Saturday, March 20, 2004


With a few exceptions, I'm not exactly the type of person who has initiative. I'm more of the type who reacts to problems rather than seeking solutions before the opportunity arises. A practical example of this is the way I behave in mailing lists. I rarely start threads, although I tend to reply (and sometimes start arguments) to existing ones. Of course once I'm "reacting" to things, that's perhaps the time I go full throttle and give everything the full thought and action it deserves.

Two Weeks

Since I am reactionary, I'm currently procastinating and waiting for opportunity to literally land on my lap from the heavens. This week is my graduation (and me being me, I'm the type that's even tempted not to show up at my own graduation) while the week after that is my brother's wedding (which unfortunately coincides with the Animax convention at Glorietta). After that, well, I'll have no excuses left and I'll actively have to look for a job.

Bye Bye!

Me being the asocial type of person or rather one who doesn't get along with people too well, school was always the place of opportunity; opportunity to grow, opportunity to meet new people, opportunity to make new friends. I mean in school, all you have to do is passive. Without any initiative of your own, you are introduced to new people (i.e. your classmates and teachers) and problems are relatively simple (i.e. you either do your homework or you don't). Even reward is given to you (i.e. you're either a Dean's lister or not).

I guess this is the transition for me to be more braver (since one cannot expect to meet new people or make new friends by just being meek... one must eventually learn to introduce one's self), to have more courage, and well, to have more initiative. At least if I expect my life to be more holistic. It's either that or be a hermit. And I honestly don't want to be alone.

Unproductive Month

Well it's true. I've been really wasting my time playing video games and watching TV. Heck, I haven't even finished reading a book during the entire month. Well, come April, I'll have no excuses left. Ah, the conceit of procastination is that one has the illusion of "having" time. There'll always be later, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year...

Philosophy and Theology

I'm a Protestant in this Catholic-dominated Philippines (errr, Metro Manila at least) and while I don't really have any problems from my Philosophy and Theology classes in college, some Protestants I know do.

And I think the root source of this problem is the indoctrination they receive. I mean many people (and not just Protestants or Catholics) tend to have a belief that their way is the only way. "Since it works for me, it must also work for everyone." And when someone offers them something different, they tend to always apply it to themselves. "Your belief/philosphy should work for me (or my scenario), and if it doesn't, it's not true." And perhaps that's where the problem starts.

Theology classes (at least from my experience in college) are not meant to convert you (at least not directly). They're not trying to make you believe in the Catholic way. Rather, they're trying to make you understand the Catholic way. There's a difference between the two. For example, there's the subject a lot of Filipinos love to hate: Math. Math is taught to you in school. The school doesn't expect you to use whatever trigo or calculus you've learned in your every day life, but they do expect you to know how it works and how it is applied. Whether you actually apply it in your life is out of the hands (and that's Math... religion in the end is between you and your god/goddess/the divine). The same goes for Theology. Ateneo, for example, doesn't expect non-Catholics to go to mass and believe in the Catholic faith. But in its Theology classes and they do expect you to understand and pay attention to the teacher. That means learning Catholic doctrines and beliefs, and make no mistake, it is clearly from the Catholic point of view. In the end, they're not even asking you what you personally believe. They're asking you a kind of hypothetical scenario. If you were a Catholic, what should you believe, and how should your attitude be towards it. What perhaps makes it difficult for the Protestants I know to learn about Theology is that they immediately equate what is being taught for their scenario. "This is what the teacher is telling me and that this is what I should believe, but it contradicts what I believe, so I'll argue with the teacher." That's not really the scenario here. The scenario here is more of "This is what the teacher is telling me and that this is what Catholics should believe. Yes, it contradicts my beliefs, but they're coming from another point of view. Yes, I should learn it since it's being taught (and when I say learn, I don't mean passively learning it, not asking questions and the like, but really learning and exploring it, even injecting your own faith into the questions you ask) but by no means does it mean that I subscribe to their belief, merely that I understand what theirs is and I respect that."

It's not like they're making you follow Catholic rituals. We may say prayers at the start of every class but never have I been coerced or forced into making the Sign of the Cross. And in the said scenario if your religion calls you not to make public prayers as the ones we do, well, you don't have to pray. But at least respect the religion of those around you and keep quiet. No one's forcing you to believe in their belief or to utter their rituals.

And in the end, it's college and somehow, you have to exert your independence. I mean I came to Ateneo knowing full well they had Philosophy and Theology. I can't claim that "with the exception of Theology or Philosophy, I would be doing well with all my grades by now". Philosophy and Theology comes with the territory. If you don't want them, go to a school that doesn't offer them as core subjects.

My point about Theology applies to Philosophy as well. Except that Philosophy isn't as firm about its convictions as Theology is. When it comes to Philosophy, think of it as a hypothetical situation rather than THE actual situation. For example, once will eventually run into the discussion about the existence of God. From a certain standpoint, it is rational to say that God does not exist (and vice versa, some philosophers might dispute). Again, we're not saying that you should believe it, but rather understand where a particular philosophy or philosopher is coming from. And honestly, you can't "believe" (in the fullest sense of the word that involves faith and conviction) everything that's taught to you in Philosophy because the only certain thing about Philosophy is its uncertainty. If you come to every discussion with the intent to believe everything the teacher says, you'll have frequent paradigm shifts, since each philosopher either adds ideas to an existing paradigm or contradicts it. For example, concerning God, we might start with Plato and agree that there is a God. Then we move on to Hume and say that there might be a God, but if there is, he is evil. And then we move to Marx and say plainly that there is no God. And then maybe to someone more contemporary like Stephen Hawking and say that Science helps explain God. If every step of the way we have firm convictions in the doctrine, well, we'll end up continually contradicting ourselves and making radical changes to our lifestyle frequently. Again, that's not what Philosophy is about. It's about understanding where they're coming from. Sure, one eventually subscribes to one philosopher or the other but I don't think one can truly subscribe to all the phiosophers at any one moment.

And in the end, if all this Philosophy and Theology classes cause you to doubt your own faith, well, what kind of faith do you have if you're easily swayed? (And doubting is good since it lets you explore and understand more deeply your own faith. Doubt either causes you to falter in your faith, or reinforce it.)


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