Sunday, March 26, 2006

Love: A term which has no meaning if defined

If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear the pain of loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.

Tanis HalfElven from the Dragonlance saga

Will be writing about unrequited love upon return!

An Update

There's a saying that goes, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it". I never realised how true that was until I took my laptop down to my polytechnic IT helpdesk to have it reformatted.

There was nothing wrong with it really, I just wanted to have it "cleaned out" and have some programmes which I had mistakenly deleted (like the one needed to play DVDs) reinstalled. It turned out to be a rather costly mistake - it cost me a lot of time to travel back and forth from Republic Polytechnic's new location at distant Woodlands. The computer turned out worse than before. It hangs frequently. It doesn't even start up properly. Hence, I had to take it down to Acer service centre, where it shall remain for a week or so.

My time will be spent buried in books for now. Learning, after all, has always been one of my passions. I've begun reading Fortescue's The Eastern Orthodox Church, among other great literary works. I probably won't be blogging (much) for the next few weeks - time will be spent in prayer and contemplation in preparation of the Great Feast of Pascha.

In other news...
I've fallen out with my brother (it's complicated) - and if God should will it, the damage will be healed in due time. If left up to me to decide, I'd sever all ties with him for good. As far as I'm concerned, I lost him to vain pride and hedonism for good when he turned 15. Since he has rejected my offer of reconciliation, there is nothing he can expect from me except apathy. I do not (as yet) hate him but neither am I obliged to love him either.

The date for my baptism has been confirmed! I will be baptised sometime during Holy Week - it's hard to determine an exact date for now as everything is, as of today, largely unconfirmed. Carmen will be my sponsor by proxy.

I spent some time with a child again after a long hiatus (two weeks?). I had a conversation with ten year old Elizaveta for about an hour or so. We didn't talk about metaphysical issues (as I'm prone to do) - but rather, about simple things. Surprisingly enough, I didn't find myself bored at any single time. She helped me with my Russian pronounciation and I helped her with drawing. Truly wonderful, the company of a child is.

Seen in a Public Toilet

A man's ambition is very small, when he writes on a shitroom wall.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chinese Names

A JOKE in China goes that if you call out the name Wang Wei in the street at least one person is bound to respond.

The name Wei, or “Mighty”, is so popular that parents have been turning to ancient and esoteric dictionaries to find more unusual monikers for their children.
Not anymore. The Ministry of Public Security has drawn up new rules and babies’ names must in future be drawn from a database that excludes thousands of rare Chinese characters. Out go indecipherable names. With the introduction of electronic identity cards, the authorities will register only names that they decide to include on their database.

Bao Suixian, a deputy director at the ministry, said: “We cannot handwrite rare characters on the cards like we did before.” About 60 million of China’s 1.3 billion people have at least one rare character in their name, making it difficult for them to open a bank account or to buy an aircraft ticket.
The fashion for unusual names is understandable in a society emerging from decades of revolutionary fervour when many children were called “Leap Forward”, “Cultural Revolution”, “Safeguard the Red” or — possibly the most popular — “Found the Nation”.

- from The Times

Tolerance - Muslim Style

We will ask him if he has changed his mind about being a Christian. If he has, we will forgive him, because Islam is a religion of tolerance.

MORE HERE: Christian Convert Faces Death Penalty

And in other news...

LONDON, England -- The Anglican Church in Wales has apologized to Muslims after a cartoon satirizing the Prophet Mohammed was printed in its Welsh-language magazine.

MORE HERE: Church Sorry For Prophet Cartoon

I'm waiting for "Welsh Church apologizes to Muslims for being Christian".

O tempora, o mores! Let us pray for the victory of the cross over the crescent in our time:

O Lord our God, be mindful of our suffering Christian brothers living under bitter tyranny and break the power of the fierce Hagarenes, restoring the rule of Orthodox Christian kings and that the glory of the Life-giving Cross of Christ thy Son may shine brighter than before throughout the entire world and that we may all glorify Thine honourable and majestic Name, of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer via Edward

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fantasy Lover!

Your Seduction Style: Fantasy Lover

You know that ideal love that each of us dreams of from childhood? That's you!
Not because you posess all of the ideal characteristics, but because you are a savvy shape shifter.
You have the uncanny ability to detect someone's particular fantasy... and make it you.

You inspire each person to be an idealist and passionate, and you make each moment memorable
Even a simple coffee date with you can be the most romantic moment of someone's life
By giving your date exactly what he or she desires, you quickly become the ideal lover.

Your abilities to make dreams come true is so strong, that you are often the love of many people's lives.
Your ex's (and even people you have simply met or been friends with) long to be yours.
No doubt you are the one others have dreamed of... your biggest challenge is finding *your* dream lover.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Prayer of St Ephraem

Here's the Lenten Prayer of St Ephraem, which we say several times a day:

O Lord and Master of my life
take from me the spirit of sloth
lust of power
and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
and love to thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King
grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother;
for Thou art blessed unto the ages of ages.


Friday, March 17, 2006


It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt

Mark Twain


God works through men; that is why He created them, to unfold His scheme for the world. We remember that God had to become a man to save mankind.

Miracles need not be showy - St Athanasios and St Cyril of Alexandria, if you read their writings, show themselves to be arrogant men, hungry for power. Yet the doctrines they fought for we still hold today, though the one has been dead almost a thousand years and the other close to nine hundred. Is that not something of a miracle?

- extract from Agent of Byzantium by Harry Turtledove

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Speak Good English

There are two main 'types' of English spoken in Singapore - Standard English and Singapore English, or 'Singlish', - the link pidgin that has become part of our national identity:

Standard English - a form of English that observes the grammatical rules and usage patterns generally accepted by educated persons in native-English-speaking countries. The written form should be virtually indistinguishable from correct English as written in those countries. The spoken form may include pronunciation, accent and lilt features unique to Singapore, but not so pronounced that others cannot understand what we're saying.

Singlish - is a kind of English lah, but got many feature which are local. Nearly always, we never follow the grammar one. For example, John can say, "Lisa have ever went my home before, but until now ah, she no hope one, she cannot remember my address." Or Swee Keng can ask her friend, "Eh, last night you got see television or not? The show so funny. Aiyoh, I laugh until my stomach painful."

What make our Singlish like that, one? Because the Chinese got influence on it. For example, many Singaporeans ah, they never take bus one. They sit bus. They sit number ninety-five or number two-three-eight.

Or sometimes they say, "last year my sis buy a house on the thirteen floor and for sure must have a big television set in the hall." House on the thirteen floor? Actually what the angmoh call apartment. Hall? What angmoh call living room. In Chinese, we call it "ting", so translate as "hall" lah.

Actually ah, can't blame us for the standard of English, I mean, when my mother, he marry my father that time, she shock. Wahlau, she say, my father whole family no one speak English. In fact, my grandfather that generation never go school. So now consider progress already, at least our generation we got speak English.

Singlish also use many word from Chinese or Malay. I give you another example: Lester he say, "my sergeant very bochap one, but the other platoon ah, the NCO always tekan them. Lagi they all very aksi aksi one."

But sometimes, not only single word slip in. Whole phrase also slip in. For example, Desmond can ask his friend, "Eh, your new computer ah, nage modem built-in one right? Modem speed ne? Ruguo ni yao upgrade in future, then zenme ban?".

- from the Yawning Bread archives

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Return of the Bishops

Soundtrack: Star Wars Main Theme

"The Da Vinci Code is a mess, a riot of laughable errors and serious misstatements. Almost every page has at least one of each," the bishops wrote on the website Jesus

About time somebody did something!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Romantic Love

Christianity has always exalted love above all other qualities, because it was the founding idea of the religion. If you're a Westerner or just culturally westernised (which I'm sure many readers are), you may have a hard time realising that other cultures do not accord the same importance to it.

They may give more weight to obedience, responsibility, honour or detachment. Even within Christianity however, it was, through centuries, the love of God – something spiritual and mystic – that was the greatest love, not romantic love. St Thomas Aquinas praised love above all other virtues, but it was the love of God - the love of woman, Thomas Aquinas knew precious little.

It is only recently, that Western civilisation began to give a higher value to romantic love as a reflection of the love of God, though if you look at it with a squinty eye, it is a rather tortuous extension of the original idea. Nevertheless, it has stuck, and has spread to other cultures.

Have we confused love with lust?

How peaceful life would be without love. How safe, how tranquil... and how dull.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Another Rant

Why is there so much unused capacity on the river taxis?

Because they charge a ridiculous $12 per head for a diesel-fumed chug up 2 or 3 kilometres of river, taking barely 20 minutes. They don't need more than a handful of passengers to cover their costs.

And we wonder why tourists think Singapore is over-priced.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


I don't understand it. What makes some people so mean and greedy?

Why is it some people don't care what's wrong and right? Why don't people try to be nice to each other?

I suppose the problem with people is that they're only human.

Friday, March 10, 2006


The caption for this picture that appeared in Life! newspaper (March 8, 2006) reads, "Kate Bosworth is red hot in a translucent dress".

I take that to mean 'sexy'. Call me not being au fait with current trends, but shouldn't the distinction between sexy and slutty be rather clear in this case? Doesn't anyone have taste anymore?

Über-cheesy Gospel Procession

As a good Eastern, I shouldn't be sticking my nose into Roman affairs, but I couldn't help laughing at this one:

Video HERE

Are those acolytes on loan from the Chocolate Factory or are they actually direct from Loompa-Land? - Edward

I refrain from commenting on the other funny behaviour in the video =P

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Since yesterday, I’ve had this great, intense sense of loss that is weighing down on my shoulders. Readers of this blog who know me personally will understand that I’ve yet to come to terms with Carmen’s departure. It was like a sword cut: the damage was done, but the pain would come later. She left Singapore for Romania approximately two weeks ago, but the pain has only just arrived.

I've never really liked this picture, but photographs featuring both her and I are extremely rare

An individual in my position has two faces, one for the world and one which he wears in private. With most people my appearance is deceptive. I appear to be my usual cynical, yet highly optimistic, self. This calm and collected veneer has been held together through sheer force of will alone these few days following her departure. I have never believed in sharing grief, but I fear under these current circumstances that façade is beginning to crack.

It cracked today at church. This is the second time already. The first time it did was during a conversation with Natalia a week or so before her departure. I do not know for how much longer I keep up this pretence. Of late, my strength feels seriously depleted.

If I should unleash a torrent of emotions (may be any or a combination of the following: frustration, exasperation, irritation, fury, resentment, misery, gloom, distress) at anyone (be it over the Internet or personally), I ask for your forgiveness in advance.

My love is offered freely, but more often than not, it has been thrown back at me. Too often I have felt the sting of unrequited love. However, for once in my miserable wretched life, a woman not related to me by blood has loved me. I still feel her hand on my cheek. Truly, the feeling of loving and being loved in return is wonderful.

I realise that, if it were not for my arrogance and vain intellectual pride, she would officially be godmother today. In the three years of my life spent in Orthodoxy, I have spent two of those acknowledging her as such. I have grown too attached to be able to accept anyone else but her fulfilling that role – so all attempts to convince me that having a sponsor in another land is of little or no use will only fall on deaf ears.

O Lord, I am in Your hands; do with me as You will, but do not ask for what is beyond my strength.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cathcon Photo Caption Competition

Two weeks ago, Gillibrand of Catholic Church Conservation (Cathcon, in short) launched his first caption competition for this rather amusing picture:

The responses received were hilarious:
“When do we get to sacrifice these two white men?”

“Wish I hadn’t left my biretta in the jeep”

“We need more feathers and paint! Quick!”

“If I had known that growing long green armpit hair was a penalty for breaking the first commandment, I wouldn’t have done it”

“At first I did not approve of wife wearing revealing breast-ware, but now I have peace. White priest-men interested only in each other”

“Are you sure these guys agreed to this?”

“How come I always get the ugly one?”

“I think it was a mistake to invite the Anglican bishops. While I like their feathered mitres, I can’t help but think their vestments are little revealing. Let’s look stoic and pretend we don’t notice”

“Me wantum stole!”

“Aw, this is nothing… in Assisi, we ALL got feathers and yellow noses”

And my favourite:
“Although not quite sure what traditionalists were expecting from the much awaited reform of the reform, most were quite pleased with the emphasis of the sacrificial nature of the Mass”

Let him become a fool that he may become wise...

In ancient Greece a shrine dedicated to the pagan god, Apollo stood at Delphi. People seeking answers to questions from the god would travel to the shrine and ask the oracle, a priestess of Apollo, who would answer the question on behalf of the god. A man named Chaerephon once asked the oracle, “Who is the wisest man?” She replied that Socrates was the wisest man.

Upon hearing the oracle's answer from his friend, Socrates was puzzled. Knowing that he was not the wisest man, but unwilling to accept that the god lied; Socrates set out to talk to others with reputations for wisdom. By talking to these wise men he hoped to discover how he could possibly be the wisest man. After speaking with them, Socrates discovered that even though they possessed great reputations for being wise and they certainly saw themselves as being wise, they really weren’t wise at all. He found that they didn’t know much, but they thought they knew much more than they actually did. They had deceived themselves by overestimating their own wisdom. On the other hand, Socrates didn’t know much either, but he realized how little he knew. Therefore, Socrates concluded that he was indeed the wisest man because he recognized his own ignorance.

- Plato, The Apology

If we understand wisdom the way Socrates did, we can be rather unwise ourselves. We are ignorant of more than we know, but we can often overestimate our wisdom. Recognizing our own ignorance is humbling, but when we think we know more than we actually do we can become quite arrogant. Everyone around us seems less intelligent, wise, and knowledgeable than we are. We can even become so arrogant that we judge our Creator, the source of all knowledge and wisdom, as possessing less wisdom and knowledge than we do. How can anyone actually think that he or she has a more complete and coherent understanding of reality than the One who creates reality out of nothing? In our ignorance, we can question whether God is really infinitely holy, powerful, loving, merciful, and compassionate. How can we, who are sinners full of self-righteous pride, hedonistic lust, selfish ambition, and spiritual laziness, judge the true and living God? We are blindly arrogant and incredibly unaware of our own empty ignorance.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

For the Mercy of Peace

Mammon. Because You Deserve to Enjoy Life - Guilt Free.

Culture of Iran

For some reason, I remember a rather peculiar incident which occurred some time ago last year (or was it the year before?):

My friend Shaghayegh from Tehran goes online on MSN Messenger. She gives me a link, asks me to go there to copy its contents and send it via email to her. She explained that she was not able to view the site because it had been blocked.

So I click on the link, expecting to find a website for Christian apologetics or perhaps a political site attempting to stir up dissent among young Iranians, but instead, I find...

A website on Persian fairytales

I don't know whether to laugh or to cry... seriously.

For The Catechumen You Don't Yet Know

Put your name into the Advertising Slogan Generator and see what comes out. The subject header above tells you what I got.

- from the Inquisitor