Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Man - Barbra Streisand

This is the extract from the movie "Funny Girl" released in 1968. Babara was just astounding as an actress and also as a singer! This I believe is one of her best performances ever.

Funny Girl (1968) Poster

Why don't they make movie posters like these anymore?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Christianity and Culture

Humans are by nature social beings. Therefore how we think and how we view the world are more or less dictated by the current paradigms existing within the society. These paradigms are closely related to culture, as culture by nature is a particular social stage or civilization within a society. Like anything that is related to human beings and his or her belief, religion is inexorably related to the culture in which humans live in. Therefore it is obvious that culture would have a huge influence in the growth and evolution of religion throughout the ages. However the reverse is also true as religion, being one of the most influential entity in human society, would also influence the growth of culture within our society.

Since the early 16th century, the human civilization has entered a new phase which we all now know as modernization. This revolution in human culture history is still going on today, with new scientific breakthroughs and most importantly the re-evaluation of previously founded values that are happening every day. This re-evaluation of previously founded values is also happening in the areas of religion, ad Christianity as one of the world’s dominant religion is no exception. For centuries, this revolution in the Christian values has been the root cause of the separation of Christianity into the many different branches that it has today. The most obvious example of the effect of the modernization of human culture to Christianity is the emergence of liberal Christianity.

Modernity embraces the values of change and dynamism. It always tries to re-evaluate traditions and continually challenges itself to redefine everything that is around us. This is why science has always been the front runner in defining what modernism really is. Science daily creates new discoveries about the world around us, and seeks to explain everything from an objective and unbiased lens. It dares itself to create experimentation which pushes the boundaries of our technology and sometimes even our moral values. Furthermore it rejects any kind of supernatural explanations believing that reason and logic will always be able to explain everything.

Liberal Christianity embraces these ideals and puts it into effect especially in the study of Biblical scriptures. Broadly speaking liberal Christianity is an undogmatic method of trying to understand God through the use of scripture by applying the same modern hermeneutics used to understand any other ancient writing. This means that liberal Christianity, unlike conservative Christianity, does not treat the Bible as a collection of factual statements but rather as an anthology that documents the author’s feelings and perception towards God and their relationship with God. Liberal Christianity sees the Bible as a collection of writings that explain, or symbolize the essence and significance of Christian understanding. This is why liberal Christianity to put less emphasis or miracle stories done by Jesus within the Bible than on His teachings, as true to the spirit of science of modernization they do not put emphasis on the supernatural but rather on the explanations to why those things happened, what does it mean, and what are we suppose to learn from the event described by creating links to contextually relevant set of data or references. However this does not mean that liberal Christianity rejects the possibility of those miracles actually happening it’s just that they put less emphasis on it and most of the time treat is as a form of metaphor or symbolism used to showcase the power of God itself or as teachings on how we should view God as an almighty being for whom all things are possible.

We have seen how the emergence of modernism in human global culture have also had a direct influence on the growth of Christianity as a religion resulting in the emergence of Liberal Christianity. However we must also realize that there are still conservative branches of Christianity, as well as the church of the Holy Roman Catholic, whose values and traditions have withstood the passage of time as well as the revolution of the human thought processes brought about by modernism.

Religion in itself is a very influential and strong social entity and can also affect the growth of culture in certain ways. The most obvious way in which Christianity has affected the growth of the modern culture is within the field of science. Religion such as Christianity continually keeps in check the morality of experimentations that are being done in scientific research facilities all over the world. They continually challenge the scientific community on the moral implications of their experiments, which helped the scientific community to grow without losing track of morality and fundamental values, such as the value of the human life, in the process. In this way, religion have also helped to control the growth of modernism and help to propagate traditional moral values which prevents the human society from accepting immoral behaviours and falling into anarchy.

Therefore Christianity as a form of religion is inexorably related to human culture, as the human culture controls the paradigms existing as well as the lens through which we view the world around us. This inexorable linked is evident through the example of the rise of Liberal Christianity which is caused by the rise of modernism in human global culture. However, religion such as Christianity are in itself a very influential entity which have helped to shape the growth of the human culture, as we have seen in the example within the field of science, especially in the areas of experimentations and scientific breakthroughs. In conclusion the relationship between Christianity and culture is an interlinked one whereby one undeniably will affect the other.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Snapshotland - Sylvia Kantaris

In Snapshotland everyone is happy all the time.
It is the promised land where people sit with flasks of tea
On smooth sand by a flat sea and smile and smile and smile.

The sun shines all day long and every day in Kodachrome
Or sepia on sandboys and sandgirls who never
Stop smiling from the time they first appear, with buckets,
In crisp, gingham pinfores and nonnets on the sea-shore.

Lovers stay in love forever, married couples never
Grow tired of each other; everything is always just right.
The dolphins know exactly when to leap into the air
And stay there for the permanent delight of passengers
Aboard the pleasure-boat which never passes out of sight.

Nobody in Snapshotland grows old unless they want to,
Juding by the way they go on smiling so, in deck-chairs,
On the beach, or in old-fashioned gardens with lavender
And grandchildren here and there - and no one dies, ever.

Even if they don't appear later, the people are still
Always there, smiling through the lavender and dolphins
And the buckets full of pebbles on the same sea-shore.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

[Close] Friend

/frÉ›nd/ –noun

1.A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2.A person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends ofthe Boston Symphony.
3.A person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C.S. Lewis

I was inspired to write this post due to some certain happenings and realizations that had occurred to me during the past 2 weeks. Basically it revolves around the problems that I am having with one my group of friends, my so called “clique”. The group consists of 5 of us and we have been a clique for almost 2 years now.

We were 5 different people going to 4 different Junior Colleges in Singapore, but somehow or the other we ended up going out together, all 5 of us, and found that we make a pretty good group together. During those early times when we first became a clique, every minute that we spent together as a group was pure unadulterated fun and joy. Conversations flowed so easily between us, there’s no need to think up of a topic, everything just flowed naturally. And every time we had an opinion about something or someone, we are free to express it within the group as knowing that we will not be judged by others within that group.

Here’s a bit of how we described ourselves at that point in time.

A constellation of far-from-ordinary beings,
whose responsiveness is unmatched by any thermocouple,
whose craziness is unrivalled by any mental patient,
whose originality is unparalleled by any PW group,
with a never-ending passion to live life to the fullest.

But now, sadly to say, things are quite different. We all grew apart over the past 2 years and now, conversations no longer flows so easily between us, and the veil of awkward silence is appearing more and more often every time we got together as a group. There are a lot of unspoken things going on between the five of us and what makes it so difficult is that, we are not completely transparent towards each other regarding how we feel about each other and as a group. I am still very good friends with some others in the group and chatted with them on a daily basis, and I feel that all of them are always completely honest with me. It’s just that they are not completely honest with each other and this is why it’s very difficult for us to connect as a group right now.

The questions that I kept asking myself and also others within the group are, what happened to us as a group of close friends? How could we drift apart over the 2 years?

This whole thing with my clique finally got me asking a very important question to myself.

What in actual fact are close friends?

To me close friends are those people who you know are always there for you. Who will stick with together with you through all your ups and downs. Your sanctuary, where silence is just as comfortable as any other conversation, where you can be yourself without being judged, where you can express your feelings, opinions, worries, regrets, hopes and dreams without any form of censorship. Who you know will always be honest with you and will tell you the things that are the most difficult to tell. Who will never think of the possibility of not being friends with you . Who can grow separately from you without growing apart. The ones whom you’ll keep close throughout the years of your life.

Seeing what I’ve just written I do realize that it’s a really tall order for someone in order to be considered as one of my close friends, but I believe that’s actually the beauty of it. They are those very rare and difficult to find gems, but whose value will outshine any other and make you richer beyond your imagination. I myself have had the fortune of stumbling upon some of those gems. Friends whom after years of separation I can still connect with and accept me for who I’ve become after the years of separation.

This made me realised that my clique was never really a group of close friends at all. I mean I am close friends with some members within the clique itself, but as a group we are never really that close, we were just ‘compatible’ with each other at that point in time.

It was circumstances and similar thought processes that brought us together. Not the fact that we are close to each other. Conversations flowed so easily back then because we still think the same way, having the same opinions about things and therefore are free to express it without being judged as the rest would certainly feel the same way towards whatever that you are talking about. But as time goes by, we all change, albeit a little. Bit by bit we all grew a part, our opinions start to differ, our character starts to mould itself into different shapes from what it was when it all began. This difference was the thing that finally caused us to not be able to maintain that “closeness” that we had at the beginning.

Well right now, the group is still a pretty fun group to hang out with. I still look forward towards meeting them all together as a group, as whatever it is, we still make a pretty good group albeit not having that closeness that we use to have. I mean we all can still talk and joke together and at times I do get to see glimpses of the times before we grew apart.

This whole experience made me realize a thing or two about the nature of close friends, and how I shouldn’t mistake close friends with compatible friends, where the closeness and comfort we feel are all in a very superficial basis menial conversations we had and the fun of hanging out together.

In life we meet different kinds of people, some will stay by our side and be our friends some will just be another person in our life, never leaving a deep imprint in the sands of our life. I do agree with C.S. Lewis that friends are the ones who help us give meaning in our lives. Sure some are close friends and some are not, but I feel that we should treasure each and every one of them no matter what. Like my friends in my clique, even though as a group we were never that close, but they have given me so many fun and memorable memories that I continue to treasure until now. Seeing how things have become, I never regretted ever meeting them and forming a clique with them, it’s just that life meant for us to go on our separate ways. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun together and that they have made me richer in a way that they have never imagined.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Just For Now - Imogen Heap

It is never in my intention to spam youtube videos on my blog, but I really feel that I have to share this video.

Imogen Heap is just breathtaking in this video. Genius.

Hyperballad - Robyn (Bjork Cover)

Been a while since I posted anything. Have yet to find any inspiration and mood to write, ideas are being strewn about inside my head and yet none of them seemed to want to be poured through my fingers into this empty blank page in front of me.

Today I stumbled upon this version of Hyperballad, a song originally sung by Bjork and I feel that this version is amazing, the use of the violins at the beginning, the chords swelling up to the dramatic chorus. I have always loved Hyperballad from the first moment I have heard it, and this version is really one of the best version I've heard so far!

"Hyper Ballad"

we live on a mountain
right at the top
there's a beautiful view
from the top of the mountain
every morning i walk towards the edge
and throw little things off
car-parts, bottles and cutlery
or whatever i find lying around

it's become a habit
a way
to start the day

i go through this
before you wake up
so i can feel happier
to be safe up here with you

it's real early morning
no-one is awake
i'm back at my cliff
still throwing things off
i listen to the sounds they make
on their way down
i follow with my eyes 'til they crash
imagine what my body would sound like
slamming against those rocks

and when it lands
will my eyes
be closed or open?

i'll go through all this
before you wake up
so i can feel happier
to be safe up here with you