Urbana Day 4 - I'm a better Christian than you cont.

The solidarity meal was hardly a meal of solidarity... it was more appealing than half the stuff I eat normally.

That being said, it DID offer sufficient energy for the night session, which was great. The worship team was firing on all cylinders, leading us in another fantastic mixture of multicultural worship... it's really starting to grow on me. Sunder Krishnan from Rexdale Alliance in Toronto was the main speaker, and... wow. When I go to conferences, it is never to LEARN things. I go to be inspired, to be encouraged, and to be reminded - not to be taught. But tonight, Krishnan TAUGHT me things about prayer that have never even crossed my mind. It was excellent.

Family group had some odd moments (mostly when I corrected myself on the morality of my OWN joke while everyone else was laughing, leading to an awkward silence,) but it was, as usual, a great time of fellowship. We ended up playing Blitz for an hour or so, and I can safely say that Kristen and I make up possibly THE best Dutch Duo ever in the history of the game. True story.

Last day of conference (and 2009) tomorrow... hard to believe it's ending so quickly. As usual, pray for open minds and open hearts. I've got a feeling (that tonight's gonna be a good night) that tomorrow's gonna be a solid, uplifting day.

Dear God, bless the lady in her work but please... let her love.

Urbana Day 4 - I'm a better Christian than you

The day's only half over but I've got some down time... figure if I write something now, tonight's can be shorter (meaning I get to sleep earlier!)

Ok, so it's been relatively low-key so far. Following the morning session (with altar call,) we (the family group) all split up for some well-deserved alone time. Urbana generously made today the "slow" day, meaning there are no afternoon workshops, allowing for some to catch up on sleep, some to meet new friends, and others to simply sit and reflect upon the lessons of the past three days.

Andi, Jenna, Gerrit and I met around three (so two hours ago) to discuss our thoughts about the conference and what we can take back to campus. Several things stood out: the call to be more radical, the desire to live simply, and the realization that compartmentalizing life, and more importantly, faith, will never allow faith to grow. Our discussion of note revolved around the issue of spiritual pride; how we can hinder believers around us by making fun of the ways of others. That is to say, if and when we consider our own faith approach superior, then we're missing the point, and God becomes nothing more than something we use to make ourselves feel bigger.

Anyway, pray for continued discernment and discussion. Tonight is the commitment altar call for those who feel called to full-time ministry... I have a feeling it's going to be a powerful one.

Love to those of you who read this and pray. You are blessed.


Urbana Day 3 - Life as illustrated by grains of rice

And once again, I introduce to you: fantastic but oh-so-tiring day.

Keynotes on today's workshops:

Christians Called to Journalism
  • very direct, very to-the-point perspective on the world of mainstream print journalism (Manny Garcia is a managing editor with the Miami Herald)
  • there IS a place for Christian journalists in the mainstream media... the trouble is trying to find how to make a difference
  • journalistic ethics are not Christian ethics = dilemmas ahoy!
  • we ARE the voice for the voiceless; people cannot help unless they know (Romans 10:14)
Multicultural Worship
  • love is NOT colourblind; Jesus doesn't ask us to give up our identity just because we are part of a new family
  • in order to realize true worship, we MUST experience different styles of worship (read: not necessarily enjoy them, but experience)
  • I, as an Asian-Canadian, have unique worship styles to offer other races (where I used to believe that I simply belonged to the most unoriginal worship culture known to man)
  • Other races APPRECIATE and STRIVE to emulate many aspects of the Asian worship culture
Tonight's night session was incredible, with talks given by Shane Claiborne and Oscar Muriu. While I strive not to put people (especially faith leaders) on a pedestal, those of you who know me fairly well know that I absolutely LOVE the teachings and philosophy of Shane Claiborne. He did not disappoint.

Two things from Shane's talk that remain:
  • if you can't give your ipod away, then it's time to take the hammer to it
  • Mother Teresa had deformed feet

What is astounding is that Muriu's message was perhaps even more powerful. He embodied what I imagined from a charismatic African preacher - loud, proud, and full of righteous anger. However, what struck me most was his heart, a heart genuinely broken for the pain and suffering felt by the so many around the world. His talk can be summed up simply: be always humble, be always simple, and at all times, love. This is the only way that followers of Christ can hope to change the world. Muriu suggested that we give it a try - it is clear that our short-term missions and our small "faith offerings" are not getting the job done.

Family group meeting was once again epic. With a borrowed guitar, we shared our own songs with each other before embarking on a two song-turned-four song jam/worship session that truly hearkened back to the days of the early church. We followed with a powerful prayer session (because really, what else can you do after music?) before beginning the night's main event, our heavyweight discussion. Honestly, no room for trivial banter here...

When are we called to judge? Is there a time to judge, ever? Paul offers some insight on the matter in 1 Corinthians 5 when he says, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." Can we rebuke in love with the right motives? Can we rebuke in love to fit our ideals, even when they may not be that of others? Consider this: a youth worker who loves his teens and walks with them on their journeys. He is passionate, full of the spirit, and loving. He also dresses in American Apparel, needs a daily Starbucks, makes calls on his new iPhone, and drives to church in his Mazda3. Who is he? Is he not one of us? Who are we? Are we not one of him? Perhaps the idea was hard for us to grasp precisely because all members of our group are idealistically simplistic. Either way, we need to examine our motives at all times. To rebuke in love can lead to judgment so easily. Jenna mentioned that all we should strive to do is FORGET judgment - simply love. The rest will follow.

Dear God, you are big. Speak louder please.


Things learned from December 28, 2009

Jesus didn't commute from heaven.

Urbana Day 2 - Slow Down, God

Ok, so today was a little bit great, and as such, this post may be a little bit great. Sorry in advance.

Breakfast was fantastic, and offered a foreshadowing of the day... which was fantastic. The workshops I attended ended up being Ten Ways to Prepare for Life Alongside the Poor and Evangelism Asian American Style. I will list the great things about them:

Ten Ways to Prepare for Life Alongside the Poor
  • learn, love, and learn to love the tenets of Micah 6:8
  • split M6:8 into three currents: justice, mercy, and walking humbly with God
  • justice is the prophetic current (knowledge)
    - KNOW what you're talking about; if you're passionate, you will be passionate to learn
    - find a hero (someone to encourage and inspire you)
  • mercy is the missionary current (action)
    - find passionate friends, do something
    - be radically personal (LOVE people until you can't love anymore)
  • walking humbly with God is the contemplative current (meditation)
    - learn to listen to God about who you are
    - learn to be alone; it is more important than we know
Evangelism Asian American Style
  • I didn't learn anything new, but this seminar reaffirmed certain things in my mind:
    - I sometimes hate my culture
    - I usually hate my culture's approach to Christianity
    - there is SO much potential in the Asian church community
    - I need to get off my high horse and realize that just because my dad isn't a doctor and I don't drive a nice car doesn't mean I am morally above those who are financially and socially above me
Mostly though, the great part of the night was the night session. I can't say enough, but to sum up: African worship, human-trafficking, OMF interview, tears and shouts from us, the blessed, and breaking of hearts.

Our family group discussion (think nightly small group) was amazing, and is in fact still going on between three of them on Gerrit's bed as I type. There is so much to take in, so much to reflect upon, and so much to debate that I can't even wrap my head around it. We've been arguing back and forth about the calling: are we called to CARE about everything? Because if so, that is a LOT of shit to care about. Cynicism and apathy abound in a society that promotes cynicism and develops apathy, and it has found its way deep into the faith. Can we ever truly be passionate about the world's hurt when there is SO much to be passionate about?

The Word says Jesus saves people from hell. But how about those going through hell right now?

Dear God, help us see the world through Your eyes. Goodnight.


Urbana Day 1 - Hello America Cont.

Also stoked for Evangelism Asian American Style and possibly Urbanization & the Challenge of Urban Slums.

Stay tuned.

Urbana Day 1 - Hello America

The name of the game in the United States is size. Size matters... it doesn't matter what you do with it, it's the size that counts. I think I realized that yesterday when I ordered a medium coke and got a Canadian extra large, and then drove the perimeter of the SeaTac airport twice looking for the Northwest Airline departure gate. To put things into perspective, Vancouver, Canada's third largest metropolis and arguably its second most important city, has more people than Seattle, one of America's smaller cities, and yet the entire YVR could fit into SeaTac's Park-N-Ride.

Anyway, after half a day spent in SeaTac and Minneapolis/St.Paul's and crammed into small airplanes with cranky American tourists, Gerr and I made it to St. Louis and subsequently,

It's one thing to attend a Lions game alongside thousands of other screaming, orange-clad football fans; it's an entirely different thing to fill Edward Jones Stadium, home of the St. Louis Rams, with 17,000+ university students from all over the world, descended upon the American Midwest for five days to learn how to take Jesus and love back to their campuses, communities, and countries.

So far, it's been less than exceptional for me, though I can confidently state that the lack of food and sleep within the past 30 hours have contributed to my near-dead state. Tomorrow promises to be a great day - I'm already excited for Ten Ways to Prepare for Life Alongside the Poor and Righting a Human Wrong: Your Role in Stopping Child Slavery. But to make the most of it, I think I should at least be coherent so... peace for now.

Dear God, work please. Thanksbye.


Bitter heart, bitter heart

The heart is a many-layered thing. Fickle, bitter, and cruel, it cuts through the core of its carrier, from the inside out, disseminating seeds of infatuation, hatred, desire, inspiration, redemption, admiration, and love.

This is a message from your heart, your most devoted body part, taking blood and making art.


The finality of friendship

I think I've finally realized something that has hounded me for a while. While the concept behind friendship is an ambiguous one, it's also one that I always thought I had a grasp on. These past few years, not so much. Indeed, it IS a complex (adj) complex (n) that warrants debate, analytical study, and reflection on its own. That being said, two things - at least for me in my journey - can now be deduced about friendship:

1. Friendships change.
2. Friendships last.

The knowledge of these two statements is unimportant; indeed, both are not only simple, but incredibly obvious facts. Where the significance of my epiphany lies is in the correlation between statements 1 and 2. That is, how do they, in context, apply to each other in order to produce deeper meaning? How can I analyze the relationship between both facts in such a way that will result in better understanding of said friendships?

The answer, as was the question and factors, is simple. Friendships change, but they last. A good friendship is one that changes but lasts through the test of time and change. A lasting friendship is one that has endured change and persevered.

A good friendship changes and lasts.

Things learned from December 24, 2009

"This is no place to try and live my life." - Relient K


Things learned from December 11, 2009

"It is through his self-control, his ability to reason, to choose, his power of attachment, that the individual distinguishes himself from the animal." - Ramatoulaye, So Long A Letter

This book is GOLD.


More things learned from December 10, 2009

I lied, I learned one more thing from African Lit.

"When one thinks that with each passing second one's life is shortened, one must profit intensely from this second; it is the sum of all the lost or harvested seconds that makes for a wasted or successful life." - Ramatoulaye in So Long A Letter

Things learned from December 10, 2009

"Mawdo, man is one: greatness and animal fused together. None of his acts is pure charity. None is pure bestiality." - Aissatou in So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba

This makes African Lit 2926 worthwhile.


Meniscus love


I am now embracing obesity and cankles.


Life Updates: Entry 3

Thoughts on life:
1. This is the warmest fall that Ottawa has EVER had.
2. I am in the library for the 12th consecutive day in a row.
3. It's been four months and I still think about those dang ICON children everyday.
4. I am staring at a large coffee, a powerade, and a full nalgene. Which do I conquer first...
5. Journalism pub night went well yesterday. Fun times with those silly kids.
6. Ugly sweater party props to Jesse and Laura for their disgusting outfits. Well done, girls.
7. Gilbert Arenas needs to step his game up.
8. Three weeks post-op. Not sure how I'm supposed to feel yet, but I'm off crutches and canes.
9. The Blind Side was an excellent movie.
10. New Moon was not.


Current Musical Gold: Installment 3

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."


Current Musical Gold: Installment 3 (in no particular order)
1. Hey, Soul Sister - Train
2. Sweet and Low - Augustana
3. Heartbreak Warfare - John Mayer
4. The Hell Song - Sum41
5. I Can - Nas
6. The Listening - Lights
7. Carnival Town - Norah Jones
8. Wait for the World's Greatest - Norwegian Recycling

As usual, stay classy.


Yok-Sen Tse, RIP.

I was six when I first saw my grandfather cry.
He wanted to be Chinese stoic
So he tried
Not to
But out of the corner of his eye
I saw the tear squeeze its way through
And trickle down his weathered cheek
Down down down down
Until it hit the edge and wavered for a second
Before dropping towards the ground.

Fourteen years later and here I stand
Now a man.
Chinese and stoic
But fourteen years ago I learned that
even the stoic shed tears
Even the fearless have fears
So why, as my family crumples around me
Wailing a long lament of life lived and lost
Do I find myself so unable to cry?

When I was three, my grandpa sat me on his knee
And asked me what I wanted to be
When I grew up
I was three
I wanted to be a penguin, fat and fuzzy and free
But Grandpa told me
that in order to carry on the family tree
I must come to be what I did not choose to be
A doctor, cause see
Doctors brought wealth and prestige,
Health and a need
To uphold the name of the family tree
With grandchildren branching out like leaves
I needed to be all that I could be
To ensure that I was worthy of being
A Tse.

Seventeen years later and here I stand
A man.
Not a doctor, but a poet
But grandpa, wouldn’t you know it
I still prescribe powerful potions and pills of poetry to the masses
Injecting intelligence and information to a world that is reeling
Because sometimes, it is not just our bodies that need healing.
So I guess I am a doctor.
I treat my patients with patience
And the wounded with words of wisdom
As I wade waist deep into worldly war zones of waste and wickedness
Grandpa, I hope this is enough for you
I’m sorry I can’t cry for you
I’m sorry you never got the chance to hear me heal with my words

My father always says “yun lo mo yeuk yee”
Which means “there is no medicine for age”
And when I sat massaging your frail hand
Three weeks ago in that hospital room
I realized that it’s true
There is no medicine for age
Your hand was literally a spider’s web
Your body, a skeleton with skin
The only thing remaining that still told me it was you
Was a nametag with your name, and your ridiculously oversized ears.

Age comes to us all
And while age didn’t come gracefully to the most graceful man I have ever known
Still I know
That the constant batter of waves
Can turn to sand even the toughest of stones.
Grandpa, I’ve seen you cry.
And I want you to know that
Even though you can’t see my tears
They’re here.
Hiding somewhere behind this passive face
Is a boy, not a man, who has witnessed your grace

It’s a grace that I hope to carry with me to the grave
They say, “yun lo mo yeuk yee”
But I plan on breaking that mold
So when I’m eighty three
I can sit my grandson on my knee and ask him
What he wants to be
At eighty-three, I plan to be still playing pick-up in the gym with the younger dudes
But since I’ll have two busted knees I’ll just be that old guy who makes smart passes and hits the open three

Grandpa, I never spoke your Chinese.
But that doesn’t stop me from wishing you safe passage
Wherever you may be
And I hope that from your celestial crib, you’ll look down and see
That I turned out to be
Exactly who I wanted to be
And that you’ll be proud of me
happy, in truth and in death’s sweet release

So to my father’s father: I pray you found your way to the father, grandfather.

Rest. In peace.

-Chris Tse


Reflections of a post-op patient

I had my knee surgery last Friday, November 13. It was, in many ways, the end of a long, long journey that has spanned 23 months, taken me through physio clinics from Ottawa to Vancouver, brought me tears, pain, false hope and real hope, and enlightened, educated, emasculated, edified, and caused me to evaluate everything from my faith and identity to my purpose for living. For those of you who think I'm exaggerating, peep the post from June 17.

So as I sit here now, just under a week since the journey ended, I find it somewhat funny that the only thing remaining to remind me of where I've been is three large X's of medical tape, stained crimson and covering the site of the surgeon's incisions. Where his knife entered and put an end to nearly two years of distress, but also divine inspiration.

There is no guarantee that this surgery will get me back to 'normal,' whatever normal was in the first place. I'm no longer the person I was when the injury first happened; indeed, it is odd I even consider that the operation will make me who I was, because who I was is no longer who I am, or wish to be.

I may never run competitively again. I may never again feel the pure adrenaline rush of rounding the bend on the bell lap of the 800m, lungs threatening to explode and legs threatening to collapse from under me. I may never again pop ollies off the sidewalk, land a roundhouse kick in sparring, or negate a shaky handle and suspect jumpshot by simply being able to blow past everyone.

But it doesn't matter. Maybe it did, back when I was who I used to be. But who I used to be is not who I am now. And who I am now knows that whatever comes of this surgery, the past has made me strong enough to handle it.

"So I hope that you all see, that there’s beauty in the darkness if we choose to see, that the starkness of what we now are proves to be, a reflection of what we’ve survived and what we now know. So embrace the boulder on your shoulders, with a touch as soft as snow."
- Nathanael Larochette


Current Musical Gold: Installment 2

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."


Current Musical Gold: Installment 2 (in no particular order)
1. Family Business - Kanye West
2. Boom Boom Pau - Super Mash Bros
3. Spring - Free Will
4. Thief - Brooke Fraser
5. Ghetto Gospel - Tupac
6. Slither - Velvet Revolver
7. World Spins Madly On - The Weepies



Blast from the Past #5 - We've Already Forgotten

BFTP #5 - We've Already Forgotten
Type: editorial
For: Coquitlam Now editorials
Written: November 2007 (grade 12)


61 years ago, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met at Yalta, on the coast of Ukraine. There, they discussed and argued and agreed, emerging from the conference with a new proclamation that effectively brought an end to World War II. 61 years ago, 42000 of this nation’s bold citizens died in combat or from wounds inflicted in combat, fighting together against an enemy who sought to rid the world of justice and diversity and impose its own maniacal agenda on free people. 61 years ago, Canada truly became a country proud of its soldiers, though sadly, the attitude came too late for many World War I veterans, who were neglected and abandoned after returning home from battle. 61 years later, we’ve completely forgotten.

When you read this, it’ll be Friday, and almost every single school across this fair land will be holding their own Remembrance Day assemblies. Students will be given a poppy, marched down to the gymnasium, and seated on the bleachers. There will be an honor guard of local cadets, maybe a speech or two, and a slideshow, and possibly a piper. And then a trumpet or bugle, usually played by a student, will belt out the “Last Post”, everyone will observe a moment of silence, and then the kids will return to their classes. The ones who skipped the assembly will come back from wherever they went, and life goes on.

Remembrance Day has lost its meaning in this country. I can’t speak for the adults, but for the children in the schools, it is no longer a thing of true remembrance and commemoration. Even those who have grandparents who were soldiers do not seem to realize the importance of this day. Instead, it has become just another stat holiday, much like Thanksgiving or Easter, except without the fat bird to grace the table. Remembrance Day does give us a cause to remember, but for the wrong reason. Instead of reminding us about the brave men and women who died so that we could live the way we do, it reminds us of the hard-learned fact that these days, society leaves them behind. The world works in a constant cycle of consuming and discarding, with no time for gratitude or even enjoyment. We take what we are given, and use it without appreciation. The sentiment that seems to prevail is that the wars were fought long ago, the freedom was won long ago, and the soldiers died long ago. Yet, does this give us cause to forget? If anything, it should give us more reason to remember. Life is a precious commodity; time doesn’t change that. Lives lost long ago should be just as cherished as lives lost yesterday.

The soldiers who are risking their lives to defend liberty right now in Afghanistan are no different. Some of them have died; that is the reality of war. And when they die, they make the front page on the newspapers, and the headlines at 6 o’clock. Their military funerals are broadcast straight to our televisions for the whole nation to witness, and their bodies are sent back to Canada for proper burials. We all watch, and we all say, “how sad,” and maybe some of us even shed a tear or two. But a week later, it’s over and done with. We’ve done our part; we’ve participated in the memory of the fallen.

I suppose I shouldn’t expect much else; after all, few of us were around when the last big war took place, so we only know what happened according to our history textbooks. But just imagining the pain, hurt, and absolute hell that our veterans went through to bring us peace assures me, without the slightest of doubts, that they deserve more than what we’re giving them right now.


Lest We Forget - Foreword to BFTP 5

This was written as an editorial; now it is a tribute. On this day, we pay homage to the hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives in the pursuit of freedom and happiness. Whether that freedom and happiness come at the expense of the freedom and happiness of others is a debate that will rage until the end of conflict itself. Perhaps Jean-Francois Lyotard was correct in saying that the advancement of humanity is synonymous with violence, and thus humanity is doomed to progress without true progress. Regardless, what is man without ideals? Beliefs for which to stand upon, opinions for which we go to war?

This day is not about what we believe or why we believe it. This day is about the idea of belief so strong that we are willing to lay down our lives. On this day, I discriminate against none - peacekeepers, marines, suicide bombers, medics, gang kids, mothers, brothers have all fallen in the pursuit of ideal.

This day is for remembrance. Lest we forget.


Boxscore from November 8, 2009

48-36 for Wishing Wells (L)

Name of the game: Soldier on

3-4 from the line
8 points
8 rebounds
7 assists
3 steals
3 blocks

Newsflash: Playing defense 1v5 is hard.


Things learned from November 4, 2009

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." - Helen Keller

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed by the weight of my own problems, let alone the world's problems. If I've got so much crap to deal with, how can I be expected to try and change the world? What little I have to offer won't make an ounce of difference anyway, right?

Not according to the most incredible blind, deaf woman the world has ever known. Frick, I hate feeling convicted because it reminds me that I actually have to get off my butt and do something once in a while. Damn you, Miss Keller. Damn you.


Boxscore from November 2, 2009

78-74 for Black is Back (W)

Name of the game: Channeling Steve Nash

6-8 from the line
14 points
4 rebounds
15 assists (thank you, thank you)
4 steals
2 blocks

Newsflash: I have acquired a new injury!


Current Musical Gold: Installment 1

I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY.


Current Musical Gold: Installment 1 (in no particular order)
1. Hands Held High - Linkin Park
2. Make You Feel My Love - Adele
3. Burn This City - Cartel
4. Young Forever ft. Mr. Hudson - Jay-Z
5. Who Says - John Mayer
6. Deliverance - Bubba Sparxxx
7. Sleep - Azure Ray
8. Night Bird Flying - Jimi Hendrix


Blast from the Past #4 - Legacy of Terry Fox

BFTP #4 - Legacy of Terry Fox
Type: news story
For: Coquitlam Now current affairs
Written: September 2004 (grade 10)


“He was an ordinary person who chose to do extraordinary things.” That was how Mr. Fichter summed up our interview on Terry Fox one day after school. The school’s principal appeared slightly regretful as he told me a story of when he had coached his Mission High School basketball team against a junior team from Hastings Jr. High, led by a point guard named Terry Fox. “We were dominating,” Mr. Fichter said, with a hint of a smile on his face. “We were bigger, faster, better. We pretty much owned the game, owned the other team. Except for this one kid, a point guard, named Terry Fox. Boy. He knew where his teammates were all the time, and he knew how to get them the ball. What a leader. He wasn’t particularly tall. He had no great offensive skills. But his defense? Tenacious. Tenacious, tenacious. He never backed down, never gave an inch against any of the six-foot monsters I had on my team.”
That’s how Terry is remembered today. As a person who never quit. Even when his junior team was severely outmatched in a high school basketball game. Even when he had his right leg amputated in 1977 due to cancer. Even when he was feeling pain in his stomach and chest during his 143 days of consecutive running, 42 kilometers a day, everyday, to raise money for cancer research. And even when he was diagnosed with lung cancer on September 1st, 1980. He died 10 months later.
On Friday Sept. 16th, Charles Best Secondary took part in a historic event. The entire school, 1380 staff and students, participated in the 25th annual Terry Fox Run. On this day, the goal was that every school in Canada, both private and public, would participate in the run. The emphasis on the event isn’t how much money the school raises, but that every student participated and contributed to Terry’s dream. As Terry said in 1980, “If you’ve given a dollar, you’ve participated in the Marathon of Hope.”
The turnout was phenomenal, with runs taking place all across the country. The school’s run was primarily organized and promoted by our tireless administration, Mr. Fichter, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Johnstone, and retired vice-principal, Mr. French. Some of the teachers involved included Ms. Howell, who was in charge of the running trails, Mr. Jones, who took care of marshalling, Mr. Ewert, who made sure none of the other staff members slacked on the run, and Mr. Hyde, who did all the work behind the scenes.
The day started out with students reporting to their homerooms, where teachers collected pledge forms and money that students had raised for the Terry Fox Foundation. The students were then asked to move to the big gym, where we were addressed by a guest speaker, Mr. Rich Chambers. Mr. Chambers is presently a counselor and basketball coach at Terry Fox Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, and as Mr. Fichter said, “He coached Terry, coached against Terry, met Terry, knew Terry.” After Mr. Chamber’s inspiring speech, the ever-popular Mr. Mushens came out and proceeded to do stand-up comedy for ten minutes as the student body exited the gym and began the run/walk in order of grade. The runners started off in waves on the 5km trail, while the walkers followed on the 2km trail.
The first runners to finish were the members of the senior girls volleyball team, who started their run early due to the fact that they had to leave for a tournament. As the other runners and walkers returned to school, they were greeted by loud music and enthusiastic Best Buddy Leaders, who handed out Terry Fox Run shoe tags and bottles of water. The shoe tags, which were given to all students and staff who completed their respective trails, were shaped in the resemblance of the Adidas sneaker that Terry chose to use during his Marathon of Hope. On the back, they read, “This shoe ran in the 25th Terry Fox Run.”
The high rate of student participation was due to the fact that students can relate to Terry Fox as he was not much older than us when he had his right leg amputated, and he was only 21 years old when he began his historic run. School-wide opinions on Terry Fox are very much alike. When asked what they thought of Terry Fox, Lexie Snowden and Shawna Campbell, two grade 11 students, answered, “We believe that Terry was a hero and that his legacy will live on forever.” Amira Tmar responded similarly, saying, “Terry Fox was an amazing person and his actions touched many Canadians,” whereas Jeff Taylor was a bit more blunt, simply stating, “He was a good guy. Raised some money and stuff.”
The fact of the matter is, Terry Fox didn’t just raise some money. He raised a lot of money. Some students in our school don’t seem to understand just how much Terry has done for cancer research. When asked how much he thought had been raised by the Terry Fox Foundation so far, a grade 9 student who shall remain unnamed replied, “I dunno. A couple hundred thousand, maybe?” On the other hand, Amy Belanger of grade 11 jokingly answered, “Katrillions!” While not as extreme as either of these two answers, the Terry Fox Foundation has raised an incredible $360 million dollars for cancer research worldwide, as over 50 countries take part annually in the Terry Fox Run.
Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope inspired a nation, and eventually the world, to rise to its feet and continue his mission to fight the sickness that affects so many of us. He has been honored in numerous ways, from the Order of Canada and the Terry Fox Memorial to having schools and a mountain named after him. But his greatest legacy is that every year in September, millions across our country and across the world take part in what has become an annual event to raise money for cancer research.
So who was Terry Fox? He was just an ordinary person. But he chose to do extraordinary things.


Boxscore from October 25, 2009

43-20 for Athletics 2.

Statline = foul shooting fail.

3-6 from the line (hello Dwight Howard)
9 points
6 rebounds
8 assists
3 steals
1 game of lock-down defense.

Basically I'm Shawn Marion.

Newsflash: I can now shoot a basketball.


Things learned from October 20, 2009

"I'm not a success story. But I will be." - Shaun Livingston

Words of SO much wisdom.


Blast from the Past #3 - Education is Overrated

Still one of my favorite pieces after three years.

BFTP #3 - Education is Overrated
Type: Editorial
For: Coquitlam Now My Generation Column
Written: March 2007 (grade 12)


I’m writing this from one of the many computers in one of the many libraries at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. It’s a nice, quiet campus town; so far I haven’t met anyone who isn’t affiliated with Queen’s in some way. Yesterday I was in downtown Toronto for a tour of Ryerson University, the primary destination for all of Canada’s aspiring journalists. Tomorrow, it’s two hours north to the history-hallowed halls of Ottawa’s Carleton University, where I’ll take yet another three-hour tour and ask yet another hundred or so questions and then hop on a plane home so that I can get to school bright and early on Tuesday morning having only missed one day of precious grade 12. The amusing aspect is that my dad shelled out close to 25000 Air Miles for me to take this “trip that will determine the future of my life’s future,” as he so eloquently put it, and I’m using it to write my Now article.

It’s a funny thing, education is. From the get-go, it has been pounded into our heads that in order to succeed, we must have our education, and for those who truly desire fulfillment (and money), it is necessary to have a degree, if not three. “Education is key,” they tell us. Well gee thanks, but to what? To penthouses and diamond rings and fast cars? To success? To happiness? I could ask that question all day, but there’s really no point until the root of the question is exposed. Specifically, what is education?

My life, both past and present, and soon to be future, has revolved, does revolve, and will revolve around education. Everything learned in school up to this point has been to prepare me for a further education. What I’m learning in school now is how to take notes, how to take exams, how to write a proper thesis essay so that I can make it to university and hopefully not bomb every single term paper thrown my way. Heck, what I’m writing right now is to gain clip experience for my entrance portfolio to get me into journalism school. But that still begs the question: what is education? I’ve heard it described many ways, key, necessary, and the secret to happiness being among the most prominent. Personally, one word for me sums up our society’s view of education: overrated.

There was a time, back in the glorious days before money was invented, that education was learning, and learning was beautiful. It was pure, a display of the natural inquisitiveness of man to explore and discover more about the world around him. Today, that purity is recaptured by the innocent curiosity of a child whenever she turns over a rock to look at worms or tries to fathom how nine pennies is worth less than a dime. That, my friends, is learning, and what education is meant to be.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and as soon as society’s standard can get its claws into our young, another good crop of inquiring human minds is brainwashed to believe that education is what the system teaches. I might be wrong, but something tells me that knowing the critical point theorem of the application of a derivative will probably not help me out very much in the future unless I plan to go into engineering, which I don’t. We learn what is taught, but more often than not, what is taught is boring and utterly pointless. I’m no malcontent teenager who is ranting to try and get out of school; on the contrary, I’m a motivated and intelligent student who is doing exactly what education was born of in the first place, but is now discouraged – I’m thinking for myself.

In about two and a half months, I’ll be graduating from high school, at which point I’ll enjoy two months of sweet liberation from “learning” before I once again head off to a still undecided post-secondary institution to pursue my further education. I’ll shell out big bucks to listen to professors lecture about things that I don’t want to learn about, all the while thinking that I’d rather be somewhere else but at the same time knowing that my degree is more important. After all, that’s what the employers are looking for, right? That little piece of paper that says you’ve done your educational time. Pardon that reference to jail, but for some reason, it seems to fit.

I’ll wrap this up quickly, because there are a lot of Queen’s students who are impatiently waiting for the computers, March being term paper month. Even now, looking around at the shoulders hunched over from backpacks literally bursting at the seams with textbooks that contain unpractical jargon about practical subjects, I can see the curious kids that these students used to be. And I can also see myself in their exact place a year from now, my shoulders hunched over from the weight of my backpack, waiting for my turn at the computer. Waiting for my turn at an education. Until then, I’ll keep learning as much as I can.



Life Updates: Entry 2

Here are things from today:
1. My knee is not yet 100%.
2. I just ate an orange and it was delicious.
3. I peeled the orange with two peels. My best is one peel.
4. A haircut is now a foregone conclusion. I think it's best I attempt to comb it myself so that the mean lady doesn't rip half of it out when she goes at it with the brush.
5. The latest work rush ended earlier today. No assignments due until next Thursday, YES!
6. I haven't had legitimate vegetables (or meat, for that matter,) for over six days.
7. I have had a lot of toast and fried rice with egg.
8. There is a sale on cream cheese happening at Billings. I think I will get some after class.
9. Billings closes at 9. I'll get some tomorrow.
10. I feel as if Vancouver has forgotten me.
11. Sarah Hill sent me a letter today and I loved it and she is a grand friend to have when I feel as if Vancouver has forgotten me.
12. Hopefully Eddie approves of this post.
13. Shaw left for Thanksgiving Weekend, as did everyone else worth spending time with. It's going to be a lonely Thanksgiving...


Things learned from October 3, 2009

We are not students who do missions.
We are missionaries who do studies.


Blast from the Past #2 - High Expectations

BFTP #2 - High Expectations
Type: Editorial
For: Coquitlam Now My Generation Column
Written: April 2005 (grade 10)

When I was a kid, I sat on my grandfather’s lap, and he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I answered the way any young Canadian boy would, that I wanted to play in the NHL. To this, my grandpa replied, “No, Chris, no. Hockey is a game, not a career. You should be a doctor. Doctors are esteemed; doctors bring prestige and wealth to the family. You need to bring honor to this household.”
Since then, I have lived the past 12 years of my life trying my hardest to “bring honor to my household.” Entering grade 11, the decisions that I make will begin to determine my future and my career. Will I attend a post-secondary institution? If so, what will I study? Sciences? Arts? Or maybe music? What is my career goal? Where do I see myself in ten years? These questions and more contribute to the mounting pressure that high-school students experience from within. However, the pressure often stems from expectations at home as well. Pressure from family can drastically affect a student’s choices.
Some families just wish for their children to be happy. Whatever the child decides to become, he has the blessing of the family. Some families push their children in one direction, but ultimately, they leave the choice up to the child himself. And then there are some families whose expectations for their children are strict and uncompromising.
In Asian culture and society, there are three professions - huge generalization, mind you - that are of the utmost prestige and honor: medicine, applied scientist (eg. engineering,) and business. If one pursues any of these, one will enjoy longevity and wealth. As a CBA (Canadian-born Asian,) it’s easy to understand my grandfather’s concern over my future, and it’s also easy to ignore it. But lately, as I begin to contemplate the upcoming year, I find the decisions regarding my studies increasingly influenced by my desire to please my family.
I plan to become a journalist, or maybe a teacher, neither of which are professions which will “bring prestige, wealth and honor to my household.” This, of course, is not true at all, as journalists and teachers are both highly-regarded in our society today. However, on a recent trip to Toronto, my grandmother took me aside and told me, “Christopher, you are the youngest and last male in our family. You’re the only hope to carry on the family name.” I was confused. My cousin is a chef, and my brother an officer in the military. Yet somehow, the duty to carry on the family name falls to me. How is this possible?
Lately, I’ve been giving second thought to my aspirations to become a journalist. The second thought? Will it please my relatives? In a way, those of you reading this must think it pathetic that I would base my entire future on the opinions of a few family members who probably won’t even be alive to see me pursue it. I myself also find it somewhat ridiculous at times. Why should the expectations of others alter MY life?
Someday, I hope to be a grandfather as well. And when my grandchild sits on my lap, I’ll ask him what he wants to be when he grows up. And I’ll leave it at that.



Mac Mac Mac Mac Nom Nom Nom Nom

Yesterday I was in the process of completing my nightly pre-sleep routine when my computer exploded. (Segue: my pre-sleep routine consists of: one episode of The Office followed by 50 pushups followed by drinking half a glass of water and leaving the rest of the glass on my bookshelf should I awake in the middle of the night with a terrible thirst.)

Anyways, I was on step one of the pre-sleep: episode of The Office. Which episode it was is not important; what is important is that my computer exploded. Not literally of course, or I would not be writing this, but my hard drive decided to have a meltdown and clicked out its revolution manifesto to me in a series of small, calculated beeps and hums. And then Macbook shut down and no amount of begging, sweet-talking, cursing, praying, and frustrated moans would revive it.

So I woke up this morning, brought it downtown to Rideau Centre in hopes that the folks at Apple Store wouldn't completely take me for all I'm worth. Keep in mind that my machine is two years old, my warranty is one year expired, and material replacements and service usually cost a fair amount.

I anticipated something in the realm of $250 and three weeks service. Instead, I walked out of Apple Store with a brand new installed hard drive, my old shatty hard drive, a list of Apple-recommended data retrieval companies, an upgrade from Tiger to Leopard, AND a full version of iLife '09. All for free. My faith in the Mac is restored.

As they say, "An Apple a day keeps the doctor away."

PS. Leopard is sweet.


Life Updates: Entry 1

Eddie said I should update my blog more often with more relevant information. That is, apparently it would be interesting once in a while to talk about how my life is going out here, while the rest of you kids do your thang out there.

So Eddie, here you go. I'll try my best to let you - and all of you - know that I'm still alive, at least on occasion.

Things from today:
1. I fell asleep in class. I seriously think I might have a medical condition when it comes to sleep.
2. I woke up at 4am with a MASSIVE calf spasm. I'm talking like, mother of all calf spasms. I limped around campus all day.
3. I wrote a song half an hour ago. It is called, "Let's Waste Time Together", is in the key of D, and is my new favourite song.
4. I bought ice cream. It is the first time in three years of groceries that I have allowed myself to buy ice cream.
5. Shaw and I had a good talk - and are still having a good talk as I type this - about girls, faith, and life.
6. I am alive.
7. I need to stop slacking and get my life in order.
8. My right leg is itchy.

That is all.


Things learned from September 18, 2009

Dear Chris, stop taking yourself so seriously.


Blast from the Past - Intro and #1: Be Yourself

Ok, so I was doing some housecleaning (read: I was browsing through old files on my lappie instead of paying attention during the first class of the year,) and I came across a couple of folders full of old stuff I've done from the past: for the local paper column, for school paper, for friends, for fun. I spent the following two hours of African Literature 3692 skimming over these old write-ups and smiling at how unrefined my writing style and sense of humour used to be. Not to say that either of the two has matured in any way but... whatevs.

Anyway, I thought it'd be cool in the future to post some of these gems for the ten of you (TEN FOLLOWERS!) who read this thang to check out and hopefully enjoy. I will call these little entries BFTPs, or Blast From The Past entries. Feel free to comment.

BFTP #1 - Be Yourself
Type: Editorial
For: Charles Best Grade 9 Survival Handbook (ECHO project)
Written: August 2005 (grade 11)

Greetings, freshmen. This little bit of useful information that you're about to read is a welcome gift from me to you. You're welcome.

You know what confuses me sometimes? From the very beginning of school, when we were eating Playdough in kindergarten and shatting in our pants, all the way till now when we're bumming around in high school doing lines of coffee sugar and laughing at awesome BJ jokes, they constantly tell us to be different. Who's 'they' you ask? Well, let me tell you. 'They' is teachers, principals, parents, and society. Be original, they say. Be yourself, they say. Behave, they say. But almost all the time, their advice seems to go unheeded. Take notes, freshmen. When you get to Dr. Charles Best Secondary, you will automatically be labeled upon entry into our glorious school. Consider the following choices, and then choose the person that you would most like to be labeled as. Note that a student can belong to more than one group.
  • Jock A (athlete with little to no brain matter)
  • Jock B (athlete with a normal amount of brain matter)
  • Nerd* (child prodigy complete with thick glasses and lack of social life)
  • Geek* (Dungeons and Dragons and gameboy, oh my!)
  • Galactic Geek* (anyone obsessed with Star Wars, Star Trek, and star-fighter games)
  • Barbie Dolls (watch "Mean Girls". 'Nuff said.)
  • Students with a future in the sex-trade business (this kinda describes itself, doesn't it?)
  • Skaters (simply put, boarders or kids who dress like them)
  • Punk (two categories: hipster or grunge)
  • Emo (they're like punks, except darker and more annoying)
  • Asians (if you're Asian, then your problems are solved)
  • FOB Asians (if you're a FOB Asian, then your problems are just getting started)
  • Normal everyday'er (these students fill in the cracks between the aforementioned gorups. They're athletes, musicians, artists, and punks, all rolled into one.)
  • ??? (this could be you!)
*Note that nerds and geeks are often interchangeable. Star Trek and prowess in physics often go hand in hand.

If you actually chose a group that you would like to belong to, then congratulations, you're more gullible than I thought. At any rate, here's where I'm supposed to tell you that the best group to belong to is the ??? group and that you should be unlabeled and unique and all that Planning 10 choose-your-path shit. But because I care about you freshmen sooo much, I'm just gonna lay it out for you, straight up. If you want to be cool in high school, there are only two people that you should try to be: yourself, or me. If you have no idea who I am, feel free to look me up in the dictionary under "the epitome of cool" or in Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. Being me might be easier for Asians to pull off, seeing as how they share the same rough ancestry as I do, but white kids, don't give up. Turning Asian is but an attitude, RP, holla at me.) If you've got it, you'll never lose it.
So, I'll sum up exactly what's been said so that your little ninth grade cervical units can process it. Only losers can be labeled. If you truly desire to be high school cool, follow your heart (Disney, stand UP!) Or be like me. You won't regret it. I might even let you chill with me if I deem you worthy.
For those of you who have found this little pshbang discriminatory, or racist, or offensive, I have but one thing to say: get used to it. This is high school, my friends. So shut up, or get beat up.

But if you're with me, you'll never get beat up.



We won't be very far; a mile, an inch apart.

My dear dear friends,

What can be said that has not already been said? This summer has been absolutely crazy in the greatest sense of the word.

When I returned from Ottawa in May, my summer was planned: full-time at Coast Mountain, part-time at Mcdonalds, and a few weeks off to go and love kids at Qwanoes. Hang out with the friends and fam, play some basketball, whatever.

Instead, you happened.

And while I generally like life to happen as it does and I tend not to subscribe to the theory that my life is mapped out for me, a small part of me thought knew that when Petey called me on that Friday morning in May and asked if I was gonna take the job at BAC, my summer had been divinely intervened (read: celestially screwed) with.

I think what strikes me most about this summer is how you've told us over and over how much of an impact we've had on you, when really Petey and I spent most of the first two months worrying if you even liked us. We came to ICON on Friday nights stressed about whether the events would be fun, whether our songs were in order, whether the powerpoint would work... when really, all you guys wanted was interaction with us. As the summer went on, we started to realize that maybe we weren't doing that bad of a job after all, and that maybe you guys thought we were at least partially cool. For me, the moment that really got me thinking was the last day of Chinese Camp at Cedar Springs, when I sat with Lee-Ann, Kathleen, Jeff, and JC at dinner and they told me how much they enjoyed having Petey and me around. For you four, that may have been easy to say, but I want you to know that for me, it was SO encouraging to hear. I told Petey about it on Monday and we just sat there and reflected for like the rest of the day. Not that we do much at work anyway.

So thank you. Thank you for your encouragement throughout this whole summer, and thank you for your genuine words of love in these past few weeks. Thank you for welcoming us with open arms into your group (I can still remember JC and Lem introducing themselves to me at the first gym night.) Thank you for making time on Friday nights to come out to ICON, and thank you for coming with attitude and style and angst. We wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you for singing during worship, for worshipping during singing, for talking during Trigger, for playing during games, for flirting with each other during discussions, for discussing during discussions, for being quiet during discussions, for spitting chicken on my hand, for letting us know we were alright, for letting us know you were alright, for helping during fundraising, and for looking like royalty last Friday. Thank you for making way more of an impact on us than we made on you. Thank you for the hugs, the baked goods, the blog posts, the letters, the hugs, the songs, the hugs, the gifts, the tears, the conversations, the prayers, the hugs, the food, the hand-painted flowerpots, the inspiration, the fire, and the love.

Thank you for the crazy.




Things learned from August 18, 2009

It's amazing the impact a hug can have on someone.


Stories of Emergence: "I Told You We Weren't Crazy!" - Some Thoughts

I know that we are called to believe what we believe wholeheartedly, but I will be very very honest when I say that I doubt. All the time. How can I be so sure that the things I profess to be true aren't just as false as the next guy's truths? Or that the things I profess to be false aren't as true as the next guy's falsehoods?

Confused? Me too.

Brad Cecil goes over some of that confusion in his neat little write-up, "I Told You We Weren't Crazy", a chapter from Stories of Emergence. It's not exactly the most captivating thing to read, but it does offer some food for thought.

  • truths for me are not necessarily truths for you is not true
  • it is very ordinary to be unsure
  • just because we are called to believe wholeheartedly does NOT mean we are to accept all things at face value - UNDERSTAND what you believe
  • in a postmodern world where all-encompassing belief systems are the trend, we need to approach even our own beliefs with at least some form of skepticism. Otherwise, we will strip ourselves - and what we believe - of all credibility.
Anyways, just something to chew on.


Rejection never sounded so sweet.

On Saturday I hit up the Powell Street Festival, an annual whoopdedoo that happens in the heart of suburban East Van. According to the website, the "Powell Street Festival Society’s (PSFS) mission is to celebrate the arts and culture of Japanese Canadians and Asian Canadians... our main activity is the presentation of the Powell Street Festival (PSF), an annual celebration of Japanese Canadian arts, culture and heritage." My attendance was not by choice.

Let me be clear. I am not anti-Japanese, though if you're familiar with my first competition piece ever (here's looking at you, Ottawa folk,) then you'll know that I know the history of their people in correlation to the history of my people, and you'll know that while I have forgiven, I have not forgotten - like so many of my people - what they've done to us in the past. It is not for love that Japanese blood runs through my veins.

If anything, I have been wary of Japanese culture for as long as I've known of Japanese history, and while the North American society - including most of my friends growing up - has gone crazy for Pokemon and Nintendo, sushi and Hello Kitty, Ichiro and ninjas, I have always remained distant.

However, as I walked among the booths and tables Saturday, it struck me that I could have just as easily been browsing the organized chaos of Richmond night market, which is, for the record, one of my least favorite places in the entire world. And as I watched a Japanese cultural dance, I could see more than coincidental semblance to the lion dance I used to lead as a young kung-fu kid. As I observed the people in the park that day, a history that I have long known but chosen to store away began to creep into the outer edges of my conscious mind again. Knowledge of issei who built rock-scrabble lives in the slums of Vancouver Island, barely getting by but always managing to put food on the table to ensure that a new generation of nisei would grow up strong, fluent in English and ready to champion the rights of Japanese-Canadians.

I have knowledge of how British Columbia treated them in World War II, ripping fathers away from families and breaking homes apart to make sure the Japanese invasion was not a homeland one.

It reminds me of the Chinese-Canadian history, when our forefathers connected this country by way of railroad, alone in a foreign land because their families couldn't afford to pay the head tax. It reminds me of the signs that read, "No Chinese or dogs allowed" that used to pepper downtown Vancouver. And it reminds me that, for all the tension that exists between our two cultures, maybe we're not so different after all.

Maybe shallow, but what forced my mind to start thinking? The abundance of half-Japanese, half-Canadian girls in attendance that day, lounging in the shade yammering in sansei English, hair knotted in experimental dreadlocks and skin permanently bronzed by British Columbia sun, a long way from the alabaster European complexion that first landed on the West Coast so many years ago, or the pale yellow tone of the original Japanese immigrant. Their style and speech tell me that most of them have been here longer than we have; their cockiness tells me that race is the last thing on their collective mind, for they have found humanity's sublime.

And if it took a festival's worth of gorgeous half-Asian girls in summer dresses for me to realize that I might not always be right after all, well then... in the words of one Adriel Luis, rejection never sounded so sweet.



Positive vibrations yeeeah - Bob Marley sir.

Today presented good mental stimulus.

People, in the face of adversity, will always look to other people for support.

Further, people, in the face of adversity, will always look to support other people.

Thus are the daily wisdoms found on the dusty, winding, excessively-steep trails of one Grouse Grind, Vancouver's great equalizer. Today I saw tatted out steroid stars sharing gatorade with turbanized (that is like urban, except with turbans) middle-agers, an Asian lady and her gucci bag giving verbal encouragement to white boy (as she passed him,) and in general, far too many 'way to go's and 'you can do it's for one mountainside, but whatevs.

Some might ask, "How do you find such wisdom on the dusty, winding, excessively-steep trails of one Grouse Grind, Vancouver's great equalizer?" My answer to them might be, "You must look in order to see," or some other such profound-sounding nonsense. Then I'd imagine their response would be in the vicinity of "you're an effing loser."

My bad, haters. My bad. It's just that sometimes, I enjoy convincing myself just a little bit that we as humans can still show a little humanity once in a while.

Anyway, today presented good mental stimulus.



words of wisdom from an imaginary tiger

Talking with Laura* brings to the forefront of the mind so many things that have long been stored at the back. I become aware again of all that is wrong with the world - not because of Laura*, but because of what Laura* and I talk about. She has a list of names that she wants to call her kids, and she knows what order she wants them in, what sports she wants them to play, what musical instruments she wants them to master. She doesn't want kids though, because "having kids today is selfish. I'd be bringing them into a world in which they don't stand a chance."

I think it's fair to say that we as humanity have done an excellent job of screwing things up.


Literal Criticism of Literary Criticism

In reading critically through pieces of great literature, the fact that has become abundantly clear to me is that I genuinely, without a doubt, quite dislike most of what humanity has and still dubs as 'great literature'. Not on the basis of it being bad writing (though it sometimes is,) or because it is boring (though it sometimes is,) or because it is extremely anal (though it usually is,) but because we as a society have moved towards a culture of analyzing - or at least attempting to analyze - anything that we deem worthy of enjoying. That is why there are classes such as ENGL 3203 (Literary Theory and Modern Critical Reading Strategy) and ENGL 3500 (Social and Political Constructs of Literature). Sometimes I wonder if there really IS anything further to what we read. Are there actually literary theories to read and criticize strategically? Are there actually social and political constructs in this poem or that prose?

In Canadian Literature last year, we were going through "Stones", a short story by Timothy Findley. Class discussion centralized around the debate as to whether or not Findley was gay. How did we get there? Through the ideas of Kevin Gildea (GREAT prof, by the way,) who proposed that the story, which narrated the life of a boy whose father came back from the war as a shell-shocked veteran, was in fact a portrayal of Findley's own emasculation at the hands of his father. Professor Gildea had a theory that the social construct of masculinity was defined by "Stones" and that, at least culturally, Findley would have been a homosexual in his time. Um...

I imagine the greats gazing down (or looking up, depending on their past life choices) at us and laughing. "Hey Geoff, can you believe that these guys think your Canterbury Tales are politically-charged incitations for a socialist rebellion?"

"Haha yeah, they're pretty stupid. Look, they actually think that 'Paradise Lost' is an extended metaphor for sexual deviance."

"No way, WHAT?! LOL, I wrote that out of boredom while I was sitting on the john!"

"LMAO, these 'literary critics' are soooo n00b."

Yeah, I can see it too. And that's why, even though I attend (and occasionally enjoy) the classes, I refrain from engaging in idiotic dialogue, lest I risk the celestial mockery of those who went before us. I hope one day to join them up there, chilling with the Philly Cream Cheese lady and laughing at all the pompous cats who try to dissect my writing.



Do it.

I know you read this damn thing. So comment.


Something to tell you all

So this past weekend was church retreat at Cedar Springs. I think going down, Petey and I were less prepared than we actually thought we were, resulting in very little sleep over the course of the weekend. I also feel that, at least on a personal level, I was NOT in the right place going down to camp... which is awesome, because that's usually when God loves to grab me by the collar and slap me around. Which He did. Multiple times throughout the weekend.

Friday = epic fail. Our games were tedious, our music was lame, and our energy was non-existent. The kids obviously fed off of our intense weaksauce, and the general consensus seemed to be, "Yeah, this weekend's gonna suuuuuck." That night, me and Petey left the Ranch House and went up to the Chalet to put in some much needed work on Saturday's stuff. We ended up spending the better part of three hours doing prep and not sleeping, and then went back to the Ranch House and toilet papered the girls' rooms before finally crashing. God was present.

Saturday = epic. After being a worship musician for so long, it still breaks and amazes me whenever I realize that it doesn't really work unless the ones leading the worship are in a genuine place. Saturday, that's where Petey and I found ourselves, and subsequently, music was unlame. God was present. The leadership workshops went well - or as well as they can for a group of restless teens - and the games actually exhibited some semblance of organization and fun. Fancy that, right? Team competition was heating up at this point, culminating in the weekend's piece du jour, the Amazing Race. Aside from a few accidents involving Jello, it went quite smoothly and every teen was drenched in sweat by the end of it, thanks to the plus a billion degree weather and the uphill runs. Throw in a long-brewing conversation that left both rubukers and rubukee emotionally exhausted but spiritually so refreshed, and God was present. Testimonies were the flavour of the night as Petey and I shared some personal stories that, while tying in with Uncle Bernard's leadership workshops, also presented the spiritual aspect of leaderhsip and discovering oneself. The rest of the night gave itself away to magic tricks, pushup poker, hemp, Regina Spektor, and an abundance of Mr. Noodles. God was present.

Sunday = yes. It is SUCH a blessing to see a new generation of youth who are not afraid to live Christ and shine light. Speaking as an older member of this "movement", Sunday worship was most definitely an encouragement. In an attempt to not have the teens feel like it was just us talking the whole weekend, we had Lee-Ann share her testimony with her peers. What followed was a genuine, REAL story of one girl's faith journey, a reminder to us all that "things are rough all over," and that Christ is really... it.

Anyway, after lunch the team competition finished up with the Deceptibots taking home the top prize (Starbucks gift cards ftw!) And then came, at least for me, the most defining moment of the weekend. We asked the youth, in their teams, to nominate who they thought had been the leader of their groups during the weekend. There were three unanimous decisions and one other well-deserved nomination. I had those four leaders go outside, where I had set up four benches and buckets of water with sponges. Then, bringing the youth out, I read from Matthew 20:20-28, followed by that bit in John about Jesus washing feet. I explained that today, the best leaders are confident, ruthless, and selfish; indeed, that's the way it needs to be if you want to get to the top. Then I explained that Jesus calls us to be a different type of leader; a leader who is humble, merciful, compassionate, and willing to become the servant. I asked the four nominated leaders if they would find it upon themselves to kneel down and wash the feet of their peers. What followed was the most unexpectedly genuine thing I have ever seen. Instead of the cries of protest and mocking taunts that I had assumed would come, the youth instead lined up quietly while the four teens knelt down without a word and began to scrub.

It is conviction that comes to visit sometimes in moments of emotion, and as I watched these teens humble themselves in front of their peers, God definitely told me to listen up. What I heard was, "You need to lower yourself for these ones." As in, I needed to step up, kneel down, and the wash the feet of those who I was hired to lead. How much more can one be broken? And so I had the four leaders, once they had finished with their peers, sit down on the bench, and then I knelt and washed their feet. God was present.

Highlights of the weekend included:
  • chicken pasta
  • too many video clips
  • magic tricks that don't make sense
  • "Never Have I Ever"
  • seeing that the youth aren't afraid to get us back
  • Josh barfing Jello
  • volleyball against the oldies
  • affirmation from the teens (apparently, Petey and I aren't that bad of youth leaders)
  • writing a song
  • watching the Aicha video. Over and over and over and over.
  • losing Petey's computer cord (and later finding it)
  • getting owned by the sun and humbled by the volleyball
  • conversation



So no post for uh... a long time. This is due to the following combination of factors:

a) Church camp was this past weekend. Youth program was me and Petey.
b) We had a month and a half to prep. We used all of last week.
c) I was in the States.
d) I was tired.

Stay tuned for more exciting stuff. Possibly today.


They Like Jesus But Not The Church - Additional Thoughts

This next part was a little sobering to read, though to be honest, not surprising. If anything, it confirmed my belief of how the church presents itself to a secular and modern world:

Part 2 - What Emerging Generations Think About The Church (in relatively simple nutshells)
  • the church is an organized religion with a political agenda
  • the church is judgmental and negative
  • the church is dominated by males and oppresses females
  • the church is homophobic
  • the church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong
  • the church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally

Why Dan and I (that's right, we're on first name basis) think emerging generations think this about the church:
  • the church is an organized religion with a political agenda
    - the church is represented by the Christians who want to make their voices heard. Unfortunately, these are usually the ultra-conservative, ultra-Republican who subscribe to the theory that compromise is of the Devil and dialoguing with people outside the church is to conform to the world. WRONG.
  • the church is judgmental and negative
    - aren't we all? The answer to this question is yes, yes we are. The problem is that as Christians, we are called to be different. Instead, so often we come across just as bitter and cynical as the rest of humanity, if not moreso. Not a good way to share the joy and love of Jesus. But then again, I firmly believe that when a person is IN Christ - that is, when he/she is fully in tune with God's love and presence - a spirit of love, compassion, and TRUE happiness will almost certainly result. Too bad not very many Christians are actually IN Christ; the numbers are significantly lower than an already significantly low number of Christians. It is this vast majority that represents - sorry, MISrepresents the church.
  • the church is dominated by males and oppresses females
    - this one is touchy. There are verses in the Bible that clearly state the males are to be the heads of the households and the spiritual leaders in relationships. On the flip side, men are also called to LOVE their wives and treat them with the utmost courtesy and respect, while women are called to honour their husbands and support them in all good things. I see a spirit of equality in this context. Neither is bigger or better than the other; the roles are so different that a superiority/inferiority complex is impossible to define.
More to come later.


Someday you will find me caught beneath a landslide.

Twenty years. It's an incredibly long amount of time.

In twenty years, lives are broken. And broken again.

Twenty years can take you to tenure.

Twenty years is longer than the careers of most professional athletes.

Twenty years is half of the prison sentence that the Israelites spent wandering around in the desert.

Twenty years is all it took for Kobe Bryant to make his first all-star game and all-NBA team.

Twenty years took us from peace and love to Vietnam.

Twenty years took us from Vietnam to Iraq.

Twenty years can afford discovery, experiments, conflicts, resolutions, new love, lost love, new friends, old friends, faith, and words.

Twenty years. It's an incredibly long amount of time.


Don't stop believing. Hold onto the feeling.

I went to the Harry Jerome Track Classic with my dad on Sunday, just like we do every year. The sun was out, the temperature was warm, and the sky was true blue. The wind took a leave of absence on the day, making for perfect T&F conditions. The athletes were incredible. The competitions were exciting and down-to-the-wire. I couldn't stand it.

Somewhere along the line, probably between the men's and women's Olympic development 800 metres, I went from loving everything about Sunday to intense, intense depression. Because, as much as I've tried to convince myself otherwise, that it wasn't in the plan for me, a part of my subconscience still holds onto the shred of belief that I belonged out there on the track, competing against the top runners in Canada and always moving closer to the goal of one day representing our country in a major competition.

Coming out of high school, I always thought that track would come with me. Growing up in the athletic shadow of my brother, track was where I truly found myself - found where I belonged. There were bumps along the way, of course - turning from a sprinter to a middie when my newly adolescent body refused to grow muscle like the rest of the white boys being a BIG one - but in my mind, I never really had any doubt about my abilities. Dominant races were expected; I looked down on most of my opponents with disdain. Even after a disappointing senior year in which a registration error kept me from competing in the BCs, I knew what I could do.

Of course, then I turned down university scholarship offers to go study journalism at Carleton, a great basketball school that doesn't seem to realize that the budget for a varsity track team is less than the cost of a new backboard. No matter... Ottawa U had a renowned team with which I could train, and the Ottawa Lions are the finest community track program in the country.

And then life started.

After injuring my knee last January, it's been a long road back. In fact, it's a road that I'm still on. The problem is that I've stopped moving towards a goal because in all honesty, I can't see one anymore. It started out with an IT band strain; painful, but common for avid runners. Then came the freak ankle fracture on the opposite leg that forced my right leg back to full action before it was ready. One harmless looking fall later, and the pain was back, throwing off my summer training plans.

The January 2009 MRI confirmed the lateral meniscus tear that doctors had said I probably didn't have, and debunked the general idea that all I had was a persistent case of PFS. Turns out my patella was just fine... the meniscus, not so much.

General opinion: "Wear your brace, do what's comfortable. If it hurts, stop."

What's comfortable? Everything: basketball, snowboarding, swimming, walking, driving, breathing, eating. What hurts? Running.

I'm not really sure what's next, to be honest. Surgery is an option for me come September when I return to school, but at this point, I'm not sure whether it's worth it. The recovery is three weeks, then a month rehab, and then what? I'll be the first to admit that I'm no longer the fitness machine that I was in high school. Reaching race shape will take me six months minimum... and then what? I have no guaranatees from the Ottawa U coach. I have no guarantees that my knee, post-surgery, will hold up to rigorous training. I have no guarantees that my body even remembers what it feels like to run.

For a long time this past year, I've been content. Knowing that God holds me in His hand was all I needed to get through the rough times when I couldn't believe what life had become.

Now, I'm questioning again. Talking to my friend Priscilla - who's training with Cheetahs and competes for McGill, in the Ontario East/Quebec division - hurts. Seeing track commercials on TSN hurts. Waking up to my bulletin board of race numbers and newspaper headlines hurts. Seeing my track spikes sitting atop my bookshelf hurts. The knee, when I test it out, hurts.

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." - Eric Liddell

Right now, life hurts.


One Day

All my life I've been waiting for, I've been praying for, for the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more, there'll be no more wars
And our children will play
One day


They Like Jesus But Not The Church - More Thoughts

The first time I read through the book, I was amazed at how similar Dan Kimball's thoughts are to my own. As in, we actually have the EXACT same point of view when it comes to the Christian faith. As in, he is literally in my head and picking my brain for ideas.

Basically, They Like Jesus But Not The Church should be credited to me, but whatevs. I'm not in it for the glory like Kimball is. I KID.

What I mean is that the following xx blog entries I post on this book will be strikingly similar to a lot of the blog entries I post that are NOT about this book. That is to say, a common theme of mine is how people like Jesus but not the church (much like I do,) and therefore the contents of this blog will reflect as such.

Ok, so.

Part 1 - Why Emerging Generations Are Changing (additional thoughts)
  • "The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air." - Galadriel, LOTR
    We are a very spiritually minded yet spiritually liberal generation. What I mean by this is that people today yearn to find something to believe in - we yearn to be spiritual, yet not in the same way as our protestant grandparents were. Being spiritual is no longer equated with being religious; on the contrary, many nowadays view religious people as being spiritLESS. Confused? Let me explain.

    To be spiritual in ye olden days meant to be a person of faith. To be a person of faith meant to be a person of Christian faith. To be a person of Christian faith meant to be a Bible-reading, scripture-quoting, neighbour-loving, church-going Christian. Contrast that to today, when...

    To be spiritual means to be cognizant of oneself; to be at peace with oneself and with others, and to have a more or less 'enlightened' perspective on life, love, death, and taxes. It's almost New Age-ish the way spirituality has adapted to modern society... say hello to:

    - "The Way I See It" on Starbucks cups;
    - inspiring quotes that make no sense on Lululemon bags;
    - social responsibility as a trend;
    - all-encompassing belief systems;
    - agape, or unconditional love.

    The last one is precisely why Christians no longer fit the bill as spiritual beings. We preach agape but do not practice it. Where the modern-day spiritual being is accepting of all faiths, all belief systems, all lifestyles, and all people, Christians are viewed as stereotypical, judgmental, intolerant, and close-minded. Aka, NOT unconditionally loving. What we (and the world) should note, however, is that unconditional love is not the same as unconditional acceptance. I can love something but not accept it. What we should ALSO note is that to not accept does not automatically mean to reject. Instead, I believe that in this context, acceptance is more synonymous with agreement.

    Sadly, many Christians struggle to understand this and thus tend to withhold their love from things which they do not accept. This includes different beliefs, homosexuality, alternative lifestyles, 'bad' movies, body piercings, or whatever. I write many because there are many. I don't write most because there are also many Christians who realize that agape can still be practiced in a secular world, and practiced to the full.

    These are the spiritual Christians.


They Like Jesus But Not The Church - Some Thoughts

So I'm currently doing a second go-round of a really honest book by Dan Kimball entitled They Like Jesus But Not The Church. The thing that struck me most when I first picked up this book was, "Let's buy this."

So I bought it.

And subsequently read it.

And now I'm reading it again.

Here are my thoughts.

Part 1 - Why Emerging Generations Are Changing
  • I probably wouldn't like Christians if I weren't one
    I guess we should face facts, kids - Christians don't have a great rep nowadays. It's not the same as what it was even as recently as thirty years ago, when most North Americans grew up in the church and those outside the church still respected the institution's beliefs. Ministers and pastors were highly regarded as honest, upstanding, ethical authorities.

    Fast forward thirty years. To a period of time when young people are falling away from the church like never seen before. To a period of time when the emerging generation (Kimball uses this phrase alot to emcompass the 30 and under age bracket) has embraced a multi-faith, multi-cultural, do-your-own-thing North America. To a period of time when ministers and priests are being dragged to court in droves over charges of sexual abuse and fraud and other such extracurricular activities. To a period of time when the church is viewed as judgmental and negative, homophobic, politically-driven, arrogant, and oppressive towards women.

    Fast forward to a generation that has rejected the church, and with good reason. Because to some extent, all of the above is true.

    If I weren't a Christian, I probably wouldn't like us either.


Chris Tse is no longer Chris Tse.


The world today's in disarray.

So after work today, I went straight to church because it was Jon's dress rehearsal for the wedding on Saturday. I took Lougheed highway, and in between Lake City Way and Sperling, I noticed a woman on the road shoulder hobbling along. I drove past and looked in my mirror, only to see that she was moving so slowly because she was on crutches. Let me paint you a picture - it was probably still in the high 20s, and the stretch of road until she reached the houses (where I presume she was going) was still a good 400m or so. This woman was DYING.

So my first thought was, "Chris, stop the car and go ask her if she wants a ride home." There was no one behind me on the highway, which was a blessing. But then my second, more sobering thought, stopped me in my proverbial tracks: "Chris, if you stop and ask her if she wants a ride, she'll probably think you're a creep and say no." I concluded that I didn't look like that much of a creep, but the woman would most likely say no anyways, so I kept driving. Mind you, this internal conflict took all of ten seconds before she was lost in my rearview mirror.

As I continued on my way to church however, my mind was mulling the situation that had just passed, and all possible things that could have happened. I have little doubt that had I pulled over, this woman would have a) thought I was weird and refused my ride, or b) refused my ride. However, it didn't take much to see that this woman was literally inching her way along to wherever she was trying to get to.

I think it's sad that even in such a circumstance, we find it so hard to trust strangers. It's not the same world as yesteryear anymore, when we could pick up a hitchhiker in Alberta and have a new bestman by Saskatchewan (mind you, that's what I've heard used to happen, as I wasn't alive in yesteryear.) Maybe I'm just pessimistic in assuming this woman would refuse my offer; for all I know, she would've accepted in a heartbeat, gotten into my car, and we would've chatted it up mightily and upon arriving home she would've added me on Facebook, where we would exchange personal info and later become man and wife.

Or maybe she would've thought I was weird and said no. Either way, I didn't ask.

My life would've been better today.


And so it begins...

So this b-log has been a work in progress for over three years now. By work in progress, I mean that I've been intending to start it but you know how things go when you intend to start something... and then don't. That's what happened with this.

Anyhow, this post (and I guess by extension, this blog,) is for the following:
- Matthew Newton (themoreyoushowme.blogspot.com)
- Amy J Lai (amyjlai.blogspot.com)
- and some others.

I haven't yet decided whether or not I'll be putting certain things on here...
- book reviews, yes. Not books like Harry Potter or Chron Narn, though those are all excellent, but books that further me as a person. Not to say that Harry Potter and Chron Narn don't further me as a person, but I digress. Look for interesting anecdotes, bits that I found relevant to my life, and excerpts that I think the world (aka all three of you) should read.
- poetry, yes. Those of you who are important know that poetry plays a big part in my life. Not the written tradition of Dunn and Tennison, though those cats had mad talent for sure. Nah, not them. I'm talking about the oral tradition of spoken word, the ordinary brilliance of history's finest storytellers. Roots of hip-hop, street preacher, acapella art spoken word. That's the poetry that I'm down with, and if you know, then you'll understand. Look for accounts of my slam career, dope things I've picked up from other poets, and maybe some of my pieces that find themselves up here. By principle, I never post my poems, but rules are meant to be broken.
- life advice, no. I'm an eclectic person, physically obvious and mentally moreso once you get to know me. Subsequently, any sort of 'advice' I might have to offer through my words should always be taken with a shaker of salt, because ordinary people have no use for what I have to say. Or maybe what I have to say has no use for ordinary people. Either way, if I condone certain things on here, that is not a blessing. I am not God, though I like to think so sometimes.
- fitness tips, never. Though my career as a competitive athlete is most likely finito (barring a miraculous comeback from surgery,) I still take pleasure in sporting activities. However, the realization that I'm no longer an athletic Adonis sometimes dawns on me anew, in which case I tend to occasionally ramble on and on about how much I've regressed since my high school (read: glory) days. In those instances, try to be patient and realize where I'm coming from... I'm like a pirahnna swearing off meat and learning to enjoy vegetables - there are going to be some rough days.
- thoughts on life, always. As a journalist - or aspiring one - my tendency is to watch, observe, question, and conclude. I will think, overthink, and then think some more. It is both a blessing and a curse to have such an active mind because sometimes I realize just how stupid I really am. When that happens, be ready for some insanely profound yet meaningless garbage that will blow your mind and leave you wondering why you're friends with me. And then you'll realize that it's because I'm the way I am that you enjoy being my chum - for the exact same reason why we slow down to check out bad car crashes, or why we watch the Maury Show... because we relish normalcy in our own lives, but love to see how messed up other people are. So in that light, enjoy this blog, kids. I'll see what I can do.

So now that you're all excited about this (woooot!,) I guess I'll just dive right in. As in, the next post will be like the 10th, and the 100th, and the 1000th. There is no more intro; this is it. Thanks in advance for reading what I've got to say, because most of the time, it ain't much.

Be blessed.