Saturday, June 16, 2007

Books I read and a hypothesis

I lead a very *boring* lifestyle. The weather is too hot outside to do any strenuous activities without the risk of getting a heat stroke - so I spend much almost all of my free time in the day on the weekends reading in the public library near my house. Which is quite well stocked. There is also the option of driving over to ASU's libraries. Just yesterday I turned down an invitation to go to a strip club in order to *gasp* read my stack of books I had borrowed last weekend but was unable to finish.

Nothing excites me more than going through the individual shelves and picking out books that interest me. If I am unable to finish reading by the time the library closes, I simply check out the ones I want and continue from the comfort of my room. So today's spoils included

a. Freakonomics,
b. The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman,
c. Sex with Kings: 500 years of adultery, power, rivalry and revenge and
d. College Girls: blue stockings, sex kittens, and co-eds, then and now.

Which is a drastic change from the themes I was engrossed in for the past month. I gobbled up "The Fall of Berlin 1945", "Panzers", "West Point", "US Naval Academy", "US Air force Academy", "Crossing the Rhine", "The Rise and Fall of the British Navy", "The SS" and many others whose titles I have forgotten. Some I had read before, but decided to re-read them again anyway.


...just because two things are correlated does not mean that one causes the other. A correlation simply means that a relationship exists between the two factors - let's call them X and Y - but it tells you nothing about the direction of the relationship. It's possible that X causes Y; it's also possible that Y causes X; and it may be that X and Y are both being caused by some other factor, Z. - Freakonomics, pp 10.

A female reader shared with me her hypothesis on why Christians/Catholics tend to form the bulk of higher echelon of society in Singapore. (Ed: Don't ask us to back it up with numbers, we don't have any.)

1) back in the colonial days, the missionaries were very zealous in coming in and setting up schools for educating the populace

2) so kids who went to school back then = english educated (Ed: There were missionary schools that provided a Chinese medium of instruction - eg. Catholic High)

3) even if they didn't have formal education, knowing english was a big step up

4) these 'english educated' people found jobs in the administration and were converted into christianity

5) Therefore.. if you were 'educated' and practised 'logical thinking', it would be more appealing. Plus.. it was more hip to go to church and talk about love than to go to temple, and taoism, buddhism as practised by the general population was really not attractive to the educated person. It's 'low class'.

6) I grew up on telok ayer st. It was bustling with processions and 7 month festivities and tian fu gong was my playground. My family was the only church going one. My next door neighbour in telok ayer st was a medium for the goddess of mercy. She was also addicted to heroin, and chain smoked. gambled. slept around when she wasn't a medium.

7) ok.. maybe she didn't sleep around.. i was too young to verify that. So seriously... between christianity and its love and care message and the other two which one would you choose?

8) My hypothesis

My housemate asked if I wanted to follow him to check out the churches in the neighborhood. (Like me, he is also a newcomer to this city.) I declined. I am a non-theist.

Several related entries that you might also want to read.


smazh said...

Oh, just finished Freakonomics a few days ago. Interesting read.

sunny flowery said...

Hey very interesting. The second part of the post was bits of what I thought when I was young and what I realised when I grew up.

I belong to the "low class" - family has taoism beliefs, my parents were chinese-ed and had blue-collared jobs, I didn't know how to form an English sentence before I went to primary school.

Then I went to a CHIJ pri school where they taught you how to sing melodious English songs in church, some girls went to weekly catechism and these same girls had well-dressed parents who were "managers" and drove cars. They were "high class".

Probably a large part of this admiration for the English-speaking comes from the furious emphasis on English in our education. English is the be all and end all. It took me many years to shed these biases I planted in my head since young. People who speak English are not all rich or educated or church going and the church goers do not all speak English. And there is no low or high class, as long as we are all honest in our beliefs and take pride in what we are culturally, socially, religiously.

L'oiseau rebelle said...

Re: the hypothesis -

I think the perception of Christianity isn't so much 'low class' vs. 'high class' or wealth, but that of refinement. Refinement is a subset of wealth. Refined people are Christians. Look at those uneducated, unenlightened boors who have so much $$ to burn during 7th month!

Moving away from the British era -

I am told (although I've never heard myself) that some of the Singapore radio stations play the messages of James Dobson on air. Mega churches like City Harvest are, I believe, inspired by the mega churches of the Evangelical Capital of the World, Colorado Springs. This could create an impression that Christianity is an 'American' thing, and in Singapore, 'American' is equated with 'progressive' and 'modern'.

Ironically, in America, the 'progressives' consider James Dobson the leader of his cultural backwater of Colorado Springs.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

Have you read von Manstein's 'Lost Victories' yet?

I would assume that you have?

takchek said...

Shyue chou: Not yet. But I have gone through Heinz Guderian's "Panzer Leader".