Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Almost a month later

From this website.

When people view a change as loss, they go through a grieving process. There are several stages people go through in such a case.

When this happened nearly a month ago, I carefully studied the chart above, and hoped for a nice and smooth sail from stage to stage.

But some of the things in store for me looked rather daunting. Irritation? Frustration? Overwhelmed? Lack of energy? Helplessness?

And what exactly is "Blahs" in the Depression Stage? Does anyone know? If it is what I think it is, I think I do that regardless of whether I am depressed or happy, which this blog is a living example of. Blah Blah Blah Blah.

Because of the autrociousness of what lies ahead, I have decided to stay in the first stage and remain shocked forever.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

If you liked The Da Vinci Code

You will love this story.

While on a long road trip on a sultry day in the summer of 1988, my friend John turned to me and began raving about an "awesome story" he had heard. Having no choice as his captive audience, I reluctantly agreed. That is what happens when nothing but cows and cotton fields adorn the scenery.

"Have you heard this story about green golf balls?"


"You are gonna love this. Check this out, dude."

The "story" was more than four hours long, but let me give you a quick Readers' Digest version of it.

Once upon a time, when a little boy named Steve was old enough to express his birthday wish to his father, he blurted out with no hesitation: "I want a green golf ball, Dad."

Though a bit puzzled, his father obliged and got him a green golf ball without asking questions.

Then when the boy turned six, his wish was the same, but this time he asked for two green golf balls. His father again obliged, and mysteriously, the green golf balls were never seen again as was the case with the first green golf ball.

As the boy grew older, his appetite for green golf balls grew exponentially and for his elementary school graduation present, he asked for a bucket full of green golf balls, but nothing else while boys his age brandished toy guns and trucks they received as birthday and Christmas presents. At age 18, he wanted his room packed with green golf balls from floor to ceiling.

Between his bizarre requests for Green golf balls were other details about the boy's childhood, and teenage years including his first love and how he met his eventual bride. My friend John loved to talk as you can imagine.

For his wedding present, the boy asked for a truck full of green golf balls. All of the green golf balls in a truck delivered to his house to be shared with his bride vanished the day after never to be seen again.

The story had no signs of tapering off as we sit down for dinner.

As we walked back to the car, my friend informed me that the boy became gravely ill, and ended up on his death bed. It was his turn to drive, but instead of revving up the ignition, he activated the recliner to lower the back of the seat. He did that to simulate the boy's death bed.

John went onto reenact the last conversation between the grieving father and his dying son. I could only watch helplessly hoping for the end of the story. Yes, I was praying for the boy's death. Die, weirdo, die.

Boy: "Dad, I think this is it. Thank you for everything, Dad. I love you."

Father: "My son... (sniff, sniff)"

Then the father composed himself and gathered enough courage to utter the following.

"Son, all your life, you have asked me for nothing but green golf balls. Can you tell me what you have done with them?"

"Yes, I will." John continued to reenact the deathbed scene in a groggy voice, and motioned me to get closer. I was to play the father.

"I wanted the green golf balls because .....Aggck..."

The son died.

As my eyes landed the last word on page 484 of the paperback edition of the Da Vinci Code, I felt the exact same emotion that I felt 18 years ago as I pondered the next move after John had finished the four hour long story. I was fuming. You have got to be kidding me.

There was John, lying motionless for the next five minutes in the driver's seat in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant in the outskirts of Monterey, California, leaving me speechless and seething. That I did not strangle him right there still remains one of my greatest regrets to this day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

That is the last word of the novel.

As my eyes landed on that word on page 484 of the paperback edition of the Da Vinci Code, I found myself fuming. You have got to be kidding me. Seven dead bodies and a 20 hour long non-stop scavenger hunt, and about 6 hours of my time later, that is it?

There are more spoilers ahead, without which I cannot fully express my overall dissatisfaction and bewilderment at the undeserved popularity and hype that this novel has enjoyed since its publication in 2003 which will culminate with the release of the film version next month.

A few more observations about this very forgettable book are in order.

* Could it be any more obvious that the author was angling for an eventual screen adaptation of his "novel"? The whole thing reads like a screen play with two loosely related threads which eventually converge towards the middle. The linearity and simplicity of the plot with neatly intertwined flashbacks in the characters' lives and to historic events scream for dollar signs at the box office on every single one of the 484 pages.

* Da Vinci supposedly planted subtle messages in his artworks to communicate his long held belief that man achieves the pinnacle of spiritual ecstasy through sexual union with woman.

* Then the book mentions Da Vinci's homosexuality over and over and over and over without articulating its relevance.

* It also alleges that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child together. Mary eventually moved to Paris to raise the child, and to this day, the bloodline which traces back to Jesus himself has survived.

* Did I tell you the book mentions Da Vinci's homosexuality over and over and over and over without articulating its relevance?

* A few weeks ago, I watched a documentary called "The God Who Wasn't There." It makes a sensational case that Jesus never existed and his life was a figment of the church fathers' collective imagination.

* The book mentions Da Vinci's homosexuality over and over and over and over without articulating its relevance.

* These conspiracy theorists need to do a better job of coordinating with each other. The church fathers conspired to invent the person of Jesus who never existed. And then we find out that not only did he exist, but his genealogical descendants are amongst us?

And they are French? And Da Vinci was a homosexual?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Coming to Terms with Fundamentalism I


A few weeks ago, a The Wall Street Journal reporter interviewed me. Yes, you heard me right: a reporter from, ladies and gentlemen,


I am not at liberty to disclose the details and nature of the interview other than to advise you of the prudence of being nice to people who may be on the verge of fame and wealth. Leaving complimentary comments is an excellent start which may increase the chance of being remembered when I find myself sitting in the VIP section as a guest of honor at a Katherine Jenkins concert.

Okay, so where were we.....?

Oh yes, my interview with the THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reporter. She asked me what my religious affiliation was, and without giving much thought, I called myself an “ex-fundamentalist.”

“That is interesting,” she responded, “I have run into a lot of people who call themselves that. What makes you call yourself that? What's your story?”

That is when I found myself dumbstruck, followed by an awkward silence. And that is also when my dream of the VIP section at the Katherine Jenkins concert evaporated without a trace.

Hence ensued my decision to start a series of blog entries on coming to terms with my Christian fundamentalist past. When I typically find myself assaulted by brewing thoughts in my head, articulating them out in the open in this little corner of the blogdom has helped me not just sort things out, but has served as an invaluable theraputic tool as well.

I have a lot to say about my fundamentalist past. But there is one big reason that has kept me from going forward.

I really dislike theological discourse.

People who know me well may find that a bit puzzling since one sure way to resonate with me is by tapping into my intellectual side. I find it highly stimulating to debate various issues of the day and to engage people in friendly as well as heated discussion as long as it does not degenerate into personal attack.

However there is something very different about theology. Built into the very nature of theology is the lack of "tangibility.”

Let me try to explain by throwing out a few examples. Most issues of the day are based on some concrete data we can point to and debate over. For example, let's take the debate raging over the war in Iraq. People from both sides can point to some "tangible" results from the war such as casualties, the economic progress, costs and other factors, many of which are quantifiable in some fashion to argue over. Of course all data are subject to widely varying interpretations as seen in the polarization of opinions over the war.

The same cannot be said about theology. Nobody recently has clinically died for a substantial period of time (I say that to leave out "near death experiences") and come back alive to tell us if there is life after death and what it's like if there is one. In contrast, many have physically gone to Iraq and come back with not just harrowing stories, but scars as well.

This lack of tangibility opens up doors to useless debates mired in nebulous semantics in which people in disagreement can't even spell out what they disagree on, and to this day, I have yet to see a productive discussion taking place between two parties with opposing views. Most degenerate into name calling and charges of heresy.

The lack of tangibility also gives way to a breeding ground for Mr. Know-It-Alls that I have had the misfortune of encountering way too many times, having embraced the fundamentalist brand of Christianity in the mold of John MacArthur for over 20 years. At various points, I was one as well.

My commitment is to write in plain English with some semblance of tangibility. One of my blogging friends who calls herself an atheist (and boy, is she a fiery one at that :-)) has agreed to proofread my drafts to help me search and destroy the Christian "lingo" so as not to alienate my readership for which I am deeply grateful. Forget you Katherine.

* Part II: Biblical Inerrancy

Monday, April 10, 2006


The latest batch from the backyard.

How jealous are you?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Waited all my life for this

My adrenaline is still pumping. Still trying to catch my breath.

Ten minutes ago, the Time was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Happy 01:02:03 04/05/06!

This historic moment is never to be forgotten.

Please share with me what you were doing. I was meditating on the merits of implementing an abstract class and virtual functions as opposed to interfaces to address the commonalities of C# classes in an distributed data environment which exploits the heterogeneousness of commercial SQL adapters and reader objects, thanks to the vendor agnostic features of ADO.NET.

I wonder what Katherine Jenkins was doing. Please check out her website if you don't know who she is. You cannot afford to stay ignorant in this new era.