Friday, April 21, 2006

3 more weeks and one more wrap

Whew! I'm tired. Went to bed late last night revising and got up early this morning to sit for my Collections (mock exams, practice papers, whathaveyou). I had a 3-hour paper in the morning and a 2-hour commentary paper in the afternoon and it took all my effort not to fall asleep. Plus lots of Chinese tea, which I drank both before my morning paper and during lunchtime. I was actually pretty nervous about today's papers but on the whole I think they went ok. Definitely not First Class material but as long as I scrape into 2:1 category, I'm happy. I wanted to go straight to bed after that but my laundry couldn't be put off any longer and I had to settle a few other niggly things - paying bills, stuff like that. Now I only have 3 more weeks till the real thing!

In any case, here's another wrap to keep you lot happy. :)

The books that move men -
This was a wide-ranging survey done here in the UK to get some idea of the books that men read (there was also a similar survey done for women). It made for really interesting reading. Perhaps not surprisingly, books like Camus' The Outsider and Salinger's Catcher in the Rye (both of which I've not read) rose to the top. "Men's reading choices tend to identify themselves with novels that include intellectual struggle. Personal vulnerability is represented as a more or less angst-ridden struggle against convention, a sense of isolation from social normality. Catastrophe and the struggle to rise above circumstance characterise the plots."

I thought it interesting too that they found that many men tend to lose interest in fiction in favour of non-fiction once they reached adulthood. It is true that I only began reading non-fiction seriously at A-Level; I remember reading Naomi Klein's No Logo, Alex Kerr's book on Japan, and more serious Christian books. But I always come back to fiction eventually, in fact, it's bitten me again recently, over the last 3 weeks I've found it difficult to read Christian books of any sort but have been devouring fiction like mad!

In any case, you can read the full article here. You can also follow the comment thread at the Guardian blog, which is really fun to read.

• While we're on the subject of books, here's the definitive list of overused science fiction cliches. I don't think cliches are necessarily bad, it's how a writer chooses to utilise them.

• I was studying for my SPM mocks when I saw the events of Sept 11 unfold live on CNN. For some reason, tragedies, fictional or not, often strike a deeper chord with me than anything else and I always like to look for the story behind the story. For the first time in public, we get a peek into the horrifying events aboard Flight 93, which crashed into the ground after the passengers decided to fight back. (includes full transcript).

There's a new film coming out on precisely this event, which I admit still feels a little soon. Here's one thoughtful commentary on this.

Why do you think humans are fascinated by impending doom? Or listening to the end of someone's life? (I remember stories too of those who instead of running, just had to take pictures of the coming tsunami on Boxing Day 2004).

My favourite story from Flight 93, is of course Todd "Let's Roll" Beamer, whom I read about in WORLD a couple of months after September 11. Todd was the guy who decided to take the initiative and lead a fightback, and in doing so, perhaps prevented the plane from its intended destination, Washington D.C and possibly the White House. To revisit the story, as told by his widow Lisa, here it is.

• Speaking of WORLD, they've got a recent cover story which I think perfectly illustrates the tension every Christian (and every other person too!) faces, that between justice and mercy. One of the key insights I've learnt over the past few years is that the cross is where justice and mercy meet, but certainly in the real world it's not easy to work out.

Cultural critic Gene Edward Veith foresees the end of humanism, or at least as it used to be understood.

Live action Simpsons. No kidding.

The Top 10 weirdest keyboards ever.

• A graduate student and committed atheist decided to advertise his services on eBay, promising to attend one hour of church for every ten dollars of the final bid. So decided to purchase his services and sent him to attend churches throughout the Chicago area and write about it. It's really interesting to hear the view from another side. Here's the eBay atheist's blog.

• I don't have time to look through Comment's new issue but a quick skim read of James K.A Smith's article - a generious critique of neocalvinism today seems good. Smith is a rising academic star based at Calvin College, and author of the forthcoming Who's Afraid of Post-Modernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to church.

That's it for now folks. See you soon, likely in a more panicky state.

† Expand post

Friday, April 14, 2006

"so why is it Good Friday?"

- question asked, off-handedly, by a friend to me yesterday.
crossThe sentence "God is love" is to be read with the emphasis on the word God, whereas we have fallen into the habit of emphasizing the word love.

God is love; that is to say not a human attitude, or a conviction, or a deed, but God himself is love.

Only he who knows God knows what love is; it is not the other way around. It is not that we first of all by nature know what love is and therefore know also what God is. No one knows God unless God reveals Himself to him. And so no one knows what love is except in the self-revelation of God. Love, then, is the revelation of God.

And the revelation of God is Jesus Christ. "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him" (I John 4:9).

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, quoted in How Great Thou Art.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Plea for help #1

screamHELP!!!! Revision is not going well at all, and that's being euphemistic. Everyday I wake up and have to do battle with my sinful nature, with sloth and idleness and an apathy of frightening proportions. And I am not winning. And that's just part of the picture. Externalities such as the intimidating nature of revision - so much to study! what to study? what if they come up with killer questions this year? - are strangling me too.

Not helping me is my sudden interest in late 20th century literature. Why, you ask? Isn't that a good thing? Well, normally it would be, except that I am not taking any papers on 20th century lit!

So yes, am stressing. But it's bad stress, i.e the paralysing kind, not good stress i.e the motivating kind. I'm stressing (bad) because I'm not (good) stressed. Hmmm...kind of like cholesterol, actually.

Now I really need to stop trying to find witty zeugmas to link the two together and actually revise.

Sigh. I feel a little like Charlie Brown now. I appreciate prayer, encouragement and kicks up the backside.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I hear the sound of Finals looming...

a restless hibernation?'Tis the season for hibernation. Although this blog hasn't exactly been a hive of activity over the past few months. As exams approach, however, I will have to take an enforced leave of absence for the next 6-7 weeks. I hesitate to say I'll be gone completely, since more likely than not, random posts might pop up with subject titles such as I'MGOINGTODIEI'MGOINGTODIE and twisted musings such as "A voice is heard in Oxford, mourning and great weeping, BK weeping for his future and refusing to be comforted, because his degree is no more." Or I might blog for therapeutic purposes: '#%$^@^%$@!%$^@%#$...'

Otherwise, this blog should lay dormant for a while. D-Day is May 15, and it ends roughly 12 days later. I'll truly appreciate prayers that this wouldn't be a fitful sleep, and I'll be refreshed when I return to the land of the living. Hanging on to God is tough but imperative. Do keep conversing in the tagboard if you feel like it. :-)