Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

How can you find something you didn’t even know wasn’t there in the first place?

I remember that time where I lost a significant amount of functionality of my wrist. It came one morning where I woke up and experienced what is scientifically called “radial nerve palsy”. Radial nerve palsy, or wrist drop, is when you cannot lift your wrist. When you extend your arm with your palm facing down, you would not be able to lift your wrist so that your fingers point to the ceiling. When you curl your fingers into a fist, you would not be able to uncurl them. That’s what happened to me one Sunday morning in November 2010. I just realized it’s been one year already.

Long story short, I got better right before I left for Leeds. Which was two months later. Well, it was not a full recovery, but I did not need my “X-men” replica splint anymore. I don’t recall when I made a full recovery, but no one was able to tell that I did not have a fully functioning right wrist. My writing was a bit untidy, but that’s nothing new. I actually forgot all the doctor’s notes and documentations back in Canada. Thankfully I didn’t need it.

There are some things in life that we only notice when it’s gone. The simple action of raising my wrist is a blessing. Yet I never consciously think about it. I would always take it for granted, thinking that I’d always be able to do this simple action. In the same way, the ability to walk is a blessing. The ability to talk is a blessing. The ability breathe is a blessing. You never appreciate air until you are underwater.

Then there are times when things have been gone for so long that you don’t remember it anymore. Sometimes, you may have been living in abnormality for so long that abnormality becomes the norm. In my case, it wasn’t that I forgot what it was like to have a functioning wrist, it’s more like I adapted, with the help of a splint. It wasn’t optimal or natural, but it was sufficient. Though my wrist muscles, if I did not regularly exercise them, if I did not remind them that they have a purpose, even when my radial nerve healed, my muscles might not be able function properly. The norm, for them, would be inactivity.

Or in the book “Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi”, the author experienced something that made his heartbeats irregular and irratic. When the doctors discovered what was causing this abnormality and prescribed him some drugs, he exclaimed how amazing it felt when things returned to normal, that he had forgotten what a normal heart beat felt like.

And when those things return, when things are put back into natural order, when things return to their original purpose, it is a beautiful feeling. It is like breaking out of water gasping for breathe. It is like feeling your heart beat return to normal. It’s like the pure sound of a tuned piano after years of neglect. It’s like our purpose here that comes “bursting as if through a mountain of dirt and rock from the end of a tunnel with bad florescent lighting and traffic into sunshine and the blue sky” – David Crowder.

So what is this “original purpose” I am referring to? What has been hidden deep inside us for so long that we’ve forgotten about it and have found ways to adapt? I believe it is a desire to praise. Praise is “the culmination of our enjoyment of anything”, as defined by C. S. Lewis. It may be our enjoyment of milk and cookies, enjoyment of playing guitar, enjoyment of running around the playground, etc. But life came along and many of our childhood joys have been replaced by more “practical” matters. We no longer have time for childhood pleasures.

Not just that, I believe we were created to praise God, to enjoy God and His creation. That is our natural purpose, to live in constant communication with God, to enjoy His presence. It is not a formed/learned habit that takes time to develop, like exercising, eating healthy, or studying. But it is more natural, like eating when you’re hungry, sleeping when you’re tired, breathing, blinking, etc. It is not something that we have to do or that we should do, but it is something that we just naturally do, something we want to do. I believe this purpose is inside all of us. And when we discover it, it will burst forth like a tuned piano, pure and unadulterated, “bursting as if through a mountain of dirt and rock from the end of a tunnel with bad florescent lighting and traffic into sunshine and the blue sky”.

(Inspired by “Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi” – David Crowder)



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Never Let Me Go

If you have paid any attention to my “About Me” page, you would’ve noticed there’s something missing in my blog. My book reviews! So here is my first book review!

Some general comments on books and the movies based upon them. No I have not watched the movie. If I read a book, I will only watch the movie after a enough time has elapsed that I’ve forgotten most of the details in the plot. Otherwise, I will be wasting my money as I will not enjoy the movie. Also, if you have watched this movie, the book will be spoiled. You can still read it, but it won’t have the same effect for you.

I will spoil the book for you now. If you plan on reading it or watching the movie, stop reading :)

The three main characters, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, grow up in a special boarding school. A boarding school for clones. They’ve been created as organ donors for their “originals”. They don’t really have a future. When they graduate, they are sent to a variety of places set aside for clones (there are other schools or storage facilities) to work. Then they start caring for organ donors until they are required to become organ donors themselves. In the school, Hailsham, that our three main characters attend, they are taught to be creative and artistic. When cloning first started, no one wanted to know where the organs came from. They’d rather live in oblivion. However, as people started protesting, schools like Hailsham were built to show people that the clones had “souls” as well, through the art and writing they produced. Despite all this, people would rather have their loved ones alive than care about a clone.

The story is primarily about how Kathy and Tommy discover all this (and in doing so, the reader slowly discovers it as well). It’s sad how these innocent people are created by humans to die. I had wanted the “originals” to face their clones and have the clones convince them that they shouldn’t have to die, but I guess the author didn’t want a story about whether cloning is right or wrong. The author puts us in the shoes of someone who we thought was human, makes us sympathize with her, until we realized that she is actually a clone. I guess it’s a method of convincing the readers that clones have souls. I wonder how the movie does it.

Do clones have souls? Should cloning be legal if they don’t? Is man “playing God” by creating clones? Is cloning for the sake of organs right? This book is not a love story (though the love story is subtle and sweet). It raises lots of moral questions, which made it all the more interesting to read. If you don’ t mind that I spoiled the book for you, go read it :). If you don’t want to buy it or go to the library to borrow it, I’ll introduce you to the audiobook available on an online library.

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