Filipino men

I asked why Manang’s brother wouldn’t repay her generosity by helping her out, and my mother replied that he was probably worse off than Manang. The Filipinos who stayed behind in the provinces were often jobless, which was why many of them left home. She added, “Filipino men are lazy. Deadbeats, all of them, unlike the women”

Kirsten Chen, “Foreign and Domestic” in Best New Singaporean Short Stories Volume Two


I used to be quite interested in the study of History. Still kind of am. Back then, I was quite dismissive of the historical value of fiction. But the above quote is taken from a short story – which is probably based on some form of autobiographical experience. The plot might be fictitious but the setting and the paradigm may be from real life experiences.


David vs Goliath – who’s the giant?

One of the most iconic of all the Bible’s stories is that of David and Goliath. It is invariably invoked by an underdog, yet the underdog status was illusory because David had God on his side.

Lawrence Freedman, Strategy: A History


This is an incredibly thick book. I was thoroughly amused by the first chunk of the book that looked at “strategy” in the bible, including God’s strategy. More on this some other time.

The fall of the Shah was an epic. His downfall had about it something of a medieval morality play, even ancient tragedy. It might have qualified as Greek if the Shah had been a truly great man who fell from grace through a single flaw. But he was not a great man and his sins were many.

Robert Fisk, The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East


Fisk’s book has wonderful prose and has interesting insights based on his time as a journalist in the Middle East

The prosperity church belief

This formula required the prayers to acknowledge their own weak position and rely on the One with unlimited bounties. Finding this method irksome, ineffective, or too passive, Christians often sought to compel the supernatural to produce their desired results.

Kate Bowler, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel 



Essentially, prayer is no longer about asking God, but claiming and demanding your “entitlement” from God. Having been to New Creation Church and City Harvest Church, I can attest to this.

What about the effectiveness? I think there is some psychology at play here. We remember it when our “prayer” is answered, and we rationalize/dismiss it when our prayer does not get answered.