Friday, August 29, 2008

Rowan Williams on 'Critical Theology'

Nowadays often I ponder over a sub-enterprise of theology reckoned by Williams as 'Critical Theology'. According to him, this strand of theology is different from 'Celebratory Theology' and 'Communicative Theology'.

The former is epitomized in sermons and psalms and hymns, while the latter in apologetic and, to some extend, systematic theology. As for 'Critical Theology', it discusses uncomforting, disturbing, and, to some degree, radical questions on theology. Hence radical or very liberal theologies are usually stemmed from such discussion. And often the participants in such enterprise ended up being agnostic or too radical that their end products became unrecognizable as Christian theology (for eg. from popular writer like John Shelby Spong to critical theologians like Don Cupitt; probably Rudolph Bultmann too).

Yet Williams' comment on the nature of such discussion shows that he went the other side of the debate,

"...it may move towards a rediscovery of the celebratory by hinting at the gratuitous mysteriousness of what theology deals with, the sense of a language trying unsuccessfully to keep up with a datum that is in excess of any foresight, any imagined comprehensive structure. And the cycle begins again."

(As quoted by Rupert Shortt in Rowan Williams: An Introduction, p.7)

Emphatically Williams phrased it well some of the thoughts that I have but unable to articulate. Simply marvelous.

Polluting Environment is Sinful

The Archbishop of Constantinople recently has been very direct while commenting on environmental issues,

"The collaboration of science and religion at these Symposia organized in different regions of the planet, seeks to contribute to the development of an environmental ethic, which must underline that the use of the world and the enjoyment of material goods must be Eucharistic, accompanied by doxology toward God; by the same token, the abuse of the world and participation therein without reference to God is sinful both before the Creator and before humanity as creation."

(Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Day of the Protection of the Environment. Emphasis mine)

Can local church leaders be as direct and truthful as him? We can start by using eco-friendly cups and plates instead of disposable Styrofoam and plastics ones. If not, the churches are ridiculously sinning on Sunday, especially during fellowship time where church goers eat and drink before and after services!

God's Gift as His Judgment

The blood of Abel cries from the ground; but God, having heard the cry, protects Cain from it. The vengeance demanded by Abel's murder would put an early end to the human race. How could the universe concede to Abel's reproach, except by dying? The author of the Epistle of the Hebrews commented, "Abel, being dead, yet speaks" (Heb 11.4): his cry for vengeance is never silenced, satisfaction never having been given, for only God's decisive judgment against the world could set that cry to rest. But God will not give him judgment... he has given it, though in a manner quite different from what was demanded: "the sprinkled blood of Jesus speaks more loudly than the blood of Abel" (Heb 12.24)

(Oliver O'Donovan, The Ways of Judgment, p.26. Emphasis original.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Upcoming Theological Happenings

I've created a column for upcoming events at the sidebar. There will be listing of lectures or forums or talks or gatherings which I deem theologically interesting.

If there are any events that you think I shouldn't miss, pls let me know :)

Lectures: Harold Netland

Religions and Cultures in a Globalizing World
7.30 pm - 9.30 pm
2 October 2008 (Thursday)


Globalization and Religious Pluralism
7.30 pm - 9.30 pm
3 October 2008 (Friday)


Toward an Evangelical Theology of Religions
9 am - 12 noon
4 October 2008 (Saturday)


Dr Netland will deliver three public lectures at Singapore Bible College, Worship Hall, Block 7.

Local and regional scholars such as Dr Natee Tanchanpongs from Bangkok Bible Seminary, Dr Terry Larm from Baptist Theological Seminary, Singapore, Dr Bernard Low from SBC, and Dr Ng Kam Weng from Kairos Research Centre, Malaysia, have been invited as a panel to dialogue with the speaker on his subject.

Harold A. Netland is professor of philosophy of religion and intercultural studies and the Naomi A. Fausch chair of missions at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Dr. Netland received the Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies and history from Biola College, and then earned the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School, where he studied under Professor John Hick. He has done postdoctorate work at the International Christian University (Tokyo), where he studied Japanese language and culture, and at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he studied theology and missions. Dr. Netland's areas of expertise include religious pluralism, epistemology of religion, apologetics, and missions in East Asia.

Dr. Netland's published works include Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism and the Question of Truth, Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith and Mission, and Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity (coedited with Craig Ott, 2006), as well as numerous articles in such journals as Religious Studies, Faith and Philosophy, and Missiology. He also coedited Christianity and the Religions (William Carey Library, 1996).

Stephen Tong Rally 2008


"Who Is Jesus?"

11 - 14 September 2008

Singapore Indoor Stadium
7pm

Language: Mandarin with English Translation
Is there a fundamental conflict between those who base politics on revelation and those who base politics on reason alone?

"I haven't met all that many people who base politics on reason alone. Even if they think they do, they're very often taking for granted a good many hidden moral and even spiritual assumptions. Reason alone is often identified with managing a variety of people's self-interests and that gets you so far, it doesn't get you to the point where politics turns into something a little bit bigger than just the calculation of self-interest, when it understands something about obligation outside the immediate, when politicians act for the sake of the poor elsewhere or for the sake of the environment generations on, or whatever. I don't think that's covered just by classical accounts of self-interest, and in that sense I don't think it's just about reason; there's something about vision and moral energy in there somewhere. So I'm not sure I'd accept an absolute difference between revelation and reason in that connection."

(Rowan Williams, Faith & Politics Q&A. Emphasis his.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Najib's Lie

The sinking deputy PM Najib said,

"This is [Anwar's] political base and the results reflected that there was no manipulation involved." (emphasis mine)

Is this malfunction incompetent donkey really ignorant or really expect Malaysians to believe him, or both? Without manipulations (phantom voters, Mat Rempit, racism provocation, tampering of voter list, many others), there probably be more than 20,000 votes for Anwar, and much much less for Arif Shah.

15,671

That's the margin of Anwar's win (with 31195 votes) over the BN's candidate (with 15524).

And that figure is not unaffected by all the dirty means used by the government to garner votes for themselves (phantom voters, Mat Rempit, racism provocation, tampering of voter list).

If a government has to put up with such resorts to score in election, we all know that its end is here.

Abdullah Badawi can start wiping his chair to ensure that it is in 'clean' (something that Malaysians doubt he knows) condition when Anwar sits in.

"In the light of Christ's ascension it is no longer possible to think of political authority as sovereign; but neither is it possible to regard them as mere exhibitions of pride and lust for power."
(Oliver O'Donovan, The Act of Judgment, p.5)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tan Kim Huat at Jesuit Centre on Homosexuality

(From left to right: The Roman Catholic lawyer, (the Jesuit) Paul Goh, the moderator, (the Protestant) Tan Kim Huat)

The Center for Ignatian Spirituality and Counseling in Singapore invited Tan Kim Huat, the dean of Trinity Theological College, to present on the topic 'The Bible and Homosexuality' last night. Together with him were two other Roman Catholic panelists: Paul Goh (a Jesuit) and a lawyer (forgot his name).

All 3 speakers present their studies from their own respective area. Kim Huat gave us the insights of the biblical authors towards homosexuality, the lawyer talked about Singapore's legal issue on Penal Code 377 and 377 (a), and Paul Goh illuminated us with the complexity surrounding sexual orientation. All their topics are interesting, yet nonetheless in term of presentation skills, Kim Huat stood out among them.

His presentation filled with rigor and straight to the point. He walked the audiences all the way from Genesis to 1 Corinthians, with an emphasis on Romans 1. At the end of it, he also gave us some pastoral insights towards the issue. And all these was done in about 30-40 minutes.

The whole session was great but I was disappointed with the Jesuit. Although his points are insightful (for eg. the many complex factors involved in individuals' sexual orientation), he talked very slowly, as if his session was a pastoral-counseling session. But it's not. Another reason the boredom was intensified partly due to Kim Huat's previous vigorous talk.

During the Q&A, YK didn't hesitate to raise the question on various approaches to homosexuality, for eg. gay-friendly churches. Kim Huat wisely said that he does not agree with the idea of setting up a homosexual church just as he does not agree with the setting up of a heterosexual church. Although churches should continue to have dialog on this issue, yet any Christian churches should go beyond this issue instead of getting stuck at sexuality. He even quoted Rowan Williams' "(Kim Huat's words) powerful statement", "Church must be a safe place for gay and lesbian people".

After the session, I told Kim Huat that Christian Post's editorial recently published a write-up that denigrates Rowan Williams:

He should not keep silent when the conservatives speak up against injustices done against the communion of saints; he should speak even more passionately than them... Otherwise it would not be befitting for him to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has the position of being the first among equals. More terrifying than the gross blasphemies that are being perpetrated in the North American continent are the gross blasphemies of the one who has the responsibility and authority to turn back the flock but who relinquishes it.

Kim Huat was surprised. When I saw the post, I was surprised too. Obviously Christian Post's editorial does not understand what is Rowan Williams' position and what is he going through and why is he going through what he is going through.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is Wife Hiring Her Husband For Sex Biblical?

During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes."

But she said to her, "Wasn't it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son's mandrakes too?"

"Very well," Rachel said, "he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son's mandrakes."

So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. "You must sleep with me," she said. "I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." So he slept with her that night. (Genesis 30.14-16)

Gordon Wenham commented that this story is an “eye-opener” because it shows “how Jacob is favoring Rachel over Leah, that she is prepared for just one night to give away her mandrakes” on one hand, and “it also shows how desperate Rachel is for children” on the other hand, since mandrakes were superstitiously being regarded as some womb-opening medicine in that time. (Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 16-50, Word Biblical Commentary series, vol. 2, 1994)

Don't know whether is it biblical to hire your husband for sex, but it doesn't seem to be a problem only if you have more than one wife. Hence the issue is not really on hiring him for pleasure but can he has more than one wife? If yes, then only we ask, "Does that mean it is OK to hire him for sex?"

While reading the passage above, I wonder: If Jacob was nearer to Adam and Eve than Moses chronologically, wouldn't he be more alert to the fact that God has ordained marriage to be a life long covenant between one man and one woman? He would had stop at Leah although he was tricked into marrying her since he knew better.

hmmm... Monogamy is not that strict after all?

Besides, if Cain is the first architect and civil engineer because he built the world's first city (Genesis 4.17) as some have alleged, could Rachel be the first who started the sex trade? If so, then Jacob is the world's first prostitute. If so, then the world first prostitute is a man!

That'll make Lot the world first rape victim (Genesis 19.30-34). And that means the world first rape victim is also a man!

It could be that the trade first started by hiring your own spouses for sex in the ancient times. Then later on, the trade evolved into our current prostitution. Interesting.

But the most interesting is that:

1) How could hiring of husband for sex be in practice if it was a patriarchal society back then?
2) Or the wives actually have the say in sexual issues even if it was a patriarchal society?
3) Or is it because it was so patriarchal, the wives have no whatsoever conjugal rights and hence resort to paying their husband for sex?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Graceworks

Yesterday Soo Inn handed to me the latest pamphlet of Graceworks ministry. What is written there is particularly familiar given my previous participation with their activities. Yet there is one peculiar yet sympathetic point which I think need to be highlighted. That is one of the 'primary values' of the ministry:

Biblical authority. We believe that the Bible, properly interpreted, is our final authority in what we believe and what we do.

Notice the "properly interpreted" in the middle of the statement?

This is peculiar because it surprises me!

Graceworks ministry although is not an outright scholarly organization in the sense of being out-and-out academic, yet it is aware of the critical facet of theological scholarship. And this is a very very seldom yet very very critical notion which failed to be emphasized among supposedly more scholarly inclined institutions. Check out some of these institutions' statement,

The divine inspiration and entire trustworthiness of Holy Scripture, as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct.

or,

We believe in the divine, verbal and plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility and, as the Word of God, their supreme and final authority in faith and life
or,

The sixty-six canonical books of the Bible are given by the inspiration of God and together comprise the only inerrant and infallible authority for faith and practice.

These statements affirm the the fundamental place of Bible/Scripture in their ministry yet neglect to mention the essential process of 'properly interpreting' it. And don't tell me that's presumed in those statements. I've met too many funny people, like some fundamentalists and Mormons, that show me otherwise.

Hence if you are a Hokkien and if you saw what I saw in the pamphlet, you'll murmur "boh kann tann" (Singaporean equivalent: "Don't play play". English: This is critical stuff).

OK, enough commenting on their primary values. Graceworks went dot com. The website is up and running. They are "committed to the promotion of spiritual friendship in church and society". "Huh, promotion of spiritual what?" The link is the picture below, among other hyperlinks above. Find out:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Christians and Transexuality

(Nong Poy is Miss Tiffany 2004. She went for sex change to be who she is now when she was 17.)

Roland Chia, the recently appointed Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College, has written on Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS). In the past few months, I was reading and contemplating over homosexuality and I think it's time to move on to this other unfamilar ground: Transexuality.

I'm hesitant to concede Roland's position as I was before on another issue, yet I think overall he gave a very good short-hand describing the issue which could serves as a starting point to get the conversation going.

"GRS is not an option for transsexual Christians seeking therapy because it transgresses the divine creational ideal for human sexuality and sexual relationships. The Bible appears to favour the view that human sexual identity is determined biologically.

The Christian community should never agree that transsexual operations be allowable for Christians. But it should at the same time be willing to support the Christian transsexual who is willing to work patiently through the issue."

Thought about transexuality before? This is very real not only in the church but also in the society. One of my cousin is a self-professed tom-boy since young.

So, what's your thoughts?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Do you believe in ultimate truth?

The answer is yes. I don't believe that the world is simply the construct of what we choose. I don't believe that the world is a kind of minimal agreement about what we can just about manage together. I believe the world, because it comes from the hand of an absolutely real God, the world is thus and not otherwise, and that education therefore is always education in reality in knowing how to relate to a truth, a reality, a life which doesn't change as we do. And it's precisely because I do believe in ultimate truth that I'm wary of premature attempts to say 'and we've now got it', because of its solidity and infinity, it's glory, we have to be very cautious about supposing that we have it now wrapped up, though we can believe it draws us and compels us and has authority over us.

(Rowan Williams, 'Faith, Reason and Quality Assurance - Having Faith in Academic Life' Questions & Answers Session. Emphasis mine.)

Yesterday, over dinner, a fellow Christian intelligentsia screwed me for being inconsistent and having no coherent 'epistemological foundation'. And guess what... he told me that he came to that conclusion through presuppositional apologetic.

He said that I'm incoherent because I'm different from him. He asserts that our difference is the differences of our epistemological foundation: his worldview and epistemological foundation is "grounded on the Bible". *gasp*

How would you react if you are me?

For a while, I thought I was talking to a Protestant Descartes. Or perhaps Caiaphas.

At such case, I just couldn't care to explain critical realism, postfoundationalism, or even Frame-Poythress' perspectivalism. My grilled fish and fries taste best when they're still warm.

Could Esau Be.....

"The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau."
- Genesis 25.25





Hellboy???

Friday, August 15, 2008

Qualifying Contradition


Although [the Essenes] reject oaths, they swear an oath upon entering the community! Moreover, they are allowed to take an oath in a judicial court... what to us may be a contradiction might not have been so for first-century Jews...
(Tan Kim Huat, The Zion Traditions and the Aims of Jesus, p.85, n.21)

Interesting? Though it is common sense that the logical law of non-contradiction applies very explicitly in many matters to everyone, yet this law has qualification nonetheless.

Many accuse the canonical gospels for having 'contradictions'. But this might not be so to their first readers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stop & Stare

This town is colder now, I think it's sick of us
It's time to make our move, I'm shakin off the rust
I've got my heart set on anywhere but here
I'm staring down myself, counting up the years
Steady hands, just take the wheel...
And every glance is killing me
Time to make one last appeal... for the life I lead






Stop and stare
I think I'm moving but I go nowhere
Yeah I know that everyone gets scared
But I've become what I can't be...

Stop and stare
You start to wonder why you're 'here' not there
And you'd give anything to get what's fair
But fair ain't what you really need
Oh, can u see what I see



They're tryin to come back, all my senses push
Un-tie the weight bags, I never thought I could...
Steady feet, don't fail me now
Gonna run till you can't walk
But something pulls my focus out
And I'm standing down...







Stop and stare
You start to wonder why you're here not there
And you'd give anything to get what's fair
But fair ain't what you really need
Oh, you don't need...





(Lyrics of 'Stop and Stare' by OneRepublic)


A few times I found myself enjoying especially this song whenever I travel to work after the morning class at TTC. The journey puts me at somewhere where I am moving but seems like going no where. Hence I always wonder why 'here' and not 'there'.

Those are the 4 different pictures that I took at Newton Circus food center. Each pictures were taken with different effect and were shot at the same spot, hence featuring one scene.

A view of the partial advertisement, the hawker stalls, and people walking, looking, buying, and eating. All the activities constitute part of the 'daily life'.

I like the idea that whether the scene is cold or hot, colourless or sepia, coloured or negative is up to me- the looker- to capture. Shot it in the midst of rushing from college to office. In between phrases of 'daily life', I just stop and stare.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Inerrancy Is Bad Theology

Kenton Sparks' book received an abhorring review from S.M. Baugh. I got Sparks' book. I listened to his Taylor Faith & Conference's 4 lectures. And I find that he is doing the right thing.

Previously, within this year alone, there are Peter Enns and A.T.B. McGowan constructive works which are deem controversial by a group that is affiliated with the Westminster Theological Seminary.

And when I got to know about Sparks' work earlier this year, I already anticipate to read some potshots from that group on Sparks'. And true enough, it's someone from WTS. But no matter how Baugh and his Westminsterians tried to defend doctrine of inerrancy, this idea is just too irredeemable.

"The Bible is completely accurate in matters of faith, history, and science." That's the tenet of inerrancy. Don't believe me? Check out Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, 'Short Statement', Article 4; and 'Article of Affirmation and Denial', Article 12. Believe now?

Do you think that tenet is right? If yes, ask yourself why.

THE reason some Christians uphold this dogma is because they are damn afraid that once they accept that one part of the Bible is in error, the entire Bible became erroneous. (One part has error equates the entire whole being erroneous is of course flimsy logic.) Even if not, that is enough to make one confused and not knowing which part of the Bible is without error and which is. And it is precisely this ambiguity that they are afraid of. And this is the reason. The one and only, and no other. And inerrantists must admit this. They have to confess it.

But they have to realize that their fear is unfounded. They can't set up a dogma just because they are afraid of otherwise. Such self-centered approach spawns bad theologies. Why?

Theology as an enterprise was never meant to buttress Self's petty cowardice.

Is "Speaking In Tongue" Biblical and Christian?


I've always wanted to post something on speaking in tongues but haven't prioritize it. So when I found out that Tony has written on it, I'm so glad. Seldom we have a NT professor to comment on such prevalent and confusing phenomenon.

I was converted through a charismatic church. Was told that glossolalia is the 'special' gift of the Holy Spirit. Was told that it is the second and spiritual baptism. Was told that it is edifying. But I never experienced that before.

There was once I was surrounded by church leaders, elders, bro & sis who prayed for me to speak in tongue. They laid their hands on me and went "ku raba raba raba... shi kala kala la la la... koro shi ta ta ta ta... "

If you know the Malay language like me, your balls dropped when there are dozens of hand laying on you and hearing these people chanting "ku raba raba raba... " (In Malay: I caress, caress, caress...)

That's the first time I was consciously being peer-pressured. All of them were raba raba-ing around me. So I simply blurted out some gibberish just to please them and to join in the crowd. And when the church leaders, elders, bro & sis heard that I have manifested the gift of tongue, they moved over to the next tongue-less dude to raba-raba him.

When I turned to my friend Steven Sim, he was already lying on the floor in trance. I think he was slain by the Holy Spirit. I have 2 close friends who experienced the slain. Steven is one of them. The other one is a friend from college. I always wonder why am I deprived of such experience.

What the Bible says concerning glossolalia and how it should be practiced? Tony illuminates it well,

"Pentecostals pride themselves being open to the gifts and anointing of the Spirit. Well and good! We like to think that we believe in all God has for us in 1 Cor 11-14. But in the very place that Apostle Paul says that we should be not be children in understanding but be mature, we show we are still infants by overthrowing what Paul says in 1 Cor 14:1-28. All of 28 verses are used by Paul to explain what the church should be doing in terms of speaking in tongues. Yet, most Pentecostals get it wrong when they think they can speak in tongues over the microphone when the church is assembled. The misunderstanding comes by taking a verse from 1 Cor 14:15 on its own without reading carefully the surrounding verses (28 in all!) for a true understanding of what actually Paul is getting at...

...How terrible it is when one speaks in tongues without interpretation over the microphone amplified by loud-speakers against what Paul states so clearly in vs. 28."

Read all here.

M'sia Evangelical Christians Are Confused

Just got back from a weekend GCF conference at Johor Bahru. As soon as I got to Kar Yong's blog, I fell off from my chair.

It is almost inconceivable for me to even imagine that the umbrella body of the evangelical churches in Malaysia could make such a serious blunder containing glaring errors in the description of the history of the Church.

Go there to find out why.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

John Chrysostom On Ancient Capitalistic Consumerism

"The gold bit on your horse, the gold circlet on the wrist of your slave, the gilding on your shoes, mean that you are robbing the orphan and starving the widow. When you have passed away, each passer-by who looks upon your great mansion will say, 'How many tears did it take to build that mansion; how many orphans were stripped; how many widows wronged; how many laborers deprived of their honest wages?' Even death itself will not deliver you from your accusers."

~John Chrysostom (as quoted by Sivin Kit in his 'I Shop Therefore I am: Consumerism and Its Impact on Christian Life and Ministry', in 'Church & Society in Asia Today', ed. Mark Chan, vol.11, No.2, Aug 2008)

How would you contextualize Chrysostom's aphorism to today's language? I find it diffcult... Probably due to my unwillingness to see how I have been plundering myself of Christ-like humanity through many unnecessary spendings.

Feel the same? If yes, we are fucked-up. If yes, it's time to kill ourselves,

Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent.

And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it… But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it.
Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak….Now if we had not fallen, that would be all plain sailing. But unfortunately we now need God’s help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all—to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die….You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us.
~ C.S. Lewis (emphasis and edition mine)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Singapore, Ghost Month, & Destroying Gaia

I thought Singapore is pushing for environmental conservation. Despite the often publicized "Saving Gaia" campaign by Channel News Asia, I witnessed the most horrible environmental onslaught last Friday.

It was the day when some brainless yellow creatures think that the gate of hell is opened. Hence these creatures burn innumerable special sort of cheap papers to ... er ... actually I also don't know for what! I bet they don't even know it! Probably some would say it's for the ghosts that wander out from hell. The burning of these papers help keep the ghosts from disturbing humans.

There is a weirder thing I observed on that day. When I walked pass a group of young executives who were in long sleeves and pants along the Lavender-Bugis area, I found them not only burning those papers but also throwing the paper around while shouting, "Huat Ar!"

"Huat ar" could mean several things in Hokkien. Probably they meant it something like, "Get rich ar!". Can you fathom the connection between these sights?

1) A group of well-dressed male and female young executives in their 20s and 30s,

2) Burning and throwing papers by the road side,

3) Shouting, "Huat ar, huat ar!" ritualistically as if they are praying;

4) And all these happened in Singapore, a 1st-world country that has the best science, education, and medical facilities in the region. And also a country that encourages its citizen to go "green" with all the advertisement in cinemas, MRTs, buses, TV, radio etc.

WTF...






















































































































Do we really have to put up with these environmental terrorizing practices every year?

BTW, when I first saw Channel News Asia's Saving Gaia, I puzzle at the dubious noun it uses to represent earth... Gaia... A term popularized by Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I always thought that a news channel should be pertinent and mature. My mistake, perhaps.

At anytime, "Creation" is much more articulate and unambiguous than Gaia.

What I Do In Class...

Not only listen to Tony's lecture but also his singing. In between declining cases of the masculine logos and the feminine hemera, we have a koine Greek song in the middle.


"ο θεος ιλασθητι μοι τω αμαρτωλω ~ (God, have mercy on me, a sinner)"

It's a short beautiful Greek song which he composed in the early 90s during his stay at one of the indigenous village at Sabah (or Sarawak?... I always confused the both). If Tony would expand the song, it might be released as a hit single. Who knows it might hit the chart.


This picture is taken with a special effect to make the class looks cozy. Like some jazz bar, right?

If expanded, the song doesn't need to be entirely in Greek. The Luke 18.13 can be the chorus in Greek, the rest can be in English.

hmmm... should I tell Tony that there is this thing known as 'Singapore Idol' here?

Consumerism & Christians

Mark Chan is kind to bless me with a copy of the latest periodical 'Church and Society in Asia Today'. The theme for this issue is on Consumerism, the devil which lurks under the guise of the 'cool' in the "what's up" culture.

I (punly) 'consumed' the periodical when I reached home yesterday. Every articles tackle the sprouting issues directly in kin with Consumerism.

I didn't really care about Consumerism until lately. And the more I learn about it, the more I loathe over it. And the more I loathe over it, the more I realized how much was I, and still am, being unconsciously entangled by it; being unawaredly manipulated by it, and ultimately being willingly prostituted by it.

Being whored by Consumerism!

For those who are still in the blank about Consumerism, Soo Inn explicated well, "consumerism... is a worldview that sees the consumption of material goods and services as the main purpose of life." (p.12. Emphasis mine)

Let's get this straight. Those, like myself, who have been ravished by this pimping worldview worship not the materials goods nor services. These are means that meant to meet our needs. Hence, once you have a certain thing, say a usable pen, you dont need to get another one that meets the same need. So we are not worshipping these.

Often we overlook this. We thought Consumerism enables individuals the freedom to have their material needs met. If this is the case, then Consumerism is not a devil. And the vocabularists do not need to invent this 'ism' to describe the phenomenon.

The devil has more in his agenda. It sought to instigate a need that lasts longer than those of material-driven. Better if the need cannot be met. And hence such long-lasting need has to be non-material, like love.

And behold, the devil sought it, and humanity brought it. It is none other than the act of consuming itself. This is one need that cannot cease. It cannot be stopped. We can never stop consuming. Once we stop, we die. And the devil knows this. Hence it strikes us hard at this act that is in inextricably from our livinghood.

We have come to worship "consumption"!

When our consumption is not based on need anymore, our discernment is thwarted and blurred. We barely are satisfied with material goods and services. When being plagued by this disease, we became wearisome unless we consume. Hence the nonsensical shopping therapy. We consume as if there is nothing else to life besides the act of buying and possessing.

And in effect,"if we allow uncritically the forces of consumerism to act on us, we will end up with immature Christians, immature chuches, and immature human beings", said Soo Inn (p.16).

There are many other resourceful insights in the periodical. The one especially interest me is on organ trading by Daniel Koh. If you don't know about Consumerism or find yourself OK with this phenomenon, then please do yourself a favor by consuming this book. And bear in mind to consume not for the sake of consuming. A copy is just about the value of a value-meal at McD!

Church and Society in Asia Today,
vol. 11, no. 2, August 2008

Edited by Rev. Dr. Mark Chan

Consumers in a Dog Eat Dog World: Bible Bites and Barks on Ancient Societies
by Rev. Dr. Gordon Wong

Consumerism: A Christian Critique
by Rev. Dr. Tan Soo Inn

Marketing Organ in Singapore?
by Rev. Dr. Daniel K.S. Koh

Global Warming and Inconvenient Truths: The Problem of Evil and Global Warming
by Rev. Dr. Thomas Harvey

I Shop Therefore I Am: Consumerism and Its Impact on Christian Life and Ministry
by Rev. Sivin Kit

Church and Society in Asia Today is published three times a year (April, August and December).

Annual subscription rates are as follows:
Singapore and Malaysia S$15 (postage included);
Others US$15 (postage included);
Individual issues may be obtained at S$7 an issue.
For any queries, please call (65)6767-6677 or email: csca@ttc.edu.sg

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sigh...

Had a meeting with boss yesterday. He proposed that we should re-structure our business deals. Actually, it is not a 'proposal' because a 'proposal' can be rejected. That is more like a 'decree'.

Anyway, with his new decree, I will have many adjustment and follow-up works to do. Not only that, the worst thing is that I'm the liaison between the company and our customers. That means I have to communicate to every customer the new structure, AND be prepared to take feedbacks. And it is not really a 'feedback' if you are in this 'corporate-to-corporate' line. More like fiery resistance!



No comforting Bible verses in mind. Just the beloved TVB's aphorism:
"Tin Ti Lok Lei Tong Phei Kham"
(Even if the heaven fell, just take it as a blanket)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Appleseed & Revelation

His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.
~Revelation 12.4
No, I am not blogging about D.A Carson's recent talk at St. Andrews. That passage was being featured as the opening scene of Appleseed. It's a Japanese futuristic animation, a movie that I watched over the weekend. I rented it because usually I don't get to watch sci-fi animation because someone doesn't like to watch them. And since that someone is not in town over the weekend, so I thought it's a good opportunity to be "boy" that every boy will always be.

I heard about this anime some months ago through my colleague, Ar Bao. At that time, I took slight interest in the show as I've not been a fan of anime since Dragon Ball Z, Evangelion, Beast War, and Initial D. The last one that I watched is Initial D: The Fourth Stage.

And so with curiosity over Ar Bao's liking (Ar Bao is a film-maker) over Appleseed, I rented the DVD. And in the first few minutes of the show, I found myself being blown away by it. That's what happens when one approaches a movie without preconception of what one will get from it.


First, the computer-graphic (CG) is impressive. Before I watched the anime, I watched Starship Troopers 3, a B-grade flick. The visual effect in ST3 is ugly. I was surprised in the millennium of War Craft 3, there is still such lousy effects. And believe me, after 60 minutes of bad CG, it gives you more reason to be convinced that Appleseed able to give to the 21st century what Star Wars saga gave to the audience of the 70s.

Second, it has an outstanding plot (what else!). The anime depicts a post-3rd-world-war world where humans are being (finally!) publicly acknowledged as evil. Humans are deem dangerous due to our often unstable emotion-driven decisions. Our emotional responses (eg. anger/lust) frequently being overly fueled, which led us to hurt one another (eg.war/rape).


Hence in that world, humans are being pacified through Bioroids. These Bioroids are some sort of human clones that had their emotional stimulus being suppressed through genetic-modification. They do not get angered or lustful as compared to real humans, yet they able to experience laughter, joy, and other positive emotions just as real humans. However, despite having all the positive responses and deprived from negative reactions, these Bioroids incapable of experiencing love. Reason is that their reproduction abilities had also been suppressed in order to ensure that they do not breed and take over the human race. Their existence is to live among humans to serve as buffers that pacify humans' emotional eruption, preventing us from destroying one another. So, in this way, the survival of humanity can be ensured.


Exciting already? There are so much more to the story (like what is 'Appleseed'?) but I just give the background so that it will not spoil the movie for you if you plan to watch it.

Third reason why I was blown away by the movie is because of a personal theological inclination. After exposing to Philip Hefner's small booklet on the relationship between humans and technology, my whole paradigm of the future (hence the interpretation of the book of Revelation) shifted. That means, I have a rather unconventional eschatology (study of the last things) now. And the movie captures my eschatology. A future where humans cannot but to admit that their nature of adaptation has brought them to a phrase where technology plays the essential part of humans' survival, and in turn humans' final destiny (the coded yet more familiar term is "the second coming").

Don't start asking me, "what about Christ's bodily re-appearance during his second coming?" If I know, I won't be blogging here la. I'll be busy reading palms, telling fortunes, writing best-seller books, and change my name to Lilian Woo or Joey Woo.

There are other stories on how the future will be like, but this one is a good one, especially when it explores the fundamental problem of humanity. A problem that St. Paul had mentioned over 20 centuries ago (Romans 3.10-11, 23). Appleseed emphasizes on the realness of humans' problem on one hand and gives an insight of how such problem can be resolved on another.

And after watching that, I went sci-fi mad. I rented 3 other DVD: the sequel to Appleseed, the Ex-Machina (produced by John Woo), Evangelion 1.0, and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. All are Japanese sci-fi anime. All explores the emotions and problems of humanity in a post-human world, an exploration which very very much reflects our current human condition. And I'll watch all by tonight!


P/S: Perhaps now it is more apparent why I think Carson's last week preaching on Revelation 12 is rather unexciting. But again, it's more of differing preferences.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Christians Know About Food


Wheaton College, the famous Evangelical college, is being ranked as the second most boring (American: "stone-cold sober") school by Princeton Review. Nonetheless it has the best food:

"... the Austrian-trained chef who runs [Wheaton's cafeteria] program refuses to call the dining area a cafeteria. He prefers to call it an "in-house restaurant"... Wheaton College as having the best campus food in the nation. The Review bases its rankings on surveys of 120,000 students at 368 colleges."
(chicagotribune.com)

If I have Aladdin's lamp, I will summon the genie to turn TTC's cafeteria into an in-house restaurant.

I had my lunch there last Tuesday... my secondary school's canteen has tastier food...

In case you wonder which school tops the chart for being the most boring school, it's the Mormon school Brigham Young University.