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Good Friday

The Minimalist’s Christ v2.0

Somehow I am always intrigued by the crucifix and I have done quite a few artwork around it.

With Good Friday here and Easter fast approaching, I thought about how I would like a custom made crucifix.

I can understand not everyone appreciate the type of art I am drawn to but I thought about a crucifix that showcases the significant parts – the crown of thorns, the nails in His palms and feet, as well as the hole on His side.

I wanted one that is in between symbolic and contemporary.

So I started with a sketch and I sculpted using clay. With some simple woodwork, it was done.

I have deliberately made it so that it is not His entire body. Somehow I kept it this way because there should be something left for imagination and interpretation.

Like any faith that one professes, very often it is about how values are instilled and lived through life. Christianity to me should be lived and not be a rigid set of rules and practices. It is a religion of the living God.

In essence, the visible parts showcased in this artwork to me are the groundwork, foundation, and seed of faith that has been sowed. The rest of it (the missing parts of His body) to me represents how we live our lives and how we carve the path of righteousness. These are the parts and spaces we need to discover and fill. Good or bad, it is no concern of anyone except ourselves as we are responsible for our own destiny.

Have a good and blessed Triduum and Easter to all observing and celebrating.

Conceptual Sketch

Disruptions

“It’s funny when you’re dead how people start listenin'”

That is how the song “If I die young” by The Band Perry ended.

Have you ever realize that certain incidents and problems in your life keeps repeating until you have addressed them head on?

Once addressed, we found that these issues are opportunities for us to learn something new. We become stronger and have new abilities to move forward to solve problems of greater difficulties.

Like a computer subroutine used to repeat processes, we insert break points for any anomalies that may arise between and during its execution.

The word “disruption” seemed to be the latest buzz word. I guess disruption can be defined as how a significant event is able to change the course and direction of our lives.

It’s another year and another Palm Sunday. And again, we have the story of the Passion of Christ reiterated. And as we enter holy week, the gruesome, violent, and gorish journey of Jesus heading towards His crucifixion will be on repeat until its finale on Friday.

In the long reading today, the congregation is required to participate and take the role of the manipulated public in Jesus’ time. “Crucify Him” was one of the statements we were required to recite.

I for some reason did not participate in the recital because I live in 2018 and refuse to be part of the mob that killed Jesus.

With the benefit of hindsight, instead of “crucify him”, I want to shout out so badly – “Release Him!” , “Leave Him Alone!”, and probably a little of “Go F*** Yourself!”.

Histories are meant for us to learn from and we are stuck where we are because we have not learned and unable to move forward.

History is what happened today, remembered tomorrow. In other words, today is tomorrow’s history.

There is no story that is a disruption in world history greater than the crucifixion of Christ.

How often do we hear people say “we will make history today”?

If we have made so much histories that mattered through time, we could have written so many modern day bibles. There will probably be a chapter for Steve Jobs, Muhammad Ali, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, Neil Armstrong, and the list goes on.

But there isn’t a modern day Bible.

We have not learned from this great history with Jesus at the center of its story. We have not learned that we will never ever be able to reproduce the divine however we try to be God.

Today we are still required to recite “crucify Him”.

Not unless we have learned the lesson of extreme and divine altruism of Jesus sacrificing His life for humanity, we will continue being amongst the crowd screaming “Crucify Him”.

We will only cross over to His side when we have learned and have been crucified – surrendering and dying selflessly for others.

Many have done that and most recently those brave souls that stood between the shooter and students in the Florida school shooting incident. That brought about a huge disruption in the community and paved the way for the #NeverAgain movement.

Perhaps this is why I have chosen to BELIEVE so that I can learn, be crucified, and hopefully become a disruption worthy of making history.

Until then, it remains “His story”.

At the crossroad between religion, culture, and expectations of life

For the last few years, the season of Lent started around the same time as the Chinese New Year. And this year, Ash Wednesday fell on the day before the eve of Chinese New Year. As we know, the eve of the Chinese New Year is when the traditional re-union dinner takes place. Meals seemed to be the most common item made as a sacrifice during Lent.

There seemed to be a clash and stirring because of this “impeccable” timing. The season of Lent usually means moderation, fast, and abstinence.

On the other hand, for the Chinese, the Lunar new year represents prosperity and abundance. The grand celebration of culture is met with the restrictive religious obligations.

How can you then be moderate in the midst of all the desire to bring about abundance?

“When you fast, do not be somber like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward.” ~ Matthew 6:16

This verse usually lingers in my head throughout Lent. But a few occasions I have experienced made me understand it from the perspective of the hypocrites.

If you are living among a judgmental society, one filled with expectations how one should behave during every season, it is very natural for people to be pretentious so not to “rock the boat” or “ruffle the feathers”.

We tend to outcast people who are different from us. If God wanted and desired uniformity, don’t you think we will all have the same fingerprint and human cloning would be legal?

I believe some of us grew up practicing the faith our grandparents have taught us – some are obligations of the religion while others are various family traditions. I was having a conversation with my wife regarding this one incident that took place on a certain Friday. We were seated at a restaurant next to a friend from church. Upon seeing us having meat on a Friday, he tried giving us a “friendly reminder” that it was a day of fast and abstinence. Until this day and due to that incident, I vowed to have more meat during Fridays.

It annoyed me because I felt violated and infringed. I do not wish and refuse to practice the religion as how it has been passed on by someone’s ancestors. The various expectations and obligations imposed as how they are understood for generations. I have a personal relationship with God through the way he touched me in my life. I believe that everyone experiences it differently and one’s relationship with his or her creator is unique, special, and exclusive.

Furthermore, the prices of fish way surpasses the prices of meat now and if we are to abstain taking meat on Friday because it is taken as more expensive and “luxurious”, some practices need updating. If not, how can we keep up with the real world situation in all that it reflects in the practices of old?

In his conversation with David Marchese for the vulture.com, Quincy Jones when asked if he was religious replied, “The Catholics have a religion based on fear, smoke, and murder”.

Quincy Jones is of course no God but how true and at the same time sad it is for a religion to be represented that way. It must have been how the religion has been practiced throughout the years.

Like the matrix, I sometimes feel that to practice a religion these days one requires to adhere and stay in line or else you will be treat as the little variant, glitch, or blip. Being different is often seen as being under the influence of the satan and one needs to be exorcised or receive the sacrament of reconciliation.

When often times, all we need to live this life is some love, common sense, and a good conscience. When everyone is doing it, it does not mean we ought to. Do we ever stop to ponder, reason, and listen to our inner voice. But wait, that voice could be of the devil’s we like to tell/accuse of ourselves.

So what’s the real deal?

The real deal is that I’ve got two family members stricken by 4th stage cancer. The thought of the possibility that I might lose two people I love this year is not only scary but frustrating at the same time. Do I need to restrict myself from being in celebratory mood if that means the world to them both during this time of celebration? I chose to make them happy.

We need to convince ourselves that everyone goes through their own struggles in life and no matter what, there is no “one size fits all” guide to life. That’s what “To Each His Own” means…

War Between Organic & Digital

My idealism tells me that we are all born to be creative. No matter what, we are all here to build rather than destroy. Somewhere along the way, we have picked up the habit of discarding rather than fixing things.

This weekend I spent some time building yet another Christmas decoration – The Nativity Scene. It took me just 30 minutes turning a box into a crib.

Making a crib

Crib

Instead of using the traditional characters to represent the 3 wise men, shepherd, Mary & Joseph, and baby Jesus, I wondered how a new age Nativity scene would look like. Thus, I used some toys from my collection as a representation of the characters.

Cybertronian Crib

New Age Crib

And that got me thinking about the eventuality of our world being taken over by robots and everything digital, perhaps if robots are still believers, this could well be how a “Cybertronian” Nativity scene looks like.

And that brings me to what seems to me a grave situation for mankind.

Let’s begin with two words – PERCEIVED and ACTUAL.

Call me ignorant, call me old fashioned, or call me dated, call me shallow, call me whatever, I still cannot wrap my head around the fuss of cryptocurrency and here’s why…

I am suppose to be from this generation in between the Gen-Y and Millennial. I work with computer software. I suppose to be all excited about these sort of stuff. But I really don’t dig this sort sh*t.

I simply cannot see substance in it.

This world is mutating in such a way that it appreciates the superficial instead of tangible values.

If you invest in gold, you have a piece of gold. If you invest in currencies, you have bank notes.

You have something physical that counts for something.

But, the hype now is around believing a number (even binary – 0s and 1s) stored in a server which its physical location is unbeknownst to us! Oh yeah, it’s call cloud and it’s another IN thing!

Rightly so, Wikipedia have this to say about the origin of one such cryptocurrency – “…was invented by an unknown person…”

But who cares when the bottom line is someone’s making money right?

It truly is a matter of principles.

The past few days, we spent a lot of time at the hospitals. I observed the nurses working very long shifts. There are genuinely hard working people out there!

Sugar coated and sophisticated technological terms like cryptocurrency and their hype and PERCEIVED value are nothing but insults to hard working people investing their precious time for physical and ACTUAL bank notes!

The point is, there are things digital will never win over the ORGANIC.

We need a different level of connection digital will never ever be able to provide. In terms of nurses at hospitals, we need the emotional connection – empathy, compassion, and love.

For me, cryptocurrency is nothing but a fad and hype. The more the following, the higher its value. Therefore, our support or rejection of such scheme will directly impact its value. Medias can now be manipulated to make anything an IN thing and that helps boost the following that ultimately increase its PERCEIVED value.

I am a true believer of substance and ACTUAL values.

Like MLMs, it feeds on the huge network and only the few at the TOP benefits the most out of all the people at the lower bottom of the food chain.

Surely, the early adopters and those who jump on the bandwagon earliest will benefit the most.

I believe in the hardworking nurses, farmers, and all who bust their ass off but sadly being exploited by those who cut edges just to make a dollar.

I believe in the ORGANIC and I hope you will too!

In Search For The Saint

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28

It is almost a month now that we’ve had not listened to the inspiring words of our favorite priest on weekends. After completing some urgent work, it was 3.30 am when I finally went to bed this morning. I had the strangest of dreams. There he was being very silent and still but yet comforting in the dream. I guess he brings about an image of peace and tranquility in a chaotic world. His presence alone brings a smile to the heart.

We all know dreams are not meant to be interpreted because they usually do not mean anything. But somehow, this particular dream reminded me of the quote above.

(5 days later…)

While writing the above, something urgent came up that needed my attention and this post was left unfinished. Sitting here at the end of the weekend, I am finally able to finish up this post.

Today, the focus of the reading is on Mount Tabor where Jesus transfigured while His disciples witnessed in great awe. The priest’s sermon spoke about “Top Of The Mountain” experience. It somehow reminded me of how people with addiction struggle to chase after the “first highs” in their lives.

The quote “I’m the king of the world!” was made famous by Jack played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the hit movie Titanic. A perfect example of what can be used to describe a “top of the mountain” experience.

Having had followed the provocative sermons of a priest for most of my life had me spoiled with “top of the mountain” spiritual encounters every weekend. It has become very difficult to come back down to the regular experiences “on the ground”.

The question now is whether the past “top of the mountain” experiences will be able to sustain me in the present and as well as the future. Or do I detach myself from being so dependent and expectant of the approaches of the past?

I would like to think that there has been growth after so long and I would be able to find inspiration on my own. Perhaps, my focus has been at all the wrong places or that is something I tell myself as a consolation?

Whatever it is, I am opined that “top of the mountain” experiences should motivate us to achieve greater heights in life. They should be the building blocks for more “top of the mountain” experiences.

I hope you have a “top of the mountain” experience today that will not only inspire you but also sustain you through all the challenges you’ll face in the future.

Shalom…