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Wednesday, December 29, 2004


reflection, originally uploaded by HUICHIEH.

reflection1, originally uploaded by HUICHIEH.

The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco on a drizzly december day. As this website explains:

The task of creating a Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition fell to the architect Bernard R. Maybeck, then fifty years old and known for his innovative ideas. Setting to work on this new project, he chose as his theme a Roman ruin, mutilated and overgrown, in the mood of a Piranesi engraving. But this ruin was not to exist solely for itself to show "the mortality of grandeur and the vanity of human wishes .... "

Maybeck probably did not forsee that the present state of his creation would reflect his theme more than ever.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Bearing good tidings

This donkey's reflections seem to betray a spirit that leaves something to be desired: traces of bitterness, or perhaps just of a very ambivalent boast. However, when we come to the last verse, ambivalence or bitterness it might have been, there is a definite joy and triumph that is evident from the first word "Fools!" that with its exclamation and in its feistiness departs somewhat from the rhythm and mood of the preceding stanzas. I can identify with the donkey: I'm certainly far from being perfect, but God is gracious and uses me still. Written in a classic hymn meter (4,3,4,3; e.g., "Joy to the World"), this could also be seen a donkey's hymn to remind us of Christ as we celebrate the baby Jesus this Christmas season. And if you're looking for a real donkey's carol, there's always John Rutter's Donkey Carol which with its whimsical sweetness has charmed listeners the world over.

By: G.K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked 
And figs grew upon thorn, 
Some moment when the moon was blood 
Then surely I was born; 

With monstrous head and sickening cry 
And ears like errant wings, 
The devil's walking parody 
On all four-footed things. 

The tattered outlaw of the earth, 
Of ancient crooked will; 
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, 
I keep my secret still. 

Fools! For I also had my hour; 
One far fierce hour and sweet: 
There was a shout about my ears, 
And palms before my feet.

(Note on the last stanza: read Matthew 21)

About Elaine

Elaine is currently in a position which many would envy--enjoying life as a homemaker on her early sabbatical-of-sorts as she accompanies her grad student husband Loy. Her interests lie mainly in the humanities, being happy to read a range of literature on things historical, philosophical, literary, theological. If this sounds familiar, you might like to refer to Loy's introduction. No mere coincidence here - common interests did play a big part in their friendship and love. She also has a special affection for the works of Shakespeare, C. S Lewis, the music of John Rutter, hymns and hymnology, flowers, cooking, and... the donkey, that lowly animal which was given the high honours of bearing the baby Jesus in Mary's womb and the Saviour as He rode into Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago. (My blogger profile)

Introducing Huichieh

Hui-chieh, or as most friends call him, 'Loy,' is from Singapore (1.17N, 103.51E -- in case you are wondering). His professional interests--i.e., the stuff he does in order to keep his ricebowl--centers around research in ancient Chinese philosophy. But he is also interested in ancient Greek philosophy, early modern and contemporary political philosophy...in fact, he is happy to discuss most things (theological, philosophical, historical, literary, political) under the sun. But when all the things have been heard and said, Loy is a Bible believer who takes Paul at his word when he said, "critically examine all things (panta de dokimazete), hold fast the good (to kalon katechete)" -- 1 Thes 5:21. When the books are set aside, Loy looks for small critters--armed with his digital camera. The grey squirrels of UC Berkeley have a special place in his heart, but not so special as the place that Elaine--to whom he is happily married--has. (My blogger profile)
Friday, December 24, 2004

A real poser, this one

fatsquirrel, originally uploaded by HUICHIEH.

Caught the critter munching on his afternoon snack in the Grinnell nature area, just inside the south-west entrance to the Berkeley campus. Thought he's going to make a dash for it as soon as I approach--but he didn't. Either he's very confident that being shot by a camera is no lethal affair, or, as we say in these parts, he's a real poser, this one. There are excellent reasons why UC Berkeley is numero uno on the Campus Squirrel Listings