December 31, 2004

Times of Transition

The ancient Romans often celebrated the end of Saturnalia (Christmas) and the beginning of a new Gregorian Year through huge festivals, drinks and games. It is strange then to think that human civilisation since then, through the thousands of years, has not progressed much. Sure, we have made leaps in terms of technological, scientific and medical fields. But at the core of it all, it is still the same. The human heart, the human love for leisure and play, it has not changed. Today on New Year's Eve, in the wake of Christmas, there will be throngs of people littering the streets of Orchard Road, Suntec City and Sentosa. Today, there will be alcohol flowing from beer kegs and bottles and most will not know left from right by the time the countdown is complete. Today, there will be loud music, rave parties and plenty of clubbers going through the motions of getting drunk, dancing wildly and ultimately, getting pissed drunk after the wild night. Tonight, it will be the end of 2004 and the beginning of 2005.

2004 as a year has been one in which huge transitions in my life have taken place. From being in the armed forces to becoming an undergrad once again. From being attached, to being happily single. Sure, life is a journey. And through the years of our lives, transition is an everyday effect. We experience change as a constant in life. To say that we have not changed one bit is quite a big fib because even through each everyday life experience, we learn, we adapt and we change. I'm glad though. Because 2004 has been the year I can safely say changed my life for the better. Now, please don't be mistaken, I'm not saying that the stuff I went through was horrible. It just wasn't the best possible route which would secure my future, be it material-wise or spiritual-wise. I'm grateful for each and everything I went through in 2004. And through it all, there's a huge bunch of people I do owe big thanks to.

But I'm not going to do this like how I did it last year. I'm not simply going to list out people and begin thanking them. Because those few, short lines of commendation simply don't do justice to the amount of impact some of them have had on my life. I've retained great friendships in 2004 and made new ones whom I think will last a lifetime. The transition from being in a rigid, authoritarian organisation to a flexible, democratic university environment has been nothing but good for me. Friends like Yanting, Isabel, Robbie, Keith, Marie and Christine have all been wonderful people. To try to summarise how they've helped me or moulded me would be futile. One thing's for sure though, they've helped make the transition from Singapore to Melbourne a relatively seamless one. Then there's my ACS alumni group, Jansen, Ding, Bryan, Lin Bin, Jason and the rest. It's strange to think how the camarederie between us sticks so much despite the many years of being apart in different institutions and countries. I seriously enjoy the soccer sessions, barbeques and talk-cock sessions Jansen organises because they help me keep in touch with my inner-boy. They remind me that I was once a boy, wide-eyed and filled with dreams. They help me become aware of the changes that have taken place from secondary school till now, and of course the non-changes.

2004 also held in store a huge surprise for me because it was the year that my primary school class began keeping in contact with each other and meeting up for huge outings. It is strange to see people like Xingxiang, Daxuan and the class bullies becoming the good guys now and to note how much they have matured. We suffered together and played together and I think as kids, the experiences like these become entrenched in your mind forever since these people become pretty much part of your childhood. There's also my army friends, Patrick, Jiehan, Chris, Xianli, Jack and Ricson. I think because we all worked together, we formed this unspeakable bond between each other. Be it covering each other's backsides, tipping the other off or simply dishing out valuable advice in order to con half-witted regulars, we worked as a unit and braved many storms and 'hail stones' which often threatened to pour down on our heads. Then there's Stephanie. Although we aren't together anymore, I just want to thank her for being a part of my life once and showing me that life isn't just about being serious and putting my head down, there's a fun side to it too. Thanks for the many happy memories of yesteryear.

But there's a special group of friends whom I want to mention, a group of friends not coincidentally, that I'm spending my New Year's Eve with. They have been a part of my life since I was just a kid and they continue to provide laughs, support and basically good company through my years of tribulation and joy. Ben, Eugene, Mark, Terry, James, Mac, Kelvin and Lester have been great friends of mine and although sometimes they do irritating things like asking me to Rouge (I hate that place), most of the things we do together are actually alot of fun. Tonight, I hope will be no different.

Even in the midst of the celebrations, however, I think this year begs us to form important opinions and questions about ourselves. In the wake of the tsunamis which struck Asian countries earlier this week, it is clear for all to see that life is an extremely unpredictable experience as well. I'm sure if you'd asked any of those Singaporeans this year who are now listed as missing whether they thought they'd live to see 2005, you'd have been laughed off. Now, we can only hope and pray for the affirmation of their existence. Before I go, however, allow me to pose a question to all readers of this blog. Why not stop making resolutions which will only change your life materially and start trying to make ones which change your life immaterially? Because only when you are able to encompass that question, will you truly discover what it means to live life.

To all, Happy New Year and have a blessed 2005.

Traveller fell apart at 5:31 PM

December 29, 2004

"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains." -Matthew 24:7

The disaster was unprecedented. To say it was unexpected would be an understatement. All across the Indian Ocean, drama unfolded as the dead were uncovered by the minute and the ones left alive by the catastrophe found themselves in dire shortage of basic needs.

I think in times like these, we are often inclined to blame God for the lives lost, and the subsequent suffering of those left mercilessly alive by the disaster. It was such an unfortunate timing for the disaster to occur as well, during the Christmas season where thousands of tourists would be lounging in bays next to the ocean in Phuket, Langkawi and other coastal resorts in India and Sri Lanka. I admit, even I initially questioned the paucity of sense involved in the occurance of this earthquake. I asked God for reasons why he would allow the deaths of tens of thousands of people and to make homeless millions of others. I wanted an answer to the many questions flooding through my mind, and how a God who loved us could bear to allow such suffering amongst his creation. I needed validation from God, and I wanted it now.

The answer wasn't quite what I expected, but it did clear the doubts. I stumbled across a webpage over the Internet which explained possible causes of recent increase in seismic activity which could be attributed to nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, carpet bombings in nearby Iraq and other man-made causes. And I thought, perhaps, unknowingly, unseeingly, what we are doing to Earth is in a way a vicious cycle. I've come up with this theory which is quite plausible if you think about it. Imagine the Earth as a huge giant car with nuts and bolts and gears which are clicked into place. Perhaps somehow the oil which we find deep underneath the oceans and ground help to keep the lava and tectonic plates moving and sliding and generally, keep the plates running like they should. Now what we have done is we have drilled deep and removed this lubricant from within the Earth, choosing instead to replace it with salt water (From what I read, this is what oil companies do with empty oil wells). What happens to a car when you fill it with salt water instead of petrol? I might be wrong, of course. The causes could be varying.

What I'm propagating is that somehow, indirectly, man's sin has resulted in the increase in natural disasters around us. We have created El Nino, global warming, the haze and landslides, so why not unstable plates? A theory which must be considered, given the amount of damage and instability we contribute to the ground on which we live. Perhaps this isn't God sending us a message, it's our own Earth doing so.

But I digress. The main issue here isn't really the 'whys' of how this occured. It's really those millions of homeless people out there suffering due to lack of basic needs like food, water and shelter. These are the same people who are trapped below the poverty line in world demographics. These are the same people who make your Nike shoes in dimly lit factories filled with ghastly stenches and yet, are paid 3 cents an hour. These are the same people who everyday, continue to live in fear and ignorance, devoid of comfort. And yet, these are the people who are bearing the brunt of this crisis. Even so, in the midst of all this seeming hurt and pain, its ironic to see how natural disasters bring about the best in Man. Foreign aid has started to pour in from international sources and former enemies have laid down their arms in a concerted effort to help the victims. Aceh rebels and Indonesian troops have declared a temporary ceasefire. Tamil Tigers have promised to stop attacks on Sri Lankan government installations and assist in the reconstruction. Somalian warlords have been forced to halt infighting and focus on rebuilding efforts. Perhaps then, this is the true message of the entire saga. That what we are doing, is focusing on the trivialities of terrorism and self-agendas, that we are forgetting our foremost responsibilities as human beings. Perhaps this was why God allowed the earthquakes to happen. I can only guess, I am only finite.

In the light of this incident, maybe we will learn how to veer clear of these individual differences and focus more on how best to prevent such disasters from happening once again. Because only then, will we earn the right to be termed human beings who are made in God's image. Only when we start showing the compassion which is expected of us.

Traveller fell apart at 3:44 AM

December 27, 2004

Only When?

Only when, will the smell of your hair pervade the air, filling it with the scent of a thousand rose petals.
Only when, will the sight of you fill my mornings, 6am french toasts and sunny side ups in bed.
Only when, will I feel your hands, smoother than silk and yet, so fitting with mine.
Only when, will I taste your cherry lips, the rejuvenation they bring to the lifeless expanse of my own existence.
Only when, will the throes of your pleasantries echo across the walls of my chambers, singing love songs and lullabies.
Only when, will my heart find the momentum it found when you first caught my eye, the beating and thumping it produced enough to reveal my inner desires.
Only when, will my mind be once more challenged by your insights and banter, my intellectual stigma.
If you would only turn around, realise and understand.
Only then, only then.

Only then.

Copyrighted by Joel E, 2004.

Traveller fell apart at 4:51 AM

December 25, 2004

"How then, can we as mere mortals in our finite knowledge, seek to understand a God who exists outside our concept of reality and yet, succeeds in weaving Himself expertly into the fabric of our consciousness?" - Joel E, 2004.

An incident today left me fully aware of my own limitations as a mere mortal. It found its message aimed directly at my heart and to be honest, I was more than a little bit disappointed, both in myself and that person. But even in this seeming letdown, there was a lesson to be learnt. And that is the upside of everything we experience in life; that even in the midst of adversity or trouble, there is always something to be gathered or experienced garnered. Through this incident, I learnt that I could do everything in my power to persuade, but ultimately, it would not be me who decides salvation. I may plant a seed, but I will never ensure it grows. The initial dismay at the entire situation disheartened me at first, but I remembered Job and how God allowed him to be troubled in order to strengthen his faith. It's a funny thing, how we initially give ourselves in to despair when trouble looms, failing to see the eventual good that may come out of it. Perhaps we as humans are trained to live life in the moment, to see things as they are in the present. Seldom do we look ahead, especially in the face of adversity. But I guess I've learnt a valuable lesson today. I can never force salvation on anyone and it is only through the grace of God will a person be moved. In that respect, I am but a powerless mortal, bounded by the finite realities of our Earth.

Plans for a quiet night on Christmas Eve were shattered today when the gang decided to head to Rouge. You see, I've never spent Christmas Eve quite like I did tonight. Loud music, alcohol and dancing lunatics were never the order of the day on previous Christmas seasons. It'd be more like a quiet dinner at home or perhaps, a nice meal at a less peak-hour affected restaurant. Even after today's clubbing session, I still fail to understand the logic of it all. Why pay money to go into a place which damages your ear drums, poisons your liver and corrupts your mind? Does the stress of everyday life really get to people so that they have to resort to letting loose in such a fashion? If that is so, someone please bring these bosses out and have them all shot because they are obviously doing something to their workers which is worse than torture. In any case, tonight was fun only because it was with my close friends. The atmosphere could definitely have been better.

I stood in the club amidst the overwhelming crowd of party-goers as they danced and jiggled their way through the club under the influence of more than their fair share of Bourbon or Vodka. As I stared at the flashing lights and the bartop dancers, the entire club seemed to close in on me and for a moment, the earth-shattering music was replaced with a calm which I felt all the way within my soul. Perhaps this is what they mean when they say that God pervades even the unlikeliest of places. I guess I must have blanked out for more than a few seconds because very soon, I had people asking me if I was alright. But at that moment, I thanked God for that moment of peace, that tranquility He restored within me in the cauldron of lawlessness which I was in.

It is due to our existence in this plane of reality governed by Time that we require constant reminders for most of the things in our life. It is no different for me, I require that constant rebuke or moment with God, just to know that He is in control. And I am thankful that He gave that to me tonight. Because tonight, my reality stood at a standstill and time seemed to stop as I sampled that slice of eternity which awaits us in the End.

Traveller fell apart at 5:07 AM

December 22, 2004

The past few days have been busy to say the least. My once sombre thoughts of me having little friends have been flung out the window as I have been out with at least four different sets of friends this past week. In such situations, however, we have to discern who really are our true friends, because fair-weather friends are so common these days and yet, loyal and trusted friends are fast becoming a rarity.

Soccer on Friday with Jansen and Khang was great. It's been a long time since I've gotten any exercise and I was shocked to find that I couldn't even last half an hour running on the street soccer court. I think my problem is that even though I make plans to go jogging on a particular day or do some weights at a certain time, I always fail to discipline myself to do so. As I've told my Mom before, I really need a trainer to shout at me and push me to pump my iron and keep fit ; and sadly, it's becoming a reality. I find it hard to motivate myself to get blood running through my veins or to run the fat out of my arteries because the problem with exercise is, it's inherently intrinsic value involved. You don't see the effects immediately and instead, you suffer for your troubles in the form of muscle aches and fatigue. But I figure I'd better start jogging or the tummy I'm slowly developing is going to turn into a beer belly. And that is a horrid way to go into the New Year.

Seeing my army friends on Sunday was refreshing, and yet familiar. None of them have changed really. Patrick is still cynical, Chris still behaves like he's twenty years older than he really is, Xianli is still a man of few words and Jiehan's still strongly atheist, and proud of it. In a way, seeing them brought about alot of memories. And it's strange to think that, we as people are growing and developing and in time, our personalities still remain the same although our outlook on life may have changed. In the army, we constantly complained about how it sucked to be in there, but whenever we meet, it seems inevitable that the topic of conversation switches to army matters. It's an irony really, and I think Pat summed it up best when he told us off, "Finish army already still wanna talk about army stuff. Can you all please not talk about army anymore?" Perhaps it's a cycle of life, that we really look to greener pastures when we're on the other side.

Can a platonic friendship really develop between a guy and a girl? I'm beginning to doubt that theory seeing as how things have developed in one of my circles of friends. Perhaps my friend is right, that when girls and guys are in a clique, it is inevitable that some love triangle or relationship problem is bound to arise. But if that is so, that is so unfortunate because it would mean that platonic friendships are a lie. That they will never exist between a guy and a girl and that is so... Victorian. Whatever it is, things like these that arise within a clique should never undermine the initial friendship already formed, if not, it is never worth it. Going for a romantic relationship should never take precedence or expense at the unity of a clique.

Friendship should always come over romance. That's what I feel at least. We've been deceived by the media and popular culture today. We are constantly told that love conquers everything and that if we love someone, we should put down everything and chase our dreams. Such a huge lie. There are repercussions and complications which are seldom faced by these make-believe characters in movies. Reality is a vastly different dimension from what is portrayed by popular culture. Moderation in affairs of the heart is oft seen as an unwillingness or half-heartedness. What people fail to realise is that moderation can still be seen as a form of showing love. It need not be romantic love really. When you love your friends enough to know that starting any form of romantic involvement would hurt them, you'd stop yourself. Carrying on with it is only complying to selfishness which will ultimately destroy the friendship. Love for friends. It's an often underrated statement in today's society and yet, so much more important than romantic love. Very often, amongst friends, we are flippant and condescending. We fail to see the real needs that our friends have and instead, choose to be sarcastic and spiteful, all the while hoping that they'd see it as a joke and play along. Very soon, the friendship becomes merely a facade of one, barbed with hurtful jokes and snide remarks. So does true friendship really exist today? I say no. It is a rare occurence, one which only comes when both parties are inherently aware of the duties and responsibilities of a TRUE friend.

I'm grateful for all my friends, to God for placing them all in my life. Because all of them serve a different purpose, they awake me to different aspects of my character I might not otherwise have discovered. They help me see the different types of characters which exist in this world and indirectly teach me how to minister to different types of people. My friends are integral in my life, and to give them up would be to destroy a part of me.

Traveller fell apart at 1:12 AM

December 18, 2004

"Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

It started out as a simple rebuke on how to live life, but it seems to have exploded into a much larger argument. Whether or not Sarong Party Girl is addressing me in her latest post, I feel a need to defunct some of the arguments about the Christian faith she has put across.

Most of the concepts you have put forward seem to be inherently flawed and I will now begin a process of dismantling them. Before I begin, however, I would like to address your question on why I insist on 'engaging myself' with the deprivation of your soul. It is a fact. I am intrigued, to say the least. I find it a refreshing read from what you otherwise see on other people's mundane narrative style blogs. You possess an excellent command of the English language and you convey your ideas, be they right or wrong, fluently. Believe me, there is no mocking haughtiness in my demeanour when I sample the contents of your blog everyday, only disgust when you attempt to incorporate Scripture or profess to be a Christian.

Firstly, you claim that "by acceptance of Christ, we are all instantly of perfect spirit and will not want to sin". What a fallacy! Despite acceptance of God as our Lord and Jesus as our Redeemer, we admit the fact that even as Christians, we are still flesh and blood. Since we are flesh and blood, we do have urges to sin and continue in the ways of this world. Believing right produces right doing. But does this equation really hold true? Some people believe right but find themselves prey to temptation. Believing right does not necessarily bring about right doing. It is only through spiritual growth and mutual accountability from a close group of Christian friends that we find ourselves moving closer to that tenet of right believing producing right doing. To assume that right believing produces right doing is foolish, since it does not take into account the fact that we are after all, human. We are as prone to sin as the next man on the street, make no mistake. What's different in us is that we have a responsibility within us, built on the promises of God, to live by His will and to submit to His plans. Whether or not you submit to that Will is your own choice, and by and large, separates the true Christians from the false ones (hint hint). In short, belief does not always end up in corresponding execution.

It's an interesting notion you have put forward, the idea that the Bible is open to interpretation. What you fail to realise is that, for every morsel of prophecy, guidance or teaching, the Bible never ends off ambiguously. Even after Daniel had his visions on the state of world affairs to come in 800 B.C., he was always anxious to know what those visions meant, and sought enlightenment and specific instruction from angels. Is faith truly believing in something you can't tangibly experience? I would like to put forward the notion of faith grounded in reason. In short, I believe in God simply because the evidence is clear for me to examine and to partake of. There is no questioning His existence in my mind because He has so expertly woven Himself, an eternal spiritual being, into the fabric of our own reality. So you cannot see God, but were scientists able to see germs back in the Renaissance? It is all a matter of coming to terms with our own limitations as mortals and submitting to the fact that we are products of a Higher Power.

You claim that there can be no contention on whether you are believing right. It is quite apparent to see. If you indeed believe in the commandment "You shall not commit adultery", why else would you continue to commit it? As I said, belief does not always end up in corresponding execution, however, in this case I seriously wonder if there is belief at all. Believing right means believing in the commandments God has explicity stated for us to follow. To twist and to manipulate the teachings in order to suit your own lifestyle is not believing right, it is wanting to be seen as believing right. It still falls far short of what is expected of us as Christians.

True, the Bible often mentions about judging not, lest ye be judged. But I am not judging you. I am merely hoping that you do not shed such a horrid light on Christians. As it stands, you declare your faith and yet you continue to live in sin and debauchery. What then of pre-believers reading your blog or in your social circle of friends? That is the impression they would form of Christians, a hypocritical, manipulative bunch.

God delights in rest, true. But God also frequently tests His children. The story of Job is a classic example of that. Despite his insistence and faithfulness in following the ways of God, he was allowed to suffer at the hands of Satan. And through it all, he came out a stronger man, more deeply entrenched and most certainly, able to trust in the will of God more than he had ever done. God crafts ways for us to live moral lives, but ultimately, the concept of free will still holds true. In your case, He has crafted for you a family, a methodist institution to attend and a church to attend and yet, you still insist on a life of sin. How then can you say that God has not attempted to craft a moral way for you to live? It is you who has chosen not to live in that world. It is you who have failed yourself, not God.

Why then do you choose to define the limits and connotations of sexual promiscuity based on what society and the world chooses? This world is a fallen one. The ideas that man constantly trump up are only to fulfil the fantasies of Babel which were left unfulfilled. Morality or promiscuity must never be based on the standards of what this world has set, but what the Bible has said regarding those issues. God created a man to love a woman. He created Adam to love Eve and to love only her in his lifetime. There is no other set pattern for this world. Be it men loving men, women loving women, loving many men or women or just loving no men or women. God is love. He has fashioned the world in such a way and who are we to have a claim to what this world can or cannot accept? Only God may possess that privilege, since He is the Creator of our world. How you can love so many eludes my understanding, since it is obvious that love is a selfish thing and can only be channeled to one person at once. What you possess for most of these people must be lust, since lust is not mutually exclusive and can be transferred on to almost any aesthetically enhanced object which catches our eyes.

Tolerance and acceptance, something you claim the world needs. I disagree. Tolerance and acceptance have caused the world the trouble it is in today. Tolerance and acceptance entail giving in to ideas due to peer pressure or simply poor belief foundation. Tolerance and acceptance mean giving up your ideals, or more importantly, God's ideals and accepting those of the world. What the world needs is Love and Understanding. Love, so that we may not return sin with sin, but instead with love. Understanding, so we may better understand God's plans for us and live the ideal life which He created for us to live.

The paradox you so state does not really exist. You claim that because we are under God's grace, we are living perfect lives. What you fail to comprehend is that we are after all of this world, our bodies are material objects which sometimes fail to resist temptation. After Adam ate that fruit, our eyes were opened to a whole world of Sin and temptation. But in my mind, I don't think it was really the fruit which was the sticky issue. It was the fact that the eating of the fruit proved to be the first case of disobedience to God ever recorded in the history of mankind. And so, we continue down that spiral, sinning and disobeying our Maker and gradually giving ourselves into temptation and charlatanism. It is a sorry state of affairs really, but it is a reality in which we live in. You forget the idea of repentance in salvation. We have to be TRULY repentant of our sins in order to receive salvation. If, as you so claim, that you are Christian, your actions clearly do not reflect what God has commanded you to do. And being a Christian means that you subjugate yourself to God's laws. In short, you do not live in grace at all because quite simply, you have not embraced yourself to the truth of what Jesus stood for.

Spiritual and moral questions are tough to answer, that I agree. But I believe as Christians, we all live under a set of rules and guidance administered by the Bible. I am truly sad to see that you have failed to see the light in any of your sessions at church for the past two decades of your life and will continue to pray in hope that one day you will. But until then, I hope for the sake of the growth of God's kingdom, you will cease to refer to yourself as a Christian. Because in my mind, you are no better than Osama bin Laden. You give a bad name to the religion you so profess publicly.

Traveller fell apart at 11:14 PM

December 15, 2004

"Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men's belief that they 'own' their bodies - those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of another!" - C.S. Lewis

This blog stunned me at first, then pushed me on in sheer indignance.

It's amazing how people nowadays have distorted the idea of sex, making it a polygamous act which excludes exclusitivity. Sex, which was once upon a time, a sacred act of unity and fruition between a husband and wife, has now been degraded to a pleasure sport. Of course, I'm not denying the fact that sex can be indeed pleasurable. Of course it is. But I think in the midst of our enjoyment, we have to take notice of our surroundings and context, making sure that whatever we're doing for our own pleasure does not hurt others.

Take this "Sarong Party Girl" for example. She seems to feel a need to justify her promiscuity and base behaviour through various means, whether it be by validating herself or explaining away her actions through religious connotations. Take note here, I'm not slamming her or criticizing her sexual exploits. What I do want to ask her is one simple question. What then of you 15 years down the road? Are you going to continue this cheap and sex-filled lifestyle even when you're approaching 45? Is this really a future you see for yourself? One where you end up with no one, perhaps a bundle of money and really, nothing but cigs and liquor whilst you sit in a damp, dark living room drinking and smoking yourself to death? Sure, you live in the moment and enjoy what you're doing now. But you never stop to think about the future, something which is an unavoidable part of life. No. And that is why I fail to see you happy in 15 years time. And honestly, I do feel a tinge of pity for you.

People like this normally have unfulfilled promises or love from their parents. For example, a girl who grows up in a family without a faithful father for a family man is likely to end up drawing on other men for her sense of security and comfort. Sin begets sin. Broken families beget broken people. It is a sad fact of life but it is seldom addressed. All the time, people talk about being born this way or that, but the circumstances and environment are seldom investigated. This world has often turned its focus away from what are the real pressing issues at hand and instead, chose to focus on issues which are pleasure-centric. Sadly, it is because of these desires for pleasure that drive us further and further away from our true source of humanity.

And yeah, she mentioned something about the Bible promoting promiscuity. So I pose this question to her. If God did indeed want to promote promiscuity as you so claim, why did he create just one Eve and not five or six?

Traveller fell apart at 3:12 PM

December 14, 2004

The anticipation was getting the better of me. I opened one eye lazily as I peered around my room. It was December 14th, results day and where my fate would be decided. Gingerly lifting the covers of my bed off myself, I crept silently over to my laptop and turned the switch on. The ensuing wait for the startup went on, but it wasn't as bad as the wait for the webpage for My Monash portal to load. I nearly bit off my nails in anticipation as the screen opened and what awaited was a pleasant surprise.

Psychology 1B - Distinction
Politics - Distinction
Sociology 1B - Distinction
Communication Studies - Credit

In truth, the results I'm happiest about are the communication studies one. For all semester I had absolutely no interest in it and was expecting a pass at most. So this was indeed a pleasant surprise. Now to look towards next semester in silent anticipation.

Thank You God.

Traveller fell apart at 9:39 AM

December 03, 2004

It's often been a fact that's been taken for granted. All through this war on terror, both Western and Islamic moderates have been harping on the fact that Islam is a religion of peace. Well, according to the Qu'ran, you are a bad Muslim if you adopt the moderate way of thinking. Personally, I didn't quite believe this startling revelation about Islam until I came across this article from a Saudi Islamist to moderate Muslims. I write this not to criticize or to stir up trouble, but merely to pose a few questions as to the true validity of the statement which goes 'Islam is a religion of peace'. In this article, the Islamist quotes several verses from the Qu'ran which if are really there, portray Islam as an extremely volatile and intolerant religion.

An Open Letter from a Saudi Islamist to Those who Shirk Jihad

"You who shirk Jihad - it is reported on good authority that the Prophet said: None of you is a real believer unless he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself. It is also reported on good authority that he said: The meaning of Islam is giving good advice. Therefore, I give you honest advice.

"You who shirk Jihad, Allah has said: 'Fight them until there is no more discord and Allah alone shall be worshipped' [8:39]. Don't you know Allah's words: 'Slay the idolaters wherever you find them and take them prisoner and besiege them and lay an ambush for them wherever you can' [9:5]? Allah has said: 'Fight them, so that God will chastise them at our hands and shame them. He will grant you victory over them, will satisfy the believers' spirit and remove vexation from their hearts' [9:14]. Allah has said: 'Fight those from among those who had been given Scriptures, who do not believe in Allah and in the last day and do not prohibit that which Allah and His Messenger prohibited and do not follow the true religion, until they pay the jizya [the poll tax] out of hand, while being humiliated' [9:29]. Allah has said: 'You who believe, the unbelievers who dwell around you; let them find you tough, and know that Allah is with those who fear Him' [9:123]."

Frankly, I'm disturbed. Notice the amount of times the word 'fight' comes up in there. And this is supposed to be a holy book, a book which sets the tone and direction for the billions of Muslims across the world. If this is indeed what is written in the book, I can now understand why Islamic terrorism exists. Whatever it is, if the above-mentioned are true, I fear for the safety of the non-Muslim world from Muslim extremists.

Entire letter can be read here.

Traveller fell apart at 2:32 AM

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