Welcome!

Welcome to The Budding Philosopher!

Please enjoy my rambling and verbose posts. =) As my blog subtitle denotes, I post about a lot of different stuff. Have fun, enjoy, and if you want give me feedback!

Best,

Nami ❤

EDIT: I just published a post and found out that this blog may occasionally have ads because (understandably I guess) WordPress needs money to host blogs. I don’t have the money to upgrade to WordPress’s “No Ads” thing, so I just want to apologize for the ads and say their presence in no way reflects any endorsement on my part for what is advertised. If something comes up I find inappropriate I will do my utmost to make sure it’s changed or gotten rid of.

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right There.

worthy of Agape

Have you ever been wronged by someone? Have you ever been sinned against by another person? Of course you have, so long as you are human.

Which would you say hurts more: when someone sins against you in your presence or not in your presence? If you witness someone commit a wrong against you and they later lie to you about, does it not hurt more since you know they are lying? Isn’t the sting of it all that you were there, right there, when the wrong was committed?

“How could they?” you wonder.“But I was right there. Right next to them. Did they not see me?”

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Apologies

Once in college I was talking with a friend of mine about saying “I’m sorry.” In her family, she said, you didn’t say that – because you should try to live a life without regretting the things that you’ve done, and because saying I’m sorry doesn’t really do anything. If you were sorry for what you’d done you wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

It took me a while to get where she’s coming from, but I certainly understand her point of view better now. People can get too hung up on the words, the apology, and think that alone solves everything. Throw out an “I’m sorry” every time you do something wrong and you’re covered! Or people become afraid and live fearfully instead of purposefully, dwelling too much on past mistakes and not enough on improving themselves in the present. For whatever reason – laziness or selfishness or fear – people can use “I’m sorry” as a way out of changing their actions, their behaviors and habits.

But I still believe none of this negates the necessity of “I’m sorry.”

Why? Because it’s an acknowledgment of wrong, and ideally evidence of a change of heart. It says “I messed up. I did the wrong thing. I committed an evil. I may (or may not) have intended the evil at the time that I committed it, but I now intend never to commit that evil again.” A real, true, sincere apology evinces a recognition of wrong and the intent to not only right the wrong but avoid it in future.

The whole notion of living a life without regrets bothers me, partly because I’m too melancholic and pensive for my own good so I have a tendency to regret. But mostly because I’m concerned that such an attitude displays no sense of right and wrong. “I can do whatever I want; my choices are mine; if I choose to change my behavior it is only because I so choose and not because there are reasons outside of myself to do so.” Yes, our choices are ours, but we can make bad or evil choices and sometimes we do. We shouldn’t get stuck on regretting those choices, but we should own them as bad, and own them as ours. If we can, we should feel sorrow, and whatever we feel we ought to avoid such choices because they are evil.

So we need that “I’m sorry,” that regret, that recognition of wrongdoing, to help keep our pride at bay; to remind us that we’re not always right; and to encourage us not to make the same mistakes again.

Or maybe I just don’t understand the “life with no regrets” concept. What do you all think?

a simple Sign.

worthy of Agape

I’m all about signs. There was a time in my life when I thought just about anything and everything was a sign from God, pointing me in one direction or another. Lately, however, I’ve been a bit more confused.

Is that really a sign, God?

What about that thing over there, was that one of Your promptings?

I get so caught up in the discernment and the depth of everything that I forget to just take a step back. Instead of making things as simple as they could be (and for all intents and purposes, should be), I spend my days digging through theology and scripture discourses trying to figure out what it is that God is trying to tell me. 

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Money and Value

Being in banking, I often find money on my mind. And I’ve realized that currency is quite peculiar. It’s a substitute (and checks are substitutes for substitutes!). It really has no value in and of itself.

On a very practical level, money has value because we assign it a value. We exchange money for effort, time, and labor – you work a certain amount of hours, or complete a certain number of tasks, and you’re given money for it. You in turn purchase other material goods (or some kind of service) in exchange for money.

But money is just an indirect means of acquiring those things. If there’s no food or cars or medicine or whatever, money becomes useless. It is the work you’ve done, or the material goods or the services that you want, that have value.

That just struck me, recently. It throws further into relief the futility of miserliness – if all you do is hoard money life is very sad indeed.

 

안녕!: Nami’s Long Overdue Return to WordPress

— 1 —

Hello, fellow bloggers! Did you miss me?

To The Beautiful You Gif 1

Did you think I’d fallen off the face of the earth?

I am alive and kicking, and have actually been reading blogs on WordPress too. I’ve just been more active myself reblogging (and occasionally blogging) on my Tumblr. Mostly kdrama and kpop and Catholic stuff, y’know.

— 2 —

I should say I’ve particularly been reblogging kpop due to one specific reason. A now-good-friend on Tumblr got me into BTS which stands for 방탄소년단 (Bangtan Sonyeondan, or Bangtan Boys or Bulletproof Boyscouts. Lots of translations, the first being a strict romanization.) They’re a hip-hop (! how the heck did I get myself into kpop hip-hop?) group and, while not perfect, have some really fun, good songs. Some of which are especially good to exercise to.

BTS Gif 5

Plus they’re all a bunch of precious cinnamon rolls.

Suga Gif 7

I actually debated about which Suga gift to put here (^Suga, real name Min Yoongi). He’s one of my biases.

Jin Gif 2

Jin, the visual. Looks like a cinnamon roll and is actually a cinnamon roll.

Jimin Gif 1

Jimin, also a cinnamon roll. Looks like a dancing machine and a cinnamon roll, and is actually both.

J-Hope Gif 1

Choosing a J-Hope gif is hard, just like choosing a Suga gif. Probably because he’s my other bias and just…well…you can see he’s J-Hope. Aka J-Horse. Aka (more often) Hobi. Real name Jung Hosoek.

All my 동생들. *sigh*

It especially kills me because they were just in the U.S. last month, and I didn’t know about that part of their tour until the only tickets left were resale tickets. Starting at $300 a pop. I couldn’t justify spending that plus the gas it would take me on the ten-hour round-trip.

But they were on U.S. soil!

As were Super Junior, TeenTop, AOA, Girl’s Generation, SISTAR, Vixx, among others. at KCON 2015 at the end of last month. Oh, and so was Shin-freakin-hwa. Seriously. Shinhwa was in the U.S.

I was sad to miss all the fun, because I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot! But A) I didn’t have the time or money or place to stay in L.A. and B) the artists going to the New York portion (which would’ve been my cheaper option) were (no offense) not my faves.

So I missed KCON 2015 and BTS. But hey, there’s always next year!

And apparently BTS will be back in the states next month for some minor concert/fan engagement stuff for some kind of clothing line they’re promoting. So I won’t get to see them, but they’ll be on U.S. soil again. Yay!

— 3 —

I have probably watched several kdramas since I last posted (how long ago was that now? One month? Two months?) and one, surprisingly, has stood out from the rest. It’s called I Remember You (너를기억해), also called Hello, Monster. Each title has it’s own relevance to the plot, though I must say I prefer I Remember You. It seems to have less flippancy about it, too.

Anyway, why does it stand out? That explanation will be in my next post, a review of the series, which just ended on Tuesday. I may even have several posts on it, if I decide to do some character analyses. The post(s) will be somewhat spoilerific, so to whet your appetite and perhaps entice you to watch the show before you read my posts, I’ll leave my little synopsis here. And let me say that even if kdramas aren’t your cup of tea, you might enjoy this:

Lee Hyeon is a criminologist and professor from Korea who teaches in the States. A series of anonymous emails containing photos from a Korean crime scene lead him back home, in hopes that he might find his father’s killer and his brother, who disappeared twenty years before.

His search entangles him with the Korean police department, including an officer by the name of Cha Ji An; who, for reasons unknown, has been stalking him since they were little. Though his jerk-ish, cocky personality and her stubbornness occasionally clash, the two manage to work together to solve some murders and delve into Hyeon’s past.

It’s not your typical American or British prime-time crime drama – like most kdramas it focuses more on relationships. However, there’s none of the unecessary angst and very little of the noble idiocy we usually see in dramas, and the relationships are essential to the plot. Further, the show’s plot remains intriguing, and the general message it sends is a good one as well. But I’ll get into that later. Go, watch it! All sixteen episodes are available for free and subbed in English.

By the way, a big shout-out and thank you to all the subbers for all the shows on Viki! You guys do all this hard work gratis just so we can watch these shows, and you do it so quickly!

Seriously, these guys are fast. The episode goes up, twelve hours later, it’s between 90%-100% subbed. They’re awesome.

Oh! Another reason the show is really good: the acting. EXO’s D.O. (real name Do Kyungsoo) and up-and-coming actor Park Bo Gum both do a phenomenal job. But I won’t tell you doing what.

I Remember You Gif 13

Just a snippet of D.O. from the show.

— 4 —

I want to get back into some anime again, to give myself some variety, but I’m having a hard time. Any suggestions? I’m going to try starting Hunter x Hunter, and maybe finish a few other series I’d started, but otherwise I’m lost as to where to start.

— 5 —

I haven’t been reading as much lately

*mourns the loss of her reading appetite to her kdrama appetite*

BUT – I did buy a book and am in the middle of reading it in spurts. It’s called I Capture the Castle. It takes place in the 1940s, I believe, and concerns the life and times of a once-well-to-do British family living in poverty in an old large castle in the country. Should be interesting. And looks like it just came back into print.

I’ll try to post some about that once I get further through it.

And, surprisingly, I’ve been listening to some music in my native tongue lately. Yes, I do not only listen to kpop. I bought Owl City’s new album Mobile Orchestra, and although I wasn’t impressed with it at first, it slowly grew on me. It doesn’t have the same artistry and whimsy as his other albums – there’s something missing that makes the songs seem not as gripping at first – but there is a weightiness, a thoughtfulness and maturity to the album that also makes it resonate with me very much. Give it a listen, especially track six, “Bird with a Broken Wing.”

— 6 —

And – back to Korean again just for a moment – I’m taking some classes again.

Including a level 2 Korean class, which they’re newly offering this year. I guess that letter my class signed did the trick! Either way, it’s actually spurred me to try and memorize some vocab so I’m not completely at a loss when I get back to class. I’ve only been doing the vocab from my textbook, which isn’t exactly extensive. But it’s a start. And watching kdramas/listening to kpop has definitely given me a jump-start as well.

Never fear! Korean is not my only class. After my disaster of a drawing class last semester (I don’t have enough interest or energy in it anymore, sadly) I decided to avoid that. Instead, I signed up for a couple of other artsy courses: a one-day paper-marbling class, and a 4-week book-binding class.

The paper marbling is a Japanese technique called suminagashi. From what I’ve googled, it seems pretty awesome. You should look it up! And apparently, we even get a marbling kit to take home from the class. That and three hours of marbling, all for $55! Not bad at all.

The book-binding class is a teensy bit more expensive, but worth it – all the materials are included in the class, and you spend three hours a week for four weeks to bind four different kinds of books. Then I’ll have plenty more notebooks to practice 한극어 in.

— 7 —

Ohhhh, and I almost forgot! Besides the Japanese festival we have at our botanical gardens in September, they once again have their Chinese Lantern Festival July through August. I managed to go (for free, due to an electronic fluke!) and it was wonderful. They had some acrobats do a half-hour show before the lights were turned on, and boy were they AMAZING. I could try to describe the things they did but I would never be able to do them justice. Suffice to say, it was a sight to see.

And so were the lanterns themselves, which are not merely just little (or big) round things hanging from strings. These were statues, things made of porcelain plates and cups, or frames covered in silk. Some of them even played music, shot fire, sprayed water, or moved, or blinked lights. And they were beautiful. Ahhhhh….

And of course the were some vendors there – directly from China as far as I can tell, since some of them spoke minimal English (and then there was the cute probably-in-high-school-and-too-young-for-me-volunteer who was helping to translate for them a bit). I bought a lovely ring for $15. It’s probably just glass but it’s so beautiful and catches the light just so! I was going to get one in a jade color, but my sister convinced me to get an orangey-brown, that would go with the clothes I wear regularly, and boy was that a good idea. And I can wear it on a number of fingers, since my hands are so small. Mwhahahahahahaha!

But you don’t need me to go on about that! Basically, the lantern festival was great, I’m still alive and kickin’ and active, and sorry not sorry for my kpop/kdrama gifs.

Ta ta for now!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

my Heart.

worthy of Agape

{Linking up with Blessed Is She}

reorient your heartRemember back when I said that my word for the year was authenticCan I be that, for just a blogging minute? My heart is all over the place.

My heart feels pulled in so many directions: marriage, motherhood, work, ministry, blogging, writing…it is all over the place. If I’m being really honest, I can’t remember a time in my life that I’ve felt more divided than I do now. I want it all but I’m realizing that something has to give.

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Ex-Girlfriend Club, Episode 1: Lions and Foxes and Cats

I’m jumping into Ex-Girlfriend Club (구여친클럽) mostly because of Byun Yo Han (변요한). It’s crazy to think that I hated him at first in Misaeng (미생)! Fortunately Han Suk Yool (헌숙율) grew on me, and I now have a new drama to watch.

I want to keep up my writing skills, and practice concision, so I’ve decided to do occasional episodic reviews for Ex-Girlfriend Club. I also want to practice typing in Hangul (헌글) on my keyboard, so I’m going to list drama titles and actor/character names in 헌글 at least once. (I don’t want to get used to reading romanizations, as it makes learning to read 헌글 that much harder).

Without further ado, my review!

The story begins with some flying ninja-like personages (???) heading toward a house down below. Inside there’s a Joseon-era party, complete with drinking, dancing, and women. The flying ninjas swoop in and start killing people left and right, while we see one woman following another to hide under a small table.

One addresses the other by name: “Baek Seung Hye (백승혜)! It’s Kim Soo Jin (김수진), from Jungin Films!” The two continue scrambling around what we now know is a movie set (as the cameramen that suddenly appear prove) and Soo Jin persistently tries to convince an initially annoyed Seung Hye to sign a movie contract. Soo Jin persuades the actress by saying she has a contract with a big name director.

Soo Jin returns to her office to tell her hoobae (her subordinate) the good news–as long as Baek Seung Hye signs the contract, investment money will come pouring in, and their currently bad financial state will be changed for the better.

But all is not well in film production. Apparently the big-name director is delaying the contract, and Jungin has already purchased the very expensive copyright for the script. The company president admonishes Soo Jin to wrap up the contract. Then he asks whether she’s looked at the web-toon he’s considering. She gives him a dismissive “No, I haven’t had time for that,” and throws out a resigned, “it’s not a weird R-rated web-toon like last time, is it?” He insists that it’s not.

She proceeds to check out the webtoon, all the while complaining to her hoobae that the story is unrealistic, because who would treat a nice man like this? Hoobae insists that the online comic has a wide readership because people relate to it. But Soo Jin gets even more skeptical once she finds out it’s based on true events. “Who would be crazy enough to make a movie out of this?” she says. Hoobae claims Soo Jin just doesn’t like romance, or have enough romantic experience. Soo Jin gets defensive and says that just because she makes human rights films doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy romance.

Later, Soo Jin enters a restaurant, where a boisterous group of people hails her, one seemingly her friend. He tells his guests to wait for words of wisdom from this person who has won some big awards at an International Film Festivall. Reluctantly, short Soo Jin stands on her chair and starts to speak. She’s interrupted by the abrupt arrival of Shim Joo Hui (심주희), an elegantly dressed woman–and based on Soo Jin’s distasteful glance, enemy–who steals the spotlight. She continues to put Soo Jin down throughout the dinner, implying that she’s a drunk, and Soo Jin continues to defend herself. Everyone leaves and Soo Jin goes to pay the tab. Joo Hui comes to taunt her, and says she’s seen Myeong Soo (명수). “You remember, that guy we gave a ride to one time. Are you two not dating anymore?” she smirks. “You used to go everywhere together.” Soo Jin doesn’t buy Joo Hui’s bull and tells her to just say what she wants to say.

Soo Jin returns home to her sister’s house with chicken and beer for her sister, brother-in-law, and nephews. Her sister can’t wait to see Soo Jin move out and pay back the money she owes, and Soo Jin insists that her company will be getting money very soon. She’s even started packing already. She takes several awards and plaques that she’s won and wraps them in newspaper. Just as she’s about to tie up one of the (numerous) stacks of books she has, Soo Jin notices an old photograph of herself and Myeong Soo, and she remembers the night they met. She and Joo Hui were on their way to a festival in the rain, when a young man knocks on her window. Soo Jin hesitantly rolls it down, and doesn’t want to give him a ride. But Joo Hui says what’s the harm, so they let him in.

Soo Jin returns to reality and continues to pack her things. The next day, she sits at her office computer, and her hoobae says she’s going to go to the bank to see why their account balances are negative. Soo Jin remarks that they’re always in the red, but hoobae points out it’s how much they’re in the red that bothers her. She mentions that they’ve paid contract fees to two writers: Ahn and Bang Myeong Soo. Soo Jin doesn’t hear past “Bang Myeong Soo,” and asks hoobae to repeat the name. “Oh, that’s the real name of the writer of that webtoon!” While hoobae laughs her way to the bank about Myeong Soo’s name, Soo Jin looks up the real name of the web-toon writer, horrified to find that it is in fact her Myeong Soo.

She recalls a time when she, Joo Hui, and Myeong Soo were out together discussing Superman. Myeong Soo and Soo Jin agreed that it was a romance, and hit it off very well–Myeong Soo even asked her to speak informally–and the two continue with a jovial, soju-infused conversation. Joo Hui just sits by in a blindingly red suit looking bored.

In present time, Soo Jin decides to read the web-toon, by turns laughing, squeeing, scoffing, and sighing at the events recounted there. Disturbed by Myeong Soo’s re-entry into her life, Soo Jin goes outside where her brother in law is smoking, and berates him for marrying her sister. He senses her distress and asks what’s wrong. She explains about the webtoon, and he asks if she’s going to work with him. Soo Jin cries definitely not–how could she do light romance when she’s won awards at an International Film Festival? Brother-in-law reminds her that she’ll probably show up in the web-toon herself eventually.

The next morning, Soo Jin paces around the office, pondering her dilemma. Hoobae breezes in and out, explaining the bank issues and that she’s going to meet with Myeong Soo. Soo Jin goes all deer-in-the-headlights for a moment before running after the girl. Soon she’s riding a bus and walking to a restaurant. She looks excited as she finds a table, and furtively checks her appearance in her compact mirror, all to the tune of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally).

Myeong Soo arrives as she’s putting on her lipstick. At first he walks past her and does a double take, then gets right up in her face, until she looks away from her compact and sees him. She squeals and rises from her chair with a start, smearing lipstick on her face, while Myeong Soo greets her with a bright smile and a cheery, “Soo Jin!”

He wipes the lipstick from her face as she gingerly pulls away, and comments on how she’s done well, if the articles he’s seen about her awards are anything to go by. Myeong Soo even tells her he was just about to contact her. “For what?” she asks expectantly. “To treat me,” is his disappointing reply. Soo Jin inquiries how he’s living–is he still going clubbing? He says no, he’s living like an adult and “cultivating his moral sense.” Riiiiight.

Soo Jin sees something on his cardigan and says he should wash it. He waves it off, citing his innate laziness. And yet, he says, when he hung out with Soo Jin he tried hard, and went to every festival. The two reminisce about old times. Myeong Soo suddenly says that no matter what he does, nothing is ever as fun as it was when he hung out with Soo Jin.

And then he asks what exactly she’s doing at this restaurant, if she’s meeting someone–perhaps a man? Soo Jin plays it cool and evades answering. “If I am?” He then assumes it’s a man, and says he’s proud, because he thought she would die an old maid. Remembering his own appointment, he hurriedly says he’s got to go, but that he’ll call her later, as long as she hasn’t changed her number. She looks on skeptically as Myeong Soo pulls out his phone and dials. Her phone does not ring, so he searches through his contacts and tries another number.

Turns out, there are 3 Soo Jins. He tries to cover his ass by teasing her about having changed her number, but she won’t have any of it, and tells him to get to work. She stalks out of the restaurant, and he teases her that if he’d known it was her company he would’ve asked for more money from the contract. “Am I a discount coupon?” she rages. Shocked at her anger, he says he was just kidding. Soo Jin responds that he wasn’t funny. He continues to act silly (though getting somewhat upset) but Soo Jin fails to find him funny.

She tells him not to get his hopes up, because his webtoon won’t get a film adaptation anytime soon. It’s not worth it, and no one wants to see cats and dogs. They then get all up in each others faces (literally) about whether the male lead is a dog or not. Myeong Soo, interestingly, claims that it’s a cheetah.

Afterward, Soo Jin stays up all night making nasty comments on his webtoon. She groggily answers a phone call from Eun Hye the next morning, which quickly brings her to her senses. Rushing to the office, she finds two men looking to collect on a business loan the president made–all by himself without her knowledge. Soo Jin and Eun Hye go to look for the president, but he answers neither his phone nor his door. He finally appears with some expensive looking golf clubs, and goes to pieces when they begin to chastise him. He pleads for forgiveness, saying it was for his sick child.

Soo Jin and Eun Hye return to the office and begin wailing atrociously. The phone rings and Eun Hye answers, then slams the phone down and furiously types something. She sorrowfully shows Soo Jin an article on the script they just purchased, that says Shim Joo Hui is the team leader for the film. Soo Jin shows up at the writer’s place, begging to see him. Then she goes to see Shim Joo Hui, who graciously grants her an audience, and refuses to hand the project back to her. All she does is grin cruelly and infuriatingly, and says “A faster company will get better items. Your side joked around first. If it was that important to you, you should have done better. You act like you don’t care, not quite holding on to things and not quite letting them go, but making a fuss when somebody seems as if they’re going to take them away.” I don’t think she’s just talking about movie rights here.

Soo Jin returns to the office to drink with Eun Hye, then goes home drunk.The next day she eats with Myeong Soo, who apparently called her to meet—so he could return his contract fee. He lets slip that he heard about the company’s problems through Joo Hui. Oh, perfect. Soo Jin jumps on him, saying $3000 must be chump change if he’s working with Joo Hui. Tears being to roll slowly down her face and she laments that even Myeong Soo is a stranger to her.

Myeong Soo goes to meet Joo Hui to sign the contract. She assures him that working with her company is better, that small companies have lots of limitations and problems. He still doesn’t look 100% sure. Later, he gets caught in the rain and sits at a bus stop, reminding him of when something similar happened to him and Soo Jin and he ended up piggy-backing her to Seoul.

He walks into Soo Jin’s office, drenched, as she’s packing up her things, and the two go out for a meal. He says she’d better treat him well, and that he’s a fool for only taking $3000. Wait, so he took the contract back to her? He then makes her feed him a wrap, and beings to reproach her with the things she said about his webtoon when they met before. He takes his teasing and her apologies a little too far, then makes her drink.

She wakes the next morning with a very bad hangover, and goes in to find someone waiting in the office. A slightly older woman in pink, looking dignified as she sits in a chair. Soo Jin asks who she is, but the woman simply responds, “And who are you?” as if she belonged there and Soo Jin was the interloper. (Urgh, she gets on my nerves already. A bad sign.)

Turns out, when she and Myeong Soo got drunk, they called his three ex-girlfriends. I don’t know that they told them, but all three show up at Soo Jin’s company the next day–the classy lady in pink,and a precocious, voluptuous young woman, and a woman with a slightly crazed look and a hot temper.

My Thoughts:

So that was an interesting first episode. We meet our plucky, down-on-her luck heroine who’s struggling to do well in the film industry. She has a rival and friend-turned-enemy, a player (?) ex, and a dishonest boss. When the company she works for takes a turn for the worse, she gets saved at the last minute–by her ex. Except now she has to deal with his exes.

The one in the pink, the “classy” one, I’ll call her for now, seems more amused by everything than anything else. I can’t tell if she cares about Myeong Soo or not. The youngest one is clearly still interested and very…shall we say aggressive? in her advances. And the third is just plain angry with him, but possessive as well. What a mix.

And what about the guy they’re fighting over?

I can’t say I like Myeong Soo 100%. As of now, I have very mixed feelings. He seems like a big faker and a player. Not an intentional player, just one of those guys who doesn’t see the effects of his actions, the kind who’s too nice to girls and doesn’t realize he’s flirting. He might’ve been fun to hang out with in the olden days he looks on with such nostalgia–he was a bright, jovial, joker and appears to have been sincere. Now? Not so much: he has some sincerity, but it seems like most of it is hidden behind a bunch of fake. And the fact that in the webtoon he’s represented as a cheetah. Chee-tah. Cheat-ah. Cheater? Since this is based on his own experiences is this a reflection on his character?

And it’s probably just my rose colored glasses, but was he or was he not flustered by having Soo Jin all up in his business? I don’t know that he actually has any interest at the moment, although he was trying to flirt with her at least for fun (his body language: touching her face, pulling her chair toward his; and his words: talking about past times, saying he’s never had more fun times than with her).

Of course, other things indicate a certain level of interest: his nostalgia, the way he smiles at her when she isn’t looking, and the rather humongous (and practically speaking less advantageous) decision to return the contract to her company.

It really makes me wonder what broke these two up. Did he break it off? Did she? Is he a player? Was there misunderstanding? Was noble idiocy involved? Were his exes before Soo Jin or after? WHAT HAPPENED?? I WANT TO KNOW!!!!

You can’t really judge by first episodes, but one thing I can already say for this show, it really makes me curious to know more.

Inside Out: Dressing for Mass

Debates about liturgical forms and proprieties abound among Catholics. Beyond the translations and rubrics for rituals, music constitutes the other main point of contention. But one issue that I see least mentioned on the internet (at least outside discussions of the Extraordinary form) is proper attire.

Perhaps that’s because people don’t see it as important. “God doesn’t care what I wear” and “It doesn’t matter what I wear as long as I’m a good person” and “at least I’m coming to Mass” seem to be the general attitudes.

Such was the case for some when a priest friend of mine posted one of his homilies on Facebook. He spoke of dressing for Mass within the proper context: the idea that we are dressing for God, the most important Person in our lives. In fact, his homily not only covered the subject of proper Mass attire, but also informed its audience more fully about vestments and the vesting process.

Dressing as Mindfulness and a Mark of Respect for Others

Behind vesting, he remarks, lies intention. While robing himself with each vestment the priest says various prayers, all directed toward the goal of preparing for and offering Mass. He wears not what suits him, but what suits the occasion. This keeps him mindful of what he is doing, helps him focus, lessens the opportunity for distraction.

Father pointed out that the laity also must have the same concern. And we do, even in secular matters: do we not dress in a particular way for dances? For going out to a fancy restaurant? When meeting a famous personage? When attending an award banquet,  a graduation ceremony, a wedding? Even when going on a date? Who, if meeting the President of the United States, or the Queen of England, would not want to be dressed at the very least in a decent pair of jeans, some sensible shoes, and a nice shirt (if not in a formal dress or suit)? Would you meet either of them comfortably in yoga pants and a tank, or sweatpants and a t-shirt?

If we dress in a specific way, often up, on these occasions, then we must also dress properly for Mass. And since God is more important than any top star, dance, or award, He commands more respect and better dress from us. This does not, as Father continues, mean simply dressing up–financial situations, of course, often limit what you can buy–but giving God our best, whatever that is.

Dressing as a Mark of Respect for God

One commenter on Facebook completely missed the point. She continually insisted that we should not judge people based on what they wear to Mass, that what is important is that people are going to Mass, and said that this sort of judgement teaches our children to bully other people.

Her first problem is to conflate judgment of action with judgment of heart. We can judge that it is objectively inappropriate for someone to be wearing, say, a swimsuit or PJs in church. If we could not judge actions, the Christian morality to which we subscribe would be moot. What we must not judge are hearts, and Father in his homily did not at all attempt to do that.

What he attempted to do was move hearts. His words came from a desire to inflame in his people more faith, to point them outside themselves to God, to show them something they had perhaps not realized before. So though I understand the commenter’s concern–of repelling those whose faith is just burgeoning or only tenuous–her attitude does more harm than good. Why? Because it is focused on us and not God. It is focused on what we want to do, and reflects a society that thinks God should be grateful we pay any attention to Him at all, and that we do anything for His sake. (I am not in anyway implying that said commenter believes these things, but am pointing out the root cause of these ideas, which disguises itself even in well-meaning people as care for others.)

When we go to Mass, we go not for ourselves, to be entertained, nor for others, to please them. We go for God. We go because He asks us to. We go because He is our Creator, the One we should love above all others, the One who loves us, the One whom we should worship with every fiber of our being and every action. We go because we love Him. God, the Being most deserving of respect, ought to be shown that respect, in every way, both privately and publicly. Dressing specially for Mass is one way of showing God and the world that we love, adore, and respect Him, that He is like no other. It also encourages us to see what we are doing as important.

“Do people who dress for Mass in less exalted attire not love God?” someone will inevitably ask.

I will then rub the bridge of my nose in resigned frustration and answer, “That is not at all what I’m saying.” What I’m saying is that the way we dress at Mass is about God, not about us. Our outfits should reflect His honor and glory, not ours. Dressing properly for Mass is about falling more deeply in love with God. Because if we love him, we will want to show it in all the ways we know how. But we don’t know all those ways, and sometimes our sinful nature will even lead us to be repelled by those ways, because Satan wants to lead us away from God.

Dressing as a Sign of Our Love

What the commenter–and many of us today–forgets is that God cares about us so much He wants to change us. He is not satisfied for us to continue in sin. He will do anything to help us relinquish it: including letting us come to Mass in the first place, and then helping us realize how we should properly dress.

I do not know whether I am repeating myself, or whether I can completely articulate in words what I am attempting to say here, but I am going to try.

Turning to God is the first step. If our turning to God means going to Mass, whatever we wear, then that is good. Sufficient, for that day, is going to Mass in yoga pants. But eventually that becomes easier. One day, it will not bother us to go to Mass in yoga pants at all. But it may still be hard not to gossip or to honor our parents or to be chaste, and perhaps we have been living on and gossiping, being disrespectful, and being unchaste. Yet we cannot say, “I go to Mass; this is enough; I can continue in my gossip, disrespect, and unchastity.” We cannot just look to do the minimum good. What must happen is we must say, “Now that I have turned to God I see the error of my ways; I shall begin to fix them” and then we proceed, in whatever way we can, to turn from sin. Our hearts, hardened by sin, have been softened by God and by our growing love for him. Changing ourselves will become something we choose to do with love, not merely something we think we are obligated to do. It will not be easier because we love God, but we will do it anyway because we love Him.

All sinners, even the saints, continued to have their eyes opened to sins and to ways of loving God. They did not always like to hear that they were in error, just like we do not, but they pushed through the obstinacy of sin and mended their ways anyway.

So we encourage people to dress in their Sunday best, the best clothes they have, as a mark of their love for God. They are not bad or evil if they do not, but if they intentionally do not dress their best for no other reason than they do not feel like it, they may perhaps lack understanding of why.

I do not think I have said well what I have to say, but I hope a small part of it does get across. My main point is that the things we do are about God, not about us, and that our outward actions reflect our inward attitude and orientation. So if we love God, we will seek to show that love for Him in various ways–including dressing our best for Him in His own house.

Spiritual Procrastination

At work, there hangs on the wall a large, flatscreen TV, meant to entertain our members while they wait. News, ads, CNN, trivia, quotes, all flash across the screen for several hours. Sometimes these quotes catch my eye, and so it was the other day that I was shocked to see a quote lifted from St. Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions.

Under normal circumstances, my reaction would have been characterized by an abundance of joy (especially since my place of employment is secular in nature). Unfortunately, the line they decided to paraphrase was out of context, and people probably laughed at it rather than took it seriously.

Which was it? Take a guess.

“Lord, let me be chaste, but not yet.”

As anyone who has had any experience with St. Augustine knows, he does not say this to endorse unchastity, but to demonstrate a step in his conversion process. Let’s put the quote in context, shall we? This is from Book VIII of the Confessions:

But now, the more ardently I loved those whose healthful affections I heard of, that they had resigned themselves wholly to Thee to be cured, the more did I abhor myself, when compared with them. For many of my years (some twelve) had now run out with me since my nineteenth, when, upon the reading of Cicero’s Hortensius, I was stirred to an earnest love of wisdom; and still I was deferring to reject mere earthly felicity, and give myself to search out that, whereof not the finding only, but the very search, was to be preferred to the treasures and kingdoms of the world, though already found, and to the pleasures of the body, though spread around me at my will. But I wretched, most wretched, in the very commencement of my early youth, had begged chastity of Thee, and said, “Give me chastity and continency, only not yet.” For I feared lest Thou shouldest hear me soon, and soon cure me of the disease of concupiscence, which I wished to have satisfied, rather than extinguished. And I had wandered through crooked ways in a sacrilegious superstition, not indeed assured thereof, but as preferring it to the others which I did not seek religiously, but opposed maliciously.

Augustine says he was wretched because of that. He wasn’t telling us to procrastinate; rather, he was urging us to the opposite, to not make the same mistake.

But all of us do it at some point. Procrastination doesn’t just happen with homework or employment; it happens with people, relationships, hobbies, the spiritual life.

I was struck most forcefully by this concept in one of the kdramas I’m watching. It’s one from a couple of years ago called The Master’s Sun. The storyline is one quite common to kdramas–rich guy and poor girl fall in love–but there’s a twist. Ever since her accident, Gong Sil has seen ghosts, so she lives her life closed up in her apartment. Until one day, she touches Joo Joong Won, heartless, money-grubbing bastard and owner of Kingdom Mall. Whenever she touches Joong Won, the ghosts disappear, so Gon Sil worms her way into his life (with much resistance from him, of course). He only agrees to let her stay around because she can get him in contact with his dead ex-girlfriend Cha Hee Joo, who died when the couple was kidnapped in high school.

Joong Won really is your typical “trauma-made-me-heartless” lead, though he’s not quite as bad as Joo Won from Secret Garden. I love So Ji Sub, and Joong Won as a character is sometimes amusing and sometimes good, but ends up doing the same thing Joo Won does: he stays around her, and tells her he loves her and likes her, but expects her to be able to just drop the relationship at any moment. Basically he selfishly wants to use her, spend time with her, enjoy her company, but still make a marriage that pleases his aunt and father, and is beneficial to his business.

Why?

Because of procrastination, actually. (You thought I was just doing this to talk about kdramas, didn’t you? You’re partly right, but I do have a point, too.)

In Episode 9, we have a horrible cliffhanger ending. Joong Won is waiting to board his flight to China, but rushes back to his mall to save Gong Sil from being possessed by a ghost. Obviously, the way to do that is to kiss her, which he does–but then before she comes to, Joong Won runs off, and Gong Sil is left with the glimpse of a man’s back and no memory of what occurred during her possession. Joong Won returns to the airport and talks with Secretary Kim. Joong Won is now very aware that Kim has been encouraging the budding relationship between Joong Won and Gong Sil, and Kim acknowledges it: “It’s nice to see you change.”

Yes, this pic is just filler and an opportunity to display a handsome, angsty So Ji Sub.

But Joong Won’s last (or almost last) words in the episode are, “I don’t want to change.” Joong Won, who has been betrayed by his girlfriend (or those related to her) and his family, has turned into someone interested only in money. Now that someone has come to soften his heart, he refuses to change. And he admits precisely why: because he is afraid.

This is so very characteristic of us in our conversions (which happen not simply once in a life time, but daily). We say, “I want to correct this bad habit, I want to get rid of this sin, I want to love God, I want to pray more, do this, do that.” Then we keep doing the bad thing we say we don’t want to do. Sometimes we do it because, like St. Augustine, we love the satisfaction we get from the sin more than we love God. Other times, we do it because like Joong Won, we are too attached to the satisfaction we have now and are afraid of upsetting the status quo, afraid of change, afraid that maybe what God promises us won’t be that satisfactory and we won’t be happy anymore.

The only remedy for this is faith and courage. Faith in God, that what He has given us is so much better and more satisfying than any feeling or pleasure this world can offer, and the courage to take the step and break away from our comfortable stability, and deal with messiness and uncertainty of the world.

Because the only certain thing in life is God. Everything else changes. We change. The people we love change. Jobs are lost, people die, people betray us, our favorite restaurants close down, natural disasters wreck our favorite places beyond belief. But if we put ourselves in God’s hands, nothing can shake us.

But we have to do it now. We can’t just wait. Life passes us by, and if we continue to say, “Oh, I’ll fix that tomorrow, let me be chaste tomorrow, let me be charitable tomorrow, let me be courageous tomorrow,” we’ll find ourselves like the rams separated from the goats. We may not have done anything bad, but we won’t have actively done good, and actively loved.

So take another lessen from St. Augustine of Hippo. Remember what he says in the first few words of Confessions? “For Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.”