Discontentment with the cookie cutter mold, the status quo

I think I’m still trying to find myself. I’m made up of contradictions; I’m pretty self-aware and reflective, yet I find it difficult to tell people who I really am. I’m confident, but if I look hard enough, I realise that I’m not fundamentally so. I think I’m very capable; am I more successful than the people around me? But then again (imposter syndrome), I feel like I’m kidding myself looking at how much I’ve accomplished. I just am, I suppose. I think this title is an issue that has become very significant to me since I entered university and matured/learnt stuff about the world. I’m no longer 100% content with the normal, but I’m not sure how much of the normal I wish to/can change.

This discontentment is complex, lots of trigger points. I’m currently on the ‘normal route’ that people around me undergo. I’ve followed the fairly obvious path all the way up till now. Go to a good primary school, went through all the affiliated schools thereafter. After I finish university, people around me are expected to start a career (with the few jobs that arts students usually take up: teaching/government ministry/marketing in a private firm), get married, buy a house, settle down. But. I (really) don’t want to? It’s a trap: buying a house here = needing to get a stable job to pay off the huge mortgage (ref to an old post in Oct ’17). Do I want to be trapped to the people here? Family/new family? I think I could do all that’s ‘expected’, but will I feel joyful (rather than happy), fulfilled? I think I could delude myself and create a reality where I can say yes, but is that reality really real?

This discontentment runs so deep that it seems almost unbearable? I’m discontented with stuff like climate change/treatment of exploited people, but, I don’t do enough? It’s just a vague feeling of being disgusted with how things are, I suppose. (Haha, yes, indeed sometimes I wish I could be as happy as others and can see ‘how far humanity has progressed indeed!’, but I guess I’m simply not made for that.) The discontent makes me question my future/faith (stuff I’ve written about here before and therefore I shall not repeat).

Perhaps I shall write with a little more focus now. So today I attended a wedding. It was a, triggering one, to say the least. I don’t know why, but I was quite agitated throughout it and it was not at all enjoyable. 1) First, the concept of beauty. The bride’s mom commented about my looks: ‘you’re pretty, should put on some make up, don’t lose/gain weight, you will get prettier, but there will come a time when you will deteriorate and thereafter you won’t be as pretty anymore’/comments about how the venue/bride/wedding dress is pretty pretty pretty. I was SO TRIGGERED. Is it a girl thing? To aspire to be beautiful? I don’t think I’m particularly pretty nor ugly and I don’t like thinking about my face/weight (I dress like everyone else to blend in. To an extent, I wish this was the Middle East where it’s normal to wear burqas and no one can see you. I’ll be quite happy to wear one, minus the heat). I wish society wasn’t so visual. What happened to vanity being a sin??? Aspiring towards happiness/spirituality rather than worshipping a person’s body??? 2) All the judgments about ‘the price of the venue, price of the dress’. GOSH. Is it an old people thing to comment so much? I don’t want get married if there is so much nonsense/judgement and talking. Reminds me why I am a fairly private person. 3) Weddings trends (everything is the same…), the RIDICULOUS cost of weddings (can’t the money be used for something better? Ok tbh I don’t understand Christians/people sometimes. Older people (Christians) especially, since I expect them to be much more educated/aware than I am. This is veering off weddings, but more towards disrupting the status quo issue). I don’t get HOW it’s acceptable to easily spend more than 10k on the venue/dress itself (I suppose it’s the selfish and careless way of spending money conflicting with faith) and continue talking about praising God/being spiritual/godly WHATEVER. Yes, omg, I admit I’m a super flawed person as well and it’s not like I tithe very much/ give a lot of money to the poor/ super compassionate. But. I suppose I just cannot understand how consumerism has become so normalised, especially consumerism at the expense of someone else (which is contradictory to people’s beliefs/humanity). It makes me sick, but hey, at least spending buys people happiness right :’) (no sarcasm; indeed throwing parties can bring people together and make people happy, haha apparently just not me). SO. Can we be consumerist and Christian? Perhaps this should be explored in another post (vows of poverty and stuff).

Hahaha after writing this it seems that I should not do all these ‘normal’ things. But I hate standing out too. Doing normal things = easy and I’ll hate myself doing it/shooting myself in the foot since I’ve written this post. I wonder how my future will be like, will I indeed be able to break away from this normality I am disgusted with? I’ve no idea.


Food: culture and politics (The controversy over Foie Gras)

I stumbled across this interesting case about the foie gras ban in California some years back. I’ll just summarise the things I learnt and my thoughts.

Yes, ban it No, don’t ban it

Foie gras farming is inhumane. Just look at the pictures/videos. Yes, there are some farms which are better than others, but still these points are a reality.

  • FORCE FEEDING the ducks/geese with metal tubes shoved down their throats
  • Some die from overfeeding? Their livers are ‘diseased’?
  • They’re dirty and living in terrible conditions (factory farming in general?)
  • They’re too overweight and fat to run away/retaliate when they’re eaten alive by rats in the factory farm (why are there rats in the factories in the first place?)

That’s a biased viewpoint.

  • Force feeding isn’t a bad thing. These animals do not have a gag reflex
  • It can be done calmly, the animals don’t panic and it’s basically not harmful for them; emotionally, mentally (hmm how can we know this?)
  • These birds gorge themselves on food before a migratory flight; it’s not inherently bad for them

But this site

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ingrid-newkirk/5-big-fat-lies-about-fatt_b_6482104.htm just basically overturned everything which those in favour claim:

  • The ducks do have gag reflexes? They do vomit (there are graphic pictures) and choke to death on their vomit
  • Besides, (this was the viewpoint of a vet) even though they don’t gag, they don’t like it.
  • The ducks which have less gag reflexes are those that swallow whole fishes, but those aren’t the species that we farm
  • Ducks don’t gorge themselves until they’re unable to fly/walk…

Will it lead to a slippery slope, of banning all food (meat) production in the future? Is some foie gras farming more humane than other meat production? How far should we ban this (factory farming) practice. What exactly are we banning again?

Yes, there are different ‘levels’ of farming animals. Some are better and some are worse. We need to work with the system and create laws that promote ‘humane’ farming rather than outright banning.

But. Is that (banning all meat production) necessarily a bad thing?

(Personally I’m not sure how any meat production is ‘better for the animal’; ‘more comfortable than if they would be in the wild’, etc, but. Couldn’t you make their lives even more comfortable if you treat them as pets rather than food? Or why not just leave them be (impractical to look after all animals like we do with pets; feeding them and stuff) – ok I’m totally not eloquent here and there are many other documentaries talking about why you should/not eat meat).

We were called to look after the earth. I think we can look after it by (leaving it alone); we need not feed animals, they can hunt and look after themselves?


Industry and money that can be generated!! (tbh I think this is a terrible argument. Just because something can make money isn’t a good enough reason. There are alternatives?)


This act takes away the freedom of people – the chefs who like to use this ingredient, and the people who like this food. (Haha this was the argument used by some people, since ‘THIS IS AMERICA (California), THE LAND OF THE FREE’)

Other thoughts  

Can you love an animal but farm it for food? In the same why can we love our (cleaners/any other undesirable job) but (exploit them) by making them do jobs which they may not want to do? Does anyone actually want to clean shit for a living/ does anyone actually want to be a cleaner (yes? If the circumstance is right?). I’m not talking about working for the right pay because. Money can be a tricky thing (e.g. is buying organs from poor people for $10k alright?/ is it alright to pay someone lots of money to be a surrogate mother?)

Do we have a right to ignore what we don’t like to know (how the things we consumed are produced)?

Food and culture is another issue:

What about the ‘authenticity of food’, we’ll take away French culture if we ban foie gras? A bill was passed in France, declaring that foie gras is ‘part of the cultural and gastronomic patrimony, protected in France’. I also remember this interesting article I read but can’t seem to find the link for. I think it was written by a Singaporean vegan; basically the main problem about going vegan for her, was losing her culture. Almost all cultures around the world eat meat (?), and sometimes it’s impossible to get that exact same taste without utilising meat. This is an article which discusses something similar: https://mediadiversified.org/2018/01/24/giving-up-the-food-of-my-family-life-as-a-vegan-in-diaspora/  Personally, I’m not big on culture. Just because ‘it was done in the past’ doesn’t mean that we should continue to do it. I’m not a sentimental person, so I’m cool with not keeping food culture.


Documentary by Munchies, VICE news https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjQWwhxz5rQ

Audio discussion; Office Hours. This is a little bit more about how a DeSoucey did her sociological work about this case http://files.thesocietypages.org/downloads/OH108_DeSoucey.mp3?_ga=1.267936845.2106610009.1470668076

Book; Contested Tastes, by Desoucey: Chapter 1 is free here: http://assets.press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10708.pdf; this is the full book, if you’re a uni student and your school has access: https://muse.jhu.edu/book/52193

(Reflection on my spiritual life/Luke 15)

I read Luke 15 today and I’m grateful for new insight into a familiar passage, remembering things that H and I talked about many years ago in college. Looking into the 3 parables that answered the question: ‘Why does Jesus hang out with sinners/losers?’ Some new things that I got out of it:

  • These parables (lost sheep, coin, son) delve into predestination and free will; in the first 2, the owner of these things have lost inanimate objects; similarly the losers were ‘predestined’ to be lost, due to original sin, the original fall away from God. Therefore, God has actively searched for them (Jesus hangs out with these losers because they were lost and he wants to be together with them again).
  • (Also that all peoples use to belong to God; he had 100% ownership; no replacement ‘sheep/coin’ except the original. Therefore, no one can say that they were never God’s).
  • But the Pharisees may argue that these losers actively chose to sin, therefore do not deserve Jesus’ company (free will), the parable of the lost son comes in. The lost son realised his own mistakes and chose to return to God (Jesus’ hangs out with the losers who have actively sought him out; salvation/faith is a two-way relationship, requires both parties to search each other out).
  • (The father is the hero of the story. Reorientation of how I see God = how I see myself; the son wanted to be a servant, to correct his mistakes, but the father never saw the son’s identity change despite his mistakes).

Random takeaways:

  • Why do I not love ‘losers’/ (rather, those different from myself, downcast in society) like God does? (I find it difficult to love people; I’ve been questioning a lot about how I value/see people. I value academia/intelligence/achievement, rather than the inherent worth of a person, I don’t value ‘spirituality’ in a person too; do I admire pastors more than professors? No, but why. Quite a loaded topic which I may write about another time)
  • God’s search for humans (// parable of the lost sheep/coin), where can we see that? I think that answer is in Jesus; Jesus actively came to look for the lost, looking for something requires sacrifice, seeing how God has reached out to people many times (e.g. personal experience of hearing/seeing/feeling God, other people as God’s ambassadors to search for people, etc.)
  • (Unrelated; why am I shy/almost ashamed about my faith? I am not comfortable with talking about it/showing it/living it out? Though I talk a lot about it and seem to be comfortable, it actually isn’t; I wonder if the other Christians I know feel the same way.)

Meaning of Life/Christian Work/Christian Politics

I’ve been bothered by this question for a long time. What is the meaning of life?

I like Philosophy tube a lot and I watched this video some time back. “The meaning of life!”, as Olly titles it. I’ve understood Olly’s position and I think he has reiterated it in quite a few videos – even though philosophy can ‘destroy things that bring you comfort’, Olly sees philosophy as a tool, a way of seeing life, and he believes that he can still find enjoyment in things like hanging out in a pub with his friends, having sex, etc.

But I totally disagreed with Olly in this video. It made me uncomfortable, unhappy. I don’t know if it is due to my history of depression, but I felt that he totally missed the point. Yes, agreed, philosophy can be a way in which we understand the world and does not have to be so all encompassing that it takes away all joy, but, at the same time, it could be and therefore by having that potential, it has been the cause of immense, insurmountable pain for some people. That pain cannot be argued away by simply saying that philosophy does not have to be that way. It’s a moot point. That pain has already been caused by philosophy’s mere existence.

I don’t know how many people can understand that type of sadness. The sheer intensity, depth, character of it. I feel like I’ve been there, I still am there, I will never totally get out. I remember finding it difficult to say what I truly like/find happiness in when people ask. I’ve had times where I could have so much of those things (i.e. ‘things that make people happy’), and I’ve indulged in them then, so much so that it now disgusts me. I like reading, but I’ve read too much. Shopping, eating, spending money; I now associate these things with almost, sin? How could we use resources so casually without realising that so many people do not have things? (Remembering those times when I would wash my hands and think about how some people would gladly drink the ‘dirtied’ water that I so readily and easily let drain into the sink). How could I live with myself? There’s too much pain, anxiety, sin, black holes, dark spirals in those thoughts. I shall avoid writing about it. At least for now. Strange, but I do miss those times, sometimes. At least I felt alive, I felt something, I thought about things, I was conscious of sin, compared to the lukewarm, banal, thoughtless days of now?

Moving on. Meaninglessness of ‘Christian work’.

I’m lazy to define what ‘Christian work’ is. Just take it as work in a Christian setting. Church/para-church/ministering to other Christians.

Another scary thought that I’ve been having. I like doing Christian work. I think I can sometimes be tough on myself, a perfectionist, never being satisfied with my work (school, work). Christian work is a reprieve from those thoughts; I tell myself that God will judge my work, I need not think too much about what others think (unlike school/work, where I’ll be judged by humans. And since human thoughts are accessible to me, to an extent, I’ll try to understand what others are thinking). I work and find peace in Christian work, knowing that it’s simply, work, without baggage of politics, anxieties of whether or not it’s ‘good enough’, etc.

But. I’ve wrote about bullshit jobs/the economy before. Jobs that should not be done; they don’t actually produce anything, material, meaningful? And I’ve been thinking recently that Christian work is quite like that too. Lots of time is spent talking, fellowshipping. Things that I don’t particularly like? Is that why I’m dissatisfied; perhaps I’m simply in the wrong field of Christian work?

The end of service term is worse. Honestly, I feel quite uncomfortable when people praise my work/thank me when I’ve done work in church. I know it’s good to encourage people, it’s a good thing to give thanks, but it somehow feels wrong to me. I feel like those thanks are ‘self-praise’; the church reaffirming itself. ‘This is what we’ve done this year, we did well. God is pleased with the people we’ve brought down to church this year’. All I can see are the flaws, the gaps that we missed in our service term, what more we could have, should have, done. I feel that my standards from ‘regular work’ are creeping in, those dissatisfied voices which I’ve never heard when I did work in church.

I long for affirmation from who I am actually working for. Have I received it before and therefore if I don’t receive it now, I feel greatly uncomfortable? I know that my life is not right; there is sin that I’m trying to hide, to run away from, sickness within me that seems incurable, but I am unable to articulate. But I’m afraid that even if I received affirmation from Him, how would I know that’s really real? (Ok, actually, no, I don’t really struggle with discernment/knowing what is real or false, I think).

Aside: I had a new revelation about prayer in QT. We usually start off with thanking God for things: ‘a space to gather for fellowship’, ‘that we can pray openly’, ‘brothers and sisters here’. We should not thank God for these things. The opportunities, chances, privileges, are sometimes the precise things which stumble us and prevent our further growth. If we’d never known riches, it may be easier for us to share; c.f. rich people = hard to enter heaven/give up wealth. Instead of babbling with many words, we should start off our prayers by simply praising His name: ‘Our father in heaven, holy is your name’ indeed.

Lastly, Christian politics.

I’ve been thinking about succession in para/churches. Mentorship and stuff. Also about political structures. We’re meant to follow God as our true leader, yet we have people in power? What’s the ideal power/political structure in society? J brought up an interesting argument: pointing back to history and how Israel chose its rulers. Why not have prophets to appoint leaders? And back to thoughts that I’d before: democracies isn’t the ideal political system. Theocracies? (My struggle with trying to understand/see/come to terms with religious radicals like ISIS). Other thoughts from long ago about how it would be nice to live in a country run by and for Christians (America’s past?).

Succession = ? Availability, no, Convenience. Who is there, wanting to serve, most likely to say yes. Rationalising choices: good character, palatable to people, what people want to hear, respectable, gets things done, responsible. Characteristics not necessary to be a leader in God’s eyes. Yes, we prayed (how much)?

Aside: I’ve had the concept of ‘holy ambition‘ after attending an annual general meeting of a para-church 2 years back. Seeing no one wanting to take leadership positions made me angry/sad. I remembered my primary/secondary/junior college days when people would clamour, fight to take on responsibilities (for their graduation certificated/ ‘CVs’). How about in the church? There is little/no glory to serve in church? Is it our whole societal system – (Asian) parents dream ‘great things’ for their children; to become a doctor, lawyer, make lots of money, have lots of kids. How about them dreaming of more meaningful goals: healthy spiritual lives, becoming pastors, missionaries (a la Hannah who gave up Samuel, her firstborn son, to serve in the temple). 

Relationship: fact over feeling

Tonight, I feel very grateful for my CF friends and the encouragement that I’ve gotten from them. Anyway, tonight’s blog is going to be a more personal one: I’m going to be writing about my relationship.

I struggle with relationships very much. I have a heart for people, humans are relational creatures; yet at the same time, I find myself being uncomfortable when I am around people – hoping they will shut up, wishing I were alone, finding ways to escape being in people’s presence, wishing I weren’t there.

I struggle being in a romantic relationship. I don’t (really) like people being excited about (me) being in a relationship, I don’t quite like holding hands/ PDAing (in general? Sure, casual touches are fine and nice; a pat on the shoulder/arm, but not too much. In public, EW SERIOUSLY I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT), couples making googly eyes at each other/acting cute (UGH EW). I’ve had thoughts about how being in a relationship (real world) has parallels with my relationship with God (a la Jesus and the church = marriage covenant); how I interact with God // my boyfriend.

I’m not a romantic person. I find it difficult to express my feelings. I despise the way in which I am more likely to bring up negative things when people find out I am attached, as if to overcompensate the anticipated onslaught of ‘awww’, ‘how cute’, ‘that’s great/nice’ (people have an over-romanticised notion of romance haha). I hate myself for doing that; he probably would feel hurt by the way in which I talk about us. But I can’t help myself?

I (think) I do feel comfortable being single, maybe even prefer it? And I say that often. I see him as my best friend, but I’m not so sure what it means to love him, romantically. I struggle with expressing my emotion toward him, defining it to others, to him as well. I question how is he intrinsically different from everyone else (JG defines that as love).

I’ve come to a nice conclusion today. To answer all those people who tell me that I need to ‘reevaluate my relationship’/ ‘it’s not fair to him’/ ‘maybe you need to take a break if you’re thinking about all these things’. I am not a feeling person, feelings are unreliable to me – in Nov/Dec I desperately wanted to be single, Jan was good and I felt secure, and now I’m just, ok. But just as my faith in God is not mainly reliant on feeling, but substantiated heavily by fact, I know that my romantic relationship is just as secure. [O man, it seems super DUH as I’m writing this now, but it was actually quite a huge revelation just now HAHA].

Ok in conclusion: I don’t know how the future will play out, if I will ever have that sort of emotion that is demanded of me by friends/family/people. I don’t know if I am capable of that kind of love that people associate with being in a relationship. Maybe I’ll continue struggling with the desire of wanting to be single, I really don’t know. But I do know that I have something good and worth holding on to (since it is not possible for us to remain friends, according to him, and I don’t know if that’s possible from my perspective since it is not going to happen and hence what I think is moot). All I do know is that I am a better person in this relationship.

In Worship of ‘doing good’//Pursuing ‘goodness’ without God

What do you want out of your life? Happiness? Meaning/fruitfulness/purpose? Before I continue, let me tell you a bit more about myself: I’m interested and concerned with social-environmental issues. I cut down on plastic and waste and generally don’t consume animal products. This could be seen as my way of ‘doing good’.

Let me problematized the fixation on ‘doing good’ without accounting for my Christian identity: 1) there are good non-Christians and bad Christians, and therefore, 2) what makes my efforts at ‘doing good’, ‘Christian’ (I’ve long thought about what makes a Christian NGO different from a non-religious/Buddhist/etc. organisation)? 3) How can I fit Christianity in my life (i.e. assuming that I believe my identity as a Christian is more important than being good)?

I think it’s (more important) to be Christian than ‘being good’ (haha I’m also kinda cheating because I think that being Christian = striving to be good. All/most faiths teach you to do good things, and how could you call yourself Christian if you do not renounce sin? I use sin rather loosely – even ‘systemic sins’ of our society like you consuming products created by exploitation of people/environment).

Sure, I could be obsessed with making my world a better place, starting organisations and doing activism etc., BUT 1) there are so many contradictions in our efforts, we’re never perfect – problematizing the case of veganism for the environment: you eat more plants (less carbon footprint), but there are so many other aspects of your life which contribute to perhaps even more ‘environmental harm’ than consuming animal products – plastic consumption rather than biodegradable animal materials?)

There are even more problems with ‘doing good’: 2) quoting Ecclesiastes 1, ‘meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless’ – I could devote my entire life to ‘doing good’, but I won’t change too much: our world is broken, and I know I cannot make our world a utopia. We’re ineffective: ‘unless the Lord builds the house, the labourers labour in vain’. We need to de-center humanity as agents of change and recognise that there are many forces out there: perhaps I may build many houses for the poor, but a natural disaster can so simply and quickly destroy structures we build. Our efforts at ‘doing good’ will also always be contentious: people will question our motivations, and it relies on the cooperation of those we work with.

And so for me, I hope not to worship the act of ‘doing good’. A fixation on ‘doing good’ can cause anxiety because of the unpredictability of things around us, and we will constantly question our motivations. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t ‘do good’, but rather, uncover the bigger picture of our work. There are many good things we can worship (our family, being a good friend, etc.) – it’s good to be good, but without God, our work will never be perfect.


Additional readings –

1) Can we be good without God? – William Lane Craig https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/can-we-be-good-without-god/

Can we be good without God? At first the answer to this question may seem so obvious that even to pose it arouses indignation. For while those of us who are Christian …


2) Faith and Works – James 2 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+2&version=ESV

The Sin of Partiality – My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine …


Post Script –

I think this piece engages with a little bit of (moral) philosophy, about what defines ‘goodness’; is God inherently good, does he define goodness (e.g. if he does something that seems bad to us like killing people, is that still good?) I’m not a philosophy major, but I’m sure that if you are interested, there are many videos/texts out there. IMO when I write about God making our good works perfect rather than merely good, I mean to say that 1) I’ll have (no) anxiety when I question my motives behind doing good, 2) God will do what he will with my work, and I believe that will make it good, 3) my good deeds will (hopefully) come to fruition with God orchestrating the other forces/actors – other people, the environment, etc.


(Stream of consciousness ahead)

I need to get this off my chest. I need to write this down somewhere. I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure I wrote something about this before; I was recently obsessed with making my life more transparent, thinking that this life of secrecy is one of the root causes of my unhappiness. And tangled in this mess is a whole lot of other issues.

I remember in secondary school I’ll say that I’m transparently opaque, which I suppose I still am now. What I mean by this statement is that I don’t think I’ve any real secrets: if I tell you something, even if you are my best friend, I don’t think I’ll be too unhappy if you repeated whatever I told you to someone else, even if people may consider the piece of information I shared to be ‘private’. Hmm, basically, I suppose I don’t think I’m someone with many secrets per se.

But there are slightly more ‘shameful’ things about me that only I know about. And no one else knows. I don’t tell anyone these things. But actually if I think deeper about them, I don’t think they’re particularly shameful at all. Still, I can’t help feeling ashamed about them/needing to keep them secret. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I’m quite paranoid about ‘internet security’ (though I don’t think I’m fantastic at covering my tracks), ok, well, I’m more paranoid/anxious about meeting people-I-know-but-don’t-really-know-anymore on the streets (and I wish that wearing a burka was more mainstream here). I’m thinking about how I don’t openly tell people about this blog. Or my personal Instagram (which is actually pretty common for people nowadays)/personal journal sites for only myself. There is nothing inherently shameful about these things, but I still hide them. And while I know that I need not feel shame about being depressed, it’s still something which. I don’t like to talk about to random people?

I don’t know. I’m feeling rather lost and anxious and paranoid right now because I’m thinking of the multiple personalities/online presences that I am, that I have. I want to be more transparent. But I cannot bring myself to be. I am an impulsive liar? But at the same time, I’m really not. It’s just that I don’t tell people about all of me. Is that a white lie?

My brain is really, really, really fractured. Divided. Split. Thinking of small random things and I oscillate between the random thoughts, decisions that I have to make in everyday life. I feel trapped because I am unable to make a choice, a stand.