Friday, December 21, 2007


I will spend it away from home. =[

On the Upside, I shall be snowboarding in Utah. =]

And on the way back we'll stop for the Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. =]

And I'll have to read Tocqueville. =\

And write a Term Paper on why Atheism by Establishment is better than Theism by Establishment. =] (Specifically using the Engel v. Vitale case)

I'm also planning to reform my sleep habits as I've been averaging 12-1 o' clock bedtimes.

I'm going to listen to more Rachmaninoff.

Play Annabelle more often. (Bach and Theory!) Eep.

And try to read at least half of Brothers Karmazov.

I'm also going to read through all the Nativity scenes in the Gospels.

Pray more, sleep more, grow more.

*Sigh*... I need a vacation....


Saturday, December 15, 2007


Yes, that is my piano's name.



Anna+Belle=Graceful Beauty.

The pictures don't do the sound justice, but...

The photos are on Flickr. =]

I plan to name my (future) daughter Annabelle, by the way. NOT after my piano. This like a sort of bent back on itself naming. Piano named after daughter, not other way around. =]

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Took Hall

Yesterday, I had the priviledge of staying over at Took Hall in order to attend some Torrey Honors Sessions. =] It was great, my thanks to the guys of Took Hall. Anyway, here's a funny bit of dialogue that happened while I was there:

Me: You guys have a complete set of the Western classics?!!!! You have bigwonderfulawesome library!!!???? AGGGGHHH!!!!! *Turns green with envy*

Peter: OOoooooo Envyenvyenvyenvyenvy, Covetessnesscovetessnesscovetessness

Me: Guiltguiltguiltguiltguiltguiltguilt

Peter: Condemnationcondemnationcondemnationcondemnation

Dan: Gracegracegracegracegracegracegracegrace

Me: Santificationsantificationsantificationsantification


Torrey: Goodgoodgoodgoodgoodgoodgoodgoodgoodgoodgoodgoodgood



Monday, December 3, 2007


My family got a Grand Piano.

Is it Big?


Is it Powerful?


Is it Beautiful?


Is it Totally Awesome?!


mhmmm after a few hours of playing I can safetly say it is all of thee above and[yawn]. =]

Piano = Much Good.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


This week, I've had to learn a hard lesson. That is, how to be humble. My teacher whom I respect and admire very much for showing me my weakness and sin pointed out in his evaluation of my Term Paper that I was acting as if I were an exception towards the general rules, not only was the quality of my paper unacceptably low, but so was my attitude. "Pride cometh before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall". Sigh. At first, I was able to see it from a third persons point of view, I knew that this would not only be a growing experience (being reprimanded) but that it would also be painful. I was overjoyed at being corrected, for I had noticed my own academic slipshodedness for quite some time already. But as the hours passed and my teacher's words took on more personal weight, the burden and shame did begin to seep into my heart. Throughout the (continuing) ordeal I've been very grateful to Mr. Buhler for pointing out my arrogance and snobbishness. This lesson is hard, but at least my lesson in humility has begun. But I recognize this: if I had maintained a loving, trusting and dependent relationship with God, this would not have happened. And until I learn to be humble as Christ was humble and depend upon my Heavenly Father as Jesus depended upon the Father then my Pride will continue to rear its ugly head.

So what I've learned so far:
1) I have been ignoring my classmates. Torrey is about learning from a community, for many months now, I have (consciously or not) been almost ignoring the comments of my friends during class, I've isolated myself in the dungeon of my own mind, which (to a certain degree) is a type of insanity.

2) I cannot conquer my pride alone, only God can. Although I am still unsure of how to destroy my pride, by God's grace I am determined to depend upon Him daily for guidance and for mercy.

3) This has certainly been an experience with God. Now that I think about it, this event was a direct answer to my prayer! I had asked God to "destroy my pride, for it is an abhorrent thing to You", God never really works the way we think He will, and that's a good thing.

I've seen now how disgusting my pride has been and I can do nothing but beg for forgivness and grace from my classmates, my family, my friends, my teacher, but most of all, from God. This is a small step, but a step nonetheless. I am still a boy and quite a stupid one, but I thank God for showing this to me. I hope I don't remain one. =]

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I love my dog. See originally we had planned to get two dogs and name one Maple and the other Syrup, but we ended up just getting Maple. Hehe...there were also plans for getting dogs named Chocolate (Black Lab), Corn, Blueberry, Boysenberry... Bad Joke...sorry. Haha. Anyway, here is an adorable set of photos for your enjoyment.

Disclaimer: The writer of this blog is not responsible for any outbreaks of jealousy regarding said dog. Also, he is not responsible for any throat problems resulting from screams of, "Awwww!!!" and "Soooooo Cute!!!". That being said, on with the (slide) show.

(You can click the photos for much larger sizes)
This would be her Regal Sphinx Pose

Stretching just before the performance:

The Yawn.

I'd say that was a 10/10 wouldn't you?

Notice the nonchalance with which she finishes off and excellent performance.


*Thunderous Applause*

Saturday, November 17, 2007


A few months ago I read Ephesians 14 times (on the advice of Dr. Sanders in his post about synthetic readings of the Bible) and this evening I spent 2 hours reading it once with much prayer for wisdom and understanding. Praise God! He truly works! He cares about us! Even on the 15th reading, there is soooooo much more that I learned! I think Sayers says something about this, like the student will come to the wonderful realization that truism is true! To my shame I admit that I have not read my Bible at all for the past 3 months. (Really, truly read I mean, token scanning but never concentrated, focused, etc.) But in those 2 hours i feel like I've gained a world of Joy. I am very thankful. Thank you God. =]

Thursday, November 15, 2007


John Wesley has got to be my favorite author so far in Foundations.

So our class was discussing the topic of Justification and Sanctification and Faith. (Oh Boy!) This has got to be my favorite discussion so far too! It's going to be hard to distill our entire ream of thought but I shall try:

3 Analogies

Good Tree=Good Fruit,
Good Faith=Good Works

The whole relationship is organic. By not doing some good works your faith doesn't automatically shrivel up and die, it moves in degrees towards being alive or dead. Also, when too many fruits are being supported and there are not enough resources to go around, all the fruits suffer. Same with good works. When one is spread too thin, all good acts suffer. This is, of course, a very incomplete and inept summary of this (awesome) analogy.

2) A Muscle is either: Healthy and Fit, weak and flabby, atrophied, or dead.

Same with Faith. It works (so we think) like a muscle. More it is used, the stronger it gets. When it doesn't get used, it starts getting weaker then shrinks then dies. (eventually...I think)

3) Vine:

Sometimes the vine needs to be pruned in order to be able to focus it's resources in order to produce better fruit. Same with us. In order to produce a few excellent good works, sometimes it requires just focusing on those few.

Those were the main analogies we had. We only had two hours but we covered alot! However we didn't go too much into what we meant by good works. Or maybe we did....Anyway, these questions about Faith, Justification, and Sanctification are some of the Cornerstones of Christianity. I hope I never stop learning about them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rhapsody on a theme of Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff's music is incredible. My friend MKR sums it up by saying, "He's perfect". Especially in his Piano Concertos (#2 and #3 specifically) the music becomes so complexly beautiful, they evoke so many wonderful emotions and give such a sense of hope that nothing I've ever heard can compare with it. For forty minutes I experience ecstacy. And perhaps the most wonderful thing about Rachmaninoff's Piano Concertos is that I can see glimpes of the Divine Love. I suppose the thing I feel is Wonder as defined by Chesterton, "Gratitude mixed with Awe". Nothing seems impossible and eveything is beautiful during those 40 minutes. Of course I haven't heard that much, but he really is and will always be my favorite composer.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What I Learned From Wearing Pink Flip Flops...

In the course of wearing pink flip-flops, I have come to some truths which I would like to briefly present:

1) If you're wearing pink flip-flops, you get odd looks....alot.

2) The reaction that people have towards one's pink flip flops (after the initial weird looks) depends almost entirely upon one's reaction to those weird looks/questions.

3) A lame attempt to hide flops from view will almost certainly illicit snickers and general ridicule of a non-conformist experiment gone too far.

4) An air of nonchalance and total casualness usually produces positive responses ranging from shrugs signifying an acceptance of eccentricity to downright admiration. =]

These being my observations I shall endeavor to list a few things I've learned from wearing pink flip flops.

Everything depends on your reaction to people's reaction.

When buying pink flip flops, the expensive ones are rarely as comfortable as the cheap ones I get in Hong Kong. =]

People are really so conditioned to go with the flow that if you surprise them with something that is out of the ordinary you can pretty much shape what they think of it by letting them know what you think. I myself fall prey to this weakness. I have (I am ashamed to admit) been influenced to think ill of a person I've never met simply by what people have said of that person. Now this is not always bad, only it is very easy to make generalizations and thus you can end up subscribing to falsity rather than reality. All in all, I suggest you try wearing pink flip makes things just a wee bit more interesting. *wink, wink*

Saturday, October 27, 2007

To those who have lost a home in these past few weeks...

My prayers are with you.

Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10th, 1666

Anne Bradstreet

In silent night when rest I took,
For sorrow neer I did not look,
I waken'd was with thundring nois
And Piteous shreiks of dreadfull voice.
That fearfull sound of fire and fire,
Let no man know is my Desire.

I, starting up, the light did spye,
And to my God my heart did cry
To strengthen me in my Distresse
And not to leave me succourlesse.
Then coming out beheld a space,
The flame consume my dwelling place.

And, when I could no longer look,
I blest his Name that gave and took,
That layd my goods now in the dust:
Yea so it was, and so 'twas just.
It was his own: it was not mine;
Far be it that I should repine.

He might of All justly bereft,
But yet sufficient for us left.
When by the Ruines oft I past,
My sorrowing eyes aside did cast,
And here and there the places spye
Where oft I sate, and long did lye.

Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest;
There lay that store I counted best:
My pleasant things in ashes lye,
And them behold no more shall I.
Under thy roof no guest shall sitt,
Nor at thy Table eat a bitt.

No pleasant tale shall 'ere be told,
Nor things recounted done of old.
No Candle 'ere shall shine in Thee,
Nor bridegroom's voice ere heard shall bee.
In silence ever shalt thou lye;
Adeiu, Adeiu; All's vanity.

Then streight I 'gin my heart to chide,
And did thy wealth on earth abide?
Didst fix thy hope on mouldring dust,
The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?
Raise up thy thoughts above the ske
That dunghill mists away may flie.

Thou hast an house on high erect,
Fram'd by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent though this bee fled.
It's purchased, and paid for too
By him who hath enough to doe.

A Prise so vast as is unknown,
Yet, by his Gift, is made thine own.
Ther's wealth enough, I need no more;
Farwell my Pelf, farewell my Store.
The world no longer let me Love,
My hope and Treasure lyes Above.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dies Irae

Sooner or later, when you listen to Rachmaninoff, you'll find him quoting this thirteenth century Latin hymn. If you're in the right mind set, the Dies Irae theme can really freak you out. The theme from this Gregorian chant crops up in quite a few places, it shows up in the 9th variation of Rach's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and in his Symphonic Dances, to name a few. It's pretty much talking about the Day of Judgement and eternal punishment if you're not saved. Interestingly enough Mozart (my other favorite composer) also used the text of Dies Irae in the Sequentia segment of his famous Requiem, but wrote different music for it. Here's the text of "Dies Irae":

Here's the music for it:

I recommend reading the translation and listening to it at the same time. It's pretty easy to follow.

Although the whole thing is a bit depressing, there is a glimmer of hope in the piece:

Recordare, Jesu pie,
quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
ne me perdas illa die.

This is my favorite line in it. For those of you taking Latin, see if you can read it, if not, you'll find it on the link above, verse 9.

If anyone knows anything more about this, please let me know, I'd love to talk about it. =]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

That's what you're supposed to do. =] But if you need incentive, think about the money. I've gotten permission from the site administrators to bring recycling bags to the site. The money really adds up. I'm planning to keep some proceeds and give some to the site. Hope it works. It cost 50 dollars just to buy the supplies. =\

New CDs!

I bought them on Amazon:

Rachmaninoff: Vespers (All-Night Vigil)
The Robert Shaw Festival Singers
Conducted by Robert Shaw

Rachmaninoff: Isle of the Dead
Conducted by Vladimir Askenazy

Rachmaninoff: The Bells (Loosely based on the poem by Edgar Allen Poe), Symphonic Dances
Conducted by Robert Shaw

The last one is supposedly a Grammy winner. =]

Now if only I could find time....I'm so excited! =]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Few Lines

T.S. Eliot is amazing:
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

At Last

I'm done with SAT and PSAT review! Today I took the PSAT and I took the SAT last sunday! Yes, after months of slavery to those little bubble sheets I am free of their draconian tyranny! Yes! Seriously, I worked through the whole SAT prep book and took an eight week prep course from Mr. Kim at Alpha in the summer. Ah, freedom, it feels good. *Takes deep breath* Just hope my test scores come out well. Now, back to homework. Sigh.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


So, I was doing SAT prep stuff. And it seems to me that I work best when I'm focused. Now I know this would probably be an obvious fact, but everything seems to be more interesting when you care about it, or at least about finishing it. See, I was rushing to finish the SAT sections so I could watch "Pushing Daisies" which, by the way, is a very funny show. Dark humor. =] Anyways, I was just thinking, why do I have to have a tv show to get me excited about doing things? I'm trying to find a way to be truly motivated by better motives. You know, like where your treasure is, there your heart is also. How do we truly become motivated through the daily drudgery of tasks with right and good motives. I think Chesterton says it nicely with this piece of advice,

"It is a good exercise, in empty or ugly hours of the day, to look at anything, the coal-scuttle or the bookcase, and think how happy one could be to have brought it out of the sinking ship on to the solitary island. But it is better exercise still to remember how all things have had this hair-breadth escape: everything has been saved from a wreck. Every man has had one horrible adventure: as a hidden untimely birth he had not been, as infants that never see the light. Men spoke much in my boyhood of restricted or ruined men of genius: and it was common to say that many a man was a Great Might-Have-Been. To me it is a more solid and startling fact that any man in the street is a Great Might-Not-Have-Been."

So, back to work...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Chesterton vs. Hobbes

Yes. I've been re-reading the "Orthodoxy" and I've been wading through "Leviathan" and I've come to a few conclusions. Firstly, Hobbes is insane. Not because his sentences are so confusing, but because he is essentially on the path to insanity. Er....was. Anyway, here's my point. Hobbes doesn't allow anything he can't explain to be in his worldview. Essentially he says that the term "Incorporeal Substance" is irrational and absurd because the term is a contradiction in itself. This leads to him denying that God is a spirit. And this leads to some borderline atheistic conclusions. For example, if God is not a spirit, then he must be matter, and if he is matter than he is limited. If he is limited, then he is not who he says he is...etc. etc. He wisely avoids bringing his assumption to it's final conclusion, but he is, as Chesterton says, "Within a hairs-breadth of insanity". Here's Chesterton:

"Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite....To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."

And Later:
"The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. The determinist makes the theory of causation quite clear, and then finds that he cannot say "if you please" to the housemaid. The Christian permits free will to remain a sacred mystery; but because of this his relations with the housemaid become of a sparkling and crystal clearness. He puts the seed of dogma in a central darkness; but it branches forth in all directions with abounding natural health."

"The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility."

I don't wish to write an entire reflection essay, so I'll make it short. Hobbes is insane because he tries to understand God. The infinite. He tries to stuff God into his theory of the universe and his head explodes because God is too big for him. By not allowing the mystery of the infinite God to remain an unknowable mystery (how can we, finite beings, know what is infinite) he ends up denying God's omnipotence. This line of reasoning will ultimately lead you to doubts about yourself. Any questions? Good. Go read Chesterton.

=] Have a mystic and poetic day!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Various Chesterton quotes

Have been in the middle of Chesterton biography, some quotes:

"...A sage feels too small for life, And a fool too large for it."

"But there are four lamps of thanksgiving always before him. Thefirst is for his creation out of the same earth with such a woman asyou. The second is that he has not, with all his faults, 'gone afterstrange women.' You cannot think how a man's self-restraint isrewarded in this. The third is that he has tried to love everythingalive: a dim preparation for loving you. And the fourth is--but nowords can express that. Here ends my previous existence. Take it: itled me to you."
-To his wife, Frances

"A man's friends like him but they leave him as he is. A man's wifeloves him and is always trying to change him."

"You can always tell the real love from the slight by thefact that the latter weakens at the moment of success; the former is quadrupled."

; )

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Where the Doxology Really came from

Or so I am told....

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
To pay Thy morning sacrifice.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew;
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design to do or say;
That all my pow'rs, with all their might,
In thy sole glory may unite.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

-Thomas Ken




Saturday, September 29, 2007

Found in a newspaper ad: Question, seeking True Answer

As this blog is entitled "Curiously Curious" Here goes:

Is it a sin to fall asleep during a sermon?
(See previous post)

Joe thinks cats are people, John thinks their not. As a Hobbesian, how would one resolve their conflict? (You are not allowed to envoke the authority of the Sovereign)

What does it mean to live intentionally?

What does it mean to be accomplished?

Am I living to my full potential?

Why am I jealous of others?

Why am I so lazy?

Why am I so un-motivated?

Why is life so meaningless without God?

Why do I seem to forget the previous question so often?

Why can't I get up earlier?

How can I become better than I am?

Why does God love us?

Is THI worth going to (instead of other schools)?

Am I going to do well on my SAT and PSAT?

Will I ever read this post in the far off future?

If the cat got killed by curiousity, what killed the dog?

Why is music so beautiful?

Why is learning and growing so wonderful?

Why is God so good?

Just some things I'm thinking about.....

Speaking of Laodiceans...

Is it a sin to fall asleep during a sermon?

I know, I know, Gasp! Horribible. And it wasn't even a boring sermon (although that isn't a good excuse either)! To make it ten times worse, I did it next to my friend...who really don't care about going to church. Sigh. I seem to have become a stumbling block. And a horribly ashamed and guilty one at that. How do I go about fixing it? Or at least stemming the damage? I may have irrevocably given him the worst impression possible, that Christianity is boring?! Oh Lord, forgive me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Dog (How's That for a Captivating Title?)

So, I have an amazingly adorable dog:

Who, unfortunately, has ADD (Can dogs even be diagnosed with that?):

I love her, of course, but at times, she can be quite a handful. This fact was especially apparent today, when I was taking out the trash cans. As I opened the backyard door, a bolt of furry energy barreled past me and straight into the cul-de-sac. At this point I was debating the effectiveness of yelling expletives while my feet were carrying me around the corner, frantically chasing my dog who was speeding along at roughly Mach 3. After about ten blocks, a cramp or two and quite a few evil thoughts involving a meat grinder and a certain female dog, I finally catch the little, 55-pound Goldendoodle. Of course, at this point, I launch into a formulaic lecture (in a very harsh tone) about ungratefulness, naughtiness, and the best way to send a dog through a meat grinder.

When we finally reach home, I make sure she understands her wrong-doing and vow not to even pet her for two days. Then this happened:

Look at those eyes! Yes, I know, how cruel and cold hearted of me, how could I ever think of punishing such an adorable creature? Well, it's pretty obvious that the no-petting policy was quickly done away with and widdle snookums bathed in the sunshine of favor once again. It's a dog eat dog world out there.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Dialogue

Written for Logic Last year (I know it has many flaws but I think it presents some plausible arguements for Happiness)

Gabriel Choo
Mr. Leigh
TA Logic
Yorba Linda I
Socratic Dialogue Project
April 24, 2007


The Scene: Aboard a Long-Haul Flight to New Zealand (First Class Seating).

NEPHEW: Uncle Bill, can you tell me whether or not happiness exists; or if we’re all doomed to a meaningless and joyless existence on this tiny, inconsequential speck of dust?

UNCLE BILL: Whoa there! When did you start getting so depressed? What happened?

NEPHEW: Puberty.

UNCLE: [Looks exasperated, at first, then chuckles and has a look of quiet amusement]
I can relate to that. I’ve often wondered myself whether there was any happiness on this “tiny, inconsequential speck of dust” as you so aptly put it.

NEPHEW: You mean you’re almost 50 and you don’t know yet!?

UNCLE: SHHHHHH! I’m in my late 30’s if anyone asks. [winkwink] And as for your question, I don’t think I would say that I have found the answer yet, but I wouldn’t say that I haven’t found the answer either. It’s complicated.

NEPHEW: How complicated?

UNCLE: Well, you live for 50…I mean 30 years and you see a lot of things. Some of the stuff you see around you seems to support one side of the argument, yet on the other hand you’ve got people like Mother Theresa.

NEPHEW: Hey! I know what we can do! Why don’t we do a Socratic dialogue that my Teacher’s been telling me about?

UNCLE: Oh! You mean the philosophical thing where all those Grecian old guys with huge beards dressed in their bed sheets start firing questions at each other and the guy with the largest beard does most of the talking and the other guy just listens and says ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’?

NEPHEW: Yeah, yeah that one! Why don’t you be that So-crates guy.

UNCLE: Why me? And by the way, it’s actually So-cra-tEEs.

NEPHEW: Well you are almost fif….forty.

UNCLE: And I suppose I am the only one with the ability to grow a beard…

NEPHEW: Hey, I’ve got some stubble!

UNCLE: Sure you do kid.

NEPHEW: You mean it!?

UNCLE: [Breaking the fourth wall] Sarcasm is a foreign language to my nephew.

UNCLE: I think I see some fuzz. [winkwink] Alright, so, your question is, “Does happiness exist” right?

NEPHEW: Right.

UNCLE: So, I think the most obvious place to start would be to ask, “What do you think happiness is?”

NEPHEW: Well, I think that happiness is having a purpose in life and enjoying that purpose. Because I see all those rich people and most of them aren’t all that happy. They just make money and try to spend it on something that’s more entertaining than the last thing they spent their money on, come to think of it, that’s what I do most of the time. That’s why I’m wondering if there’s something better.

UNCLE: That’s a good place to start, but I think I’ve found a way where your definition would fall through.

NEPHEW: Where?

UNCLE: Murderers are bad right?

NEPHEW: Yeah, that’s what the law and the Bible says.

UNCLE: Right, so what if you were a murderer? You’d have a purpose, right? And you’d also ‘enjoy’ your job, right? So who’s to say murderers aren’t happy?

NEPHEW: But that can’t be true! Murderers aren’t supposed to be happy, are they?

UNCLE: Well why not? According to your definition, they are.

NEPHEW: Oh, I see, I didn’t define my terms well enough, haha, I got marked down for that in school too. [smacks forehead]

UNCLE: Exactly, so what do you think would be a better definition that bypasses this obstacle?

NEPHEW: Well, I suppose we’d have to define happiness as having a purpose in life that does not interfere with the happiness of others and having the ability to achieve that goal.

UNCLE: Okay, but what if my purpose in life was to make lots of money and spend it?

NEPHEW: Well then I suppose that as long as you do not interfere with the happiness of others then you’re fine. But it seems wrong somehow.

UNCLE: How so?

NEPHEW: Well, we’re obviously pretty well off if we can fly first-class on all of our flights. First-class seating is almost three times that of economy.

UNCLE: Okay, our family is rich, so what?

NEPHEW: Well, a lot of our family doesn’t seem to be too, I don’t know, happy, all they do is work so they can enjoy themselves. It never ends.

UNCLE: Okay, so how do you think we should revise your definition of happiness into one that conforms with what we, as Christians can agree with?

NEPHEW: Isn’t that implying that people who aren’t Christian can’t be happy?

UNCLE: Whoa, haha, you’ve caught me. You’re right, it does imply that non-Christians cannot be happy so I should re-word what I just said. Obviously, rich people derive some sort of satisfaction from making money and spending it, else they would not work so hard for it.

NEPHEW: Correct, you should, therefore revise your statement.

UNCLE: Alright, how does this sound, “How should you revise your definition of happiness into one that accounts for worldly satisfaction and yet points to Christ as the greatest quality and quantity of happiness?”

NEPHEW: Good, but I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

UNCLE: And I thought I was playing Socrates. [Smiles] How so?

NEPHEW: Our original question was, “Does happiness exist, and now the way you’ve worded your question makes it sound like we’re actually starting with the premise that happiness exists and we’re happy-go-lucky Christians who want to convert everybody.

UNCLE: Wow. [shakes head] Pessimistic are we?

NEPHEW: I prefer the term: Angst.

UNCLE: Alright, we’ll do it your way. How bout this question sound to you, “Define happiness in a way that 1) does not interfere with the happiness of others 2) accounts for material satisfaction 3) yet points to a more profound form of happiness that worldly wealth is not able to satisfy.” To quote the popular saying, “Money can’t buy happiness”.

NEPHEW: How would you cite a popular saying?

UNCLE: Come again?

NEPHEW: Never-mind. Okay, so according to your guidelines, how does this sound? Happiness is having a purpose in life that is not based on…..desire?

UNCLE: How so?

NEPHEW: Well, in the bible it says that “He that wants money, never has it enough” so by denying the desire for material possessions we can achieve happiness.

UNCLE: That sounds an awful lot like Buddhism. Not that it’s wrong (we wouldn’t be politically correct in denouncing them) but as Christians…

NEPHEW: Who said I was a Christian? I mean, if this happiness thing isn’t solved for me, I see no point in being one. For that matter, if there’s no happiness, then why live at all?

UNCLE: Ah, all the more reason for searching. So, continuing, from a Christian perspective, why doesn’t everyone just give away all their possessions and follow Buddha?

NEPHEW: I don’t know? Money seems very meaningless and shallow to me.

UNCLE: So why aren’t you a follower of Buddhism?

NEPHEW: Wait, I think I just had an epiphany! This totally changes my definition of happiness.

UNCLE: How so?

NEPHEW: We’ve already established that worldly wealth cannot bring profound joy and happiness right?

UNCLE: Actually, we haven’t even defined happiness, but let’s see where you’re going with this idea.

NEPHEW: Alright, stay with me, the reason that I don’t follow Buddhism is that their chief motivation for denying themselves of everything and achieving ‘enlightenment’ is because they want to atone for all the bad things they’ve done and find happiness. All they’re doing is just avoiding the problem. They dismiss humanity’s innate desire for happiness by denying themselves of everything, emotions, wealth, etc. Essentially, Buddhism is based on denying desire.

UNCLE: Okay, so how does this help us?

NEPHEW: It gives us a HUGE clue!

UNCLE: I’m confused….

NEPHEW: According to Buddhists, being happy, also involves feeling atoned! Or being ‘good’! It involves satisfying that innate moral law that drives human actions. That’s why I feel so terrible every time I do something ‘bad’ which goes against this, this, law I have inside me.

UNCLE: [smiles] Now we’re getting somewhere. Keep going.

NEPHEW: Happiness therefore must also include not just fulfilling the moral law, but doing it for the sake of the thing itself and not for selfish gain, ideally, of course.

UNCLE: Of course. Nicely done, now finish it off.

NEPHEW: So happiness consists of 1) having a purpose which is fulfilling the natural moral law 2) is without selfish desire because we’ve already concluded that if you continue to want more, you’ll never have enough.

UNCLE: All right! But you still have a couple loose ends.

NEPHEW: Which are?

UNCLE: 1) You have not defined the moral law 2) Buddhism’s form of happiness is essentially the same as what you’ve just defined. So again, why are you not Buddhist?

NEPHEW: Huh? I thought I’d just explained that…please ‘enlighten’ me.

UNCLE: Your definition of happiness requires a person to fulfill the moral law with the right motives. Right?


UNCLE: So essentially, it’s now a contest between Buddhism and Christianity. Both offer a way to do this, fulfill the moral law, I mean. The first by human power and the second by divine. Buddha’s goal was to find the truth and attain happiness, a lot like what you’re trying to do. He basically said that the root of all suffering is desire and that by denying desire, we can find happiness and become ‘good’ people.

NEPHEW: Oh. I see. So are these the only ways to happiness?

UNCLE: You tell me.

NEPHEW: You know what Uncle Bill, I’m sick and tired of having to answer question after question after question. I do enough of that in school already, do I really need to do that over Easter Break too?

UNCLE: You know, if I tell you, it won’t be your’s to keep. You must learn to become independent, and find the answers for yourself. No one can help you except Him. [Points towards the cabin ceiling].


UNCLE: Good. Now tell me why it is that we follow Christ instead of Buddha.

NEPHEW: Let me research on just what Buddhist believe. Okay? Then we’ll continue our discussion. Er, Socratic Dialogue.

UNCLE: Alright, wake me up when you’re done looking through their beliefs.

NEPHEW: Will do.


NEPHEW: I’ve got it! I know why we don’t believe in Buddhism.

UNCLE: Okay, why?

NEPHEW: Buddhists believe in the Four Noble Truths which is basically summarized like this, “The world is screwed over because everyone keeps on pursuing happiness in their own, twisted ways. Therefore, by not pursuing happiness and changing your mind set to a state where you don’t care about anything and don’t hurt anyone, you achieve happiness.” Sounds easy right? Well, that’s just it! It’s not easy, no matter how hard we try, there will never be anyone who truly achieves this, we will always be sinful no matter how hard we try.

UNCLE: Good. So why do we believe in Christianity?

NEPHEW: Because Christianity can be summarized like this, “The world is screwed up because Man disobeyed God. Because you disobeyed God, it is now in your nature to sin and do evil to yourselves and to others. You can’t change your nature. And because you sin, at worst, you’ll die an eternal death and at best you can enjoy these meaningless pleasures that the world offers and then still have to die the second death. God knows this. So he sent his Son as a sacrifice for all of humanities sins. And because Jesus was fully human as well as fully God he was able to achieve the formerly impossible, live a perfect life and at the same time have a sinful tendency. And because Jesus did it, He can give this same power to live a perfect life to all who believe that he came to die for humanity. So that they can not only find happiness, but have eternal happiness. Free from sin forever.

UNCLE: Nice summary. But it seems to me to be just a matter of preference. Right?

NEPHEW: Wrong. It’s not possible to achieve happiness on your own, you need God.

UNCLE: So let’s summarize.

NEPHEW: We started with the question, “Does happiness exist?” and we tried several definitions. Then we finally came up with, “Happiness is fulfilling the innate moral law and having temperance or contentment.” We found that two religions offer a way to do this: Buddhism and Christianity. And we went through a discussion on which one works. We finally concluded that Christianity is more viable as a path to happiness because Buddhism doesn’t work.

UNCLE: Of course there are still those loose ends that I mentioned earlier, but…

NEPHEW: Let’s not worry about them and say we did.

UNCLE: Sounds good to me! [Both Laugh]


Today was the second day of Foundations. Of course the change in discussion format was to be expected. More interesting however, was Mr. Buhler's choice of adding a Theme Question for the semester. The question being: What does it mean to live life intentionally? Several texts from Ecclesiastes was read. When thinking of this question I'm reminded of something Socrates (I think it was him) said, "The unexamined life is not worth living". Also, that many people die without ever having lived. And another quote from T.S. Eliot,

"Love itself is unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement,
Timeless, and undesiring"

As this is a blog mainly about moving further up and further in, it would be important to ask, just why we as Christians strive to grow in Christ. In the discussion, the question of "What is worth doing in life?". Of course I know (Or at least I've been taught) that Knowing and understanding Christ Jesus and through him God the Father and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate goal in this life and the next (Phillipians 3). But Mr. Buhler (playing the Devil's Advocate) brought up the Greek myth of a man who was punished to be forever pushing a stone up a hill and watching it roll down again. Essentially, he declared all things futile, even the pursuit of the Knowledge of God. But I disagree completely with the author of Ecclesiastes for several reasons which I'll post about in the next post.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Elizabeth Bishop on Music

Hopefully this will, at least in part, atone for my woefully inept post on Music. Please note that this does not embody what music means to me.

I Am in Need of Music

By Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Emmaus Thoughts

During my vacation I was able to look over the notes I took during Emmaus Forum, a Christian worldview camp that is hosted on the campus of Biola University. As I am not at all eloquent in describing things that overwhelm me, I was surprised when I found a jounal entry that grants functional clarity to my outlook on life right now. (I think there is a significance to be seen here in that the jounal entry was directed towards God) So before I attempt to conquer the complexities of the class that is Foundations of American Thought (God Help me), I thought it'd be nice to start off this way. Here's the entry:


I am both in awe and wonder at the beauty I see. God has been so wonderful that I am speechless. I haven't flt this excited about the world I live in for a long, long time. This beauty, this excitement, this wonder, they all come from God. I'm thinking, engaging, and admiring things that are far too wonderful for me. Yet by God's grace I'm allowed to live and to wonder. Is there a diference in wandering and wondering? This desire for more, this need to be something or someone I'm not, this aching void to feel, to grow, to truly live and work toward all that I am meant to be in Christ, that is purpose. that I have been blessed with this knowledge is beautiful beyond words. God is wonderful, close, distant, attainable awe-full, both a part of me and everything I'm not. And yet, I'm afraid. Is this all a dream. will I go home and forget about all this until the next time I get a spiritual high? Will I fall back into the complacency and lethargy that I've fallen back into countless times? Lord, help me. I am weak. help me to want to want to love you. this connection between the God I serve and my everyday life. I don't want this to end. and I don't think it ever has to. Thank You Lord, for everything. Help me be like You. I want to know you more.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

TTFN-Tah Tah For Now!

I'm off to Banff, Canada for vacation! So Long, see ya in a week =]

Thursday, August 23, 2007


My last post got me thinking and here are some tid-bits on music. I love music. Especially Classical music. I like to think of Classical music as the main course and all other types as appetizers, desserts, etc. The rhythms, harmony, and melody. They all meld together into something that cannot be so fully expressed any other way. Words can only go so far. In the course of memorizing pieces, I've discovered how similar a piece of music and a written argument are. Each has a structure, for example, in a formal essay you have a thesis, a body, and a conclusion; in a piece of music, you have an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation. But these respective forms express things in radically different ways. Then you also have music for music's sake. Music that doesn't necessarily express anything except itself. It is what it is. Yet it's so amazing because empirically speaking, what is music except the ordering of sounds into.....well, organized sounds. I think music is more than the sum of it's parts. Even after playing the piano for so long, I still want more. Thank You God, for music.


I had my piano exam today. Ugh. I love piano but I don't like stress (Who does?) Although memorizing a Bach Invention is not an amazing accomplishment (to some) it was for me, mostly because I did it in TWO DAYS! Not that it's anything to be proud of, of course, but I did do it in TWO DAYS! But seriously, I don't think I've ever been so shaky in memorization before. I sat on my small cramped and incredibly uncomfortable stool for 8 hours on wednesday and about 5 on thursday....right before the exam. Well, my teacher says I have to refine the piece, but life is good. Now I can Finally start on Locke! I'm pretty sure I passed theory.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


There's something about the future (meaning the one which is never realized) that seems at once hopeful, promising, enticing, dreadful, and murky. As I am about to start the school year, I find myself excited about plunging into Foundation. On the other hand, I am afraid of stagnating and becoming senile in the sense that all mental and spiritual development stops. To quote Hobbes (From Calvin & Hobbes), "The problem with the Future is that it keeps turning into the Present". Well, here's to a new year, of learning, of growing, and of God.

A Note of Explanation...

on the title of this blog. It's always good to ask questions and to never stop at the answers. Not in the post-modernist futilistic way but in The Way that recognizes Truth as a reality. So that's exactly what I'll do. In the big scheme of things, I know I'm never going to be able to get all the answers in this life, but it's the journey, the search for truth that will ultimately bring me full circle to the Truth. Happy Hunting!