Friday, July 29, 2005

Getting older...

montage birthday
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
'Twas a great birthday celebration at CU today. We celebrated three birthdays in one go: Amy's and Caroline's (26 July 1987 and 1986 respectively) and mine (31 July 1987).

Labelling this group picture is gonna be tricky!

OK, there's Jon sitting beside the cake. First row: Justina, Debbie, Li-Shia, Caroline, me, Amy, Rebecca and Denise.

Second row: Xiao Ying, Wai Yeng, Calvin, Aaron, Chien Yih (in blue), Jack (in red), Chien Chyi, Kennard and Earnest.

Third row: Weng Ken (holding match), Gabriel and Wai Hung.

The words on the cake read "Happy Birthday Amy, Ben and Carol" (A, B and C!), and a lone candle was arranged away from the others, specially for Caroline, who's a year older than Amy and me. Little things that made it more than just a black forest.

Jon coordinated the passing around and signing of the cards, over the last two weeks (we were actually supposed to have the celebration a week ago). I think it's an excellent present -- so organic and overflowing with the diversity that is the Christian Union.

I felt the message to be something special too. Jon spoke on purpose in life, with some reference Our Daily Bread, from the reading titled "What are you living for?"

It dawned upon me that purpose is not some fluffy, feel-good feeling that your life is worth something. It's not self-help or inspiration or psychology. It's about being stuck in the grit of life, and knowing that you need others and others need you.

To me, that seems to have defined my purpose in living lately. Not some grand 'kingdom of God' scheme, but a more subtle conspiracy in which my life counts, simply because I'm connected to others in community -- people who need me as much as I need them. Here, our purpose is to support one another.

It got me thinking about Jesus' early disciples, and when I consider them leaving everything behind, I am reminded of Steven Curtis Chapman's song For the Sake of the Call, in which the bridge goes:

Not for the sake of the creed or the cause
Not for the sake of the promise
Simply because it is Jesus who calls...

Something that really resonated in me, was when Jon spoke of birthdays being days when we usually want things to go 'our way'; it is, after all, 'our day.' He contrasted this with surrendering ourselves to God's will, for we were created for Him; 'our day' should really be about 'His way.'

C.S. Lewis' words from The Great Divorce came to mind:

Make no mistake; there are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done.'

Where is my life heading now? Am I learning to surrender to God, to truly say 'Thy will be done' and live according to it? Am I dreaming of some grand purpose, or am I putting effort into building relationships in this often mundane and slow experience called life?

It's good to know that God doesn't change; we get older, others expect more of us, but God still gives us room to slip up. He calls us to become as children once again. So I'm not really turning '18 years old'... it's more like, '18 years young'!

Sunday, July 24, 2005


batman montage
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Early in the movie, Henri Ducard says these words to Bruce Wayne:

Ducard: But if you make yourself more than a man, you become something else altogether.
Wayne: And what is that?
Ducard: A legend, Mr Wayne.

David and I were talking about legends at the recent reunion at Sam's. It all started when we realised he was known by d'NAers he'd never met, as a philosopher whose mind is beyond understanding, or else some deep, complex guy who is indecipherable.

In other words, David had become a legend, which he defines as a state of being, in which a person's reputation goes way before his presence. Perhaps each of us are legends within certain circles, especially those in which we have had--and maybe even still have--great influence.

And when a person becomes a legend, he becomes vulnerable. On the one hand, a legend must perpetuate his own great myth to remain a legend; to admit any sense of parity with 'normal' people would be to deny the great 'legend' mantle he wears.

But the truth is, all legends--especially the great ones--do not walk alone. We all know that Batman is the only hero without a superpower. And more than any other hero, we see a broken man, held together in no small measure by the faithful and fatherly Alfred.

Batman Begins actually goes a long way to show the emotional core of Batman, and the true role Alfred plays in Bruce Wayne's life: not that of a butler, but of a friend. As I'd written in an earlier entry, Alfred says to Bruce near the climax of the movie:

Alfred: Why do we fall, Master Wayne? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Bruce: You haven't given up on me, have you, Alfred?
Alfred: Never.

Maybe, at this point in life, I can identify with Bruce/Batman quite a bit (and NOT because we share the same initials!). In some circles, I have become legendary; people think I'm smarter and more capable than I really am, hence the flurry of assignments from all corners of the school.

If not for the Alfreds who continue to encourage me, who know the real Ben beneath the public facade, I do not know where I would be now. Maybe still stuck in that cave, or in my own world of remorse, guilt and darkness.

By the way, if you haven't watched the movie, go and watch it! Even if you don't like Batman. As one critic put it, this is the story of the Dark Knight, not the Caped Crusader. It really makes for great philosophical conversation.

Is God like the PK HEM?

Funny as it seems, I did consider that question yesterday. (For the uninitiated, PK HEM is the acronym for Penolong Kanan Hal Ehwal Murid: basically the teacher who takes care of all the student affairs like discipline, et cetera).

David said this to Soo Tian sometime last week, in response to that little adventure of mine:

"Well, I don't think they'll be harsh on Ben, but they will probably have to do *something*. They have to try to balance between treating Ben fairly and the wrong impression it will give if they let him go scott [sic] free."

And then I thought about something McLaren mentioned in The Last Word and the Word After That: is God subject to a higher law than himself?

For if we tend to place God in a position in which he has a dilemma between choosing mercy or justice. The way our popular gospel puts it, God wants to be merciful to us sinners, because he is love. But at the same time, he is just and holy, and so cannot tolerate sin. From a more holistic point of view, though, the sin is technically inseparable from the sinner; we must not dichotomise, for sin and mortal man cannot exist independent of the other.

Anyway, back to topic. If God has that dilemma, he is, as McLaren put it, like a judge who must operate within the confines of the law and constitution. And if God is like this sort of judge, then he cannot be infinite, as we also claim.

What actually followed that incident, may serve to illustrate the existence of paths beyond the mercy-justice issue. In the end, I think the PK HEM merely threw away the piece of paper with my name, details and father's phone number. He did not let me go scot-free (having taken the badge), and didn't seem to continue with any harsh measures. Instead, he chose the path of Pilate: "I wash my hands of this man... What's that you say? Ben? Ben who?"

God is certainly not ignorant or irresponsible. But then, he is also beyond anything we can imagine, and the gospel better than we realised (to quote McLaren again). If man can be magnanimous, how much more Magnanimity himself? God has more options than we realise; not all are apparent to us, and it is not our lot to surmise. Only to believe and humbly follow along the dogged path.

Chocoholic alert!

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
On Thursday, Li-Shia was somewhat subdued, not quite her usual bubbly self. When I chanced upon her lonely figure, sitting in Kian Ti's place, she was sucking on a lollipop. In silence.

Then later, she was squatting in front of the table, arms sprawled upon it. Still subdued. (see lower pic). Wanted chocolate. Comfort food, said she.

And her eyes seemed to stare into the middle-distance, neither preoccupied with the here and now, nor the yet to come. In a limbo, apparently.

Never one to turn down the chance to do something crazy, I popped by 7-Eleven after school on Friday, and picked up two bars of Cadbury chocolate (I found out earlier that she favoured Almond and Hazelnut).

'Twas well worth it, and her laughter in surprise really made my day. It's really beyond words, when a person receives something he or she wants deep down inside, but never quite expects out the outside.

And the joy? It was mine as well, just seeing her laugh. I think that's what Jesus means when he speaks of giving gifts. We give to bring a smile to our face, as much as to the recipient's.

Truly, the wide-eyed wonder is something almost heavenly, if only for a few seconds. So, Li-Shia: hope you liked the chocolates!

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
The last week or so has been indeed one of many tumultous experiences, not the least of which was the little episode in which the school's head disciplinarian (otherwise known as Penolong Kanan Hal Ehwal Murid) caught me attempting to climb out of school.

He confiscated my metal badge (something of great sentimental value, as it is the only memory of my days in the Seladang Editorial Board, apart from the periodicals we published) Anyway, I'm bad at breaking rules. Yet I also hate them. What a life :-/

For some reason, I have turned to unusual drinks in my recent spate of depression. On Thursday, had a Vanilla Coke at lunch (see picture), though I do not normally touch even Coke.

Then, in the evening, wanted to make myself a Kamikaze (two shots of vodka, with a teaspoon of lime juice), but eventually settled for a Virgin Mary (tomato juice, a little lemon juice, some salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce).

Yesterday, had a ginger beer before going for Christian Union (CU). It's been ages since I last had something so delectable; I virtually used to drink it by the litres.

At CU, Chien Yih spoke on using our talents for God. What inspired me most, was when we each, one by one, talked about our strengths, testifying to uniqueness of each person present. Another reminder that this business of doing God's work is really about people.

(Actually, I'd love to do a 'sharing of weaknesses' someday, not just strengths. Something along the lines of 'The Wounded Healer,' to borrow the words of Henri Nouwen).

Two things happened later, that really made my day: the second was seeing a bright red dragonfly in the garden. Mum brought my attention to it, and I rushed out with the digicam, forgetting the battery at first. Interestingly, it didn't seem inclined to move at all, to the extent that I was able to get as close to it as I did (see pic).

The first, and perhaps more meaningful, of my two experiences, occured just after CU. I shall write about it in my next post.

Had an argument with Mum on the way home from school yesterday. Indeed, I was in the wrong: I really need to study harder. Our monthly test is next week (monthly isn't the right word, actually, since we only have two such tests a year), and it seems I'm destined to underperform.

Anyway, here's a little thank you to a few people who have supported me, and continue to do so, in this time of uncertainty:

Thanks Yen, for listening, and for empathising and understanding beyond anything I'd expected. Because of you, in no small way, I am alive now.

Thanks David, for listening, and for having so much confidence in me (are we phase particles?). These troubles seem trivial during our conversations!

Thanks Wai Yeng, for listening, especially during those hours spent in your class, for giving me such hope in my weakest hours at school.

Thanks Weng Ken, for listening, encouraging and having the faith of a mustard seed. If only mine were nearly as existent as yours.

Thanks Soo Tian, for listening, even though our words have been few. You make this journey really wild, but hey, isn't that the way it's supposed to be anyway?

Thanks Tee Ming, for listening, for all the times you 'join griefs to my griefs, and echo sighs to mine.' Talking to you is like walking through a powerful, refining fire.

There is no deification here, but truly God has made himself unmistakably present through all these great friends. Thank you, one and all.

A crazy Chemistry class

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Yesterday, Mr Kali taught the Deviation of Gases from Ideal Gas Behaviour. It was, undoubtedly, one of his craziest lessons to date.

It went something like this:

At normal atmospheric pressure, the spaces between gas molecules are so large that intermolecular attractions are negligible.

As the applied pressure increases (up to 350 atm) the volume of the sample decreases, and the average intermolecular distance becomes smaller.

At these higher pressures, a molecule approaching the container wall is attracted by nearby molecules, which lowers its speed and lessens the force of its impact [on the wall].

So, first the molecules go further apart, but are then drawn back together. What do we call this? Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

[at this point, groans are resounding all about the classroom; we used the Physics lab]

Now, if you walk past your friend quickly, can you shake hands and say hello? No. Likewise, molecules at higher temperatures, which have higher kinetic energy, cannot form bonds. Because they move too fast.

But if you walk slowly, can you shake hands? Yes, and you can say hello and form... BONDS! [he has this habit of ending sentences with fortissimo, staccato-ed words].

So yes, that was mostly it. But I thought of another, having been pulled into this frame of thought by our rather lame teacher.

Here's the concept: As the free volume in which the molecules can move becomes smaller [because volume decreases with pressure increase], the molecules become closer to one another such that repulsive forces occur between them.

Here's the proverb: Familiarity breeds contempt.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Still and still moving

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion...

-- T.S. Eliot, 'East Coker'

Looking back, this is one of the best photos I took over the past week. It was almost entirely accidental; I think I was trying to shoot Amy, but indeed the picture has turned out to be something so much more than that.

I think it really captures the spirit of that week of photography, the hustle and bustle and all. It is possible to spot Shen, Vern Ming, Zamil, Tristan, Keeshoore, Grace, Yuan Lih, and possibly Jia Hun, Yoke Teng and Vivek -- each wrapped up in whatever they were doing.

When I looked at it yesterday, it occured to me that this is one of those 'freeze frame' pictures, something like the album cover of the Bee Gees' This Is Where I Came In. One of those snapshots that capture a very busily moving scene, if only for a split second.

And maybe, this is what Eliot and Lewis mean when they speaks of the eternal -- the point where time touches eternity (that moment is usually called 'now'). For indeed, this scene is at once stuck in time, yet it is also timeless, in the manner in which all such photos are.

Oh, and the sunlight just accents that effect. Quite splendid, methinks.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A few developments

journey madness
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
OK, I will finally say what I have been unwilling to say for a long time: I am going to start studying. It's about time I stop neglecting my studies.

If I hated my subjects, I would be unperturbed; but the truth of the matter is, I love the subjects I'm taking, save Pengajian Am.

But now there is the issue of the Editorial Board. If I remain in it, my studies are likely never to rise to a satisfactory level. Hence, quitting seems a good option.

Besides, I will still have the VILADS, and that means Forensics, Debate, Scrabble and Essays. Indeed, I must guard against over-involvement, especially over the next year or so, what with the impending STPM.

Then again, there are the people who need me. No man is an island.

What a life.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Sonnet

For the one whose spirit melts this icy soul.

Melting Ice

What lies beyond the winter's gaze?
Thine eyes alone can claim to see
Through the facade of this face,
Into the deepest part of me.

The heart of brick, of solid stone,
Wrapped in decay forevermore,
Thy love could break, and thine alone
And set my heart to soar.

But alas, this love may ever die,
Just as dark cannot exist in light;
'Tis no game, to be with such as I --
Nay, spare thyself this hateful plight.

As God is my witness (for God only knows),
I am but a thorn... and you are the rose.

Two sides of the same coin

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
For a very very long time, Soo Tian and I rarely ever disagreed about anything; that monotony was broken today at Sungei Wang after the Putrajaya Reunion at Sam's.

Our 'debate' revolved around the issue of piracy. Soo Tian doesn't mind it; I'm against it. I realised, later on, that it was an argument that neither would win, simply because good can come out of piracy as much as the 'lawful way' can become a hotbed for evil.

I mentioned, somewhere in the midst of our heated conversation, that anti-piracy had somehow 'become' me. Much like how a Jew would by default not write the name of God, it is my default to go original.

On the way back, while walking across the Imbi Monorail station, it occured to me that some actions are not driven by purpose; they just are. Perhaps that is why the 'purpose-driven' ideology has never quite settled into me; because of this:

God did not have to create the universe and all in it. There was no purpose, no motive. Or maybe there was, but it wasn't that purpose which impelled God to create, and it isn't a purpose with which we should be too concerned.

On another note, we did make an interesting discovery, as a result of following Hwei Ling into a tattoo parlour (she wanted to get a labret thingy for a friend).

A lot of the tattoo designs were downright satanic, and there were some pagan statues on the desk. Soo Tian asked, "What is it that we are truly afraid of?," at which point I suggested that maybe we avoid such things not because we fear them, but because there is nothing praiseworthy about them.

There is no point encouraging something with zero (or even negative) value. Sin is not just doing something wrong; it is also the absence of good, the absence of that which is worthwhile -- in other words, idleness.

The reunion was great, and very intimate. Perhaps I will blog about it another day, if I have the time.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
It was a sad day for the choir. After being defending state champions for four years (since 2001), they lost this year, unplaced amongst the 5 finalist schools which competed this morning.

Jon (Mah) pointed out that, despite the defeat, it was an honour for them to perform at the Laman Budaya on High Street -- the very spot where the old V.I. building used to be.

The top photo is of the choir, just before they began; the bottom, of the Editorial Board members (and friends) who stood around to console Amy, when we were back in school.

Somehow, when I looked at the choir photo just now, a few lines from T.S. Eliot's East Coker came to mind:

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed...

Amidst the tears that freely flowed, someone quoted an exchange between Bruce Wayne and Alfred in Batman Begins:

"Why do we fall, Master Wayne? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up again."
"You haven't given up on me yet, have you, Alfred?"

On the whole, it's been a week of many lessons, as my recent blog entries will testify. I truly realised that, indeed, in the words of Brian McLaren, God is better than we can ever expect.

And I also learnt quite a bit, indirectly, about boy-girl relationships.

Oh, and I had lots of fun with the camera!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
My best montage yet. There's a story behind each of these shots; some extraordinary and some plain, but all significant and full of life.

An ex-student of Seri Bintang Selatan, she's in the school choir, Victorian Editorial Board and Christian Union.

A very photogenic person.


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
Sitting, L-R: Ronald, Wei Lun, Lik Wen, Ka Fai, me, Wilson, Ameer

Standing, L-R: Shyan, Amy, Li-Shen, Vern Ming, Zamil, Tristan

Standing right on top: Chen Hung

This was taken yesterday, on the first day of photography week. After shooting all the classes slotted for the day, i.e. Forms One, Two, Three, Four and Lower Six, the few of us working on-site took two group shots: one serious and one whacked-out.

I like this crazy pic. Reminds me of all those random d'NA pictures; very organic, very real -- captures the moment much better than anything else (with the exception of video... though this point can also be disputed).

Sometime during school today, and on the way back from piano, I realised that without God, I lost all sense of who I am. I can run from him up to a point, and then I can run no more, for I will no longer exist.

While on the phone with Tee Ming, it occured to me that if anyone were to ask why I believe in God, and/or why I choose to follow him, my answer will not be based on science, history or any fact or proof.

It will be more like something Soo Tian said some time ago: "It's either I cling to him or I sink into nothing." My answer will likely be along the lines of, "God may be a lie, but a life without God is an even bigger lie. So there."

Steven Curtis Chapman's words, written in 1997, came back to me again and again;

So where else could I go?
For I am found in You

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
This is Amy's camera. OK, Amy's father's camera. She left it in school today, in the Victorian Editorial Board's (VEB) room, when she went for choir practice. Upon reaching home, she searched her bag and found it devoid of this priceless possession.

Christina identified it before I left the room, and it was decided that I would take it home and keep it safe. Chin Fei saw me take it.

Later, Grace called me to ask if I had the camera, and I said I did. Amy also called to confirm.

However, while chatting with Lik Wen later on MSN, I took the liberty and played a prank, saying I had a camera with a totally different brand name. Troubled by this, he called Chin Fei (Chief Editor), Grace and Amy.

I later found out that Chin Fei and Weng Ken actually drove to school to search for it (or something like that). And Amy was rather in tears; Lik Wen had a 45-minute chat with her over the phone.

She later called me, and asked, between sobs, if I really had it. I reassured her that I did.

Fuck. What have I done? I can stand the wrath of the entire board, but I daren't look in Amy's face -- the one to whom I brought so much joy and comfort in the evening, but later so much grief by a silly prank.

(I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Forgive me.)

If there are sins that are the hardest to wash away, they are those of a friend's betrayal.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Tony Jones
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I got this link from an e-mail Sivin sent to the emergent mailing list:

Reading through, I found Tony Jones' comments very significant, not so much in a thought-provoking sense, but because they reflect what I'm presently going through:

"Is [what emergent doing] more sloppy than what a systematic theology professor does, sitting in his tenured chair typing up a book on the doctrine of the atonement? Yeah, it's messier than that! But that's, I think, theology as it works itself out in the lives of human beings who are kind of scratching and clawing their way to try to follow Jesus on a daily basis. It's a messy endeavor, and I embrace that messiness."

"The emerging church is a place of conversation and dialogue and movement. Where that's going to go, we don't know. We're figuring this out together. We don't have an agenda of what it looks like at the end of the road. We just want to gather up people who are on this road, who want to go together on it."

Sunday, July 10, 2005


The Promise
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
This is a difficult one.

Wrote down these thoughts in between worship and the sermon at church this morning (slightly edited here):

I feel 'comfortable' here. But it's not the same as the comfort I feel in, say, d'NA, where there's a sense of belonging and pilgrimage (akin to Eliot's "still and still moving"). Here, it is almost a sense of complacent, air-conditioned comfort. Nothing challenges me anymore. I want to feel the kind of disturbing force that must have characterised the invasion of Christ into this world.

Much to my surprise, today's sermon spoke directly to what I'm presently going through. Pastor Vincent is now doing his series on the Ten Commandments (I'd just found out today, after a few weeks of absence from church), subtitled "The 10 Habits of a Happy and Successful Person."

Right; the first thing that came to my mind was, this is so self-helplike, as though the main purpose of the Commandments was to bestow happiness and success upon those who abide by it. Sounds more like modern positive psychology than a call to righteousness.

But then he continued by introducing this week's commandment: number three. The King James Version phrases Exodus 20:7 thus;

"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

I must admit that my recent spate of swearing suddenly surfaced in my mind as I heard those words and read them projected on the screen.

He defined vanity in the words; emptiness, trivial, deceitful and misuse, among others, and went on to elaborate on how God's name can be used to insult, indulge, impress, intimidate and injure. It can also be used impulsively; no one who hits his toe against a wall shouts "Praise the Lord!"

But more than anything, the word 'emptiness' struck a chord in me today. I realised that phrases like "Oh my God," though expressing no contempt for God, do not give his name due reverence. Contrast this with the Hebrews, who wash before writing 'YHWH' and discard the pen afterwards.

(Before I continue, I just want to mention something the pastor said before the altar call: "If you're searching for the true God, your search can end today." At that moment, Michael William's very first words to me flashed in my mind: "May you continually seek and find the true God." So much for the Great Adventure if our search is over)

Moving on. He continued with thoughts on we as Christians bear God's name, carrying with us a certain responsibility in representing God himself, in which reverence is paramount. He ended with a catch phrase; mind your walk and watch your talk.

Somewhere during the sermon, I was reminded of something George Bernanos wrote in his book Diary of a Country Priest, quoted in Yancey's Disappointment with God:

"Madame," I said, "if our God were a pagan god or the god of intellectuals--and for me it comes to much the same--He might fly to His remotest heaven and our grief would force Him down to earth again. But you know that our God came to be among us. Shake your fist at Him, spit in His face, scourge Him, and finally crucify Him: what does it matter? My daughter, it's already been done to Him."

Anyway. I know how hard it is for me to represent the Name. I have fallen so much already, and I don't want others to fall because of me.

Ms Jaya, my MUET teacher, also my former debate teacher, told the class that I'm a person of great integrity on her first lesson. And the other day, Melody said something piercing. I skipped a few periods, and when I was in class later, she gave me a knowing look and said, "integrity, integrity."

Being also an ex-CF President, I knew exactly what she meant by that, and the candid manner in which she said those words was also very familiar to me.

But underneath it all, I know that I am becoming less and less of a good representation of Christ. And so I am now doing something I never thought I would. I'll let the Latin and German speak for me:

'Christianus Nicht Mehr'

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Thank You

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
(OK, labelling this is gonna be tough) Top row, standing L-R: Justina, Amy, Gideon, Wai Yeng, Weng Ken, Timothy; Middle row, squatting L-R: Rebecca, Li-Shia, Wilson, Chien Yih (president '05), Mark (in red); Front row, almost seated L-R: me, Kennard, Jon (president '03) and Wai Hung.

Most teenage Christians are members of their church youth groups, and some go so far as to become leaders within the fellowship. This often leads to further maturity and wisdom as they 'grow in stature with God and with men.'

I, on the other hand, never had that privilege. Or rather, I did not choose it. After a few visits to my church's youth meetings a long time ago when I was thirteen (Form 1, 2000), I decided not to continue and left, never to return.

The only Christian group I was then a part of, was my school's Christian Union; since 1992/1993, it has remained unofficial to this day, operating once as a clandestine organisation, and now as something virtually invisible on the school's radar.

Truly all that I am, I owe to them. The Christian I have become -- nay, the person I am -- traces its roots to the small but faithful group that would meet every Friday for worship, games, some Bible study, sometimes little ad hoc activities, all enveloped in a whole lot of laughter.

People like John Ratnaraj (class of '02, upper right) and John Phang (class of '00, lower right) were instrumental in the formation of my faith in those early years, and constantly encouraged me, treating me sometimes as their equal, sometimes as their better.

Back for a year-and-a-half here in the V.I., the calling to continue serving in the Christian Union remains strong as ever -- this community through which God made me what I am, via such an unorthodox environment as 'spontaneous, casual spirituality.

And, besides d'NA, this is the only other true experience of community I have had so far in my life. Thank you, one and all, for the joy and the grief, the moments of silence and the bursts of sound, for leading me into a deeper understanding of God and this great mystery we call faith.

In the words of Ray Boltz:

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Losing myself

This is a reflective confession of sorts.

I've been skipping several classes at school lately. I've never been one of the notorious ones in class, but it seems to be heading in that direction.

What does one do when teachers themselves don't make class interesting? I know, the stock answer is that we must study whether we like it or not. But that's like saying, a person should learn violin from a tone-deaf person simply because it's the violin that counts. Honestly, if it wasn't Messiah who preached the Kingdom of Heaven, I think he/she would not have been taken as seriously.

The other thing is that my usage of foul language has somewhat increased.

I don't know why I'm typing this, but...

I suppose I just had to put it down somewhere.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

End of the Orientation

Originally uploaded by mincaye.
After a whole week of staying back in school, the orientation for the Victorian Editorial Board is finally over! (In case you're wondering, it's called Victorian after the name of my school, Victoria Institution).

It was very much a sense of relief for us, and I recall C.S. Lewis' words in The Screwtape Letters, which I paraphrase here as I remember:

"It gets harder and harder, and then it's over. The tooth hurts more and more, and then it's out. You die and die, and then you are beyond death."

Truly, the darkest hour is before the dawn, and although the orientation got harder and harder (the four of us who are 'true Victorians,' i.e. were in the V.I. from the start, would always be punished if the other members screwed up), I daresay today's session was not as bad as I thought it would be.

God did send grace; I prayed for it, yes, but it was still amazing. I did not expect grace of such a magnitude.

While walking to my piano teacher's house just now, it dawned upon me that this might've been the grace that carried Jesus through the suffering -- not a grace that removes pain, or makes us invincible, but one that enables us to go through it all without giving up.

Anyway, in the photo, clockwise from Left: Jinq Sien (Jino), Tinesh (Toch), Suzanne, Li-Shen, Debbie, Jeniffer, Asvini, Punitha, Amy, Siti, Keeshoore, me and Lik Wen; Jino, Toch, Lik Wen and I are 'true Victorians.'

The inset is a shot of our Editor-in-Chief after he had some of the celebration cake (which can be seen in the group photo).

Not in the picture, are Denise and Mogana, who had to leave early.

A General Meeting will be held after school tomorrow, which will be attended by all board members, across the fourth, fifth and sixth forms.

And beyond that, I look forward to Mrs Chang's pre-exam student recital/concert on the 17th.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I finished C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves sometime last week. An excellent book, I probably appreciated his chapter on friendship most of all, because it expressed so precisely, in words, a lot of what I have been feeling lately.

So here are some random excerpts from Friendship:

I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Frienship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.

In a perfect Friendship... each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest... Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions, when four or five of us after a hard day's walking have come to our inn;... Life -- natural life -- has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?

But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances... Christ, who said to the disciples 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,' can truly say to every group of Christian friends 'You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.'... [Friendship] is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.

T.S. Eliot ends his poem East Coker with these words, and I think it speaks of the journey my friends and I are on:

There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

Finally, there are the words of Tolkien, spoken through Aragorn (I don't know if these words appear in the book, or only in the movie; at any rate, they are too good to be ignored):

"A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day."

Indeed, it is not this day. And we shall be still, and still moving. As one in Christ.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Originally uploaded by mincaye.
I saw this beautiful sight above the Federal Bakery, on the way to KLCC for last evening's MPO performance.

The thin, diagonal 'cloud' is actually the trail of a jet; its juxtaposition relative to the sun made the scene quite majestic indeed.

(Have not been blogging for about a week; very busy with Editorial Board orientation and training, which will only end this Wednesday. Just for your information, if you've been coming here, only to be disappointed by the absence of new posts).