1.50 means nothing and a damn fine nasi lemak waiting to happen.
Labels: food, society
9:24 am ]
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
This Christmas felt like two Christmasses ago.
Lonely. Dislocated. And aquatically disastrous.
Actually, I wasn't eventually lonely this Christmas. In fact, I had some great gifts and the best company.
Thanks Mel. And thanks Christmas Orphans.
5:01 pm ]
Saturday, December 23, 2006
My sister's wedding double ceremony has been going on and I've come to understand more clearly what I "do" and what I "don't do".
I don't do lace.
I swear, I don't (and won't) do lace. Or flowers or ribbons or, like, large sheets of cloth. I don't do little glass ornaments or things that hang from places.
I'll tell you what I do do. I do driving people to places and pulling open huge grille gates that haven't been pulled open in years. I do climbing ladders and changing bulbs and carrying chairs upstairs to downstairs. I'll do all that but please, don't give me anything with lace on it.
In my family, I get teased for not liking to handle stuff like ribbons. Nobody understands why I would opt out of a decorating session that involves weaving all these things that look like ripped stockings together. In my house, my self-imposed exclusion from a gathering like that would probably be read as laziness or being unhelpful. But I don't know how to say it because nobody understands. I just don't like to handle stuff like that. It's the texture, or the feeling. I just don't do it.
So when the duty list came out for this wedding, and the blank fields for volunteers to sign up for duties needed to be filled, I jumped in and put my name next to all the traditionally ra-ra man's jobs. It's my way of telling everyone what I want to be known for around the house, for future reference (read chinese new year 07).
Oh, and one more thing I learned. Actually, I acquired this piece of skill when I was a child - I've only just remembered to use it again now. When everyone in the house is busy doing something, and you are tired and just want to chill, don't do it where anyone can see you. However you wanna chill - with a book or a notebook - bring it into the bathroom and chill out there. Cos when everyone's busy doing something, your total absence will interpret better than your half-arsed arse.
Labels: gender, identity
3:16 am ]
Friday, December 22, 2006
I have a skewed perception of God. I always think he is a vengeful God with a limited patience threshold, and I'm on the brink of losing his favour over my life with each sin I commit. I don't know where I picked up this kind of theology, but it couldn't have come from my relationship with my earthly father, towards whom I feel no such potential for sudden and immediate severance.
But with God... I don't know man. It's always as if he's holding a sword aloft and upon my next commission of sin, he finally loses patience, and he drops the sword, and cuts me off from his grace. Maybe in my five years of Christian infancy, I've been weaned on too many of such biblical stories (but if they're biblical, then what's so wrong?).
Take for example the sermon on obedience from two sundays ago. Saul was made king over God's people, he goes to war and in his weakness doesn't destroy everything and just like that - God strips him from his annointing and he's left to reign the remainder of his days like a lousy no-good sonnnuvabitch. And all the while, I sat there continuing to be terrified by this hardline obedience lesson. I mean, surely you and I have been weak before, surely we've made decisions to please man over God before, so how?
I know it's up to God to assign what kind of smiting he so desires (in spite of what the new testament tells me about his abounding patience and slow-to-angerness), still i cannot shake off the possibility that the repurcussions of my sins will be as damning as that suffered by Saul. Or say whoever that king was who wanted to be a priest and got killed. Or that guy who withdrew early from his sister-in-law and got burnt into dust. If this is the God whom our spiritual leaders are so eager to tell us is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, then surely my complete and utter fear of getting one helluva divine bashing as the punishment for my sins is justifiable.
So is there anything wrong with me? How do I reconcile the fact that God is completely intollerant of sin yet aboundingly patient and slow to anger? How do I reconcile the wrathful uncompromisingly holy God of many a flawed man's snappy demise with the God who promises me that all my sins can be forgiven and in fact has been forgiven? I can't live like this man! I can't live with the perpetual fear that damnation hangs over my head and all it takes is that one more sin to break the back of God's patience camel so that he decides once and for all that I have crossed the line, and in so deciding "removes his hand" from me, as many a pastor has said.
How do you handle a fear like that? I don't know how to handle it. I'm so terrified of God, yet it seems so easy for him to tell us that perfect love drives out all fear because fear has to do with punishment. Well, I am terrified about punishment. I've seen this same God punish before and it scares the shits out of me. And I've heard enough stories about people who lost the favour of God because they went astray and how they ended up as a shadow of the men they used to be, like the lousy loser sonnuvabitch that Saul ended up as, and that scares me shitless too. Because I sin, will I end up like that too? Will God decide one day that enough is enough with this unrepentant brat and strip me of all the things in my life: family, girlfriend, job, car, friends, filmmaking career... hey, he's given me so much, if he takes it all away, it's a lot of blessings to miss, man.
And the scariest thing is that I know at all times that if he so wished to, he could turn my whole life upside down ala Job - after all, my life is his to take. And if he chooses to smite me in all the ways I fear most, then he has every right to do that. It wouldn't be much different from returning to the Jesusless life I lived before. I'll just be a wandering loser with no grace. The biblical part of all this is that I correctly understand that God has the power to absolutely screw up my life at the flick of a wrist. The unbiblical part is that I actually think he wants to. And the mystery in all this is that I'm not sure how close I am to this terrible fate.
10:59 am ]
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I like to close my eyes. It's my way of creating privacy whenever I'm in public. When I close my eyes, I couldn't care if the whole world watched me, or didn't watch me, I'm just happy to be where I am. It's comforting. It's nice to know that no matter what comes in front of you, or no matter where you go, you can shut it out by lowering the eyelids, and letting the black wrap over the noise. I do it when I need to think. I do it when I'm tired of looking at the world around me. And I do it when I want to be alone.
5:27 pm ]
Monday, December 18, 2006
Christmas, like the proms in Adrian's recent blog post
, has a way of making the minority feel small. It's funny, because unlike proms, Christmas did not come about as a means to fan the ass of the elites, but still, it has that uncanny ability of isolating the already-isolated. Or to misquote the bible, it's sort of like how Jesus said "Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him". Or to use an Adrianic metaphor, Christmas can sometimes feel like being alone and standing ragged out in the cold looking through a window while inside a house, a nice functional family tucks its way into a scrumptious middle-class dinner and say grace together.
Why am I feeling so blue this Christmas? I don't know. Maybe it's because I haven't got any real parties to go to, but Christmas parties worth going to are few and far between anyway. Not on Christmas night. All the meaningful ones happen in the weekends leading up to it, thrown by churchmembers who serve you great food before praying and worshipping and singing Jesus-carols into the night. No, those are for the leadup. And even these nice families want to spend private time on Christmas night. Which leaves me with Christmas parties where people... what? Shag and drink and smoke and cuss and dance around like New Year's eve came early. No, no matter how blue I'll feel on Christmas, that's not for me.
The year the tsunami happened, that was my saddest Christmas. I was serving in the media ministry - and as ministries like media go, you're always first in and last out. I remember locking up the camera in the cabinet, returning all the keys to the church office and then thinking: "ok, church was great, lots of people got saved, i got some goodies, now where is everybody? I've missed all the lunch groups and I'm not in the mood to invite myself into any of them now that they're all already at their restaurants". Eventually, I found a group of disparate churchgoers whom I roughly knew and we ended up in Strudels. I can't say I had a great time. I felt distinctly lonely and as much as I would have liked to embrace the make-new-friends ethos, I felt extra sad for myself that I was lunching with people I barely knew for the sake of not being alone.
You see, Christmas is still a family thing, and no matter how close you are to your mates, the understanding is that when Christmas dinner kicks in, everybody wants to spend some family time together. Which is perfectly fair. I've got a biological family, but spending Christmas with them can sometimes feel about as spiritually relevant as a Muslim spending Hari Raya with a Mormon family. To this end, Christmas just doesn't really make sense if you can't openly talk about Christ.
So then, what happens to those who don't have a family to spend Christmas with? Aren't we well-networked enough to know who are the yuletide orphans among us? Shouldn't our Friendsteric interconnections help us identify who are the potentially lonesome so that our mutual isolation can nullify each other? Well, unless you have a database of young Christians without a Christian family who still want to spend Christian Christmasses for me to spend Christmas with, I have no clue who to go to this year.
Well, what are my options? I could sit at home and edit my movie. (Cue laugh track.) I could go to the mall and wrestle with all the unbelievers for a seat at the cinemas. That would be fun (not the unbelievers, the seat at the cinemas). I could go and become a one-man charity evangelist, knocking on doors of poor houses and giving them gifts while telling them all about the gospel and the true meaning of Christmas. Yeah, I could do that. Or I could sit around at home and write depressing blogposts about how depressing Christmas is when you're alone and wait for comments to flood in saying comforting things like "don't be so cham, we love you" but the comments don't flood in until Tuesday afternoon because everyone was with their families until late at night and not being miserable in front of their computers posting comments on other peoples' blogs.
Sure, I'm feeling blue - blue as hell. And maybe between now and Monday, I'll feel better about this whole thing and stop being so bloody miserable. But right now, in the spirit of my post on burnout, I just want Christmas to be over. I want to be in 2007 already, armed with the knowledge that no matter how lonesome it was, I survived Christmas 06. Cos from this side of the 25th, I really dread the surviving part. And as for being merry... huh... I just want to be accompanied.
Accompanied Christmas everybody.
Labels: loneliness, melancholy
6:01 pm ]
I've just spent a weekend at the seaside town of kuantan, which i think is absolutely lovely, and for the first time in my life, i saw real people (as opposed to fake people on tv) surfing. like, surfing on waves. i didn't know that malaysians surfed on malaysian beaches. that goes to show:
(1) how ulu i am, and
(2) how cool some of our beaches are.
Of course, you can probably only surf at an east coast beach, because the south china sea kicks up enough waves for it. still, it was really nice to watch. the only unpleasant thing about the whole experience (and it's not that the waters weren't blue; blue water is nice but it's not something i expect from malaysian beaches and at any case it is not the unpleasant thing i'm talking about) was the stupid surfing competition DJ's choice of songs to play while the competitors took to the water. they played.... i dunno... all these mat rock 80s kinda music like guns n roses, which just tells you two things about the djs, that:
(1) they are stuck in their very distant adolescence and have been playing the same damn music since their cassette collection became a cd collection, and
(2) they have absolutely no understanding of surf culture.
They should be playing surf music, man! they should be playing dick dale or the beach boys or bob marley even. heck, even paris hilton sounds more surf than guns n blardy roses on a sunny sunday morning. and so, thinking about surf culture and having dick dale's king of the surf guitar playing in my head, it hit me.
I know many friends who are learning how to dive. friends who are my age, many who are older. if you are a yuppie with a wallet-full of credit cards and a maritime itch to scratch, anyone can be a diver nowadays. so why can't anyone be a surfer? no reason not, right? then i thought, can i teach my still-impressionable ass to learn surfing at the not-so-tender age of twenty six? again, why not? ok, so motivation is there. what about infrastructure. can a west-coast pj bum find access to some rip curl know-how? the answer lies in the heart of pj's traffic-jammed madness: sunway lagoon. apparently they've got a wave pool where i can potentially find lessons. good. i'll check it out.
So the final stumbling point is in fact the point on which i stumble - where, along the forty kilometres of pahang and terengganu's beach, will i find the time to indulge myself in this hobby? nowhere. not anywhere to be found. is it anywhere to be made? i don't know. maybe when the cyclone of my filmmaking debut passes by, i might be able to find a couple of hours in the weekend to try this out. until then, i'm quite happy to read up on surfing, investigate its scene in my concrete jungle and maybe whip up some support from friends and family to join me in taking lessons.
Then maybe one day in the next couple of years, if you don't hear from me, it's because i've gone off in the weekend to a beach somewhere in the east looking for a surf to ride and a beach to sit and chill.
Labels: dreams, society
2:34 pm ]
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Mr X went to work at the factory one day. when he neared his converyor belt, he saw that he could go no further.
"What are all these boxes doing here?" exclaims Mr X. At once the other Mr and Ms Xs looked at him but didn't say anything.
So Mr X had to squeeze between some huge boxes to get to the conveyor belt. Once there, life continued for Mr X. In fact, life continued for all the Mr and Ms Xs. After a moment, Mr X said again.
"Why are all those boxes there? Are they trying to stop us from accessing the conveyor belt?"
"No," came one reply.
"They're gonna add a machine there," came another reply.
"Really?" Mr X quipped. "This place is really filling up quick, huh".
Mr X left work at the factory that day thinking about how many more machines they can put into the floor space. He thought about every floor space still available, and imagined a machine in its place. And then, he realised he had reached home.
2:16 pm ]
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I am lazy. Yeah, that’s right. I’m damn lazy. I’m too lazy to do my work, to clean my car, to wake up in the morning or go to sleep at night, heck I find I’m too lazy to even eat.
Actually, I’m not just lazy. I’m tired. And I’m fatigued and exhausted. Put simply, I am completely burnt-out with life. I no longer have any zest to live life’s daily tediums and for the last two years, it has been a gradual process of my brain getting fried into a burnt black charred slab of former brain, where now it no longer does anything more than a half-arsed impersonation of a thinking machine.
I realised tonight that I’ve spent the last two years oscilating from mind-numbing boredom in the day to over-zealous undirected hyperactivity in the night, and in this little maelstrom of an existence, I have failed in the essential task of remaining still and being quiet. My mind is constantly flooded with a wall of white noise. So thick is this white noise that my phone’s sms is currently on a two-day reply delay. I receive messages, I glance them over to get a rough idea of what it is about, but I have too little mental energy to reply there and then. I only force myself to reply when my inbox has run out of space and I’m driven to clear out old messages.
All I want is to not be here at any waking point. I no longer want to exist in the now. I have constant daydreams of lying on my deathbed being surrounded by a loving family that goes down three generations, grandkids all around. Am I feeling depressed? Not at all. Am I feeling morbid? Also a resounding no. I just want this whole thing to end. I want to have achieved things in life, I just want to have already
achieved them. I want to have a fulfilling life, I just want to have already
fulfilled it. I want to be at my deathbed and be a happy man and then die. Put differently, I want a great life to have been lived, and I want to be at the end of that great life, not where I am right now.
The furious pace at which I’ve lived my life has done me no favours. Leaving me with little to no time to consider God or his word or pray or at its worst, even go to church, I’ve come to wonder if the whole thing has just gone pear-shaped because i've not been watered for the best part of the last two years. I’m shriveled up. I’m not even thirsty, I’m just completely parched.
And so I have a plan. I shall not reveal it but I have a plan and it will go on for the next half a month, during which I hope to jolt my apathetic ass into action and after which I hope to have found some kind of skip and order to this dull chaos. To begin with, I need to stare at some mountains for a while and stop daydreaming about wanting to quit this frenetic lifestyle. Either I should just quit it or I should just deal with it, but whining about it has just got to stop.
Bob Dylan said “let me forget about today until tomorrow”. I feel exactly like that every day.
Labels: happenings, identity
2:36 pm ]
Friday, December 08, 2006
People sell their soul to the devil for fame, wealth, success, talent, power and sex. People sell their soul to Jesus for persecution, unpopularity, self-control, servanthood and chastity. Dunno how to choose? When in doubt, choose Jesus.
They say that robert johnson went to a crossroad one night and sold his soul to the devil for his guitar ability. this story was probably exacerbated by the fact that a young johnson followed howlin wolf on his tours and wolf couldn't stand johnson's guitar playing, requesting for someone to "take that guitar off that kid". johnson would disappear and return a couple of years later with what would be known as his legendary guitar ability --- if you listen close to his records, it's like there are two guitars playing. of course, he would write about staple blues subjects, and a fair few songs about the devil. it also didn't help that johnson would turn away from audiences to play complicated guitar parts, never revealing to them what he was doing.
Of course, with legendary musicians, myth-makers will go on the tilt, and if there's a devillish angle, it will always be sniffed out.
Now whether or not robert johnson lived down to his legend, i don't know. and i'm only this close to saying that i don't care, except that i somewhat do. if i'm gonna listen to his songs, i almost do want to care. it's an age-old christian conundrum.
"That's the devil's music!"
I think it was cs lewis (or was it francis schaeffer... it was one of the apologetists) who said that every territory is claimed by the devil and counterclaimed by God. to this end, there are supposed to be no neutral territories. it's a bit like the old analogy that a christian walk is like riding a bike up a hill. what then of robert johnson? do you agree with that? that there is no such thing as neutral ground in our vast experience of this world? is it true that anything which doesn't extend the kingdom shrinks it?
Cartesian philosophy insists on us knowing for an absolute certainty that what we know, we really know. in it's attempt to ward off skeptics, it leaves out all room for speculation. is it possible that Christians have ended up using Cartesian philosophy to handle our fear of what may or may not be "the devils' music"? i definitely know of respectable christians who walk down that road. is it because when our walk with Jesus isn't exactly vibrant, that our leaders can't trust us to be fully sensitive discerners of good and evil?
I never planted my flag in any camp. i never backed either position without considering the validity of the other. and while i do this partly out of my appreciation of a balanced theology, i also do this partly out of my laziness and lack of knowledge and conviction to make a firm stand. and while that gives me the leeway to listen and question, it also means that as i'm listening to johnson's records this very minute, there is a tiny feeling in me that i should just stop it.
Labels: arts, christianity, philosophy
10:45 am ]
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
At fifteen i was stylistically and fashionably confused - halfway baggy, big black t shirts, and i was climbing out of the rubble of radio pop music, mltr, bon jovi, r&b, what i now know to be ah beng music and my hatred for angry but hugely loved bands like nirvana and metalica. i was belatedly standing on the cusp of alternative music - cranberries had already blown my mind.
Ernest and i used to watch music videos on singapore tv on sat nights. we had no astro, not even mega tv then. one night, ern and i stayed up in my parents' room watching videos, and i taped two videos. the first was a live radiohead performance of creep. which i'd already heard boys in school sing and hated it coming from them but liked it coming from thom yorke.
The second video i taped was oasis' live forever.
That video changed my life. the british arrogance, jangly guitars, non-confrontational, well-mannered melodicism laced with working class swagger and swirling unjagged sound - the whole package was so different.
Of course, liam was magnetic. the next morning, i played the video to my mum and said "mummy, i want his hair", and she said no, because it's too long. but we can get something quite close, but shorter.
I was already writing songs by then. my whole concept of music writing, fashion and attitude changed in the next few months, as the morning glory album got popular here, and i shaped my sense of self-pride according to my distinguishment from my friends, for doing brit when everyone else was doing american.
Labels: arts, identity
4:00 pm ]
People sell their soul to the devil for fame, wealth, success, talent, power and sex,
People sell their soul to Jesus for persecution, unpopularity, chastity, self-control and humility.
Dunno how to choose?
When in doubt, choose Jesus.
2:36 am ]
In less than two weeks, i will attend my sister's muslim wedding. it will be held in a mosque. two days ago, she brought me and my brother to buy kain songket and our baju melayu for the ceremony. it was fun, mind you, it was my entrypoint into a subculture i had not envisioned myself entering. suddenly, i was the bearer of new knowledge: the market price of songkok, the tailoring needs of kain samping, and what's vogue (and what's not) in the traditional malay regalia scene. for a boy who grew up among buddhist monks and indian gods, i'd now dipped my feet into my fair share of ethno-religious subcultures.
not that this one will last. i've had a muslim sister for a considerable time now and i've barely noticed any difference. maybe it's as simple as having a real house to visit for hari raya next year and that's it. after all, it's not like my family's lifestyle has been monumentally changed since i became a christian myself.
i've spent the last five years of my life living in well-socialised christian circles, and so it comes as no surprise that my sister's impending wedding has brought about questions from concerned christian friends: how do you feel about this? have you spoken to her?
if christians are uneasy about the idea of islam, it is only because our malaysian christians have fallen for the ultimate hegemonic malaysian lie - that race and religion are interchangeable. and it is only because they've wound up their politics so tightly with their theology that they can actually get excited about a mosque wedding but are completly apathetic if it's a temple one. and so now i want to stop talking about my family and start talking about a larger family thing going on - that is, the christian family and how it handles the tricky comandment of loving its muslim neighbour.
i was telling someone recently that whenever i meet level-headed non-defensive muslims, i can have really cool conversations with them about faith, perhaps because christians and muslims share very similar backstories. we share similar lingo even. and i dare say that even the foundational worldview ideas have much in common. which in fact was when i said that our faiths are perhaps something like 70% the same - and it is only that critical 30% that separates us. that 30%, perhaps, could be oversimplified if i said that muslims revere a God who is primarily transcendent while christians love a God who is primarily immanent. other than that - i dare say - the rest is just details.
so here is the gauntlet: be an uncompromising evangelical christian in a highly tolerant and diverse home(land), loving your neighbour and respecting them insofar as the standards of respect is in the hands of society at large (and not your own), and simultaneously express both the love of Christ and his intolerance for mixture, living up at all times to the highest bar of authenticity, because nobody likes a fake - especially a moral one.
so, what to do?
at a time like this, all those snazzy catchphrases like "in the world but not of the world" careen into the distance, far from my the reach of my bewildered arm. actually, everything would be easier and so much more peaceful if people would just be more calm about religion. the more uptight and fearful people are of unrest, the more preemptively they will strike against all expressions of religious dialogue in public, or bulldoze self-censorship down each others' throats. which leads me to my final unanswerable question of the day: what exactly am i trying to say in this post?
i don't know. maybe in the midst of my self-censorship, my idea got lost.
my kain songket rocks. i'll be decked out in blue. the songket's complete with gold weaving, and i've barely learned how it's worn. it cost a hundred bucks. but it's damn nice.
Labels: christianity, society
1:06 am ]
Monday, December 04, 2006
This is my retirement dream.
I want to leave the city and have a nice sprawling house in the country. I'll have a lime orchard, and i'll plant chillies and tomatoes and other produce. I'll make sauces and bottle them and give them to friends and family, and maybe sell them to the nearby folk.
In the weekends, my grandkids will come to my estate and run like crazy. And i will walk them through the orchard and tell them about limes and trees and gardening. We will have big barbequeues and cookouts. I'll have eggs and bacon on toast every morning. I'll have a collie, a cat and there'll be tons of birds in the trees, chirping in the morning to wake me up.
In the afternoons, i will read. I might take up painting. And once every few months, i'll give my high-flying city publicist a call and haul him to my farm, and we'll cook him a big meal in our country kitchen and talk about art and film and poetry. And after that, i'll hand him a manuscript for something to bring back and work on.
I'll have my friends over and we'll play poker late into the night, and drink port, and talk about old times. We'll be too old for boardgames but we'll have fun trying anyway.
In the evenings, i will write profusely. And when i'm done, i will tell stories to my wife, the same stories i'd have told since we were young, but she would enjoy hearing them again. I would rise early and fish in a lake on the edge of the orchard. I would reel in some beautiful fish and we would later have it for lunch. In the mornings, we would harvest limes and chillies and tomatoes. In the afternoons, we would work in the kitchen. And in the evenings, we will cook nice big dinners.
9:58 am ]