Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life is Vapour, Therefore Enjoy Life (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3:15)

Everyone has one or more of those religious wet-blanket blips in their lives: the sort who frown upon laughter and carousing, who ask about the eternal value of massaging death-row bovines, and are ready to drive a stake through the still-beating heart of the performing ego of the moment.

But surely the universal enjoyment of food and drink and work, and music and dancing, and the arts and sciences, and sports and games demonstrates that these things are an integral part of the human experience.

Even the least self-aware/situationally-conscious of humans can, without any prompting:

while away the hours on silly iphone games, erm, honing tower defence and practical physics skills:
Plants vs Zombies, iphone Zomboss, Plants vs Zombies, iphone
Angry Birds, iphone Angry Birds, iphone
Plants vs Zombies, Angry Birds

appreciate an evening of comparing the marbling, texture, taste, mouth-feel of the meat of dead cows and discussing various methods of cooking such flesh:
Different types of dead cow

rock Liao Zhai Rocks! and be very impressed by the obvious professionalism of the actors and set designers from The Theatre Practice:
Liao Zhai Rocks! by The Theatre Practice

sing badly and emo-ly at a karaoke session, exacerbated no doubt by Lady Gaga and lyrically-incompatible KTV videos of Caucasian women doing strange things:
Karaoke, Partyworld Vivocity

soak in the “high” at a Chinese rock concert despite the one-hour wait to get into the Singapore National Stadium (which passed quickly thanks to possibly heretical allusions and analogies about the line to get into heaven on the Last Day – "Oh actually, this is the line for hell" and “Yes, well, we did say eternity didn’t we?” and the dangers of being distracted from one’s goal by an opportunistic ice-cream man),
Queue to get into National Stadium, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
The same line, doubled over
the ability to understand only a small percentage of what was being said, the vocals being a bit off, and not getting a money’s-worth ENcore (“Well, you can’t get your money’s worth if you didn’t actually pay for the tickets.”).
Blue Lightsticks, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
The song list for the D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会 (MSN). No iphone videos to spare the general public from the running commentary on postmodern interpretations of the lyrics in Christian terms and the concert-as-"worship service", and the application of the themes of Ecclesiastes to almost everything that was being sung/said, that must have sorely tried the patience of our neighbours at the concert (and at dinner before)!

Opening, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, Singapore National Stadium
Opening - youtube

Motorcycle stunt, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
Motorcycle stuntmen - youtube

Opening, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, Singapore National Stadium
Video sequence, 春天的吶喊 - music, lyrics

爆肝 - music, lyrics

賭神, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, Singapore National Stadium
賭神 - music

夜訪吸血鬼, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
夜訪吸血鬼 - music, lyrics

Hosee, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, Singapore National Stadium Hosee, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
Hosee - music, video

你不是真正的快樂 - music


生存以上 生活以下 - music, lyrics

瘋狂世界, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
瘋狂世界 - music
候鳥 - music
一顆蘋果 - music
突然好想你 - music, lyrics ("a sinner singing to sin")
我心中尚未崩壞的地方 - music
人生海海 - music
D.N.A. - music

雌雄同體, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, Singapore National Stadium 雌雄同體, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, Singapore National Stadium
雌雄同體, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore
雌雄同體 - music

雌雄同體, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore
離開地球表面 - music

笑忘歌, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore
笑忘歌 - music (hand-holding - the "fellowship" moment)
相信 - music
孫悟空 - music, vid

約翰藍儂, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore
約翰藍儂 - music
小時候 - music
最重要的小事 - music, vid, lyrics

天使, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore
天使 - music
Ashin speaks - vid (inspirational thoughts accompanied by relevant background music)
後青春期的詩 - music
生命有一種絕對 - music, vid
軋車 - music

戀愛ing, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore 戀愛ing, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore
戀愛ing - music ("Eller-Oh-Vee-Eee!")

知足, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore 知足, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, SIngapore
知足07’ 最知足版 - music
如煙 - music, vid, lyrics

溫柔, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore 溫柔, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
溫柔(還你自由版) - music ("What God says to sinners!"), vid, vid

Fireworks, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会, National Stadium, Singapore Fireworks, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
Fireworks - vid, vid.

National Stadium, D.N.A. Mayday World Tour 2010 变形DNA五月天世界巡回演唱会
We were urged repeatedly to treasure this historical last concert in the National Stadium.

If we can find some joy in these things, perhaps a higher quantity and quality of the same would be proportionally more happifying? Today at lunch, amidst the suggestions for tax-structuring with private trusts, charitable donations and the like, a friend was moaning about not having the lifestyle of her peers with their jetset weekends away fuelled by top dollar wines and food. When asked why she thought she’d be happier with more expensive pee and a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis, she said well, there was always the hope that she would be.

Qoholet had ample opportunity and ability to test this theory:
I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the children of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-10)
He had everything anyone could possibly want - maximum possible pleasure for all the senses. This was not some lazy indulgence but good and proper reward for his immense success from his hard work.

But his wisdom and knowledge which were responsible for this success also vexed him and increased his sorrow, for they showed him what a vanity and a striving after the wind both laughter and pleasure and toil were (Ecclesiastes 1:18, 2:17):
  • For all the Teacher/Preacher’s work and success, there was nothing new to show – the supposedly great projects he had undertaken were just repetitions of what had already been done (Ecclesiastes 2:12); his achievements added nothing to humanity.
  • Even though a wise man manages to navigate life successfully and efficiently whereas the fool trips over himself and stumbles through it, both are equals in death in the end (Ecclesiastes 2:14) and the wise man’s knowledge makes no difference.
  • Oh, some might protest, even though the wise man dies in the end, perhaps he will live on in people’s hearts. No, says Q, of both the wise and of the fool, there is no enduring remembrance – in all the days to come all will have been long forgotten (Ecclesiastes 2:16).
  • And even the wise man’s achievements hardly outlast him. The person who toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill, whose mind is working even when he is meant to be resting, doesn’t have enough time to enjoy all the fruit of his labour. Instead, someone else who didn’t bother to work for it will benefit, and if that person is a fool like many a rich man’s son, the assets are quickly dissipated (Ecclesiastes 2:18-23). Even in our lifetime, the most of the marvellous Wonders of the Ancient World are but the stuff of myth (if one can even name them at all), having been allegedly destroyed by earthquakes.

Peranakan food, Rendezvous Hotel
Tasty Peranakan food, Rendezvous Hotel

The believer is hardly surprised by this stark revelation, because God has given knowledge about this world to those who please him:
  • The Christian knows that God made this world good and filled it with good things (Genesis 1-2).
  • The Christian also knows that because of man’s distrust of the goodness of God and insistence on doing things their own foolish way, this world has been corrupted and nothing is as it was meant to be (Genesis 3): toil is frustrated so that for all our hard work in tilling, we get thorns some of the time; even the most intimate human relationships are painful and prickly.
  • But because Christians have turned from living apart from God back to living properly under his rule and in right relationship with him, they understand that God is sovereign over all things and has purposed all things to be done according to his timing. So
    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
    a time to be born, and a time to die;a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal;a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Therefore, what does a worker gain from his toil or the wise man from his knowledge? If he knows God, then there is no desperate searching and striving in the futile hope of finding something to do that is more significant, more valuable; something that will serve as marker so that history will know that we have passed this way and we do not return to dust nameless with nothing to show for our brief existence. For he knows that:
  • this world and this life is indeed just vapour in the wind and nothing he can do will change that.
  • not everything about life can be understood.
By contrast,
  • whatever God does endures forever and nothing can better his work nor can anyone mess it up.
  • God alone knows what he has done from beginning to the end.

Kith Cafe Roast duck sandwich, Kith Cafe
Cappuccino, Kith Cafe Banana bread, Kith Cafe
Chocolate Banana Bread, Kith Cafe Peanut butter toast, Toast Box
Hotate, Sushi Tei Strawberry Sundae, McDonalds
Sapporo Ramen Miharu, Gallery Hotel Sapporo Ramen Miharu, Gallery Hotel
Durian dessert Strawberry dessert
Swedish meatballs Daim Cake
Kith Cafe, Toast Box, Sushi Tei, Sapporo Ramen Miharu, Dessert Bowl, IKEA. Nothing new under the sun.

As the popularity of Mayday’s emo rock ballads might demonstrate, frustration and futility is part of the universal human experience, as is partying and pleasure. Everyone, whether Christian or not, observes this in his life. For in his mercy, God has allowed some sliver of beauty and the enjoyment thereof to remain for all, and yet has put eternity in the heart of man so that we might have an inkling that the here and now is not all there is; we frustrated in our attempts to enjoy life - food and drink and work seem sweet and pleasant for a while but leave a bitter aftertaste in our mouths because no matter how much we extol their virtues, the wisest amongst us sees not only that they are in the end utterly fleeting, meaningless and pointless and yet cannot fathom what else there might be. And in fact, wisdom and foolishness are both moot for both the wise and the fool die in the end, rage raging against the dying of the light. And so frustrated, we might perhaps seek the One who not only understands the world, but shows us that there is no purpose in our lives apart from a relationship with Him.

The person who fears God as God and so knows Him and acknowledges their own vapour-ous existence will be able to rest from his fruitless yearning for importance, significance and worth and enjoy eating and drinking and take pleasure in his toil in the limited time he has and do good without paralysing poignancy, because he understands that a good God has given this business to the children of man to be busy with (Ecclesiastes 3:10, cf 1:13). This sort of fleeting satisfaction is a very good gift in this corrupt fallen world and God gives the creature who pleases him the ability to enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14).


Ecclesiastes
Easter Everyday
Quest for Immortality: EPIC FAIL (Ecclesiastes 1:1-15)
Life is Vapour, Therefore Enjoy Life (Ecclesiastes 2:1-3:15)
Life is Far Worse than an iPhone Game, Therefore Harvest the Day! (Ecclesiastes 3:16-5:7)
Rawa Island and Godly Contentment (Ecclesiastes 5:8 - 6:9)
Fallen Frangipani, Really Wise Living (Ecclesiastes 6:10-7:29)

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2 Comments:

At April 21, 2010 10:36 am , Anonymous viXeb said...

thanx!!! for your fotos! i can relieve the concert again!!!

you must watch this persons video so sharp to sing along!!

Monster has his blog now!!

 
At April 28, 2010 2:12 am , OpenID taki19 said...

Hi!

My name is Lin Tan and I will like to ask you for your permission to use the Curry photo from your blog:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shadowlands/2928423389/

I will be making Curry for a company event to celebrate Asian Heritage Month and will like to use your photo alongside my food description. Will that be ok?

Please email me back at nixnil@yahoo.com. Thanks!

 

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