Monday, November 28, 2005

Art: 3 Perspectives

Abstract Art: A product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered.
- Albert Camus


Acting is a question of absorbing other people's personalities and adding some of your own experience...[it] is a happy agony.
- Jean-Paul Sartre


Art can teach without at all ceasing to be art.
- Clive Staples Lewis


Any idea what's Christian view on Art?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mr. C

I gotta blog this.

It is about a person, Mr.C, who came over to our company to give a morning sermon to the staffs. The agony is that his main points in the sermon went along with Tertulian's "the blood of the matyrs is the seed of the church"... but he sounded nothing like Tertulian.

He began his rhetorical sermon with the story of Ezekiel's sufferings. He gave a brief survey of that book before his attempt for today's application. His description of Ezekiel's sufferings was vivid and his passion for today's church was as intense as he sounded it. He even shared some of his so-called past suffering moments with us to encourage us (but that looks more like a desperate attempt than a passionate encouragement).

Before he closed, his passion towards the churches in China was being expressed again in his rhetoric. He looked to us and said that, "with such rapid expansion, China churches need young people like you guys to go there and teach them sound theology." (i was wondering why does this guy who has so much passion towards the church still did nothing). It seems that he knew what i was wondering, he, then, said autonomously that his low level of mandarin literacy prevented him from engaging the Chinese churches.

I do felt for the China churches but i retain my skepticism towards this Mr. C.

Just as soon as he finished, our executive director, Victor, who obviously being encouraged by his sharing, turned to him and told him about an american missionary whom came to our office yesterday,"Mr.C, yesterday we met an american pastor who went to Taiwan to studied Hokkien language for 1 and a 1/2 years when he was 55 years old, and came back here (Singapore) to start a Hokkien ministry. That pastor is 70++ now." I believed Victor did so to encourage Mr. C to work towards his passion for the Chinese churches.

So, with all enthusiasism, i turned to Mr.C to see his response. He grined, "well, i have already suffered enough, it is time for me to retired from all these." (i don think he is more than 60 of age). By the way, just a few minutes ago, he was telling us how much he loves 'bloody Christianity'. By bloody, he meant the suffering churches/ Christians. He told us that he admired a Burmese who was imprisioned during war times. This Burmese translated the english bible into his country's language during his imprisonment. Besides that, Mr. C also told us that he prefer the King James Version rather than the New International Version because the former is 'bloodier' (which i beg to differ). In his rhetoric, Christianity has to be bloody so that churches can expand, Christians can grow. With all that being said, i was surprised to get that kind of respond from him...

"..i have suffered enough, it is time for me to retire..."

In another way, he was saying, "I dont want to get 'bloody'". What does that makes? If he believes that the church would grow better with Christians getting bloody, and when he doesnt want to get bloody, then it really means that he doesn't want the church to grow!!!!

At that moment, my respect for Mr. C gone all the way down to none save in the fact that he is still an Imago Dei (made in the God's image). Compare Mr. C's passion towards the Chinese churches with Ps. Stephen Tong, aged 65, who travels to 4 different countries in Asia every week to preach to the Chinese churches, in spite of occasional heart operations. Whenever Ps. Tong was asked the reason why wouldn't he be a retired pastor who just take up the responsibility of pastoring a local church, he asnwered, "because i view my service as not to the churches but to the kingdom of God. And with all the blessings and talents from God, i will be guilty of not using them for the kingdom if i reserve myself to retiree comforts."

I dont mean that i am righteous than Mr.C; we are all sinners who are going to hell if not by God's mercy, but my point is that the manner Mr. C used in his service to God must not be in the practice of any servants of the kingdom.
Mr. C, u are in my prayers.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

C.S Lewis Just Told Me:

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up save in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable... Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained."


Thanks, Mr. Lewis, your insights are always encouraging and illuminating. No one can do it better than you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Knowledge from Head to Heart

It has always been said that Christian should not maintain their knowledge in the head but not at the heart. Since my pilgrimage as a Christian started 6 years ago, this truth is very much in my wanting because of my desire to experience the wholeness of Christian joy. Whenever I pick up some new insights that advocate the truthfulness of Christianity, this newly found knowledge does established gradually of my own standpoint in view of my faith. The existence of God and the historicity of Jesus Christ become undeniable reasonably to me, it marks a chapter in my life that worth celebrating. To my own unawareness at that moment, the truthfulness of my faith has gone beyond the shadow of doubt. But why am I still having the difficulty to fully and perfectly demonstrate a parallel between this knowledge that is in my head and the conviction that is in my heart? Is not this is what I want: to really know what I am believing and to base my life on this belief system?

After a lot of contemplation, introspection and discussion with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, it has dawn on me that there seems to be a “missing link” between my head and my heart. Even though I have heard of many sermons from different pulpits concerning the issue of linking the head and the heart, but there is never one that could really defines what does it mean to transform the head knowledge to the heart with satisfactory precision. Or even if someone presented it to me, but due to my forgetfulness (or should I say “willingful forgetfulness”) that that part of the message failed to store in my head, needless to say, the heart. All along I have imprisoned myself in the secured room up in the ivory tower. Religion was to me a matter of propositions. Never, it occurs to me that faith is to be live out and live up. I always thought that as long as I got the things in its place up there in the tower, I am safe.

Because of this schism between the head and heart, backslides and depressions are always an unwelcome visitor. Times and times, I tried to live out a life that was contradictory to my belief. There was even once, I felt the overwhelming pain resulted from the amputation of my head from my heart. I remembered that time; it was 2 am in the morning when headache and heartache occurred simultaneously in me. The inner parts of my mind and soul felt that great separation and immediately broke down accordingly. In desperation, I prayed and prayed, seeking for relief more than forgiveness. If there ever was an hour of pure darkness, it was that moment. If ever I could draw a personal experience of a taste of hell, it was that moment.

But despite being overarching by those dark emotional and mental tortures, somewhere at the edge of my mind, there was Christ. Though He was as tiny as though the light of a candle in an enormous darkened room, His radiance of hope drew me over. From prayers for relief, I turned to prayers for forgiveness. Although those pains were still there but they were not as prevailing as before. Grasping the knowledge of the gospel in my head like a drowning man’s grasp to the rescuer’s hand, I submit myself, my body, my heart to that promised Hope. And for the first time after a long time, I experienced the authentic submission of the head, the heart; my whole, to my Lord Jesus Christ. Though I was not sure what it means to transform the head knowledge to the heart yet, somehow, there is an insight of what heart knowledge is about.

Months later, despite a lot of failings and failings, none of those were as horrible as that night’s 2 am. And reading commentary by D.A Carson on 2 Peter gave me obvious hints of the real meaning of transforming knowledge from the head to the heart. After further contemplations and talks with friends (especially Naomi) the clarity of heart knowledge floated up; just like a bubble that floats from the bottom to the surface of the water and pops. When the truth of heart knowledge flows through my life I came to realization that, after all, it is not something that is incredibly profound. Heart knowledge is merely the consistent manifestation of our head knowledge in our lives. A person with a lot of knowledge and convictions on a certain belief (say, Christianity), one still has it as a form of head knowledge until that knowledge is manifest through and through out that person’s life. This manifestation is our Heart knowledge.


His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:3-11

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Alister McGrath Challenges Darwinist Richard Dawkins

An excerpt from an interview with Alister McGrath on his recent polemical book, Dawkins' God, on Richard Dawkins' Darwinism:

Do you expect or anticipate a book-length response from Dawkins?

No, I don’t. What I do hope for is a public debate in which he and I can dialogue with each other. I don’t necessarily mean a point-scoring debate. Neither one of us is trying to wrestle the other one to the ground. I do think that because the issues are so important, there is a genuine case for a public dialogue with an audience able to listen to us exchange views and then critique both of us. I think that’s extremely important.

Dawkins is Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. And I would argue he’s, therefore, under a professional responsibility to engage in precisely this type of dialogue because after all, what we’re talking about here is an issue of the public interpretation of science. I think here to misrepresent is a very serious thing, and I think it’s fair for him to be able to defend himself in public against that. And I’m very happy to have that debate any time he wants to. But at the moment I fear the initiative is with me, and I’m not getting a favorable response.



What do you mean you’re not getting a favorable response? Do you mean from Dawkins himself or from others who are his followers?

I am ready to have a public discussion with Richard Dawkins at any time and place he chooses. He knows that.


He refused?

Yes.

...

If you had a message for Dawkins that I could help you convey, what would that be?

Let’s talk in public.


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Looks like the table has been turn around. In the late 19th & 20th century, Darwinists challenged Christianity's claims; and now it's the other way around.

Here is the full interview.

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Richard Dawkins, the current Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He was voted by 'Prospect' magazine as the most important public intellectual in Britain.


Alister McGrath, director of the Oxford Centre for Evangelism and Apologetics and professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University.