Friday, August 31, 2012

Lesson 2 by Prof Thio on the book of Daniel

Today's lesson by Professor Thio Li Ann was on Chapter 2 of the Book of Daniel. She began by talking about how the book of Daniel encompasses these areas of studies - Teleology, Eschatology, Hermeneutics, Historicity, and Prophecy. The book of Daniel, along with the book of Ezekiel and the book of Revelation, are the books of the bible that predict the end-times of the world. There are also prophecies in the book of Daniel which are fulfilled through world historical events. Professor Thio mentioned the concept of Harmonious Construction in biblical interpretation. Interpretation of passages cannot be yanked out of their context, but have to be coherently interpreted with other passages of scripture.

I have read about interpretations of Daniel 2 and the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream during my army days as a clerk where I had much free time to do suchstudy. My discipleship group mentor at church also went through this portion on a discipleship group session once. Nevertheless, Professor Thio's input into the interpretation is very insightful. She knows quite a lot.

Professor Thio presented on an interesting aspect of the bible, whereby the different languages in which the text was written is indicative of the different target audience. For example, Daniel 1 to Daniel 2:4 was written in Hebrew. From Daniel 2:4 to Daniel 7, the language changes to Aramaic, before reverting back to Hebrew in Daniel 8. Aramaic was the contemporary common tongue of the region, and the fact that the eschatological segment of the book of Daniel was written in Aramaic implies that its message was to the world, whilst the other portions which were written in Hebrew implies that their relevance relate more specifically to the Israelites. This aspect of language type as a device of audience targeting in the bible is implicit in the New Testament books as well, which was written in Greek and Latin. These were the language of the contemporary world powers. They were moreover predecessor languages of the English Language which became an internationally significant language from the 19th century onwards. As such, for the New Testament to be written in these languages implies its target audience to the gentile nations.
Daniel 2 features the account of the dream of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The story start off with King Nebuchadnezzar having this troubling dream and calling upon his committee of astrologers. Instead of simply asking them to interpret his dream though, he demanded them to first tell him what the dream is, to which the failure to do so would subject them to execution. Professor Thio gave the analogy of how this demand is akin to a law school professor asking his or her students to guess the exam question in addition to answering it, which is by itself difficult enough. The reason for King Nebuchadnezzar's demand was his distrust of his astrologers that they would concoct an interpretation for the dream (Daniel 2:9).  The astrologers conceded their inability to figure out the dream, positing that only a god would be able to do such a thing (Daniel 2:11). This sets a precedence for which Daniel was able to showcase his God as truly having such divine powers when Daniel was able to figure out the dream for King Nebuchadnezzar.
Professor Thio said that this account of Daniel being called to interpret the dream is an example of a showdown between God and the contemporary adherents of other gods. Through these episodes of a showdown, God is able to proclaim his superiority over the other gods and thus influence the rulers of the reigning power. Professor Thio points out that the theme of a showdown is one way that is repeated in the bible in which God establishes his glory. Other examples include Moses pitting against the Egyptian magicians where he used his staff as a snake to eat up the snakes casted by the Egyptian magicians, and Elijah's showdown against the prophets of Baal to light up the fire of the altar at Mount Carmel. In all cases, God's power prevailed over the power of the foreign gods, and his glory was proclaimed to the rulers of the nations. Another theme that is commonly depicted in the bible is the notion of God using the weak to overcome the strong. In these episodes of showdown, the person appointed God was numerically outmatched by the adherents of the other gods, and yet comes up victorious. Another example Professor Thio highlighted is the Israelite warrior Gideon who defeated the numerically superior Midianites with only 300 men. I think Professor Thio talks from experience here. Professor Thio is certainly no stranger to the theme of a showdown herself, and in her time as a Nominated Member of Parliament, she was a vociferous proponent of Christian values who was subject to many detractors and critics when she took a stand against the abolition of 377a of the penal code.  
One of the parallels that Professor Thio drew from this account of Daniel's invitation to interpret the dream was with Joseph's interpretation of the dream of Pharoah of Egypt. In both accounts, the two men were subjected to exile, Joseph to Egypt, whilst Daniel to Babylon. Both were called to the interpretation of the dreams of the rulers of the nation in which they were exiled. They both rose to position of prominence when they were able to interpret the dreams of the ruler. Joseph was able to help his family, including the brothers who had exiled him, in the famine that proceeded. Likewise, Daniel's ability to interpret the king's dream fast-tracked him to a position of authority in the Babylonian empire where he was placed second in power in relation to King Nebuchadnezzar. He too was then able to rule in such a manner as to protect the interest of his people who had been placed in exile.
Daniel’s interpretation of the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar had eschatological significance as well. The different body parts of the statue, from its head to its toes, were representations of the kingdoms that succeeded one after the other. The different metals used to compose the individual parts of the statue have symbolic meanings that corresponded to the attributes and culture of the reigning power. The head of gold was King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire. Succeeding that was the chest and arms of silver which was the Medo-Persian Empire ruled by King Darius of the Mede, and King Cyrus of Persian. The suggested relation between silvered chest and arms to the golden head is one of inferiority. Professor Thio suggested one aspect in which the Medo-Persian Empire was inferior to the Babylonian Empire was in its form of government. King Nebuchadnezzar was an autocrat, and his rule was above that of law, whilst King Darius’ kingdom had a rule of law to which even the king was subject to. This was why King Darius could not rescind his edict to prevent Daniel from being thrown into the Lion’s Den. Professor Thio points out another interesting fact of the symbolistic significance of silver. A trait of silver was its use as a currency, and the characterization of the Medo-Persian Empire as silver in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream corresponded with its commercial nature. The Medo-Persian Empire was a far-flung cosmopolitan empire spanning western Asia that had extensive trade in the commodities of the subject states.
The belly and thigh of bronze represents the Grecian Empire that was ruled by the inimitable Alexander the Great. The symbolistic significance of the thigh in the dream is the reproductive properties that are associated with such a region of the body parts. Greek culture was highly sexualized and depraved, its society was rampant with drunkenness, debauchery, adultery, promiscuity, temple prostitution, rape, beastiality, incest, homosexuality and the like. Greek mythology featured gods exhibiting the most flagrant of vices, the accounts of each god replete with exploits of forceful sexual encounters with other gods and with mortals. This too was an endemic feature of Grecian society. Professor Thio said that one aspect of Greek society was that young boys were attached to adult men, which includes the likes of some of the highly-acclaimed founding figures of western philosophy like Socrates and Aristotle, to be ‘buggered’ off by them. The ideal relationship espoused was the male to male relationship, while the females were perceived in a subsidiary functional manner such as being mere chattels to take care of the children. I have never thought of Socrates or Aristotle in the manner portrayed by Professor Thio. The accounts that I read of Socrates portrays him to be a respectable man in pursuit of truth and virtues, a counter-revolutionary to the polytheistic nature of Greek society, and an opponent against the unprincipled and unscrupulous teachings of the mercenary Sophist who pervaded Greek intellectual culture. The reason for the trial and execution of Socrates by his sentencing to death by drinking a hemlock-based liquid was due to the accusation that he had failed to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges and had introduced new deities. The Christian apologist Peter Kreeft in his book Socrates and Jesus posits that it could be inferred from the philosophy literature written by Aristotle that Socrates was essentially a deist who believed in a creator.
Another characteristic of Ancient Greek that alludes to the symbolistic concept of reproductivity is the highly propagative nature of certain products of Greek culture. Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the ideology of humanism which as Professor Thio purports, spreads quickly and remains highly virulent in today’s times. From my reading of what the ideology of humanism is, it is an intellectual movement that espouses human abilities and interest as the basis for morality. There is a rejection of religion that is associated with this intellectual movement. From the way Professor Thio presents about the ideology of humanism, it seems like some nefarious ploy concocted by Satan to insidiously wreck out his diabolical plans upon humanity. I am not sure why an intellectual movement that espouses human abilities and reason would need to repudiate religion. It seems acceptable to me that supernatural ideas be dissociated from certain epistemological methodologies such as the sciences, but I would intuitively concur with Professor Thio that it would be dangerous to do away with religious precepts on certain matters such as ethics and morality. I have an apprehension that there is an inadequacy on human reason alone to construct a comprehensive foundation for morality. There’s also something suspicious about a belief system that purports to centre its focus on human needs, interests, and abilities. Taken to an extreme, it is highly liberalistic such as to be repulsive of all common sense concepts of the proper bounds of morality.
Returning back to the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the portion of the statue that is the legs of iron and clay is interpreted to be the Roman Empire. Like Iron which is the strongest of all the materials that composed the statue, the Roman Empire was a mighty nation that crushed all the other nations. It was the longest-lasting of empire, prevailing for a at least a thousand years, much longer than the mighty world empires that preceded it. The Babylonian empire only lasted for about 160 years. When Hitler had an ambition to conquer Europe and unite it under his Third Reich, he too wanted to imitate the past glory of the Roman Empire and have a lasting European Empire that would last for a thousand years.
The roman empire was presented further down in the eschatological sections of the book of Daniel as being a different kingdom from all the other kingdoms which will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it (Daniel 7:23). The Romans were brutal in their treatment of the conquered nations and rebellions. Foreign kings were taken before the Roman Emperor Caesar to be flogged. The Gaullian kings were made to go under a yoke in order to humiliate them.
The representation of the Roman Empire as a composite of Iron and Clay suggests that it never quite managed to acquire complete unity. The Roman Empire was a multicultural empire with many different people and culture. The subjugation of these people to roman rule was never quite successful. Outbreaks of rebellions were frequent and had to be extinguished heavy-handedly by roman forces. I remembered watching a documentary of one example of such uprising on the history channel once. It featured an uprising by the British when it was still a tribe by the Queen Boudica. Subsequently, the Roman Empire fell. It began with the secession of the Roman Empire into the Western and Eastern empires. Julius Caesar was assassinated by his cabinet, this scene most vividly portrayed by the novel of Shakespeare where the character of Caesar verbalized his iconic passing words “Et Tu Brutus?” at his astonishment of being betrayed by his close compatriot Brutus, who was an accomplice of the conspiracy against him.  The west part of Rome fell to the Franks. The eastern part of rome was longer-lasting, but fell to the Ottoman Empire later.
As for the rock, this is the part which his most difficult to interpret according to Professor Thio. The jews have their interpretation that this is the establishment of a dominion of Israel in the end days, whilst the Christians think it a kingdom under the rule of Jesus for a thousand years. Professor Thio gave quite some interpretation about the signs that would accompany the 2nd coming of Jesus. It would be in the middle east, at a gate that is sealed, situated above the plane where the Garden of Gethsemane is.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

1st VCF session

It was 12.45pm, and yet, there i was, all alone at the table by the corriodor adjacent the staircase next to the 'summit'. Hadn't i sent a message to all my group members to come around for cg lunch at 12.30pm? Perhaps i might have been remiss in forgetting to include any information on how i would look like, and they might have backed out after not knowing who they should be approaching at the tables. Or perhaps they had classes during that time period, and I would have done better if I had checked the year 1's schedules. Or perhaps....Well, social conventions confound me. Lunch turned out an affair amongst familiar people - My Co-CGL, Larisa, and my church mates, Darius and Michael.

There were quite a number of new faces at the cell group meeting. It was a rather sizable group, 14 people in all. 4 new year ones, 3 new year twos, and this guy from Germany who was doing his Masters as part of the NYU-NUS tie up programme. After a round of introduction, I decided to kick start the session with an ice-breaker game. I passed round the bag of M and Ms to the members, and each took a packet. Then I instructed them to pour out 5 random M and Ms into their hands. I called out a colour, red, and asked those who had red M and Ms in their hands to share about their hobbies. A year one girl shared about her involvement with an organisation dealing with social causes such as the paralympics. The german guy shared about his hobby in hiking and fishing. Darius shared about his passion in theology, whilst I shared about my interest in Japanese culture. And after that, I called out yellow, and asked those who had yellow M and Ms to share about their favourite movies. I think there was a general lively mood at the ice-breaking session.

The topic of discussion was about how we as Christian law students should approach our study life. We began by watching this comical video of a Singaporean boy in his lower primary school years talking about the pressure that his parents place on him to study hard so as to earn a good living. You can watch the video here. I then asked the group the first question that was in the topic discussion guide - What are some of the beliefs of studying brought out by the video? The general consensus was that Singapore had a very competitve study culture. Sometimes, we study with the anxiety that we do not want to end up at the bottom rung of the school ranking system. I asked the German guy whether there was such a pressure for one to study hard in his home country. He replied that it was quite different from Singapore, and he didn't experience such pressure to study hard during his childhood days. However, he grew up and realized the importance of studying hard if he wants to do well in life. I moved the discussion on to the next question - As a Christian student, what are some challenges to not studying like siao, like the majority culture. One new year two spoked about how it is important to keep a sense of perspective of studying in relation to life and to the Christian faith. A year one talked about how she viewed her efforts in their studies as a way to glorify God.

I then made a statement about how it is easy for Christian students in law school to get carried away by studies and to sacrifice all other commitments, the first ones to go usually being Christian activities like VCF and church cell groups, and I asked how we as Christians should balance our Christian life with our school life. The German guy said that most other students around him are able to cope with many other commitments besides their studies, and if he should have to forgo all other commitments to study, then it suggests that he isn't very effective or efficient with studies. He spoke about a friend of his in the law school in Germany who was a strong Christian and who was deeply involved in Christian ministry and yet made to the upper echelon of the legal service. This allowed him to be a Christian influence to those around him amongst this circle of elites. I get the sentiment from my friends and acquaintances around in law school, and from the group discussion that most people in law school are quite capable and involved in many other commitments apart from their studies. I sometimes tell myself, if they can do it, so can I. But I have been rather apprehensive about taking commitments and have confined my school-term commitments apart from studies to Christian-related activities such as the VCF and my Discipleship group in church. Yet, I find it difficult to keep up with the curriculum of school. I sometimes go to tutorial classes relying on the tutorial answers I got from seniors so that I would be able to say something in case I am picked out by the professor. It amazes me that some of my other school mates who are in heavier commitments seem to have prepared quite well for the class and are able to raise many insightful points during lesson.

I then showed the group another video featuring an English educationalist Sir Ken Robinson who talked about the inadequacies of the current model of the education system. You can watch the video here. Although the talk given by Sir Ken Robinson was in relation to the pre-university education system, I linked its relevance to how despite we as law students have succeeded in the education system that preceded our entering into law school, we are now thrust into another segment of the education system which is more vocation-specific in nature, and how it is possible for some to fall through the cracks at this stage of the education system and not do as well in school as how they used to. I fear that I may be one of them as I did really badly in the examination last semester. I am still struggling with getting a hang of law school.

Larisa shared with the group about how she sometimes find it difficult to trust in God's will and guidance for her study commitments, especially when studies seems so personal an endeavour such that she feels she must study hard on her own accord to do well. She used quite an interesting analogy of her pet dog who would growl defensively at her when it was having its meal, and how she had to wait for her dog to finish its food before she could go give it a hug. Larisa said that in the same way, we sometimes are so caught up with our school work that we reel away from God in order to commit to other studies when all he wants to do is to give us a hug.

I spoke about the carefree days in army and before law schools where there wasn't any studying to do, and how I felt a sense of liberation from all the studying during my army days. Somehow, when I found myself being able to live life without having a care about studies and grades, I experienced a joy in learning and studying for itself. I tried to inject some humour into the session by joking about how my favourite song during my carefree days prior to law school was Party Rock Anthem by the band LMAO which had the iconic line "Everyday I am shuffling", but now, it's "Everyday I am studying" for me instead.

It was quite a fun discussion for me, although I don't know whether the members in my group are bored or feeling disengaged. Larisa and I were doing a disproportionate amount of  talking. I suppose the way the questions are asked in the topical discussion booklet wasn't too engaging in nature, and we could have asked the group members question in a more personal manner that is related to the topic.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

National Day Rally Speech By PM Lee Hsien Loong

I just watched the National Day Rally Speech given by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
One of the topics of his speech was on the need for Singapore to continually progress. People must be educated and trained to meet the needs of a highly-skilled economy. He gave an example of how smart devices will be able to fulfill the functions of a personal secretary, and the personal secretary will have to move up the skills ladder to become an office manager. The government has in mind to increase the number of university graduates from the 27% to 40%. This is to be done by the incremental expansion of the intake of the existing universities and the creation of two new universities in Singapore: SIM University (UniSIM) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
I wonder whether the expansion of the provision of university education will enable Singapore to furnish the manpower for a highly-skilled economy. For one, I think that there is such a thing as a gradation of human capacities in a population. Not everyone will be capable enough to take on jobs that are highly-skilled. There is only so much that the provision of higher-tier education service can do in training up a workforce for roles in a highly-skilled economy. I think that it would be very difficult to increase the number of skilled workers beyond a certain percentage of the population because nature may not provide enough capable people.
However, even though I feel that it would be tough to obtain a high concentration of skilled workers, I think there is no other choice for Singapore. It’s really an economic issue. There needs to be a certain threshold number of highly skilled workers for it to be effective to contribute to progress in society. This revolves around the concept of economies of scales. There must be a certain quantity of highly-skilled workers that are effectively integrated to work towards the desired outcome of societal progress. A country with a large population can do this much more easily even with a low-concentration skilled force because the population can provide the necessary numbers that achieves the threshold requirement for economies of scales to take place. This is not possible for Singapore which has a small population. This may place some difficulties on the economy to have to maintain a certain number of skilled jobs which is not equitably proportionate to the number of the population. I think that it might lead to a sub-standard highly-skilled economy. For example, there may be many scientists and engineers around, but who are not of the requisite quality to meet the aims of a highly-skilled economy.
I wish that I can be proved wrong though because I like the egalitarian ideal of human beings being capable enough for any roles in society as long as they have the requisite training. I might be wrong in my sentiment on this. If this is so, then the expansion of university education can easily meet the objectives. Otherwise, Singapore may have to rethink about how it wants its economy to develop.
Amidst all the talks about the direction to which Singapore must strive towards, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not forget about stressing the importance for Singaporean to be caring and amicable towards one another. “Not just a prosperous country – but one that has a heart.” It’s nice to hear the Singapore Prime Minister address this. There is a need to address the social aspects of a country’s development. I don’t think a highly-educated and wealth nation is correspondent with a socially gracious nation.  A nation with people that is courteous and kind in treating one another goes a long way towards a happier nation.

On repeated sinning

What does the bible have to say on someone who sins repeatedly? Will he still be valid for salvation? Does God consider the motives of the man in his sinning? I have considered the following 2 verses in the bible during my contemplation.
1 John 3:6-10: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning form the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are. Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God;
Based on this verse, how should one view a Christian who sins after he has received the faith? Will that Christian not be amountable to condemnation as being from the devil if based on this verse? Well, there are good grounds to condemn one as being from devil, especially when the sins committed are intentional and calculated. This includes the likes of scheming and plotting the use of underhanded means to attain one’s objectives. But what about the sins of the passions? It's lust for men, and probably envy for women.
Then, I considered the following verse below
Romans 7:15-20 :I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
This verse seems to acknowledge the possibility of a Christian to sin. However, the sin committed is in conflict with his desires to lead a life congruent to Christian principles. Is there a way to reconcile the two seemingly contradictory verses? The distinction that I would draw is that the kind of sin described in 1 John 3:6-10 is in the deliberate form whereby one chooses to commit the sinful action, whilst Romans 7:15-2 is about sins of the passion, whereby one sins despite his wish not to do so because of his predisposition to be waylaid by temptation. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My feelings about the first VCF cell group meeting; Should I join the pro-bono club?; CLT class: the common law tradition

The first cell group meeting for varsity Christian fellowship would be held on Wednesday next week. I have received the contact details of the people who have been allocated to my group “Jireh” in my email inbox. There are quite a number of year 1s who have signed up for VCF and have been allocated to my cell group. There are also be a handful of new year 2s who have decided to come sign up for VCF. I suppose the tentative number of people who would be in the cell group is around 20. This is a stark contrast to the small size of the group which I had the previous year, where there was only 4 people in the group. Frankly, I am a little intimidated of having a big group. I suppose the group size would minimize when some of the year 1s and new year 2s who had registered their names during the VCF tea session withdraw or stop coming after a while, especially if they find themselves with other law club commitments.
I am a little intimidated with how I would fare in fulfilling my role and responsibility as the new cell group leader. I hope I can be accommodating and spontaneous enough in my interaction with the members of my cell group. I hope I can make people feel welcomed. However, I am faced with a challenge posed by the condition I have called Aspergers Syndrome. I might find it difficult to know what to say or do in order to engage the other members of the group. I become socially exhausted easily, and may appear aloof. I might be socially oblivious to whether other people are bored with the line of discussion I am bringing up, and may get carried away with pedantic discussion of theology or biblical facts and history. I might appear insensitive to the sentiments or emotions of those in my cell group, and may not be able to provide the necessary support. Generally, people in my life do not find me a suitable person to relate to in times of their troubles. I might be relatively emotionless in the way I carry out worship and prayer sessions. I also have trouble saying group prayers, such as prayers for meals, and opening and closing prayers for group sessions.

I hope this first session would turn out well. I am afraid that I would be paralyzed by fear or by the sensory overload from the number of people that are in the cell group. Such paralysis happened to me during my criminal law presentation last semester, and I was struggling throughout the entire presentation to recall what I was trying to put forth and expressing them in words. It may very well occur during VCF sessions as well. I take quiet confidence that I have led discipleship group in my own church 3 times. I didn’t think I fared too well on those occasions, but my discipleship group mates affirmed me that I did okay.

My former cell group leaders, Charmaine and Sabrina, have been very encouraging of me to assume the role of cell group leader. Their words to me when I told them of my worries due to my having Aspergers Syndrome have been most comforting and inspiring. Charmaine related to me the account of various characters in the Bible whom God have chosen for his purposes despite of their weaknesses. Sabrina related to me her own challenges in being the cell group leader and why she chose to be one despite the challenges she knew she would face. I suppose I want to challenge myself to be able to do things that people without Aspergers Syndrome are able to do. I want to develop skills of leading a group. The VCF would be a safe and accommodative avenue for me to develop such skills. I want to be able to lead a normal life, and do things other normal people do.

Today, I went to the pro-bono welcome tea session. I have been considering joining the pro-bono club. I think it would give me a fuller experience at law school. However, I am apprehensive of assuming too much commitment for myself. The various projects that I can participate in for the pro-bono club would require me to participate in the pro-bono activity a day or two every week. I think my Christian commitments and activities consume much of my time already. There is VCF cell group meeting and Central Bible Study session on Wednesdays, Professor Thio’s bible study sessions on Fridays, Church discipleship group on Saturdays, and the usual Sunday service. I need to carefully consider whether I should take on any more commitments. Intuitively speaking, I would give the pro-bono club a miss.  
Professor Michael Dowdle conducted the second seminar for comparative legal tradition today. It was about the history of the common law. The common law legal system culminates very much by incremental refashioning of the justice system by succession of governing kings of England to conveniently expand their bureaucracy across England and to generate revenue for their war and opulent living expenses. Compared to the civil law legal system, there is relatively less intellectual foundation undergirding the formulation of the common law legal system. The formalistic writ system was conceived during the reign of Normandy King Henry the Second to establish a convenient working judiciary system that administrate land dispute amongst the nobles, and generate revenues for the King’s coffers. The purpose of the writ system was never so much concerned about administration of justice, as it was about implementing a system that regulates access to justice. The common man could only seek justice from the King’s court if his complaints fell within a specified category covered by the available writs. A purchase of the appropriate writs for the dispute is made and the writ referred to the Justiciar(judge-delegate appointed by the king) who would approve the referral of the dispute to trial. Then after, the dispute is referred to a “petty assize” consisting of a jury of 12 men from the province of the dispute whose verdict settles the land dispute.
Due to the divide between the merchant class and aristocracy class, the merchant-classed jury began making decision in disfavor of the aristocracy class. In order to solve this issue of jury nullification (where the jury makes a decision contrary to prevailing laws), the Nobles tried to seize control by moving the decision from the jury into the hands of the judge.
The take-home question from the seminar is “Is Singapore really a common law jurisdiction?” In tackling this question, I suppose I first need to find out the characteristics of a “common law jurisdiction”. However, all the seminar by Professor Michael Dowdle does is tell me about the history of the formation of the common law. But all these information are really redundant in giving me a characterization of what a common law legal tradition is. If I should refer to Wikipedia, the main characteristic of the common law tradition is the great precedential weight to case law. This is a very straightforward characterization of the common law. It is almost too simple to just conclude that Singapore is thus a common law jurisdiction. I suppose I am missing out something.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Signs of Tourettes? ; On Divine Providence

I do not have any official diagnosis of Tourette Syndrome, but I think I do suffer from rather mild symptoms of it. I would find myself scrounging my face, or sticking out my tongue, or blurting out a particular phrase. These actions are sort of nervous tics, whereby I do not really have much control over the performance of such action. I am not sure whether these symptoms of Tourette have any association with my having Asperger's Syndrome, but I have read that they might be co-morbid. The nervous tics weren't so serious before though. I did not express such actions when I was in social settings. The symptoms somehow appropriately repress themselves when I am in a social situation. Moreover, these nervous tics are only occassional.

Recently though, the symptoms have aggravated somewhat. I find myself gasping. I also jerk my hands or twitch my neck. I find that these nervous tics express themselves even when I am in a social setting where people can see me. The expression of the nervous tics have become more serious in nature and of a more explicit nature. And I find myself uttering a phrase which I have not uttered before. I say "I hate God". It's a worrying symptom. The words come out of my mouth without my ability to control them. I suppose the stress that I put myself under during the school holidays when I decided to sign up for the AG cup moots wasn't too propitious to my constitution. I also suppose that I might be feeling certain animus towards God because of the tough time I am experiencing in schooling life, and such feelings express themselves in the Freudian slips from this aggravated nervous tics. I don't think this automatistic utterance truly represent my position though. I do struggle with my Christian Faith whenever I face problems, mishaps, or difficulties in life. But I do realize that my faith in God cannot premise simply on the ups and downs in my life. I would be considered too fair-weathered in my faith if I vacilliate in my faith in such a manner. I have taken a stand against prosperity gospel doctrines that only good things can happen to Christians. Still, I would like to believe that there is Divine Providence in my life, and that God would help me in school, foremost with my academics, and then with my social life which I find myself continually struggling with due to my condition of Asperger's Syndrome. But even if it should be the case that God would not help me to do well in school, I would like to place my trust in him and not worry so much about how my life would turn out. I truly want to believe that God will provide. I find much comfort from reading Matthew 6:25-32 where Jesus told his disciples not to be worried about food, drink and clothing because God the Father will provide all these, but I am still find myself doubting and am hence uneased with the difficulties that I am facing in law school. I am trying my best to get a hang of law school, but I don't want to be so utterly caught up with having to do well and being so anguished when I don't do well. I would like to have a perspective of things. I do pray to God for wisdom though, and I do hope he grants this to me. Of human intelligence and wisdom, who shall have these traits unless he or she be gifted with it in life, and who can give such traits except God. And now, I think I am lacking in such traits of intelligence and wisdom. Sometimes, I think to myself that I would just need to study hard to do well, but I think this thought folly. If I have the capabilities to do well, I must certainly acknowledge the capabilities that I have been endowed with and give thanks to God. There are people in life who are disabled to such a severe extent as to lack a functioning mental capacity, and there is no reason that I would not have been bornt or have suffered a fate such as them. I must therefore thank God for the abilities and capabilities that I find in my possession, for these are not to be taken for granted. And indeed, if I am lacking in such abilities or capabilities, would hard work alone solve my problems? Foremost, the ability to put in hard work is again a gift from God. But I know that hard work would not solve the problem when there is something truly lacking with one's capabilities, and I don't want to be disllusioned if I find myself not doing well despite putting in hard work. Hard work must be put into correct perspective with regards to doing well in school. I know of these properties called intelligence or wisdom which imbue in a human being the ability to achieve much good things in life for himself and for humanity. And God can endow it, just as he endowed King Solomon with it. I shall ask of God then for these things.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trying out the Milo Dinosaur; A property law laden interpretation of the Biblical Account of the fall of Man

While proceeding on my way to Khatib MRT to take the train to school today, I passed by a Muslim food store that had pictures of various interesting drinks on a panel affixed to the top of the store. One of the drink was the milo dinosaur, a milo drink that has a mound of milo powder on the top. I have heard that the this drink is a Singaporean invention. In December last year, I volunteered to be an exchange buddy to some Hong Kong law exchange students from Hong Kong University. We were having a casual conversation about what food and drinks are unique to our respective homelands. I told them that "milo dinosaur" is a drink that originated from Singapore. One of the exchange student replied, "But we have milo dinosaur in Hong Kong as well. There is this shop called Toast Box which sells this drink." "Ah", I eagerly replied, "Toast Box is a Singapore company".

I have never tried out the drink for myself though. I decided to try one today, and ordered the milo dinosaur from the Muslim Stall. Quite a tasty treat. Reminds me of my childhood days when I sometimes ate milo powders by themselves so as to enjoy the strong taste of the milo powder. Whoever came up with the idea for the drink probably know of the enjoyment of such similar experience.

I came across an interesting passage from the Kevin Gray's article Property in Thin Air featuring an interpretation on the nature of original sin. The interpretation expounded on the proposition propounded by Kevin Gray that the concept of property is not a thing that is concretised, but rather a power-relation between a resource and the person and is premised on the person's legal capacity to exclude access of the resource to other people. What Kevin Gray says is that Adam and Eve were guilty of original sin for wanting to appropriate resources into their individual possession that were not meant for such appropriation. I have excerpted the passage below.

'The value-laden mystique generated by appeals to "property" exerts a powerful and yet wholly spurious moral leverage. At the beginning of all taking was not a right but a wrong. The first takers were not, however, guilty of theft; they were guilty of believing the deception of the serpent. This deception consisted in the assumption that the fruit of every tree in the Garden is necessarily a fit subject of private taking; that there can be "property" in all of the goods of life; that human value in its totality is apprehensible through the private exercise of private domain. In the allegory of the Garden it is significant that the symbolic act of sin consisted of a usurpation of control over access to an especially desirable resource. When Eve seized and ate the fruit of the tree of wisdom - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - "and gave also unto her husband with her", her act was not of altruism but of beneficial control. It affirmed for ever the primal - the visceral - impulse of meum and tuum. Out of this act of arrogation was born the global pretence of comprehensively individualised rights of "property".' 

It is an interesting hypothesis to explain why the taking of the apple from the tree of wisdom should be the genesis of original sin. Professor Kevin Gray does give a very lucid description of his hypothesis. No doubt, I am sure his viewpoint is coloured from his expertise in property law. Thus, he sees property law in theology. I am sure the account of original sin is open to many interpretation, and intellectuals from various fields have their respective interesting interpretation of original sin. I am sure Jean-Paul Sartre, the great existentialist philosopher would have an intricately beautiful way of interpreting the theology of original sin. For me, I am rather satisfied with the simple answer that the basis of original sin premises simply on the disobedience of the first humans to God's instruction for them not to eat from the tree of wisdom.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kevin Gray's Concept of Property

I am currently reading Kevin Gray's article titled 'Property in Thin Air' regarding the question 'What is property'. Kevin Gray proposes that the criterion for defining property is 'excludability'. Using this criterion to measure 'propertiness' of a subject, a plaintiff may succeed in his claim that his property rights had been expropriated by another so far that the other person had affected his control of access of the property. In contrast, if the defendant's action had merely prejudiced the plaintiff's access to the resource but the plaintiff had not control over the access of the resource, then there is no "property" to which the plaintiff can assert has been infringed upon.

I asked myself the question after reading this passage featuring this proposition of 'excludability' - Should the criterion of excludability be used to demarcate the extent of a person's property right in a subject?

I suppose there is a certain 'normative' aspect into the inquiry 'What is property' since the High Court of Australia in Victoria Racing and Recreation Grounds Co Ltd v Taylor have foud themselves diverging in their decisions due to the different opinion upon the concept of property. The minority judges found a misappropriation of "property" in the sheer fact that the defendatns had diminished the plaintiff's access to the benefits of certain resources. By contrast, the majority found that there had been no taking of "property", precisely because the defendants' conduct could never in any event have deprived the plaintiff of control over access to thsoe resources.

I think that Kevin Gray is most likely correct in his proposition of the criterion of excludability to defining property. Let me take an analogy to demonstrate why I believe this is so. I may have access to use an unoccupied classroom around law school at NUS to study. If another person had occupied the classrom before me, my 'access to enjoy the classroom' has been prejudiced. However, this does not mean that the other person has prejudiced me of any property rights since I had no control over the access over the classroom such that I could exclude this other person from using the room.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On having faith in God in hardships and struggles

 Philippians 4:12-13 - I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living or in plenty. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I find myself most affected in my faith in God whenever I experience difficulties in my life. I begin to doubt whether God is a being who would help individuals in their respective lives on earth. I begin to think that I might be insignificant in the eyes of God such that my prayers to him would go completely unheeded. I sometimes find myself doubting even the existence of God.

Some of the difficulties that bog me down in life includes the difficulties I face in life due to Aspergers Syndrome and Tinnitus. However, I find that the sort of difficulties that affects me the most are problems that I experience regarding school life. When I find myself not excelling in my school work, I begin to lament against God for not giving me enough wisdom or intelligence to excel in my school work. I am sometimes obsessively angst about the possibility that I might have sustained brain injuries or damages that have caused me cognitive impairments such as to make it more difficult for me to excel academically. I once fought with my younger brother when I was in secondary 3. He had me on the ground by the lift lobby of the apartment floor, and pushed my head to the ground several times. I took several knocks to the head on the floor. It has become a somewhat reflexive response for me to become angst at the possibility that I sustain brain injuries from that incident whenever I find myself experiencing difficulty with school work. There are other instances which similarly cause me angst of the possibility of having sustained brain injuries, such as when I drank the can of beer my father bought that I found in the fridge when I was 10 years old as I was curious as to how it taste and the effects that it would give. I have been worried incessantly before that I might have suffered mental impairment from underage alcohol drinking, although this worry has since passed. Another instance which cause me angst is when I sustained whiplash effects when I was at the Escape Theme Park when I was 17 years old. I had finished the Go-Kart session, and had come to a stop at the holding area. The Go-Kart driver after me did not slow down when nearing the end, but drove continuously at a high speed and crashed the back of my Go-Kart. I experienced a mild giddy after the session from the whiplash I experienced, and am worried and angst of the possibility of brain damage from a whiplash effect.

Some of such instances which used to cause me angst in the past have since appear to me to be irrational or excessive. For example, I once feared that I sustained mercury poisoning after I accidentally broke a school laboratory thermometer during my physics practical exam in high school. I once had a fear that the electromagnetic radiation from the CRT monitors had some negative effect upon my brain. I do realize that I may be experiencing some form of obsessive compulsive disorder, such that I have found myself worrying about health-related conditions quite a lot throughout my life. I have read that this is called hypochondria, an irrational and excessive worry about health, and it is possible that I am a hypochondriac. A possible reason why my worries tend to revolve around brain injuries could be due to my desire to do well in intellectual matters, and my worry that any harm to my brain could make it more difficult for me to succeed in such respect.

I usually find my faith in God particularly affected whenever I don't do well in my academics. I usually trust in divine providence, even in matters of doing well academically, and when things do not turn out as well as I would like them, I begin to doubt the notion of divine providence. I begin to think that perhaps, there are certain things in life which I have to stake my success upon my efforts and capabilities. I begin to start becoming angst at the possibility of having sustained brain damage which would affect my capabilities to do well in school.

I think I shall have to count my blessings,  I had a near-fatal encounter when a speeding car missed me by an inch when I was 17 years old. It was in Malaysia, and my family had drove to the house of Aunt Meili to visit her. Her house was adjacent to a long stretch of road. My Dad had parked the car on the road shoulder. I was a little reckless in the way I got out of the car by not checking for oncoming cars on the road. I was momentarily paralyzed with fear when I saw the speeding car heading towards my direction, and missing me by virtually an inch. If I had moved out further onto the road, I might have been killed or severely injured. I was thanking God that evening for his protection of my life. I don't think I can ever take my life for granted, for I may very well be dead today. I shall have to have perspective of all the other concerns which worries me in life, such as academics and social life. To be able to live is something to be grateful about.

I have met people in my life who experience very real troubles and hardships, and who have remained firm in their faith in God. I have found inspiration in their lives on how to live. I don't think I experience as much or as severe a difficulty in life compared to them, yet I am so adversely affected in my faith over the comparatively small troubles I face. It shames me to realize how fragile my faith in God is.        

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Letters to a law student by Nicholas J McBride

During the school term break, I read a number of books on how to study for law. One which seem particularly helpful was this book titled Letters to a Law Student by Nicholas J McBride. It advises that one should adopt a question and answer approach to studying for law. I have excerpted the list of questions that were featured in the book as being standard or example questions that should or could be asked when approaching various law materials.

General approach

Particular subject
·         What is this subject about?
·         Why is it important to know about it?

Particular area of law
·         Why does this are of law exist?
·         Who is affected by this are of law?
·         How are they affected?
·         Who benefits from this area of law?
·         How do they benefit?
·         Where does this area of law come from- the legislature? The judges? Or a mixture of both?
·         What effect has that had on this area of law?
·         Are there any basic principles or ideas that underlie this area of law?
·         Could this area of the law be profitable reformed?

Particular legal rule
·         Is this rule actually part of English/Singapore law?
·         How does this rule apply in practice
·         Are there any exceptions to it?
·         Is it inconsistent with any other rules?


Example questions to ask for a chapter from a constitutional law textbook on the ‘rule of law’
·         What is the rule of law?
·         Why is it important?
·         What do people think is required by the rule of law?
·         Why do people disagree about this?
·         Are there any ‘core’ elements of the rule of law that everyone can agree are part of the rule of law?
·         What elements of the UK constitution can be said to be consistent with/inconsistent with the rule of law?

Example questions to ask from a tort law textbook on liability for omissions
·         What is an omission?
·         What is the general rule governing liability for omissions?
·         What are the exceptions to this rule?
·         What values underlie this area of the law?
·         Should this area of the law be reformed?


·         What were the facts of this case?
·         What was the result?
·         Why was the case decided the way it was?
·         Rule-based
·         Principle-based
·         Policy-based
·         Fairness/justice
·         opaque
·         Does the case contain any interesting dicta?
·         How the law should be reformed
·         Why the law should not be reformed in a certain way
·         How the law might develop in the future
·         What the law might say in certain hypothetical situations that might become the focus of a case (or a problem question in an exam) in the future
·         Limits on the rule or principle on which the judges are basing their decision in this case
·         How another case with slightly different facts from the one at hand might have been decided
·         Useful/interesting criticisms/ justifications of the law as it stands at the moment.
·         What principles underlie the law
·         Why the law has developed in the way it has
·         Why the decision in a particular case that was decided in the past was fundamentally flawed with the result that the case should be ignored
·         Why a particular case that was decided in the past is extremely important
·         Was the case decided correctly?
·         Are there any flaws in the judges’ reasons for their decision, or arguments they simply failed to consider?
·         Is their decision, and their reasons for that decision, consistent with other judgments I’ve read?
·         Does the decision in the case, or the judges’ reasons for that decision, start us down the slippery slope to some disastrous destination?
·         Do the judges’ reasons for their decision make the law unacceptable uncertain?

Remembering cases
·         Politics
·         Libertarianism
·         Utilitarianism
·         Liberalism (right wing)
·         Liberalism(left wing)
·         Pergectionism
·         Communitarianism
·         Principle/policy
·         Line of descent
·         Form/substance


·         Why was this section enacted?
·         How does this section apply in concrete situations?
·         Why does this section o as far as it does?
·         Why doesn’t this section go further than it does?
·         Is this section in need of reform?


First run-through
·         What is this article basically saying?
·         What arguments are being made in favour of the article’s basic point?
·         What are the arguments against the article’s basic point, and how does the author dismiss them?
·         What do I think of the author’s arguments?

Second run-through
·         (good) accounts of what happened in the case and how it was decided
·         Explanations why the case was decided the way it was
·         Criticisms of the decision in that case, or the way it was decided

Lesson 1 by Prof Thio on the book of Daniel

I attended a talk given by the constitutional law professor, Thio Li Ann, on the bible book of Daniel this afternoon.As usual, her erudition was palpable and spanned the gamut of biblical history to biblical eschatology. Her interpretation on how the biblical eschatology account is being fulfilled in the world today was most insightful.

It was interesting to learn that the a few biblical characters mentioned in the different books in the bible were contemporaries. The prophet Ezekiel, who prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, was living at the same time of Daniel. The prophet Jeremiah would have been an elder among the Jewish community and known to both Daniel and Ezekiel.  Jeremiah prophesied of the subsequent conquering of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and that Israel would come under foreign rule for 70 years before being allowed to return to rebuild their homeland by the Medo-Persian King, Cyrus. This knowledge of being in foreign exile would be understood by both Daniel and Ezekiel. Daniel, who saw the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy when Israel was conquered by the Babylonians would thus be in knowledge that he would be spending much of his lifetime under foreign rule.

Israel's subjugation to foreign rule has been the result of its disobedience to God. The covenant made with Jacob that if his descendents would keep to his commands, they would last as a nation had thus been broken. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was used by God to exact punishment on the Israel, but God promised that Israel would be delivered from foreign rule after 70 years (Jeremiah 25:8-12).

Underlying the entire scheme of events of changing foreign powers that dominate the region is the understanding that God is in control. He determined the existence and destruction of nation states (Acts 17:26). Israel's existence as a nation state in the world of today is testament of the control that God has over global affairs. Moreover, God can use what seems to be rather unfortunate events to work out the good of his plans. Sometimes, God use foreign subjugation as a means to spread his influence. Professor Thio posited that Israel's conquering by Babylon allowed Daniel to make an influence on the system of governance in Babylon. When Daniel was instated as an administrator during the rule of King Darius, he effected a Federalist model of governance where 120 satraps were instituted over the principalities of the Medo-Persian empire (Daniel 6:1). This decentralization of power created a model of governance that reduced the possibility of tyrannical rule. Another biblical account where God used foreign subjugation for to effect his purpose is Joseph's exile to Egypt, during which time he rose to an influential position and helped the Israel community during the famine by his ability to interpret the dreams of the Pharoah of Egypt.

I have heard many different interpretations of Daniel chapter 2 on what the decreasing value in the material that is used to form the head, chest, legs, and feet of the statue that was in King Nebuchadnezzar's dream could signify eschatologically. I suppose it isn't surprising that an interpretation from a constitutional law professor would feature system of governance as the signified property by the decreasing value of the material. The form of governance from the Babylonians to the Romans feature an increasing decentralization in the system of governance. Babylon was a dictatorship. Medo-Persia was the beginning of a constitutional state where the king himself was placed under the rule of law. Greece was made up of many city states with their individual kings, such as those featured in the accounts of Athens and Sparta in Homer's Iliad. And the Roman empire was a system of congress and senate which provided a system of checks and balance, with the occasional vitiation with dictatorship. The modern day democracy is a continuation of this decentralization of power in forms of government.

It was enlightening hearing from Professor Thio Li Ann about the state of morality in today's times. She talked about how the prevalent anti-christian theme stemmed from the ideology of humanism. Doctrines of egalitarianism, when taking beyond its proper bounds, become the pulpit for advancing social agendas antithetical to Christian morality, such as same-sex marriage. Evidence of this includes the state of affairs of America and Europe, and how the United Nation has been an instrument in propagating homosexual agendas under the pretext of international human rights. The doctrine of human rights provides a veil to disguise such positions as being good, whilst construing those positions antithetical to it such as Christianity as being bad. It was as lamented by the Prophet Isaiah that there are those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). I am not very well-knowledged about the state of affairs in today's world, and I think that I am rather apathetic. I am always sanguine and optimistic in my observation of affairs, thinking that the state of things in today's world is better than ever. Perhaps part of the reason for my perception stems from my narrow scope of observation based on my daily life experience in Singapore. I think I felt somewhat of an ignoramus when I quite thoughtlessly told a friend of mine who was at the lesson that I actually felt that the state of the world has never been better. I think I must refrain from my anti-intellectualism by making off-the-cuff remarks based on impulse. It doesn't reflect well on me.

There were plenty of other things mentioned at the talk, some of which I have forgotten due to my poor memory and inability to take notes. But let me end off with a practical instruction provided by Professor Thio for Christians. We are asked to act as salt and light for the world. In Singapore, we think of salt as adding flavour, but in biblical times, the function of salt was to preserve food to slow down its decay. In the same way, we are asked to act in a way to slow the process of degeneration.               

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

First a human being, then a lawyer

In the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer which I watched a week ago, the character Bruce Panadolfini (played by Bens Kingsley) who was coach to the young Josh Waitzkin advised the boy that to succeed in the world of chess, he needs to desire to win more than anything else in the world, even to the point of obsession. One advice he gave was to be in contempt of one's opponents, and to hate him as to want to destroy his ego. The young Josh Waitzkin chose not to define the game of chess in such a manner. Instead he saw the game of chess for what it is - a game. He didn't want to be like Bobby Fischer, the eccentric former world chess champion whose chess obsession turned him somewhat into a misanthrope. Josh saw himself and his opponent, top seed player Jonathan Poe, as human beings worthy of respect. In the end, Josh won the chess junior's championship under his own perogative to perceive the game of chess in the humane way that it should be.

Every human being find himself engaged in a pursuit in during his life. For some, the entire experience of the pursuits which they find themselves in come to characterize the entirety of their human experience. Sometimes, it is worth stopping to reflect about what it means to be human, and to see these pursuits for what they are. Like a game of chess, a pursuit does not define who one is. A pursuit is simply part of one's life, and does not encompass the entirety of one's existence.

I had spent the years prior to law school as an admin in the army, during which time I had much time to engage in learnings of all kinds. I applied my mind to reading widely and to attempting to understand all that there is to reality. It was a time of relative intellectual freedom in my life, where I was at liberty to explore various fields of discipline at my own perogative. I would say that this period in my life gave me perspective about life, to see the role of knowledge and learning in relation to an individual human being. During my younger days, the pursuit of learning or studying was done with the end in mind of scoring well for the examinations. Every discipline of study, from the sciences to the arts, were all done with a result-oriented aim. A possible reason for such a narrow perspective towards studies is the success-oriented ideology that I had acquired during my younger days. Perhaps the Chinese-culture primary school which I had been in had inculcated into my mentality the notion that studying hard is a fundamental virtue in life. I was also introduced to and found myself later intrigued and somewhat obsessed with popular self-help books such as the likes of Adam Khoo's 'I am gifted, so are you' which characterized studies in a result-oriented manner of scoring As for exams.

I would think it a regress in my mental maturity if I should ever slip back to the constraint perspective I had about studying and learning in my younger days. I think it artificial to treat my studies in law simply in a result-oriented fashion with the sole aim of scoring As for exams. The study of law is more about scoring As; It is about understanding how society work, and wanting to play a part in the faciliatation of this institution known as the judiciary which plays a part in the optimal functioning of society.

Life is more than a series of test. I think I must certainly not be too engrossed in my law studies as to constraint my perception of reality as to think the understanding of law all-encompassing of human consciousness. Society requires men and women in vocations of all types in order for its optimal functioning, and not all are employed into the understanding of the discourse of law. I think it somewhat unhealthy for the law faculty to be isolated at the Botanic Gardens from the other faculties at Kent Ridge. The parochial culture might just delude one into thinking that law is simply all there is relevant to the functioning of society.  On some occassions, when I am with friends who are not in the study of law, I ask them whether they know anything about how the law works so as to prod myself to be in awareness of reality. When they express ignorance at even the most basic concept of what a justice system is, it affirms my sense of realism and invigorates me from my dulled perspective of the study of law. I am able to internalize within myself a sense of reality, and see that the role of lawyer, just like any other role of humans from different walks of life in society, is simply a form of existence. It does not constitute all of human existence. It is simply, like the game of chess, a pursuit to which one applies himself or herself to.

And thus, for the fact that I find myself having chose this domain of pursuit, I must apply my mind earnestly to the acquisition of knowledge about how the law works and learn the trades and crafts of being a lawyer. But I think I shall have to desist from desiring to have this discourse of study characterize the entire of my existence. As the existentialists in the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre would posit, human existence precedes its essence, and I foremost exists as a human, and then a lawyer.

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