Friday, 28 November 2003

It was a truly beautiful sight, walking to work this morning.

There was a layer of frost over the green grassy lawn, the sun had just started to raise causing the place to be bathed in soft light which was enhanced by the light mist, the air was fresh and crisp, and there in the background stood the 19th century neo-Jacobean manor that is now the girls' dorm....

It really dawned on me how beautiful England really is.


Winter is well and truly here...
It is fascinating indeed that for someone who advocated living to excess - "nothing succeeds like excess", Wilde would write such a moralistic story as The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Despite his infamous flamboyant and outrageous lifestyle that seems to reflect a lack of boundaries, the richness of Dorian Gray in its tale of good and evil, truth and reality is great.

Oscar Wilde is a true lover of the Aesthetic Movement...but funny that despite loving beauty and pleasures, even he realised the need for certain rules and that all our actions would have repercussions.

As Trevor Baxter, who adapted the story into the play, said, "It is as though Oscar Wilde wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray, which shows the tragic end of [making a far-reaching aesthetic exploration of the mind], as a warning to himself."

Conscience or the Holy Spirit? I believe that they're one and the same and that it resides in all of us - even the worse of all of us. And as Dorian found out, it would catch up with us sooner or later. And the scary thought is that by the time it does, it may be too late.

When we ignore our conscience, choosing to chase our own pleasures to the extreme, we are just as likely to die painfully lonely and depressed, a broken man, like Dorian. Like Wilde.

And that is why God is a God of balance.

Thursday, 27 November 2003

I am going to watch the play The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde this evening!

Really excited about it.

Now, I need to stand that I do not completely agree with Oscar Wilde's wild ideas and obvious lack of spiritual leading, but he does make some important points. And he is a rather good writer...

Meanwhile, am trying not to go insane with the number of 18 year olds streaming through my office as they rush to have their portraits taken for the College yearbook. It's not that I detest them and am being a grumpy old lady (at the ripe old age of 23), it's just that when you're trying to work and you have a bunch of giggly girls standing next to you primping themselves, it kind of gets on your nerves.

Especially when you're on the phone and even after you say "I'm sorry, but it's really crowded in here and I can't hear you," they continue speaking at the top of their voices, laughing their heads off.

It's only a photo. Why get so excited?

Visions of myself aged 70, living in a scary old house with cats, cackling like an evil witch and scaring all the kids in the neighbourhood floods into mind...

Tuesday, 25 November 2003

Talk about temptation....

Had asked for a cheque for SGD$2612 as reimbursement for my Thailand and Hong Kong tour. Got the cheque back today...

FOR SGD$7570.62

Unfortunately, my conscience told me to return it....*sigh*

My conscience is making a poor woman out of me.

On another note...check out Reverend Fun.

Monday, 24 November 2003

Read this article on the Edge magazine (an Aussie Adventist youth mag), about whether Adventists should watch movies. It can be found here - Feature #2, entitled Celluloid Culture.

This is my response:

Should Adventists be watching movies? The influence in which celluloid culture has on individuals is seen to be highly damaging, especially for Seventh-day Adventist Christians. Movies, like many different elements of popular culture, are seen to be poisoning our minds, and to take an extreme view, would ultimately draw us away from God. As such, many believe we need to be different from everybody else, and not partake in the normal activities of people in the world.

As Andy Chee reminded us, “To be Adventist is to be very special, very different, called higher than any other calling on Earth…we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people…”

When we made the decision to follow Christ, the changes made manifest in our beliefs, behaviour and principles are so obvious that anybody who comes into contact with us know that there is something different about us. The resolve not to drink, the decision not to go out on Friday evenings and most importantly, the peace that now resides in our hearts, stands out amongst our non-Adventist friends.

Andy suggests that these actions “of being legalistic, peculiar and alienated from society is something in which we as Adventists should be proud of.”

Unfortunately, it is precisely because of this pride, that we as Adventists have lost touch with the rest of the world.

When God said we are to be a peculiar people, did he really mean for us to be set utterly apart from the rest of world? Did He really envision us congregating within our own little Adventist community, patting our backs for not participating in certain activities, while frowning upon the “fornication of secular people”?

We have become such experts at being peculiar that we have been truly alienated from the rest of the world. We are so proud of being special, of being the remnant group with “the truth”, that we no longer remember the commission God gave us.

We are told to “be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain that hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), but we are so focused on our rules that we no longer exude the hope and love of God.

Instead, Adventists are merely seen as the group of folks who do not watch movies, eat meat or do anything on a Saturday. Nobody is going to ask us to explain any hope we have in us, because what kind of hope is made manifest in our not knowing that hobbits have hairy feet?

We have most certainly succeeded in “beaming with the character of God so bright that sin hurts the watching sinner”. So much so that nobody wants to have anything to do with us anymore. Light of the world? We are so irrelevant to modern popular culture that even if we were bright neon billboard signs, people would still pass us by without so much as a glance.

It may be true that celluloid culture can have a bad influence, but it is a depiction of modern society. Art imitates life, or life imitates art? The answer is ultimately up to you, but it does not deny the fact that a lot of what we see on the small or big screen is about the world as we live in today. More often than not, it reflects the values, the opinions, and the viewpoint of people whom God has called us to share the Good News with.

I am not advocating that Adventists should swarm en masse to the cinemas upon reading this, devouring whatever movie that may be showing that evening. That is the reason why we were given the faculty for reasoning. But what I am suggesting is that maybe we should start to understand the world in which we live in a little better.

We need to know what other people live for, what they hope for, what they dream for and what they stand for. We were not only called to be light of the world, but salt of the earth. And the only way in which salt is effective, is if it were taken with the food in which it was mixed with – it requires mingling.

I love movies. I have been an avid moviegoer for as long as I can remember, and this interest of mine has not dampened my love for God. Friends know I am a Christian, and in fact, most have commented on the strengthening of relationship I have had with my God through the years. Has watching movies torn me away from God? Does the fact that I sit in the cinema with my non-Christian friends prove that I am somehow or other going to sway in where I stand with God?

Not every non-Christian is able to understand the going-ons of the Christian world. Tell them about sanctification, justification and my personal favourite, legalism, and they would either roll their eyes at you or look at you blankly and go, “sanc…what?”. Tell them why you choose not to go out on a Friday evening and at best, they would simply say, “Well, that’s your choice.” But all these are not relevant to them!

On the other hand, every Christian is equipped with the ability to understand the non-Christian world, since it is the very world in which we live in. The message of God’s grace is best shared in an environment in which the non-Christian is comfortable in. And that is where movies come in.

Movies are not just tools of entertainment, they are the most important instruments people use to make statements. It is through these statements that I have been able to understand how the world works and what people ache for. And it is through understanding the condition of the world that we are able to better relate and be more relevant to the very people we want to reach out to.

The Matrix Trilogies, Phonebooth, The Green Mile and countless other movies possesses a wealth of Christian undertones which when analysed, reflects the search all filmmakers make for God, perhaps on a subconscious level. And it is not simply movies with religious overtones that are helpful. Movies like Bowling for Columbine, The Thin Red Line and American History X make strong statements on society that can be actively discussed with friends who have absolutely no religious inclination.

Movies are part of pop culture. And pop culture reaches a great majority of people that evangelism never ever will. It brings us to the people. If Christians are able to better understand pop culture, it will equip us to reach out to more people than telling them the reason why we do not go out on a Friday night. Christianity is about building bridges, not walls.

Do not misunderstand me. I believe Ellen White had good reason to discourage us from going to the theatres. Taking her writing into context, theatres during her time were dens of iniquity. Cigarette smoke was rife, the environment was dubious and the content of most movies were unsuitable for a majority of audiences. I would not want to be anywhere near theatres if I were living in her time either.

I will also not dispute the fact that films can have a negative influence on us, and for young impressionable minds, that is extremely dangerous. And that is why God gave us wisdom. Wisdom to choose carefully what movies to watch, because there are good movies out there. And ultimately, if something has an ability to have a negative influence, it can just as well be used to have a positive one. If we had people who are able to review movies from a Christian point of view, imagine the kind of impact we could make.

When we know where we stand with God. When we know what thoughts and actions are pleasing to God. When we know what our principles are, choosing to watch movies is not going to take us any further away from God than if we chose not to speak with Him. God wants us to enjoy ourselves. And if we did so knowing full well that we are at peace with God, knowing what is right and wrong in the eyes of God, going to the cinemas will not dim the light He has placed in us. In fact, it may even make us saltier.
I thank God for the friends He gave me.

The emptiness you feel when a tragedy has happened back home while you are all alone in a foreign country with no family can be dreadfully frightening. The last few days had been absolutely horrid for me and things would have gotten much worse without the support and mere presence of my friends.

Guisele and Glen came by even though they knew they would be late for an antenatel class, and stayed with me again after the class till past midnight. She held me in her arms while I bawled my eyes out...and it really is extremely handy to have a friend who is studying to be a pastor, who can show you the love and grace of God when you thought impossible.

I had friends constantly checking up on me. Cards were given, text messages sent to my mobile, prayers were said, a cute soft teddy bear was received...and despite their other agendas, everything was put aside so that I could be supported.

I had never felt so loved before since I arrived in England.

Fanja, Anca, Guisele, Glen, Gabor, Adrian and Darren...strength was found through you and your prayers.

I thank you for the love and care you have showed me and I want you to know just how much I appreciate you.

Friday, 21 November 2003

my uncle (grandma's brother) had passed away....

what more can i say about death?

I didn't even get to say goodbye.

I'm tired...

Thursday, 20 November 2003

Now, do I choose

1. Mental problems

Which Band Should You Be In? by couplandesque
Your Name
Band NameStereophonics
TrademarkMental Problems
Love InterestVocalist From Another Band
Created with quill18's MemeGen!

2. Speaking with a foreign accent (possibly exotic)

Which Band Should You Be In? by couplandesque
Your Name
Band NameThe White Stripes
TrademarkForeign Accent
Love InterestThe Drummer
Created with quill18's MemeGen!


3. An affair with a well-known actor??? (read: ORLANDO BLOOM)

Which Band Should You Be In? by couplandesque
Your Name
Band NameYeah Yeah Yeahs
TrademarkDark-Rimmed "Emo" Glasses
Love InterestWell-Known Actor
Created with quill18's MemeGen!
This is really interesting reading. I really love the writing style and the statement it's making on modern society.

And it links to this really interesting game where one actually gets to run one's very own nation with the help of warped politics!

Yes...I'm in a mood to work today.

Tuesday, 18 November 2003

I had a horrible dream last night. War was happening and I had somehow volunteered to go to the front line to help out.

While in the bus on the way there, I realised that there were so many things that I hadn't done. Not things that I wanted to do, like skydive or travel to Greece or something like that, but that I hadn't told the people close to my heart just how much they really mean to me.

I was afraid that I would die, not because I didn't want to leave this world, but because there were so many things left unsaid, and things that I need to put right.

Only problem? I had run out of time.

To make matters worse, I couldn't even phone them because in my dream, I had forgotten to take money with me. I had left everybody without saying goodbye, and I was facing the prospect of never seeing them ever again.

Let me assure you that it is the most horrible feeling. To know that you have met some really special individuals along the way, but to never let them know just how they have touched your life. We like to live our life with our eyes half-open. We acknowledge that we have made really great friends, but it is incredible just how "un-often" we let them know that.

We live in a world of negativity. Things that are worth mentioning are those that hurt. Compliments get paid out...very occassionally.

Isn't it funny how often we seek approval, but never find it? But the minute we do something wrong, we have the whole world letting us know precisely what we should have or shouldn't have done? Ironically, we ourselves find it a challenge to tell people the better part of themselves, choosing to focus on the negative side of things instead.

And even if we don't dwell on the bad sides of life, we don't hardly make an effort to let others know just how much we appreciate them being in our lives. But the thing is, these are the people that matter to us. These are the people that make the world a better place to live in. Yet, we fail to even acknowledge what they have done in our lives.

I love my family. I love my friends. This may sound cliche, but without them, I would never have been able to go through different periods in my life. They were my source of strength and they are the sunshine of my life, as well as the pretty rainbow that I see after a stormy day.

And I don't want to leave this world, regretting the fact that I never told them how special they are to me.

Monday, 17 November 2003

I've got nothing more to say besides the fact that I have been absolutely and utterly charmed......

I had a great weekend.

Friday, 14 November 2003

isn't it amazing how one person's actions, or lack thereof, can determine your emotional state?

I hate the way my moods, to a certain extent, can be influenced by what other people do, or don't do. How is it that when I get ignored or looked over, I start questioning myself and my self-worth. And when the next day the very same person pays me the attention I wanted, the sun suddenly shines in my world again.

I like to think that I'm independent. I love my commitment-free life where I can simply pack up and go to wherever my heart desires, so long as I can financially afford it. I don't have to answer to anybody and I have no real responsibilities that somebody else cannot deal with.

And yet, it seems that no matter how independent one may be, one can never cut off bonds in which we share with other people. And that means that the actions of others is going to and will affect the way we view ourselves, the way we see the world, and the way we feel.

Not very independent now are we?

Tuesday, 11 November 2003

One of my biggest pet peeves? Christians who prefer to bash others over the head with religion, rather than stretch out a hand in the name of love. Christians who use God's name to dish out whatever vengeance they would like to see wrought on whoever they think have done them wrong. Christians who bring in God into a matter only to make another feel bad.

If I did not already know where I stood with God, what Sylvia said to me would have me hiding in my room for the rest of my life begging for forgiveness, terrified of burning in hell during judgement day.

Firstly, some background info:

Way back in August, while my boss was taking portrait photos of students during registration day, Sylvia comes and ask for a personal favour - she wanted my boss to take a photo of her family using the digital camera we were using. She was told to come back later in the afternoon.

I had no idea what had transpired since I was outside collecting questionnaires. But when Sylvia came back in the afternoon, my boss was out for lunch and hence I was roped in to take the photo, being the only other person who knew how to operate the digital camera. All I was told was to take the photo, and that my boss would take care of everything else.

With 300 other photos to deal with, as well as an impossible deadline, my boss forgot about the matter. Now Sylvia wants the photo. After spending hours searching for it on the computers, I have come to the conclusion that it is lost. I told her as much, apologising profusely, and this is what she told me:

"This is a really serious matter! How can something like this happen in this school, owned by the church? This is holy ground, I tell you, and things like this should not happen. Let me assure you that whoever lost the photo will have to answer to God and God is not happy about this! And you will know this on judgement day! This is my family photo and you cannot treat this matter lightly."

Firstly lady, if it is indeed holy ground, why do you have your shoes on?

Secondly, I am very certain you are able to afford even a cheap disposable camera that will give you at least 12 shots of your family, IN DIFFERENT POSES. And your family members live in the next town for goodness sake.

Thirdly, I would think it quite wise for you not to speak for God as to what he is and isn't happy about.

I admit that I probably should have taken better account of your photo, but I was never told to do anything else but to push the button on the camera. I have apologised and have never been anything but cordial in my dealings with you. I have tried to be understanding, but I have had enough.

Do not ever threaten me with my salvation. This is between me and my God, and has nothing to do with you. You are not God, neither are you his spokesperson. If I have to answer to God, let me speak with God on judgement day. In my opinion, you are merely using His name in vain and spiritually abusing me.

The photo is gone. Deal with it.

Friday, 7 November 2003

The sky was filled with brilliant colours last night as fireworks were repeatedly set off to celebrate Guy Fawkes night.

Found out that not only did Guy Fawkes fail at blowing up Parliament House, and hence King James, in London back in 1605, he was actually caught and burned. Hence all the fireworks and bonfires. Like I said, only in England. Was surprised there were no major fires or road accidents seeing that with the sun setting at 4.30pm, people had about 8 hours to do something stupid.

I know for one that Fanja and I were highly distracted by the fireworks colouring the night sky as we drove to the cinema last night. It was a lovely sight though. Especially since we drove by vast plains with no skyscrapers to block our view.

Had wanted to watch two movies last night. But after our first choice movie - Bad Boys 2, we quickly changed our minds.

The movie was simply filled with way too much unnecessary violence. It honestly felt like the film producers were simply looking for an excuse to blow things up and kill people highly graphically while flaunting Will Smith's good looks. And since the other choices we had were either horror or action, we went home instead.

Although now I wonder if the amount of violence in Bad Boys 2 is any indication of our rising insensitivity to death and destruction, as well as an insatiable thirst for blood and gore?

Thursday, 6 November 2003

Everybody can breathe easy now. My friends survived the dinner I prepared. It has been two days since the meal and nobody has showed signs of food poisoning of any sort and so I can safely say that I have managed not to kill my friends with the noodle dish I came up with.

Honestly though, I hardly did anything. I didn't cut the brocolli, carrots or mushrooms. Most of the time, I merely stood there yelling for stuff to be handed to me while I tried to stir the vegetables around or fry the Quorn pieces (tastes like chicken!). While boiling the noodles, it nearly overflowed which led to me screaming and Gabor rushing over to rescue me/the pot/the stove. Yup, without my friends, the kitchen would have either flooded over or burned down.

They loved it though. But I can assure you that there will be no repeat performance for a long long while.

In the meantime, the Royal Mail Strike is finally over. Maybe now I'll finally get my Dogma DVD.

Was such a drama trying to purchase the DVD. Searched all over Bracknell, Reading AND London and it was sold out everywhere! Finally was able to get it over the Virgin Megastore website, which assured me that there would be a 48 hour delivery. Only problem? The day I purchased it, the strikes started.

Am beginning to believe that I'm not meant to possess the DVD. Especially since they are estimating 2 weeks for the backlog of mail to clear...

Anyway, just had to mention (not that my brother surfs onto this website)


It's a "special" day in England today as well. Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night.

Only the English will run around setting off bonfires, fireworks and whatnots to commemorate the attempted assassination of the king back in 1605...and celebrate it in the name of the assassin.

Monday, 3 November 2003

This site needs a new name for next year! Submit suggestions here.
The first day of my domestication begins today. It is my turn to cook for my friends.

It's true that I've stepped into kitchens before. I've even helped friends chop up vegetables or boil water etc. But to actually cook a full meal to feed 3 other people? I am shuddering even at the thought of it.

I hate cooking.

To spend all that countless precious hours (ok, I'm exaggerating but you get the idea) chopping up green stuff, preparing ingredients and then putting it into a pot and having to wait some more...not to mention the spices and whatnots that you have to add...all that work!!!

Honestly - give me a sandwich any day. And I'm not lying when I say I'd rather starve than cook up a decent meal. The best I would do is 2-minute noodles. Quick, easy, good.

I cave in today and one can only hope nobody dies of food poisoning as a result.
Finally, after 11 months in England, I had my first celebrity-spotting experience.

Anca, Gabor, Ida and I went off to London yesterday to watch a musical. Which musical, we didn't have a clue. We just thought we'd rock up to Leicester Square and get a ticket for whatever musical which tickets we could afford.

What we ended up finding out was that Kevin Richardson (of the Backstreet Boys was starring as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago.

Now, Ida and I were both Backstreet Boys fans back in the days when we were young (and yes, I am rather embarrassed to admit that I was a fan of a boyband, but I have to accept my past and I am now in counselling). In fact, it was because of them that we first got to know each other, but that's another story that I will not tell right now. Anyway, that helped us decide which musical to watch.

Chicago the musical is excellent. Not because of Kevin, but because of the quality of acting, dancing and singing involved. We were lucky, we somehow managed to get seats in the private box (gentlemen's boxes, they used to call them) by the side of the theatre and so we were really close to the stage.

Now I had actually watched Chicago the movie first and I was really impressed as to how faithful the movie was to the musical. Of course, several things were different because the musical is a stage production but I think that simply improved my experience with the musical. It was really good.

Superb synchronisation, brilliant choreography and impressive singing.

What I found really fantastic was the fact that the orchestra pit was not really in the pit, but actually up on stage and the musicians were as much involved in the musical as the actors were. The conductor was pulled into the storyline several times as an actor and the enthusiasm the musicans had for their music was excellent.

Anyway, after the musical, we went to the stage door because Ida really wanted to meet Kevin. I was skeptical as to whether it would really happen. But lo and behold, Kevin eventually turned up at the door to meet his fans.

And so, that was my celebrity-spotting experience in London.

And if anybody's wondering, the reason for this rather bland piece of writing is because I am absolutely exhausted. I have done too much walking and too little sleeping for the last few days and tiredness is fast catching up on me...

Excuse me while I pass out in front of the computer...
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