Sunday, March 01, 2015

Do we see something if there isn't a word for it?

I know there has been too much talk already about #thedress than I care about but my hubby found a very interesting article: No one could see the color blue until modern times.

It's nothing about that blasted dress. It's about how our language is connected to what we see around us. The articles says that apparently there wasn't any color blue before--the ancient languages had no words for blue.

And I found this absolutely fascinating: "do you really see something if you don’t have a word for it?"

It was such an interesting observation that I went hunting for any good books on the same topic and found these two books which I may check out.

And even though the author did not write favorably about the Bible and his thoughts about the Tower of Babel is not accurate, I will check them out and learn something still.

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature
by Steve Pinker

Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language
by Steve Pinker


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Egg Coffee in Malaysia

I'm obsessed with egg coffee ever since I've had it in Hanoi, Vietnam a couple of years ago and I've even tried to make it myself.

I finally found it being served here in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia in O Banh Mi Cafe and so I went to try it today.

It's not as good as I expected. I must say even I made a better egg coffee. But it's still good and this place has excellent Vietnamese sandwiches though. So I'll definitely be back.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday morning power nap

I am a night owl but I wake up very early every morning to get my son to school. And by Friday, I'd be practically sleep walking through the day.

But today was a bit different. I had felt really tired in the morning and decided I'd skip gym and take a much needed nap before I start work.

It certainly worked wonders. I went through the day with so much energy I've never had before on Fridays.

But does this mean I will have to skip gym every Friday morning now?


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Toxic bosses?

I have blogged about toxic people before but what about toxic bosses?

I must qualify that I am not referring to my current boss now but I've had my fair share of toxic bosses before. You can't avoid them and you can't run away from them, unless of course you quit the job and so what do you do?

There are many tips out there on how to manage toxic bosses but I found these interesting quotes about being a boss and having a boss:

The single greatest determinant of happiness at work, is the quality of your relationship with your boss.
~ Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster

Don't blame the boss. He has enough problems.
~ Donald Rumsfeld

A lot of times, there are issues going on with the boss that employees don’t see — they think it’s about them — the employee — and they take it personally. Then, they don’t communicate with their boss and wind up acting inappropriately.
~ Lynn Taylor

A good boss make his men realize that they have more ability than they think they have so that they consistently do better work than they thought they could.
~ Charles Erwin Wilson

The speed of the boss is the speed of the team.
~ Lee Iacocca

Accomplishing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.
~ Doug Larson

The person who knows how will always have a job. The person who knows why will always be his boss.
~ Alanis Morissette


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn

Following the awesome movie I watched yesterday, I got a copy of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects to read.

I was hopeful for a good read because the book did win several awards and it was said to be adapted into a serialized TV drama soon.

But so far, I'm just okay with it. I'm a quarter way through and it has not wowed me, yet.

And if you don't see a review of the book here soon, then it's probably better for you to give it a miss. But no matter how this book will fare for me, I would still get a copy of Gone Girl.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gone Girl ★★★★★

Gone Girl (2014)

I don't usually give away any spoilers when I blog about movies, but you might want to watch this movie first before you read this. Not that I talk much about the plot but for a psychological thriller, the less you know about it before you watch it, the better. So if you have not, skip the next two paragraphs and go to the last.

This is one movie I could not stop thinking about after watching it. It's like I'm obsessed about it. The main reason, I think, is because there is no closure to the movie at all, but the movie is so good. I'm highly likely to get the book and read it so I can get a fuller feel of the story - though I'm not sure if I should do that, because the story is pretty dark.

It's about a husband whose wife disappeared on the day of their fifth wedding anniversary. The movie unfolded along in the events after that, and soon he was accused of murder. But midway through, I could already guess who and what, but how it went further was quite crazy - the crazy but amazing mind of a psychopath.

And the acting was superb, both Ben Affleck and especially Rosamund Pike. The dialogue was fantastic. Kudos to Gillian Flynn, also the author of the book. I recommend this highly but be prepared for some gruesome scenes.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Best roast chicken ever

Nando's serve the best roast chicken ever. Have you tried them?

Source: The DressingRoom

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Do it anyway

You give the best of your years in care and love, but you get hurt. Do it anyway.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Mortal Instruments ★☆☆☆☆

The Mortal Instruments, City of Bones (2013)

Just like this review here, I was reluctant to give this movie a review but it was so bad that it was actually memorable. It started off promising but soon I was terribly bored. And the dialogue is basically horrible, laughable in fact.

But what I find really amusing about the movie was how it picked up ideas from all over the place.

I noticed it when the protagonist was brought into the infirmary, and I went, "Hey, isn't that the infirmary in Hogwarts?" She then went into the head of the institute's office that looks like Dumbledore's. Humans here, as opposed to the half-angelic beings are called mundanes. Oh, not muggles? There is even a Harry-Ron-Hermione three-some...seriously. And there are crows in place of owls and even dementors. Halfway through, you get to see vampires and werewolves, and the scene at the spiral stairs is just like Edward and Bella's in the forest. Then there's the watery circular gate to other worlds, and that's from Stargate. There is one scene just like the lighted garden in Avatar. And the scene that took the crowning glory was the Star Wars I'm-your-father-and-you-are-brother-and-sister scene close to the end of the movie.

This is just too much. What happened to originality?


Thursday, February 19, 2015

The "Yang" confusion

Is this the year of the goat, lamb or ram? It has always been the year of the goat for me. There were no confusions until this year when I begin to see lamb and ram being used in decorations.

The Chinese character for lamb is 羊, yang(2), and it does mean either lamb, goat or ram. So anything goes?

It actually can be any of these: 綿羊 mian yang (sheep), 山羊 shan yang (goat), 公羊 gong yang (ram), 母羊 mu yang (ewe), 羔羊 gao yang (lamb), or 羚羊 ling yang (antelope).

But apparently Chinese linguists are sticking to the goat. That is exactly what has been known to me.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

I miss attending a liturgical church. I forgot it is Ash Wednesday today until it was too late. I had not realized it is now the Lent Season, a time to be still and meditate, to spent more time in prayer and in fasting to draw near to God in this special time as well as to prepare to observe and celebrate the Holy Week.

Today is also the Chinese New Year eve, a time to celebrate the new year with family and friends. A time to rekindle relationships and friendships.

Lent season is 40 days and Chinese New Year is 15. I need to balance between a time of celebration and contemplation.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review: Simply Christian, Why Christianity Makes Sense

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
by N.T. Wright

I bought this book immediately after I read Simply Jesus, and I like it a lot. It begins by introducing us to the four echoes of a voice we hear often in our everyday living: (1) the longing for justice, (2) the quest for spirituality, (3) the hunger for relationships, and (4) the delight in beauty.

He then brings us to stare at the sun, at God - who he is, his chosen people Israel, Jesus, life in him and the Holy Spirit.

He then concludes with the thitd section in actively living out the faith in worship, prayer, reading Scripture, in the church community and living life as a new creation.

It brings me back to the foundation of who I am as a Christian through a fresh new perspective. What Wright has done here is no common fare. What he wrote about being a Christian is quite unlike the usual things that you would expect or even, what you have been doing or living as a Christian. He draws into the depth and challenges me on the understanding of who God is, the fact that I'm literally staring at the sun when I want to see and know him. He challenges me in my practice and life as a Christian. He taught me to recognize the echoes of that one voice, who is Jesus Christ in all I encounter everyday.

This is a must-read book and I will definitely read it again soon. NT Wright is said to be the CS Lewis of our time and I couldn't agree more. They are both now my most favourite and admired authors.

I have just bought another one of his book a moment ago. This is a serious author-shopping spree I'm having.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Bad week resolved

I have mentioned time and again that there are usually no coincidences in life. Is there?

For example, it happened again yesterday during worship service when we were led to sing "Blessed Assurance". It was sung again, not deliberately planned, during the Sunday School sharing session. I'm thinking God must be double confirming this assurance with someone in the congregation that morning.

Anyway, I had quite a bad week last and my mind was so preoccupied with worry over the weekend wondering how to deal with the issue. It then dawned on me that I should just speak to the person face to face.

I made an appointment to see him but hours before the scheduled time, he had asked to meet. I wasn't ready but went ahead with it. The discussion turned out extremely good and I was finally at peace.

But he requested that I come see him again at the appointed time to continue the conversation. I did, but the meeting was very short. He had a lot of things in his mind.

With that, I'm so grateful for the earlier meeting that enabled me to settle the matter at hand. If it were at the later appointment, I would have failed.

I thank God for his providence!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Deuteronomy 28

The sermon today was preached from Psalm 73, a favourite psalm with this beautiful verse, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (v.26)

The preacher preached on the difficult theme of suffering. He referred also to Deuteronomy 28, where its 68 verses were separated into two sections.

The first section from verse 1 to 14 deals with blessings in the form of security, material prosperity and abundance in the land God is giving to his people in their obedience.

The second section takes the much larger block from verse 15 to 68 and it deals with curses and judgment as a result of disobedience.

The speaker's brief reference to it was unsatisfactory for me because I need to settle the immediate question I had - how can it be explained when Scripture clearly states that the life we have from God is not by our works but by God's grace.

In my reference to the two electronic commentaries I have with me (I can't seem to concentrate any longer whilst this matter weighs heavy on my mind), I did manage to get it cleared.

Reading the chapter with the basic understanding of moral goodness resulting in blessings whereas rebellion curses and punishment is actually a very shallow view.

Deuteronomy 28 has to do with the covenant that God has entered into with the people of Israel. And in this covenant that is graciously given, obedience is expected and to disobey God is to betray and reject the very source of life. The only way to live is to remain in fellowship in the covenant with the Lord God. The primary concern therefore is not rewards but that only in the fellowship with God and in obedience to his commandments could life be found.1

And the book of Job clearly display the reality that someone as righteous as Job actually lost everything he had. Some scholars have even suggested that the book of Job was written expressly to challenge the simplistic interpretation of the Deuteronomic theology.2

And the most important relevant NT account is found in John 9 when the disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?", where Jesus responded, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned."

There you go, Scripture must be explained with Scripture.

1 J.A. Thompson, Deuteronomy, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary
2 Duane L. Christensen, Deuteronomy 21:10-34:12

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My life purpose, my reason of being, and my motivation in life

Romans 12:1-2
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

These verses speak to me today as I remind myself who I am living for. In all things that I do, I should first offer myself to God as a living sacrifice, seeking first his righteousness. And I shall be doing what I do for the glory of God. He is my purpose, my reason of being, my motivation in life. Amen.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Author Shopping

I mentioned about my tendency to go author shopping sometimes. It happens when I like an author and I would buy several of their books all at one go.

Which authors have I done such book shopping on? These are based on my ebooks purchases. Print books not included.

N.T. Wright - I just bought his Simply Christian, right after I finished reading Simply Jesus. Ok, this does not count since I only bought one, but I have bought his other books all at one go before.

Anchee Min - Chinese historical fiction.

Kent Hughes - Preaching the Word Series, I think I've purchased all of his OT commentaries. I stop short at completing my NT set because I calculated that at the rate of my reading, I will not have enough time in my lifetime to finish reading them all.

Dallas Willard - books on Christian living and spirituality.

Francine Rivers - biblical historical fiction.

Randy Alcorn - eschatological fiction.

I don't remember for sure which authors I did mass shopping on their print books but these two without a doubt: DA Carson and CS Lewis.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ★★★★★

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

I have been wanting to watch this movie for the longest time, and I manage to do so today and it was a great one.

It has two of my favorite actresses in it, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. And if Helen Mirren were in it as well, it would have been perfect.

It is about several retirees who decided, based on what was promised online, to spend their retirement fund in a hotel in India that promised to cater to their needs. But when they arrived, they saw the promises dashed.

But this saying was there throughout the entire movie - Everything will be all right in the end; if it's not all right then it's not yet the end.

Their stories and especially the dialogue were just hilarious. It's not funny funny but serious funny. It's British humour.

Here's some of my favourite unforgettable dialogue:
Evelyn: Yes, it is builder's tea. We dunk biscuits into it.
Sunaina's Brother: Dunk?
Evelyn: Means lowering the biscuit into the tea and letting it soak in there and trying to calculate the exact moment before the biscuit dissolves, when you whip it up into your mouth and enjoy the blissful union of biscuits and tea combined. It's more relaxing than it sounds.

Evelyn: [about their new environment] Initially you're overwhelmed. But gradually you realize it's like a wave. Resist, and you'll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you'll swim out the other side.

Evelyn: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.
Muriel: Most things don't. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.
All the characters were very well played. Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson were fabulous in their roles. As much as I could not stand Celia Imrie in Nanny McPhee, she is quite a delight here. It's Penelope Wilton's role played so well that I could not stand her here.

Judi Dench's character was a darling, a bit needy but humble and wise in her ways. On the other hand, the unfolding of Maggie Smith's character was the most interesting.

Shan't have any spoilers here, go watch it!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Book Review: Simply Jesus, A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters

Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters
by N.T. Wright

N.T. Wright writes for both the scholars and general readers. I have his now published four books out of the planned six in his Christian Origins and the Question of God series, which I found quite tough to read. This book, Simply Jesus, is I suppose, a summarised version of those books.

The book dwells on who Jesus was, what he did and why he matters. I like it when he gave a good portion of the book to stress the importance of understanding how different first century Jews thought and lived in comparison to our time, in the way they interpreted space and time and worldview. We need to know that in order to better understand Scripture and who Jesus is and how he is being viewed at that time, which would have influenced how he was treated and how he presented himself to mankind.

But what I gained most in reading Simply Jesus is a fuller and deeper understanding of the realization of the kingdom of God right here, right now. The kingdom of God is already established here on earth, right from the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

The kingdom of God is real. It is not to be taken with a "spiritual" understanding, i.e. from a "meaning" perspective. It is present now and we as believers as real citizens of this kingdom.

But I still have lots to think about it to further instill it in my mind and to learn to live a kingdom-of-God living.

(Anyway, I don't think I did any good in this review here. The book is much better than how I am able to explain it.)


Post-script (17/3/2015): My sister-in-law asked me this question out of the blue today, "What is the kingdom of God?" Seriously, how many (non-)coincidences am I experiencing lately? I told her that is exactly what I have been reading and learning so much from NT Wright and the fact that I have not seen the kingdom of God this way before.

She was confused between the kingdom of God and the Gospel if Christ. The kingdom of God was mainly what Jesus spoke about in the Gospels, but after Jesus's ascension, the disciples and Paul spoke and preached the Gospel of Christ. She felt Jesus' and the disciples' messages were two different messages.

I assured that it is not so, that they are the same message. It is in fact when Jesus came down to earth, the kingdom of God has arrived, and Jesus is the king. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the whole world, it is here but not yet.

Right now, our world is still prevalent with multiple kingdoms, both material and immaterial, with multiple kings. But in spite of that, with the birth of Jesus, the kingdom of God has arrived.

For us to be citizens of this kingdom, the only way is King Jesus and the only way is his sacrifice, his death. We can only enter into this new world through God's appointed way, the death and resurrection of His Son.

Isn't that an amazing way to look at the kingdom of God of whom we are all citizens, we who receive the Lord Jesus as the king of our lives and we who strive to live by the precepts of this kingdom, who deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow him, who grows in the fruit of the Spirit with character that this kingdom requires its citizens?

I am so amazed with this fresh understanding of the kingdom of God and I'm in it! And only because of the grace of God.