Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What's up with Harriet Baber, Indonesia, Taliban, Japan, money & happiness, laziness & good health, Malaysia, Vatican, energy, and Marina Bay Sands?

Harriet Baber posted a description of her "informed faith" recently. The philosopher, who specializes in analytic philosophy, commented against the inconsistency of those who are anti Christianity, "...it's remarkable that the very individuals who are most vocal in their opposition to religiously motivated puritanism are the most fiercely puritanical when it comes to truth. They condemn Christians for imposing constraints on sensual pleasure but are outraged that we should take pleasure in the consolations of religion instead of squarely facing what they believe to be the hard truths about the human condition."

Baber's context is very much contained within the western world that privileged by social openness to intelligent discourse. Therefore the challenges she faces is very much on the individual's level and the discourse on the intelligibility of one's allegiance, be it religious or not. While in Indonesia where privileges like this does not exist.

There have been an escalation of attacks on churches around the nation. The government lacks the political will to do what is right. A report shows that these radical Muslims assert socio-political influences to the local government administration which in effect crippling the latter from acting to correct the situation.

Further to the west, ten Christian workers who were "delivering aid and medical care in Nuristan of Afghanistan" were shot dead by the Islamist movement Taliban. I am just bewildered that these Afghans would murder good Samaritans who were providing help to their own Afghan people. This same group recently whipped a pregnant widow with 200 slashes before shot her to death.

These are instances of evil manifested through religion in general, Islam in particular. Evil done in the name of religion is not uncommon. It exists in the major religions in the world. Christianity included. I'm very much tempted to think that these murderers are beyond redemption, yet who am I to pronounce limitation to God's grace.

On the other hand, we have to ask can we prevent these instances? How?

Recently there is a study done on the relation between money and happiness. The study shows that obsession with money, not least wealth accumulation, impairs our ability to enjoy life. This is "because wealth allows people to experience the best that life has to offer, it ultimately undermines their ability to savor life’s little pleasures."

Japan finally apologize for its past ill-treatment on South Korea. A Japanese friend once told me that Japanese educators altered historical facts to make their past look good on textbooks. Japan as a nation has no conscience and courage to face its own past. So when I read this latest story, I thought to myself, "At last Japan has come to its sense." That is commendable. Yet Japan has to apologize also to other countries in the region for the evils they did in the past!

It seems that there is a link between laziness and good health. The more lazy we are, the worse will be our health. In view of this connection, Richard Weiler and Emmanuel Stamatakis proposed that "perhaps physical inactivity should also be considered for recognition as a disease in its own right." That means laziness would be categorized as a disease!

Al Jazeera reported forced conversion among the aborigines in Malaysia by the Islamic authority. The UMNO government promises development to these minorities if they convert to Islam. That means the minorities will not received help if they are not Muslims. The Christian Federation of Malaysia has responded with a statement.

I am amused to think about it. I used to hear anti-Christians condemning Christian of being guilty for doing social-development work because they want to spread the gospel. I wonder what would these anti-Christians say to these Muslims who only provide development after the people convert?

Malaysia's UMNO government seems to be running the country with the religious concern in mind and tackling with underhanded approach. Perhaps, these rulers should start listening to what Michael Schuman has to say about the nation's immediate economic concern before it is too late. "The economy's growth engine remains unchanged – export-oriented manufacturing backed by foreign investment. Its companies are just not innovating or adding much value to what they produce."

Even on religious matter, UMNO is still far from demonstrating itself as a model for Islamic civilization. A recent example of interfaith initiative from the Muslims at Manchester put UMNO's Islam to embarrassment. "A mosque has given £52,000 to help transform a neglected United Reformed Church building into a thriving community centre."

At Vatican, a strong statement is produced to rebuke Cardinals from critiquing another Cardinal, while the Roman church is losing members due to its failure to handle the prevalent sexual abuses in the organization. ‎"Regarding accusations against a cardinal, we remind everyone that, in the [Roman Catholic] Church, only the pope has the authority to accuse a cardinal," stated in the statement.

Reading that makes me wonder: So who has the authority to accuse the pope? That implies the pope is beyond accusation. Does this consistently marks the true blue Roman Catholic theology: Pope is God in the Roman Catholic universe?

On a more positive notes, the world most powerful nations have joined hands to fund a 15 billion euros project to create clean energy through the fusion of deuterium and tritium which produces helium. The project is inspired by the mechanism of the sun. However, the commercial result will only produced in 2040, when I am 58 if still alive.

Marina Bay Sands, one of the two casino resorts in Singapore, reported a profit of $127 millions after operating for its first 65 days. I wonder how much from this amount are direct earning from the casino. A friend who works there estimates to be about 80%. And I wonder how many local and overseas families are affected by that.

If one measures the well being of a nation through monetary value, then one may say that the casino prove to boost Singapore's economy. If one measures by the well being of individual family unit, one may think that Singapore and its allowance for the building of the casino is subtly contributing to the disintegration of families across the region.


clement said...


I believe that an Ecumenical Council can censure a Pope, and that has in fact occurred before in history.

Also, a current Pope can accuse his predecessor.

Cammie Novara said...

"...it's remarkable that the very individuals who are most vocal in their opposition to religiously motivated puritanism are the most fiercely puritanical when it comes to truth." I can really relate to that in every imaginable way. There's a really fascinating debate that I thought would be of interest on evolution vs. intelligent design going on at http://www.intelligentdesignfacts.com

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Clement,

Thank you for your view.

My concern is over the present situation. So I think the fact that Roman Catholic understanding of a present Ecumenical Council as limiting only to that which belongs to Vatican has actually no censure over the Pope. Add to that, even calling for an Ecumenical Council has to gained the Pope's approval. If the Pope knows that the council is meant to accuse him, I don't think he would approve it.

As my concern is with present check-and-balances of present ruling authority (the Pope), so having a future Pope to condemn present one, just as current one able to accuse his predecessor, does not serve the purpose.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Cammie,

Thank you for your comment.

I think you are right. The intelligent design has too often been unfairly suppressed and brushed off as a religious dogma.