There is no such thing as fire-proof paper

1) For some reason I’m reminded again of this nursing student friend I had some years ago. Young, pretty, but with a streak of rebellion in her. For a while she was able to get her act together after joining a group of people dedicated to serving the Lord through music. Got very active in the ministry, read her bible almost everyday, attended weekly devotions and even undertook voice training in an effort to serve better.

But then, there came a period when she had to spend a lot of time with her friends at school for a group project. Went on a lot of out-of-town trips that were partly business and partly pleasure. Ever vigilant, her friends at church gave her some precautionary talk about not spending any more time with this group than is necessary, or something like that. “I can handle it,” she answered. She was clearly having the time of her life, which was probably natural since she’s young and probably enjoying all kinds of new experiences with her new group of friends.

One day, over YM, she blurted at my wife “PUTANG-INA MO!!!”

2) Another friend, a pastor’s wife. Also totally dedicated to the Lord and her family. She was also very intelligent, headstrong, and an overachiever, the type that wouldn’t let go of an anything without doing something substantial first. A woman who values her career almost as much as she does her family, she excelled at her job and made a lot of important friends in the business. Invested a lot of herself, time and effort into her career and met all sorts of people. At the same time, she tried to spare some time for the ministry as well.

But things hadn’t been easy. She tried to serve two masters. Believed in her inherent ability to juggle two different worlds, both of which demanded a lot from her. But she clearly became immersed with only one, and she wound up pouring her heart to her career more than she probably should have.

Next thing I know, she was having an affair with a coworker.

3) Another story about a pastor. No details. Simply that this pastor thought that socializing and spending time with some of his female friends poses no danger since he’s confident with his spirituality. He ended up having an affair with one of them just the same.

4) Jimmy Swaggart. Nuff said.

All of the above happened a pretty long time ago. All of the people I mentioned had repented since then and become straight with God again.

But how many people did they cause to stumble before repenting? How many people did they hurt in the process?

Two verses come to mind:

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

I don’t care how much you claim that you still attend regular devotions and bible studies. As long as you continue to expose yourselves to situations where you could fall, you will fall. This has already been proven by hundreds of Christians who thought they could deal with precarious situations and then find out when it’s too late that they couldn’t.  Take the hint already.

Parting Shot: Here’s a rather amusing story I read from Reader’s Digest:

A man put out an ad for a chauffeur at a local newspaper. Three experienced drivers responded to the ad. During the screening, the man asked two of the applicants to wait outside the room, and then asked the one applicant in the room a question.

“When driving on a road near a cliff, how far away from the ledge could you drive without falling off?”

“Five inches.” Proudly declared the first applicant.

The man then asked him to go out and tell the second applicant to come in. He then asked the second applicant the same question.

“Two inches.” He answered, grinning with cockiness.

As with the first, he told the second applicant to go out and call the third applicant. The man asked the same question.

“I’d stay as far away from the ledge as possible.” said the third applicant.

He got the job.

Another one bites the dust

“But I know the rage that drives you. That impossible anger strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved one is just… poison in your veins. And one day, you catch yourself wishing the person you loved had never existed so you’d be spared your pain.”

Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), Batman Begins, 2005

After my brother died (car crash), my mom introduced me to one of her colleagues at work, a woman who was a little bit older than her. Then my mom told me about that colleague of hers, particularly her decision to be emotionally detached from her children. Why? So that she didn’t have to suffer from the intense grief as my mom (and dad) did as a result of my brother’s death.

Sounds kinda practical. Don’t let yourself get emotionally attached to anything and anyone so you’d suffer less pain if you lose them — and you will lose them. Squall Leonhart of Final Fantasy VIII had the same idea. “I don’t want friends who won’t be around tomorrow”, he said. If you don’t plan to stick around, I might as well keep you at arms length.

My mom disagrees. Yes, she hurt like hell when she lost her son. But according to her, the hurt is still worth it. She’d rather go through the painful consequences of loving than to play safe and, in the process, lead a life devoid of the joys of loving.

But you know, sometimes I’m with my mom’s colleague. And Squall.

The sting of losing someone is just not worth it.

Be not afraid of the ones that get mad…

Be afraid of the ones that get EVEN.

These are the people who get aggravated, antagonized, and anathematized for no real reason, and still remain quiet.

They’re like crocodiles. You make the water murky, you only give them a way to move unseen. Before you know it, you’re wide-eyed staring at the bubbles coming from your mouth as the croc drags you deeper and deeper into the bottom of the river.

If you’re so rabid that you’d actually get sick if you’re forbidden from making enemies out of individuals who are just minding their own business, at least glance at these tips on what kind of people you should choose as enemies.

1) Those that get mad – they’re nothing but noise, calling everyone’s attention to make themselves appear like they’re the ones being offended. Like I said, don’t be afraid of them.

2) Those that ignore you – you may become frustrated as hell that your antics don’t get a rise out of them, but at least you don’t have to worry about getting the tables turned on you.

3) Those who are too stupid to realize they’re already being insulted (of which I am definitely not one of them. You can veil your belligerence with the thickest decoy tactic you could think of, I’d still see through it)

… … …

Having said all these…

My ultimate advice is DON’T make enemies. Contrary to what the enmity-advocating gossip-mill culture that we have may impress on you, making enemies is not admirable. It’s not cool. It will not turn you into a prom king or queen.

It’s simply retarded.

You’re retarded if you initiate and perpetuate conflicts willingly and gleefully. You deserve to be called bading (if you’re a guy) or palengkera (if you’re a girl).

No class at all.

It’s not worth it. For whatever reason. Let alone having no reason at all.

It still pays to turn the other cheek.

Just because I feel batty…

Unlike many superheroes, Batman has no superpowers and instead relies on “his own scientific knowledge, detective skills, and athletic prowess.” Batman is physically at the peak of human ability in dozens of areas, notably martial arts, acrobatics, strength, and escape artistry. Intellectually, he is just as peerless; Batman is one of the world’s greatest scientists, criminologists, and tacticians, as well as a master of disguise, often gathering information under the identity of Matches Malone. He is regarded as one of the DC Universe‘s greatest detectives.”

“Rather than simply outfighting his opponents, Batman often uses cunning and planning to outwit them. In Grant Morrison’s first storyline in JLA, Superman describes Batman as “the most dangerous man on Earth,” able to defeat a team of superpowered aliens all by himself in order to rescue his imprisoned teammates.”

– Wikipedia

Liars go to Hades!

Anyone know William Moulton Marston? Well, if you know Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, co-creators of Superman, and Bob Kane, creator of Batman, chances are you also know Marston. He (together with his wife Elizabeth Holloway) created Wonder Woman.

The interesting part is together with the creation of the most famous female superhero in history, Marston was also the one who conceptualized her main weapons: the bullet-deflecting indestructible bracelets and the Lasso of Truth – a rope made from the Girdle of Gaia that, when looped around a person, renders that person unable to tell a lie.

So?

Well, William Moulton Marston was also the inventor of the polygraph.

Hehe, you don’t run into convergent facts like that everyday

“Credit” this to experience

Back in California, I had 10 credit cards. Ten. Four of them are unactivated, owing to my peculiar habit of sending credit card applications just for the heck of it (which falls under the same category of test-driving cars when I have no plans of buying – but that’s a story for another day). I used six – and as a result found myself deep into debt that for the life of me, I didn’t quite know how to settle.

Fortunately, that’s all behind me now. I’m back home, no credit cards, and I couldn’t be happier. Still, the temptation to apply still arises from time to time, especially when friends try to entice me to or when I walk into work and find bank representatives at the lobby of the building trying to sweet-talk me into availing of great deals, like no interest payment for 2 years and similar lures to taste “the good life.” I would then tell my wife about it, to which she would respond with a lecturing look while saying in her usual sweet manner, “Hon, do we really need it?”

We don’t. From the start, my wife and I promised that we would lead a simple life. We have a home, food on the table, and even a car to get around with, even if it’s not my dream Nissan Skyline GT-R. So again, wifey will prove right, and I would snap back to the plan.

There’s a reason for this, actually. If you think living simply and wisely is just the simpleton’s lame attempt to chicken out of the real world, take a gander at this:

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Question: “What does the Bible say about a Christian going into debt?”Answer: Paul’s charge to us to owe nothing but love in Romans 13:8 is a powerful reminder of God’s distaste for all forms of debt that are not being paid in a timely manner (see also Psalms 37:21). Usually we think of debt in terms of a monetary obligation. But in light of the context of this entire passage (Romans 13:1-10), Paul seems to have a broader view of debt in mind (Romans 13:7). Not only does he speak of taxes, tolls, and tariffs that are imposed on us by our government, but also the respect, honor and praise we owe to those in high authority. All of us are debtors to God’s grace. As He has shown us love, we need to extend love to those around us with whom we live and work – even those who tax and govern us.

Some people question the charging of any interest on loans, but several times in the Bible we see that a fair interest rate is expected to be received on borrowed money (Proverbs 28:8, Matthew 25:27). In ancient Israel the Law did prohibit charging interest on one category of loans – those made to the poor (Leviticus 25:35-38). This law had many social, financial, and spiritual implications, but two are especially worth mentioning. First, the law genuinely helped the poor by not making their situation worse. It was bad enough to have fallen into poverty, and it could be humiliating to have to seek assistance. But if in addition to repaying the loan a poor person had to make crushing interest payments, the obligation would be more hurtful than helpful.

Secondly, the law taught an important spiritual lesson. For a lender to forego interest on a loan to a poor person would be an act of mercy. He would be losing the use of that money while it was loaned out. Yet that would be a tangible way of expressing gratitude to God for His mercy in not charging His people “interest” for the grace He has extended to them. Just as God had mercifully brought the Israelites out of Egypt when they were nothing but penniless slaves, and had given them a land of their own (Leviticus 25:38), so He expected them to do a similar kindness to their own poor citizens.

Christians are in a parallel situation. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has paid our sin debt to God. Now, as we have opportunity, we can help others in need, particularly fellow believers, with loans that do not escalate their troubles. Jesus even gave a parable along these lines about two creditors and their attitude toward forgiveness (Matthew 18:23-35). He also instructs His followers: “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).

The Bible neither expressly forbids or allows the borrowing of money. The wisdom of the Bible teaches us that it is usually not a good idea to go into debt. Debts essentially makes us a slave to the one we owe. At the same time, in some situations going into debt is a “necessary evil.” As long as money is being handled in a wise way, and the debt payments are manageable – a Christian can take on the burden of financial debt if it is necessary.

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Not a rub against anyone, but maybe more of a friendly reminder. Having credit cards and taking out loans for whatever purpose you may have, it’s your call and I would never dream of encroaching into your freedom to do what you want. But as someone who used to be deep in debt and had learned a lesson from it, you might just want to take my counsel (more of my wife’s, really) and take the time to ask yourself first if you really need this something you’re getting yourself into debt for. Stopping to think might reveal a thing or two that might give you a pleasant surprise. Who knows, right?

Just when you think you know someone…

That someone turns around, turns her back on you, and turns your world upside down.

I don’t get reminded of this person often. Sometimes, maybe. It probably helps that I don’t see her anymore. It probably helps to say that she’s history. Used to be a part of my life.

Not like that.

Friends only, nothing more. But the character flaw of a person like me is the constant setting of expectations — however unwitting and involuntary – for my closest friends.

(And how swiftly I write them off if they ever let me down in a major way)

In this case, it was for this person to be a faithful friend.

This person failed me.

Well, that should have been over and done with. It’s just that…

… when I saw that clipping from an old comic book (with Dawnstar and Wildfire, my two favorite members of the Legion of Superheroes), it reminded me of this friend I had.

And how I’d been safe and secure in believing that she would always be there. How she’d always be a person I’d know deeply for the rest of my life.

And how I’d been sorely mistaken. How I woke up one day and realized that all of the sudden, I don’t know this person anymore.

Sucks to be hit by something you don’t see coming.

Pero wala lang.

Just an accidental reminder.

That’s how life is. Once in a while, it comes about without warning and kicks you on the face.

But that’s fine. Just an old scar that sometimes hurts with it’s cold. No biggie.

Do I know you?

Hypocrisy check: several times I had to go back to myself and drive a nail through my personal reason for disliking ABS-CBN. Several reasons, actually:

1. PBB - I just don’t see the point of gathering strangers under one roof to watch them back stab and front stab each other. Entertainment? Maybe. In the vernacular, kanya-kanyang trip lang yan. It’s just not for me. The way I see it, it’s a show that capitalizes on the Filipino’s fondness for watching people making an ass of themselves. With the morale of the nation as low as it is now, this show is not particularly helpful in any genuinely constructive way.

2. News anchormen – especially the guys, with the way they intentionally speak in booming baritone as though they were recording voices for a cartoon show instead of reporting the news… I just can’t force myself to take them seriously. It’s annoying as hell.

3. Shows that promote superstition – too freaking many to mention

4. Telenovelas – same old same old same old same old same old same old same old same old same old same old same old… *sigh*

5. Gimmickry of mimicry – are they unaware that the people know how they imitate GMA 7 at almost every turn or do they simply not care?

6. Wowowee – self-explanatory

Those are just a few. But I’m not going to specify all of my reasons here, for the simple reason that this post is not about bashing ABS-CBN. I stated the above merely to drive a point: I know ABS-CBN’s programming, and I don’t like it.

Common sense, right? In order to dislike or despise something or someone, you have to know it first. Especially if you’re going to share your disgust with like minds.

Everyone has freedom of preference. Freedom to opinion. Freedom to like or dislike anyone or anything.

But if your disgust is based on nothing but a superficial view of indirectly gathered, very third-hand information… or worse, if your disgust is based on nothing but gut feel, then what you have is nothing but prejudice.

Judgment without reason.

And you’re nothing but a bigot.

It’s like judging people based on skin color.

Because really, how could anyone of us hope to say that a person is bad when we don’t really know that person well? Or at all?

“Shit, sister, don’t talk to that guy/girl! He/she’s an ass/a bitch!”

Really?

We know this for a fact?

Do we even know that person enough to know this for a fact?

If we couldn’t answer Yes to anyone of the above, then we should just shut the hell up.

I mean, let’s get real. Let’s be practical and truthful. No one ever judges the merits (or lack thereof) of a book without reading it first, right?

Do you know that we’re answerable to God for every despicable judgment we make against anyone, no matter if it’s true or not? How much more answerable do you think we’d be if we unleash judgment that are unfounded, based on nothing, and made from a position of ignorance? Or worse yet, how much more answerable would we be for being libelous liars?

I’m thinking if we do this, we deserve to have our tongues nailed on a wall. Literally.

Being prejudicial is uncool, dudes and dudettes. Let’s stop while we still can.