Wednesday, May 31, 2006

2 years old!

Hey! Sorry for my longer than expected absence. Had a bit of a crazy weekend, heading north to York and then all the way down south to London, so I was criss-crossing the country quite a bit. A good friend of mine came down too on Sunday and was around till Wednesday morning, and it was really, really good to see him and to have extended chats over coffee about everything from anime to theological issues and encouraging each other in our walk with the Lord. He is a first-rate exegete, often pointing me to the Bible and ultimately to Jesus, and helping me to see things I never noticed before.

In addition I'm covering for my CU rep these 2 weeks as she has exams, leading a study on Daniel 5 today and will be doing a session expering the missionary or international heart of God next week, which I'm looking forward to leading!

Lost amidst the madness of my Finals is one quite important fact, however. I have now been blogging for 2 whole years - this blog having turned 2 a couple of days ago. My sophomore year in blogging was definitely a struggle, as I had to deal with more responsibilities in real life plus the ever-present workload of studies. Often that left no time or energy for blogging, hence I never ever got into any semblance of routine or regularity.

It's been quite fascinating though, to examine more closely the medium of blogging itself and recognise why I struggled with feelings of ambivalence regarding blogging the past year. Drawing from my literary training, I recognise that I had trouble figuring out who my implied audience were. Also, thanks in part to me diving deeper into the late Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy, I was able to see that the blurring of boundaries between speech and writing - the "secondary oral culture", to use Ong's terms - had contributed to my indecision about where to pitch the tone of this blog. (Now you know what happens to English majors, they become so self-conscious about everything that they end up saying or writing nothing of substance!)

Anyway, I will try to blog more regularly over the next few weeks, and hopefully over the next year. Stay tuned. :)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It is done!!!

carnival atmosphere greets the finishing Finalists!a message of thanks
Few words as am still very tired.

That's it. My days as a student are formally over, for the time being anyway. Technically I still remain a student, and of course you never escape the school of life, but all I'm waiting for is the results (as long as the tutors don't go on strike - a very real worry) and graduation.

Finals was certainly a gruelling experience, and I feel especially for the lawyers who will be taking 9 papers in 2 weeks, including six in six days. Having done 5 in 5 days myself, and 7 in 11 days, I can testify just how much it takes out of you.

Anyway, as my brother said, all I have to do now is merely to plan the rest of my life.

I'm going away for the weekend to visit a friend in York, so I will probably say more only after I get back. To others still taking exams, yes, you will get through it!

[The pic on the left is the back road of the Exam Schools, where all finishing Finalists exit to a carnivalesque atmosphere. Before the authorities clamped down, you could reasonably be expected to be doused with flour, cream-pied in the face and showered with champagne. My friends threatened sphagetti and baked beans, but opted to douse me with sparkling water instead. => ]

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

the red carnation

red carnationIf you're in Oxford, and you happen to see a chap or a lass with a red carnation pinned to his or her gown, that means that he/she is taking his or her very last paper that day.

Guess who's wearing a red carnation in 8 hours time? =D

Friday, May 19, 2006

5 down, 2 to go...

and I desperately need sleep.

So far they've been ok, apart from my Shakespeare paper which I've written off as a lost cause. In some ways actually having the exams is a good thing, 'cause once you get over the initial nervousness it can be fun, in a twisted sort of way. Hey, I even ended up playing an old platform game last night blasting away at aliens and zombies and whatnot.

Confession: To show you how mature this Finalist is, everytime the girl in front of me sits down in the exam hall, I get this insane urge to pull her hair. 'Cause it just looks so...pullable.

*Inquest into BK's sanity begins*

And I thought it would be a hassle, but I'm actually finding dressing up for exams quite fun!


I don't think I've ever commented on politics in this blog before, but those who know me know that I'm a keen observer (must be due to being the son of a lawyer), and I'm currently taking a particular interest in the current Sarawak elections. I feel that this is a golden opportunity for the Opposition to pick up a few seats tomorrow; 5 would be a good number. Over the past 2 years I've felt a growing dismay as certain injustices at home seem to have become more blatant, and I've been praying that there'll be certain checks to redress this.

I expect DAP to retain Kidurong, win a seat in Kuching and possibly Sibu, and hopefully Daniel Tajem will win and another Dayak will win somewhere. Maybe Baru Bian, who until recently was my home church elder and a notable land rights lawyer. I noticed when I perused this years opposition candidates that a lot of them were former civil servants or formerly affiliated with BN parties, showing that there is some discontent with the current state of affairs. A former Industrial Court judge is also contesting. It's not so much the BN as certain individuals who are beginning to think that they're invisible.

This brings to mind my devotional a couple of weeks ago from Luke 19, where we had the story of Zaccheus. I remember that it struck me particularly when I was pondering who would be the equivalent of a Zaccheus in today's society, and to my shock realising that it would be exactly the corrupt government official whom we complain about so much. That really hit home, as Jesus showed great love to him even as he called him to repentance, and it made me remember that these people need to be shown love too.

Anyway, am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow, but I also need to hit the books for next week's paper. Will blog to you then!

UPDATE (20/5): Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant - 9 seats, more than I expected, with Kuching being almost entirely swept by the opposition. A couple of other seats were won with razor-thin majorities. Not surprisingly, the backlash was mostly led by the Chinese. It might not seem much, but in the context of Sarawakian politics this is big.

Do remember in our prayers not just to pray for ourselves but for our leaders as well, whereever we are.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pre-Finals medley

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus,
As I onward go, as I onward go.

I will glory in my Redeemer
His faithfulness my standing place
Though foes are mighty and rush upon me
My feet are firm, held by His grace
My feet are firm, held by His grace

He is my refuge in each deep distress.
the Lord my strength and glorious righteousness;
through floods and flames he leads me safely on
and daily makes his sovereign goodness known

And I will trust in you alone
And I will trust in you alone
For your endless mercy follows me
Your goodness will lead me home.

Taken from
4th stanza of 'May the mind of Christ my Saviour' (Kate Wilkinson, 1925, slight modernization in words and music 2000?)
2nd stanza of 'I Will Glory in my Redeemer' (Steve & Vikki Cook, 2001)
2nd stanza of 'Immortal Honours rest on Jesus' head' (William Gadsby, 1773-1844)
the chorus of 'The Lord's my Shepherd' (Stuart Townend, 1996)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It's the Final Countdown! Na-na-na-naaaa....

3 days to go. It's quite strange, don't you think, how time becomes quite warped when we're waiting in anticipation of something? Our perception of time becomes shaped by our eagerness, or anxiety, as that certain moment dawns. So it is with exams, when I measure time by counting the days till I have to go into the exam hall, fancy suit and all. I remember using this point as an illustration when I spoke on Titus 2:11-14 some 8 months ago - wow, has it really been that long? - to show how we should be people of hope, waiting for a kairos time, if you like. Just think, the exams are only over a period of 2 weeks, merely a tiny, albeit significant, time of our lives, which we nonetheless magnify and elongate.

I'm still nervous, though. And feeling thoroughly unprepared.

I have 7 papers. 6 technically, but one is split into (a) and (b), so yeah, 7. All bar one are three-hour, essay-based papers, in which I have to answer 3 questions for each paper. All my papers are in the morning. Next week, I have one paper a day every weekday; I didn't realise how gruelling that was until my friend, upon hearing what my schedule sounds like, exclaimed, "Wow, that's pretty hardcore!". So, errr, yeah. I get a break from Saturday-Tuesday and then have a paper on Wednesday(24/5), and my final paper on Thursday!

My first paper is a theory paper - I'm pretty nervous about that, since the questions look difficult and we've had minimal practice on this one. My second is Shakespeare, and then Paper 3 is the medieval paper (Chaucer et al.) which is split into two, so 3(b) is a commentary paper - basically practical criticism. The rest of my papers are Renaissance (that's Shakespeare's period, so Marlowe etc.), Restoration (think Defoe, Bunyan etc.) and the Romantics (a very rich period, with figures such as Austen, Coleridge etc.).

I was also thinking that as I prepare for these exams, I have been perhaps overly timid in my prayers for them. For those of us who grew up in church, we must have heard that dictum about how God isn't a genie so won't give us the Ferrari just because we pray for it a 1000 times. I think I took that and subconsciously allowed a distorted version to seep into my mind, thinking it better not to ask God for anything. Being rather erratic lately with my prayer times doesn't help, and again, guilt creeps in when I do come and pray, for I approach like a dog who has his tail between his legs 'cause he's just been caught nibbling at the steak on the table.

But that's not gospel-driven thinking, is it? Since God is our Father, and a generous one at that, it certainly is not wrong to cry out to him for help. And our guilt doesn't diminish either his sovereignty or generosity. And as we recognise the lavish grace the Father has poured on us, our response should be one of gratitude and a willingness to be more like our Rescuer. And so I should pray, with boldness, and with humility, over my exams and to keep in step with the Spirit in combating idleness, anxiety, and guilt.

Actually want to say more on other things, but am starting to feel tired. I'm grateful for some I know who have been praying for me - thanks. And for others who have exams coming up as well, am wishing you all the best too!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Plea for help #2

I have exactly one more week till Finals!!! I have 3 more weeks till it's over - and not just exams, but my undergrad days.

Either way, that's scary.

But there's still so much to study. I should be panicking - I'm too laidback for my own good. I need a healthy dose of good stress. Lord, have mercy.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Having an inarticulate moment

Much silence makes a powerful noise.
- African proverb