2006 In Focus
As always, I will filter my journey the past year through a spiritual lens because I believe all of life is spiritual. If something has an effect on me, it is because it has first affected me in my inner most being. Generally the year started with the continuing struggle towards certain detachment, as reflected in some of my earlier post for the year. I am relieved to announce that this could well be the year where there is a real breakthrough in that area. Surprisingly I wasn't particularly ecstatic. To put it plainly, it was almost a non-event. Perhaps because the progress was so natural and gradual that I hardly took notice, which explains why I did not even blog about it. Another reason for the lack of enthusiasm could be because I was at the same time entering into a phase where I was feeling spiritually dry and far away from God; wallowing between self-doubt and unbelief, guilt and apathy (read Faithless and Is There a Higher Reality?). That is not to say there weren't moments of refreshment and grace and passion for the things of God, though they could be more. Last year was also the year I prayed the least and read the least from Christian authors. Was it any mystery then that I felt I was slipping away? However, as the year ends I began to feel once again a drive to reconnect myself with God and to pursue Him afresh. Maybe because endings and beginnings tend to point us of the one who is the Alpha and the Omega.
Here is my list for the year.
Music/Song of the Year
There weren't any that stands out particularly but there are some I should mention because they speak of my state of mind at that moment of time. Songs like, Addicted and Because of You spoke of my addiction and sense of loss, Homesick and Healing Rain of my longing and Much of You of my devotion. There was also Daniel Powter's Bad Day which I couldn't stop playing for days. Apart from these I've enjoyed most of the songs in Jason Mraz's album, Mr A-Z for their catchy tune and clever lyrics.
Film of the Year
I Not Stupid Too
I am usually not a fan of local production but this one reduced me to tears. I don't remember crying that much since The Passion of Christ. Every Singaporean parent (myself included) will agree that this film has impacted us in the way we bond with our children and to challenge us to rethink our priorities. The setting and stories were so close to reality (though sometimes exaggerated to prove a point) in the life of a typical Singaporean family that it immediately confronts us with our apathy towards our children's cry in affluent Singapore. We see how the mad rush to acquire status and fortune at the expense of our children and our inability to accept them just as they are has hurt them and set them up for failure as adults, passing on the dysfunction from generation to generation.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Walk The Line
I love this film not only for the story of the legendary Johnny Cash but also for the music. It contains a multitude of concert scenes, thanks in huge part to Phoenix and Witherspoon's ability to tell us so much about their respective characters by the way they sing a song. Their singing is as impressive and engaging as their acting. The film starts with young Cash whose enormous grief over his beloved brother's tragic death was further compounded by his father's cruelty. His sorrow becomes the soil for an achingly authentic artistry but tragically also for self-destructive patterns of addiction and impulsiveness. On one of his early concert tours, Johnny meets June Carter (played by Reese Witherspoon) and together they formed a successful musical partnership in a series of duets. In the course of it, they forged a strong friendship that withstood many detours and demons. Ultimately June becomes the saving grace in Cash's life. And so it was that Johnny Cash changed music forever with three or four guitar chords and a voice that people believed while June Carter changed Johnny Cash forever with faith and love.
Book of the Year
Night by Elie Wiesel
Borrowed Time by Paul Monette
Event of the Year
The Jewish nation has been in war for as long as anyone could remember but for some reason last year's conflict with Lebanon left me particularly disturbed and distressed. It was my first time signing any petition and I have lost track of how many I've signed for this one, painfully reading every one to make sure I am supporting the right thing. Some of my thoughts are recorded in Don't Be Silent and Evangelical Blindness On Lebanon and a few others in the August 2006 archive.
Who showed by example what self-sacrificial love is, who questioned and challenged our desire to truly and lovingly understand the gay community and our acceptance of them. He exposed our ignorance and prejudice and the tragedy which they wrought. You may read more about it in my review of Borrowed Time.
Sermon of the Year
This has got to be the message that pulled me out of my spiritual depression. Preached by none other than my own pastor. It came at a time when I was near the bottom of the pit and like the wind that chased away the dark clouds, it lifted me out of my darkness. To put it simply, it was a call to switch focus because what we focus on, we bless. Start giving heed to God's blessings no matter how small we think they are and see them multiply in our life. Look for the good, talk about them, and we will see more of it. Shift our focus away from our problems because what we give heed to, we bless. What we honor and bless increases, what we curse withers. Start giving attention to people that matters to us because to ignore them is to curse them. I won't be able share everything in writing because there were just too many illustrations but you get the jist of it. The message is available at the church's online store.
Blog of the Year
My So-called Expat Life by Not So RaggedyAne
The light-hearted tone of this blog, not to mention all the girlie stuff and food and travel is a refreshing change to those heavy, serious stuff that I torture myself with sometimes. The author is pretty, witty and best of all, have a great sense of humor.
Lesson of the Year
Do not take people too seriously because humans are fickle creatures. Have the kind of posture where you're able to laugh at yourself and others. Giving heed to people while maintaining a sense of humor could save you a lot of heartaches.
God speaks in the most unlikely places, even through people whom we considered unworthy. The fact is, none of us are worthy. Most things take on a different light when we stop thinking of ourself, our ideas, our theology and start standing alongside each other with the mindset that we're in this journey of life together.
Finally I should also announce that I have terminated my subscription to Hipcast, through which I post all my audio and video blogs. This explains why all the audio buttons are no longer working. Something went wrong with the billing and I had to terminate it in order not to be overcharged.
I've also stopped formal guitar lessons due to my increasingly tight schedule. I tried to keep up with the practice on my own for a while but towards the last quarter of the year, I hardly touched the instrument at all. I certainly hope I won't loose touch and has hope to start picking it up again.
2005 In Focus
2004 In Focus