Monday, June 16, 2014

Translation Task

This venture has been exasperating. I had hoped to absorb and translate an honest, austere account of philosophy for the edification of the Chinese-speaking Catholics in Singapore. After seven chapters of Plato, Aristotlean metaphysics, Scholasticism and Leibniz, I have become less and less convinced of that lofty goal in the face of half-baked arguments for the lecturer's case and his unexamined biases; every proof or defense that he presented seemed to make his case less convincing. Consider me unlucky that it's this particular priest that teaches the course, and I only hope that the clumsy dialectics brings the class to an uproar and spur many lively debates, not dull their minds as I fear it would.

Upcoming tasks: Chapters 8 and 9 are in-depth readings of Summa Theologiae. Chapter 10 concerns the Classical-era Chinese philosophers, with emphasis on the Taoist school. Chapter 11 concerns Søren Kierkegaard and his melancholic pangs, and that seems to be the end of the course. I was first disappointed but then was relieved to learn that the worst asshats in modern philosophy in the ranks of Voltaire, Ayn Rand, de Sade, Nietzsche or Sartre have not been dredged from the depths. Exposure to these thinkers might turn the class upside-down. Still, being able to defend the faith against the fashionable ideas of the present might necessitate at least some knowledge of such minds that power them. Maybe the students should read up on them outside of the class if they feel up to it.

In other news, today is my birthday. I had clean forgotten about it until my sister's message popped in to congratulate me in the morning. At noontime I made two servings of pasta for myself to celebrate the occasion.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

No, Peter!

I don't know whether I have ever prayed for this to happen. What I'm sure I did was for God to give an answer, and however soft that turned out, I will strain to listen. I will try! Imagine how I felt when on that day God replied in the sounds of gunfire, when War has been brought to our doorstep. Too loud!

Feeling light inside with fear and expectancy, I dressed up and went to the street. Presently, the stretch close to where I was, just around the corner, was contested by two detachments of soldiers, and after a brief incendiary exchange close to the front door of my house, both groups had retreated, leaving in their wake a mortally-wounded young man.

The man had crawled to safety in an alley during the retreat; a teenager, barely nineteen, in a makeshift uniform of sorts that is typical of the guerillas. He clutched me when I reached him and I tried to prop him up against the brick walls, preparing to administer to him the last rites. He was moaning in agony from bullet wounds to his abdomen (there were several), and I said to myself, this is the Lord who moans. It was now when a soldier from the other side found us. Pointing his rifle at us, he screamed at me in a language I did not understand. He seemed to want me to give up the poor sod who was so close to death, so he could polish him off properly. I don't know if you would do the same, but I flared up because a man's sense of honour would never allow him to strike a foe already fallen, you know. I picked up a discarded sickle from the pile and brought it down over his head. The helmet withstood the blow and deflected the sickle, but I managed to slice off a piece of his right ear.

And would you know, the next thing I knew the young man was up. "NO, PETER," he screamed, and shoved me aside. He picked up the ear and put it back on, would you believe it, put it back on so that the soldier had his ear again, and the soldier knelt down and just stayed there, sobbing and muttering like an idiot. Now I don't know how his fellows found him afterwards, what happened to that young man, or even what happened immediately afterwards, because a strong shock knocked me out at that instant, and afterwards I was unconscious for days.

References: John 18:10, Luke 22:51, Matthew 25:31-46