Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: 'From Christ to Social Practice' by Ng Kam Weng

This book is originally the doctoral dissertation of Ng Kam Weng, the present Research Director of Kairos Research Centre in Malaysia, submitted to the University of Cambridge, under the supervision of Stephen Sykes who was then the Regius Professor of Divinity there.

The whole title of the book 'From Christ to Social Practice: Christological Foundations for Social Practice in the Theologies of Albrecht Ritschl, Karl Barth and Jürgen Moltmann' is already quite informative to the reader of what to expect.

The dissertation was done in the late 1980s and published in 1996 by Alliance Bible Seminary, Hong Kong. It is a research into the theology of three significant theologians, namely Albrecht Ritschl, Karl Barth, and Jürgen Moltmann.

Ng explores the social ethics produced by these three theologians from three different social conditions. He is interested to see how each's theological response to their social challenges is connected to their Christology. The purpose of this is to identify "theological resources [of these past theologians] relevant to a contemporary ethical problem." (p.6)

Ng expounds each theologian's social ethics within their overall Christological framework and so it is impossible to highlight all the important theological insights contained in the book. Therefore this review focuses only on Ng's appreciation and critique of their social ethics.

Ng sees Ritschl's social ethics as 'Social Influence' theory where Christians' obedience to Christ "will extend Christ's spiritual influence to and transform all social conditions." (p.38) That's why to Ritschl, Christian social practice should pervade social institutions as the "social shape of the kingdom [of God] is not totally dichotomised from nor discontinuous with existing forms of institutions." (p.39)

However, this does not mean Ritschl simply identifies the kingdom of God with the best social order and culture. He left this part without explanation. Ng critiques Ritschl's social ethics to be individualistic and has departed from his earlier insistence on communal effort for social engagement. (p.44) This weakness is rooted in Ritschl's "defective christology" that is devoid of "ontological, societal or cosmic significance." (p.48)

On Barth's social ethics, Ng points to a remarkable statement drawn from Church Dogmatics volume 3 on the theological nature of ethics:

"...ethical theory is not meant to provide man with a programme the implementation of which would be his life's goal. Nor is it meant to present man with principles to be interpreted, applied, and put into practice... Ethics exists to remind man of his confrontation with God, who is the light illuminating all his actions and before whom men must act responsibly." (p.63)

To Barth, ethics is when we place our life story within the context of the narrative of Jesus Christ by participating in the community founded by Christ. The community is more than just fellowship of believers,

"As a christocratic brotherhood, it consists of ordered relationships, implying the need for form, order and law having exemplary significance for the world. [This does not imply that] the community of Christ should impose its order over wider society. It does not pretend to be an exact fulfillment of the eschatological kingdom so much as a provisional representation. It is not a direct portrayal of God's design for human society. It is only a human society moving like all others to the eschatological manifestation of the kindgom. [...] The church exists as a paradigm community which demonstrates God's reconciliation within world history. [...] Jesus did not sanctify himself for his own sake nor for the sake of a little flock of believers but for all humanity. Neither is his community to exist for itself. His community exists to represent provisionally, but with certainty, the great alteration of the human situation secures in Jesus Christ." (p.107 - 108)

Ng's critique on Barth is that his social theology may contain the "dangerous tendency of losing touch with existing social realities." (p.196) That is to say that though the general framework provided by Barth is affirming and illuminating yet it remains to be demonstrated how this affects the challenges that the society is facing.

In addition, Ng discusses Barth's notorious rejection of natural theology and concludes that Barth does not entirely diminish the prospect of learning from social theories. For instance, Ng demonstrates that Barth accepts "descriptive anthropology" but rejects "speculative anthropology." (p.92)

For Moltmann, Ng points out his call for the church to "mediate the freedom of faith into the realm of social reality by creating in the realm of social reality practices that are "correspondences", "reflections" and "images" of the kingdom of God. It is true that the church is only an anticipation of the kingdom but precisely for that reason it has the task of representing the kingdom to wider society." (p.166)

Moltmann's social ethics can be broadly understood in the following quote Ng picked up from Richard Bauckham, an authority on Moltmann:

"The Church is paras pro toto: a preliminary and fragmentary part of the coming whole (the universal kingdom), and so representative of the whole for the sake of the rest of the world whose future the whole is. Consequently, the Church can only prove itself as an anticipation of the coming kingdom 'through intervention and self-giving for the future of others'." (p.167. Italics original.)

We see Barth's influence here on Moltmann. Ng appreciates and acknowledges Moltmann's effort in carrying Barth's social ethics further by grounding it in social realities, for example in dialogue with social theories. However, for that, and the way how it was carried out, Moltmann's position is seen by Ng to be "riddled with contradictions." (p.204)

Moltmann's drawing of a dialectical relationship between the Church and the society is perceived by Ng to have fell into a confusing category. If the Church is in a dialectical relationship with the society, that means the Church is opened to be influenced by social forces. For this, Ng concludes that "Moltmann's social practice remains arbitrary in that he failed to demonstrate that his specific social policies are the logical outcome of a dialogue between 'Barthian' insights and social theory." (p.205)

Now, we turn to Ng's own Christological social ethics.

One of the major questions that Ng tried to solve is in the book is which Christological framework should inform the Church's social practice?

On one hand, Ng rejects the type of practice that simply imitates the historical deeds of Jesus,

"[Leonardo Boff and Jon Sobrino] have chosen to focus on the significance of the historical activities of Jesus for social practice rather than the Christ in the christological dogma. Undoubtedly, it is easier to make a direct appeal to the historical Jesus rather than the Christ of the dogmas to underpin the social practice of the church. But the question arises whether in any theology which ignored the Christ of the dogmas one would not be left with a christological framework that is too restrictive. One advantage of the decision to focus the enquiry upon Ritschl, Barth and Moltmann is that the christological framework offered by these writers provides an ostensibly more comprehensive context for the grounding of the social practice of the church." (p.5. Emphasis added.)

While on another hand, Ng seems to affirm what he views as too restrictive,

"The person of Christ and his work has always functioned as an inspiration and often the primary model for christian action. Our focus on Christ gives us the advantage of dealing with a historical personality rather than an abstract concept [of Christ?]. This is certainly consistent with our claim that theological ethical resources are better appropriated through exemplification." (p.7. Emphasis added.)

I'm here reading Ng's phrase "Christ of dogmas" in the former quotation as identical with "abstract concept" in the latter. I may be identifying too much due to my lack of grasp over the categories that Ng employed. Nonetheless, if it is true that Ng wants to differentiate the "historical Jesus" from the "Christ of dogmas", as seen in the two quotations above, the interchangeable referencing appears to muddle the differentiation.

(The only instance he clarified his usage of the phrase "historical Jesus" is to differentiate it [not from the "Christ of dogmas", but] from "historian's Jesus". By the former, Ng means "Jesus in his life and existence in historical Palestine while the latter refers to the portrait of Jesus constructed from the application of historical criticism based on historical sources such as found in the New Testament." [p.22, n.30])

The interchangeable referencing of the phrases is noticed again in the following quotation:

"To be sure, the significance of Jesus remains as the past example, the prototype or model for social practice. But his significance must not be reduced to his past activities. For the Christian, the significance of Jesus must also be eschatological in that the future of the risen one determines the future of the church. The significance of Jesus for his disciples is that he enables them to take responsibility for and to redirect their own history. This requires that Christians follow Jesus' "attitude" to life and history rather than any specific social programs." (p.198. Emphasis added.)

It seems from the above quotation there is no differentiation between "historical Jesus" (with his past activities) from "Christ of dogmas" (whose future determines the Church's future). Ng notes that the Jesus with historical activities is also the risen Christ whose future determines the future of the Church. If this is true, then it is curious how Ng rejects and affirms social practice that is derived from the historical deeds of Jesus.

Nonetheless it is probably the case that Ng's Christology goes beyond the distinction between the historical Jesus and the Christ of dogma. Yet, it remains to be seen how such distinction distances itself from Ng's condemnation of the "direct appeal to the historical Jesus rather than the Christ of the dogmas to underpin the social practice of the church."

One theme that keeps appearing in Ng's thesis is his insistence on relating theology and social theory (foreshadowing John Milbank's theology as social theory project and present works on relating theology with continental philosophy?). Here are few instances:

"[The] challenge today is to meet the need for a contemporary theological ethic and practice that interacts more extensively with insights from social theory." (p.132)

"[Christian] social practice is not to be established solely on philosophical or theological insights. Rather, it is to be a result of a conversation and collaboration between theology and social theory." (p.193)

"[It] could be claimed that theology must take seriously the social phenomenon if christological social practice is to succeed in relating itself to concrete social realities." (p.197)

Ng concerns to ground Christology, particularly the reality of the historical Jesus and the resurrection, as the Church's engagement in the social reality of the day. And to achieve this, one must connect theology and social theories.

Overall, Ng's work is a compact treatise on three great strands of theological social ethics that provides good summary of each one, coupled with valid critiques. At the concluding section, Ng ends by directing our attention to the significance of worship in Christian's social engagement, a sight that Christians cannot afford to lose:

"[Worship] is necessary to ensure that christian practice be not reduced to its utilitarian value. It must be humbly admitted that many of the goals for social transformation are not longer uniquely christian since there are also other social movements which share the same social goals today. Indeed, such are the connections between church and civil society that Christians may offer themselves as agents in transforming social practice under pressure from these other social groups, for no better reason than to demonstrate the 'relevance' of Christianity for society. At the same time, it is precisely because the goals of social action groups are similar that Christians often have to justify their actions on the same grounds as these other social movements. As such, Christians must be alert to the possibility that in trying to be relevant they may allow others to determine their values and priorities. It is therefore important that the christian social activist be sustained by a worship which highlights a God who has engaged in a history that is both his and ours, but a history of which he is lord and we are not. This vital insight must be preserved if the Christian is to be spared from attempting any self-justification. For it is precisely because the social activist takes himself too seriously that he yields to the temptation of claiming finality and absolute authority, with the consequence that many revolutionary changes degenerate into reigns of terror and counter-terror. Christian worship frees the Christian from falling into a utilitarian vision of human existence. Religion as the source of transcendence is the authority which reminds society that the worth and dignity of human beings are not exhaustively defined by their social role." (p.210)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Upcoming event: 'God's Two Books: Scripture and Science' by Ron Choong

Engineering and Science Christian Fellowship (ESCF) organizing a talk on science and Christianity 'God's Two Books- Scripture and Science'.

Date: Thursday, 4 August, 2011
Time: 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Venue: 420 North Bridge Road #05-04 North Bridge Centre, Singapore 188727
Speakers: Rev Dr Ron Choong


SYNOPSIS of the talk:
In God’s creation of the World, we observe God’s first book. In God’s revealing of the Word, we receive God’s second book.

The World testifies to God’s existence and creation through the findings of the sciences and its expression in technologies. In the history of of the human race, there are two scientific discoveries and two technologies that shook the world:

1) The two discoveries: Modern understanding of time and space.
2) The two technologies: Telescope and the microscope.

The Scripture testifies to God’s revelation through the accounts of witnesses. And "witnesses" presumes the capacity to speak, to memorize, to write and to read. These capacities allow us to worship and communicate with God. By the time the first Scripture was written (c.1000-500 BC), the human brain had evolved to pass on God’s revelation in the form of God’s Word.

We refer to God’s Two Books as Scripture and Science. God reveals by World (Nature) and by Word (Scripture).



About the SPEAKER:
Rev. Dr. Ron Choong is an ordained minister and has served as a Christian apologist in New York City since 1991.

He is an interdisciplinary scholar with a global ministry to both Christians and skeptics as the Director of the Academy for Christian Thought. Prior to that, Ron has practiced public international law and commercial law at Lincoln’s Inn, served as an urban missionary in New York, as well as taught philosophy and theology at seminaries in the US.

He was born in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and earned the BA, LLB Hons, STM, MDiv, ThM and PhD degrees from London, Yale and Princeton.

His doctoral dissertation, examined the relation between contemporary neuroscience and theology, titled 'Do We Sin Because We Are Sinners or Are We Sinners Because We Sin?: Neuroscience, Nolition and the Kenotic Doctrine of Moral Cognition.' He and his wife attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.

To find out more about Ron, go here

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Discovering phase: Missiology, ecclesiology, and political theology

During breakfast yesterday (18th July, Monday), somehow Edmund and I chatted about the fact that I am currently taking the course 'Theology of Mission' in this new semester.

I found myself saying, "Nowadays I have come to sense a gradual draw towards mission and missiology. And the draw is getting stronger by the day."

My enrollment into theological studies is not due to 'mission' in the sense of how usually being understood as planting churches in the conventional way. The discovery of interest in the area of mission is not so much simply the change in preference but a new appreciation of what 'mission' actually is.

To briefly recall the process of the discovery, the experience owes much to the course on ethics that I took under Daniel Koh last semester. Through the course, I was introduced to the importance of ecclesiological ethics, the Church as a moral community, that helped to boost an appreciation of the ontology of the Church.

By the time I submitted my final paper for Daniel Koh's course, it dawned on me a necessary and natural relation between ethics and ecclesiology in a way that redefines my understanding of mission and all its sub-categories such as evangelism and missiology. And it is for the sake of continuing to further develop and nuance this understanding that I signed up for Andrew Peh's Theology of Mission course for this semester.

It is 7.15am as I'm typing this. And I have been awake for more than three hours, since about 3.50am.

I went to bed at 12.50am, and I don't know why I woke up in the middle of the night after a mere 3 hours sleep. Could be the milk tea that I had for dinner earlier.

After failing to get myself to lose consciousness, I decided to pick up something to read. And somehow I felt drawn to a book that I have bought last year but yet to read. It was Langham Partnership's International Director Christopher Wright's 'The Mission of God's People: A Biblical Theology of the Church's Mission', published last year under Zondervan's Biblical Theology for Life series.

I have no idea why I was drawn to read that book (despite other books that I am usually more keen to read like those on social engagement) in the middle of a sleepless night. Until last Friday before I cleaned my room, that book was laid at the bottom of a stack of other books.

By the time my eyes felt sore, at about 6.30am, I realized that I've finished reading the first five chapters. Through these chapters that I was guided by Wright to connect ethics, ecclesiology, and mission in a nuance and elaborate way.

Commenting on Genesis 18.18-19, Wright writes,

"[Genesis 18.18-19] binds together election, ethics and mission into a single sequence located in the will, action and desire of God. It is fundamentally missional declaration, which explains the reason for election and explains the purpose of ethical living. [...] We should particularly notice the way ethics stands as the mid-term between election and mission. Ethics is the purpose of election and the basis of mission."
(p. 92-93. Emphasis original.)

"Here [is a] passage that shows us the important link, in our biblical theology, between our ecclesiology and our missiology. We have already pointed out how important it is to see the missional reason for the very existence of the church as the people of God. In this age, the church is missional or it is not church.

"But now we see more clearly that this link between church and mission is also ethical. The community God seeks for the sake of his mission is to be a community shaped by his own ethical character, with specific attention to righteousness and justice in a world filled with oppression and injustice. Only such a community can be a blessing to the nations. [...] There is no biblical mission without biblical ethics."
(p. 93-94. Emphasis original.)

The connection between public theology, political theology, social engagement, ethics, missiology and ecclesiology is all there in-between.

I didn't start with an interest in 'mission' but in subjects like historical Jesus studies and systematic and philosophical theology. It seems that it's the other way around as I experienced it.

Enough writing for now. Have to prepare for 'Theology of Mission' class, which will be starting at 8.30am later.Link

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: 'Issues of Law and Justice in Singapore: Some Christian Reflections' edited by Daniel K. S. Koh and Kiem-Kiok Kwa

This book is initiated to provide accessible resources about matters on law and justice in Singapore, to put "on record what Singapore Christians have been thinking; and in so doing encourage more Asian Christians to participate in the contextual enterprise of public discourse on subjects which would contribute to the strengthening of community life." (p. ix)

The seven chapters in the book is categorized in two parts. The first part concerns theological and biblical framework on law and justice.

In the first chapter, Daniel Koh, a noted theologian-ethicist from Trinity Theological College, opens up the book by briefing the reader of the various nuances of the word 'justice' as discussed by Ronald Preston, Duncan Forrester, Reinhold Niebuhr, John Rawls and others.

Without addressing the matter in an aloof manner, Koh draws the connection between the philosophical discussion on 'justice' with Singapore's National Pledge:

"There may not be a country anywhere in the world, either now or in the past, with a perfect understanding or a perfect system of justice in place. But justice as a desirable and essential component of the kind of society Singapore hopes to build is clearly echoed throughout the state in the pledge which school students recite at the start of each new day when they promise "to build a democratic society based on justice and equality..."" (p. 6)

One of Koh's most insightful discussions is on the relationship between love and justice. Following Preston and Forrester, he suggests that the relationship can be best understood in a reciprocal way,

"[A] fuller appreciation of justice should be enhanced and nourished by the presence of love. While the two may be different, if there is no justice, there is no love and if there is no love, what is offered as justice is likely to be a truncated version of what real justice ought to look like." (p. 31)

By that, Koh means that justice when pursued as fairness must not be focused on satisfying individual's self-interest but rather to be balanced by a genuine intention for the well-being of others regardless whether or not the self benefited from it. (p. 20-22) This would also help to re-discover the scope and extent of cultivating self-love. (p.22-31)

It seems fair for Koh to say that this theological perspective on justice "can be applied in assisting Christians, in particular, and fair-minded Singaporeans, in general, to place justice in the forefront of their social engagement in the public square for the benefit of all people." (p. 32-33)

The second chapter is Gordon Wong's reflection on the issue of law and justice through the Old and New Testament. Wong started off by disclaiming that his article is just random reflections instead of a full summary of the Bible's perspectives on the topic.

Cautiously, the Professor of Old Testament points out that the reader of the Bible must not be too ready to conflate into single meaning the various references of the word 'law' as appeared at different places of the Bible. For instance, when apostle Paul wrote about the law, was he referring to the Mosaic law, natural law, or the legal tradition developed by the Pharisees?

By looking into the recent public debate on the law on homosexual practice in Singapore, Wong draws the example of how those from both sides of the debate have been talking across each other by not being attentive to how each side understands the law. Those who want to remove the law understands it as criminal law, while those who want to maintain it understand it as moral law. "An awareness of this difference in understanding what type of law is being discussed may help advance the debate." (p. 38)

On another note, Wong reminds the reader that,

"So central and important is the practice of justice that it even takes precedence over the practice of worship. As important as acts of worship are in the Old Testament, they are not as important as acts of justice!" [For eg. Amos 5:23-24] (p. 45)

The second part of the book consists of five chapters concerning the various issues of law and justice in Singapore.

William Wan writes on Christian's relation with the four major aspects of legal punishment: retribution, deterrence, prevention and rehabilitation.

On retribution, Wan comments that it is justified and required because what underlies this aspect is that the criminals "must take personal responsibility for their wrongdoing." (p. 60) On deterrence, the author remarks that this aspect of punishment violates the imago Dei. The person being punished is made an example to others and hence is treated as a means to an end. (p. 77)

While Wan asserts that the prevention through imprisonment is valid yet this must only be carried out on those who are convicted of a crime and not on those who might commit crime. (p. 79)

The rehabilitation aspect has to be carried out with due consideration given to the criminal. Wan quotes C. S. Lewis, "[When] we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a 'case'." (p. 80)

There is one point in Wan's article that needs further comment. He writes that "Deuteronomy 24:16 articulates the doctrine of individual responsibility: "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin."" (p. 73) Yet there is Exodus 34:7 where punishment extends to subsequent generations: "[He] punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation." So the appropriation of doctrine for criminal responsibility in common law remains a question to be explored.

Tan Seow Hon, who is currently Associate Professor of Law at Singapore Management University, writes a sharp essay on the issue of abortion. She revisits the Abortion Bill 1969 and discusses extensively its underlying problems.

Her article indirectly highlights the hasty legislation process of the Bill that does not undergo a more sustained debate. (A brief version of her in-depth argument is published in the Straits Times, dated 24 July 2008, reprinted at Asiaone news website titled 'Time for Singapore to relook abortion law'.)

I am especially in agreement with the following two points concerning a just discourse etiquette that she makes in the essay. First,

"Just as religious persons may not cite a religious text without more reasons, non-religious persons should not regard it as relevant that their interlocutor is religious if she is willing to offer non-religious reasons in discourse." (p. 102)

Second,

"If an argument stands the test of reason, may it not be impugned on the ground only that it is made by someone who happens to be religious. Otherwise, the religious would be in a [...] situation in which if they made a religious argument that was not accessible to all, they would be silenced, and if they made a non-religious argument, they would be accused of a facade of rationality." (p. 112-113)

Both were not uphold, as demonstrated in the article, during the abortion bill debate in 1969.

Debbie Ong contributes in Chapter 5 on the issue of marriage and divorce. As a Mediator in the Family Court, Ong points out the developmental history of the marriage and divorce law in Singapore as well as shares a real scenario of how divorce is deliberated.

Ong brings to our awareness how local legal system negotiate through the problems like monogamous heterosexual marriage, equality of husband and wife, qualifications to file for divorce, and the difficult issue of "marital rape".

Kiem-Kiok Kwa, who lectures on inter-cultural studies at East Asia School of Theology, examines the Methodist Church in Singapore in her essay.

She lists the various exemplary activities that have been undertaken by the local Methodist Churches as the manifestation of their seriousness is adhering and commending the 'Social Principles' stated in their Book of Discipline. Kwa makes a passing note that the statement "We deplore capital punishment" is taken out from the 1985 edition without further elaboration.

Commenting on the root of Methodist's social work, Kwa writes that these Social Principles is a

"unique reflection of Methodist theology and praxis since Wesley was concerned for the physical, intellectual, spiritual and social needs of people even as he preached personal redemption and social holiness." (p. 156)

Due to this, the Methodist Churches' comprehensive programs range from providing pre- and post-marital counseling, social-outreach activities across generation, education institutions, to engaging in public issues and social movements that care for the less-privileged, lower level of the society, and the environment.

In promoting for a just economy, Kwa recommends the option of fair-trade. Although Kwa is not intentional in addressing political economy in detail, yet it bears reminded that the suggestion for fair-trade falls into the problem of cultural capitalism, as emphatically raised by Slavoj Zizek:

"We are encouraged to believe that tokens of charity benefit those who suffer. Rather than look at the cause of problems, an overbearing system, deluded social psychology, personal abdication of responsibility and faulty philosophical worldview all of which try to alleviate problems of it’s own making using the same methodology that creates and sustains these problems, we simply work the dysfunctional system harder and faster."

That means activities such as the fair-trade initiative not only fail to address the problem but actually prolong it. In Zizek's words, this sort of "remedy is part of the disease." It still remained to be seen how this option can lead to a just economic practices without also inheriting the violence of the economic system that it condemns.

The last chapter, which is also the longest in the book, written by Thio Li-ann deals with the general approach towards public engagement. The article contains many illustrations taken from debates occurred around the world to serve as a guide to understand local issues.

Overall, the various issues highlighted in the book are important for local Christians and Churches to be familiarized with in order to get hold of the present situation as well as learning which approaches to be considered and which to be avoided. I have come to reckon this volume as a necessary compendium for the Christian community for its deliberation in the area of public theology, social engagement, legal system and justice with a high level of relevance and sensitivity to the local context.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Amused by 'Are you even a Christian at all?'

As I was clearing my moderation box of this blog, I came across a comment which I received in September 2010 which I didn't approved. After reading it again, I decided to publish it as a blog post in verbatim rather than approving it as a comment on the particular post, which is the review of Joseph Prince's book 'Destined to Reign'.

It is written by some 'Chris' that links to this empty blog with a Chris-ly title 'christjesusmylife':

Hi Sze Zeng,

Honestly this question first came to my mind when I read your comments. The question was: Are you even a Christian at all? I asked this question because i have many friends who actually are people who just basically go around finding fault with what other preachers preach. If you are a Christian, why would spend all this time and all this effort to write and give critics about other preachers. Jesus came to spread the message of his father's love to the world. You don't see him spend time and all his effort attacking the Pharisees. I have nothing else to say but I hope that you would think and reconsider what you are doing. Would you spend all the time and effort to spread the good news or just attack what others say. Sure some of them maybe wrong but would you want to waste time doing that rather then helping to save one more soul.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daniel Koh's full response to the Straits Times's report on teenage preachers

The Strait Times published a report titled 'Young, trendy--and a 'preacher'' on 11 July 2011, written by Yen Feng, Religion and Culture Reporter of the Straits Times Singapore. (A [edited?] reprinted version can be read at Jakarta Globe website.)

The main feature in the report is Elijah Ng, a teenage preacher from City Harvest Church, who "has a personal hairstylist" and wears designer branded clothes.

Daniel Koh, a lecturer at Trinity Theological College, has written a response to the report at the Straits Times Forum, wondering if the media is going only for the sensational. However his question is deleted completely.

This is the published version (ST Forum: Shepherd teen preachers carefully, dated 13 July 2011, http://www.straitstimes.com/STForum/OnlineStory/STIStory_689841.html [accessed 13 July 2011]):

IT IS natural for religious groups to encourage young and capable members to consider joining the religious orders ('Young, trendy - and a 'preacher''; Monday). This will ensure continuity and is a healthy form of leadership renewal.

However, while Elijah Ng may be oratorically gifted and dressed like a celebrity, as a secondary school student he is still in his formative years. He still has much to learn and should be guided with care. He should also be encouraged to pursue appropriate theological studies at the right time, in preparation for pastoral work if the church sees potential in him.

Daniel Koh Kah Soon

While the original version is this (with permission from Daniel to post it on this blog):

Dear Editor,

Monday's Straits Times carried a number of articles about young Singaporeans becoming priests, pastors and Quran reader. It is natural for religious groups like any farsighted institution to encourage young and capable members to consider joining the religious orders. This will ensure continuity. It is a healthy form of leadership renewal.

I am particularly attracted to the report about Elijah Ng, a teenager who is "Not a preacher, but people treat him like one." (ST July 11).

While he may be oratorically gifted, and he may be expensively dressed up like a celebrity, as a secondary school student, he is still in his formative years. There is still much to be learned for this young lad. He should be guided with care and prayer, and encouraged to pursue appropriate theological studies at the right time, in preparation for pastoral work if the church sees the potential in him to be one.

Instead of featuring Elijah, who is not typical of what is happening in the churches in Singapore, I wonder why the Straits Times reporters did not consider the many other young pastors who are now working as pastors in various churches, some of whom would have inspiring stories to share about why they have left their well-paid jobs, to become ordinary pastors of churches which shun razzmatazz religiosity and celebrity culture, and which are definitely not part of the glamourised "mega-church" league.

Daniel Koh Kah Soon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Report on BERSIH 2.0 by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


From Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights' website, dated 12 July 2011 (http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11225&LangID=E):

Malaysia: Government risks undermining democratic progress, say UN experts

GENEVA – UN human rights experts* on Monday expressed their dismay at the use of tear gas and water cannons by security authorities against peaceful protestors in Malaysia on Saturday, reportedly leading to injuries and one death, and the arrest of more than 1,600 people at the Bersih 2.0 rally.


“The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including in the form of peaceful protests, is essential for democracy. By declaring the demonstration illegal, sealing off parts of the capital in advance and responding in such a heavy-handed manner against peaceful demonstrators, the Government of Malaysia risks undermining democratic progress in the country,” said Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Tens of thousands of people gathered near the Medeka Stadium on Saturday despite the announcement made by the police that no gathering would be permitted that day on the basis of the Malaysia Police Act, which requires organizers of public gatherings of three or more persons to seek permits beforehand. The protests were called by Bersih, a coalition of more than 60 non-governmental organizations seeking to promote free and fair elections in Malaysia.


“Actions taken by the authorities prior to and during the rally unduly restricted the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association,” said La Rue. “Declaring Bersih illegal based on claims that it is trying to topple the Government or is a risk to national security and public order - in the absence of any credible evidence to substantiate such claims – is also an unnecessary restriction of civil and political rights.”


According to Malaysian police, all of those arrested on Saturday have been released. But the UN experts noted that six leaders from the Socialist Party of Malaysia reportedly remain in detention. These individuals include Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, Sukumaran Munisamy, Letchumanan Aseer Patham, Choo Chon Kai, Sarasvathy Muthu, and Satat Babu Raman.


“We remain deeply concerned about the detention of six individuals since 25 June under the Emergency Ordinance, which allows for detention without trial for up to 60 days,” said El Hadji Malick Sow, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also reiterated its recommendation, made to the Government of Malaysia following a visit to the country in June 2010, to repeal the Emergency Ordinance and other preventive laws, on the grounds that they significantly hinder fundamental human rights, such as the right to fair trial.**

The independent experts reminded the Government of Malaysia of its obligation to fully respect the rights to peaceful assembly, association, and expression, as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They also recalled that as a member of the Human Rights Council, Malaysia has pledged to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.


“Malaysia, as a dynamic, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and pluralistic nation, should remain open to legitimate political discourse on democracy, including the expression of dissent,” the experts said. “We urge the Government to allow all individuals to enjoy their human rights, and to address the problem of preventive detention. Likewise, we call upon the Government to ensure that there will not be any punitive measures taken against peaceful demonstrators.”


END


*Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue; and Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow.



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The erotic human body: a borrowed transference


The book that occupied my time in the past few days was a collection of polemical essays written by a leading theologian-ethicist Oliver O' Donovan on the homosexual issue facing the Anglican Communion.

Among many astute insights into the tension, ranging from the discourse over the liberal paradigm, the nature of ethical disagreement and hermeneutics, O' Donovan highlights also the issue of human body, particularly the erotic aspect of it as a "beckoning".

That is to say, the body is a medium of divine calling through which we are called to reflect beyond it. Failing to reflect the beyond is to be stuck at the medium. And that is where temptation lies.

"It is possible, of course, to use the word "erotic," as a great many of our contemporaries do, simply as a synonym for sexual desire. But that is to miss almost everything of interest that has been thought about the erotic. Eros is precisely not sexual impulse; it is an aspect of the spiritual life of mankind, though inevitably engendering bodily experiences to accompany it since we are psychosomatic beings whose every moment is a mediation of the spiritual through the bodily. Reflecting on the body, it responds with yearning for its lurking hint of beauty and truth. It responds to something beckoning through it from beyond it. Precisely that moment of reflection is the temptation [...] understood. The familiar body, the body that we live in, object of wonder though it is, is too essentially present to us, too intimate, too enclosing--let us say, too heavy to beckon us beyond itself. But the body of the spiritual imagination is light and elusive. If we fail to carry the act of reflection through to its conclusion, if we fail to inquire what the erotic body is a medium for, then we end up investing our perfectly ordinary experiences of sexual attraction with an ontological weight that is, in fact, a borrowed transference, and in our confusion we fail to understand either ourselves or our bodies. We cannot and should not take that moment of rapture in the presence of the beautiful body quite at its face value--though we cannot and should not ignore it, either. We must interrogate it for its meaning."
(Oliver O' Donovan, A Conversation Waiting to Begin: The Churches and the Gay Controversy [UK: SCM Press, 2009], p.93-94. Emphasis original.)

The imagery of the erotic aspect of the human body is therefore not plain nakedness but the embodied lurk of beauty and truth that summons the observer's desire to go through it and back into desire itself. By going back into desire that we can interrogate the meaning of the body.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Aunty Annie Ooi with her stalk of flowers

While the authorities went with their trucks, shields, batons, water cannons and tear gas, aunty Annie went there in her yellow t-shirt and a stalk of flower.

(Photo: Hugo Teng)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Images from BERSIH 2.0: 9th July 2011



(An old lady, Annie Ooi, wore yellow t-shirt and joined the march.)


(The Inspector-General of Police reported there were only 6,000 people in the rally but eyewitnesses approximated to be about 50,000 people.)

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Blessed/Cursed interior design?

Chronic book collectors may be interested with the innovative design of this small 'shelf-pod' house in Osaka. To me, I'm not sure if such design is a blessing or a curse.

Certainly, it is soothing to be able to access to references whenever I need, but when it comes to interior design, there is a paradoxical preference for minimalism. Unless of course, one can afford a large storage area. Anyway, here's the shelf-pod (H/T: Joycelyn Ong):



Would this design be a blessing or curse to you if you have it?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Vatican & TULIP: Metaphysics of Divine-Human Action


Roman Catholicism is sometimes being rejected as less-Christian, if not non-Christian, by Protestants in general, and by certain cohort belonging to the Reformed circle in particular.

The usual reason for such rejection is that the Protestant thinks that Roman Catholic does not share their view on the doctrine of justification, sanctification, etc.

It worths bearing in mind that the central dispute in the mentioned doctrines lies not in the doctrines themselves but in another doctrine: the assumed differences on the idea of the God-human dynamics, commonly known as the Divine-Human action.

Both sides missed this important metaphysical issue when they leaped straight into the scriptures to quote passages that apparently supporting their view on justification, sanctification, etc.

Yet despite all the differences between Roman Catholicism and certain circle of the Reformed tradition that holds on to the Five-Points Calvinism, there is a central convergence between the two that those from both sides seem to have often missed.

As I looked into two official documents by each group in October 2006, I discovered that there are two shared convictions on this metaphysical problem:

(1) the necessity of divine initiative for human redemptive decisive action, and

(2) the real possibility that the influence of the divine can be resisted.

Let's take a look at these metaphysical affirmations:

From Roman Catholicism:
"When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight..."
(Vatican website: 'Council of Trent (1547): DS 1525', quoted in the Cathecism of the Catholic Church, Article 2:1:1993, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6Y.HTM [accessed 7 July 2011]. Emphasis added.)

From Five-Point Calvinism:
"Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God...The doctrine of irresistible grace does not mean that every influence of the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted. It means that the Holy Spirit can overcome all resistance and make his influence irresistible... The doctrine of irresistible grace means that God is sovereign and can overcome all resistance when he wills."
(Desiring God website: What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, dated March 1998, http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism [accessed 7 July 2011]. Emphasis added.)

Both converges on two points. Roman Catholicism's metaphysics in this aspect is not that different from the view of those who hold on to TULIP. Many differences can be better understood, if not eliminated, if we pay attention to what each others are really talking about.

The artwork above by Pietro da Cortona titled 'Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power' covers the ceiling of the Gran Salone of the Palazzo Barberini in Italy, commissioned by Pope Urban VIII in the early 17th century. The Pope meant the artwork to glorify his reign but those who look at it today admire little of his achievement. Rather they are directed to a glory that surpasses all human action even though the art itself is a product of creaturely effort.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Book Review: 'Making Globalization Work' by Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz is awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 together with his two other colleagues, George A. Akerlof and A. Michael Spence, for their pioneering research done in the area of information economics. This book is developed on the basis of their research in that area.

Basically their research assessed the significant role played by information in the current practice of economic transaction. Their study shows that the existing asymmetry of information between agents, due to each agent’s pursuit of self-interest, compromises fair transaction in the market. For instance, a client doesn't reveal his health problems to his insurance agent. Or a car salesman holds back certain information from his customers about the secondhand car he tries to sell. And this, according to Stiglitz, is in direct contrast against Adam Smith's market economy.

More than three hundred years ago, Adam Smith wrote that the characteristic pursuit of self-interest in the market will effectively though unintentionally bring about the common good of the society at large. The famous metaphor 'invisible hand' is used by Smith to describe how this accumulated pursuit of self-interest by every individuals in the society will eventually work towards the common good.

In other words, Smith was saying that self-centred pursuit indirectly contributes to the welfare of the community even though the individuals pursuing it often are not conscious of these wider positive implications that their pursuit has. Hence external factors such as the involvement of government in the redistribution of wealth and the management of the natural resources are redundant as the invisible hand by itself knows why it should do what when and how to do it.

As Smith has written in Part IV.I.10 of 'The Theory of Moral Sentiment',

“[The rich] are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society, and afford means to the multiplication of the species.
(Adam Smith, ‘Part IV: Of the Effect of Utility upon the Sentiment of Approbation, IV.I.10’ in The Theory of Moral Sentiment, available at http://www.econlib.org/library/Smith/smMS4.html#Part IV. Of the Effect of Utility upon the Sentiment of Approbation (accessed 5 July 2011).

Stiglitz remarked that Smith's idea has been inherited as a dogma in economics and have spawned what we now called "market fundamentalism", a "belief that markets by themselves lead to economic efficiency." (p.xiii)

Stiglitz’s research raises critical questions concerning Smith’s proposal by pointing out that the pursuit of self-interest does not promote common good for the society. He shows that the existence of asymmetry of information due to the pursuit of self-interest has jeopardized the prospect that common good can be attained without any external regulation.

In Stiglitz’s own words,

"My research on the economics of information showed that whenever information is imperfect, in particular when there are information asymmetries—where some individuals know something that others do not (in other word, always)—the reason that the invisible hand seems invisible is that it is not there. Without appropriate government regulation and intervention, markets do no lead to economic efficiency." (p.xiv)

However, that is not the gist that Stiglitz’ wanted to make in this book. Rather it serves as the framework to understand the entire argument in 'Making Globalization Work'.

The major portion of the book is compilation of incidents happened around the world that Stiglitz perceived as evidences that expose the inadequacy of Smith’s idea. Pages after pages are problems seen in our current globalized context. Stiglitz, nonetheless, clarified that these problems are not due to globalization but "in the way globalization has been managed." (p.4)

One very good point raised in the book is the need for countries to adopt Human Development Indicator (HDI), which provides a broader approach to appraise development by combining the measures of income, life expectancy, and education, as a gauge for nation’s development rather than depending solely on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). (p.44)

To reflect further on Stiglitz's proposal, the importance of metric measurement lies in the fact that such measurement does not merely provide a track record of a country’s economic performance but actually supply a national narrative for the country. And with that, the national identity and responsibility for the country and towards fellow citizens to make sense of themselves in the reality of a nation-state.

That means if a country is obsessed with GDP, then economic performance will be prioritised at the expense of other significant aspects that mark a healthy community such as manageable stress level, better quality of family life, low crime rate, high level of tolerance over differences, ecological concerns, and others.

The book is critical over the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its inconsistency and hypocrisy, and over various profit-driven legislature bodies like the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

It is difficult for the reader to fail to notice the author's extensive exposure to international issues, covering almost every continent. However, I find two of his analyses on Malaysia's condition mistaken.

First, his positive evaluation of Malaysia’s ruling party UMNO’s "aggressive affirmative action program to help the ethnic Malays." (p.49) Stiglitz affirmed this policy as,

"[A]n important part of nation building; the view that all groups would benefit from a more stable and equitable society was widely accepted, even though some members of Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese community may have lost opportunities as a result." (p.49)

Stiglitz does not seem to be aware that such program has backfired itself. Instead of developing the Malay community, the community has become too dependent on the program.

Due to the nature of the program that is based on ethnicity, the racial gap in the Malaysian society has since widened and deepened, producing a segmented job market. We find that the majority of the Malays occupies the civil sector while other ethnic groups have no choice but to strive in the industrial and commercial sectors. As a result, the middle class of other ethnic groups expanded faster than the Malay.

The race-based policy also has implicated the education system of the country. Generally the other ethnic groups have to work harder compared to the Malays to gain entry into local public universities. Many of the Malays take it for granted that the government will provide a place for them in the universities with the race-based quota system.

It worth bearing in mind that this quota system is not similar with those in America that serves the purpose to cultivating a multi-cultural learning environment among university students. In the Malaysian context, this quota system has been abused: Many Malays lack the willingness to strive since they perceive that they can always rely on the government to favor them. This inevitably drives racial discrimination, intellectual disparity, and increased distrust among different ethnic communities.

Stiglitz's second mistaken analysis is on the Malaysia’s management of its natural resources through Petronas. (p.33-34, 143) The oil business in Malaysia is a controversial affair. For instance, the federal government has been depriving millions of dollars of oil royalty to opposition-ruling states such as Kelantan. (See Kelantan claims RM800m per annum oil royalty, http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/kelantan-claims-rm800m-per-annum-oil-royalty/ [accessed 5 July 2011].)

As a side note, I find it puzzling for Stiglitz who spent the entire Chapter 6 of the book in alarming the current ecological crisis would affirm so highly the economic values of the oil industry.

The fact is that Malaysia’s economy has become too dependent on its petroleum business arm, Petronas, which contributes up to half of the country’s revenue. (See FACTBOX-Petronas: Malaysia's golden goose, http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKSGE65T0DL20100701 [accessed 5 July 2011].) It is only a matter of time for the country's economy to arrive at its impeding crisis for heavily relying on a natural resource that is depleting.

Moving on to other matters discussed in the book. The author, despite all his practical recommendation for governmental intervention in contemporary world, has ignored (if not failing to make explicit) the fundamental issue contributing directly to the discourse on economics: the notion of justice in power relations.

This lack rendered the reader a sublimed sense of vagueness in the solution proposed by the author. Unless this issue is addressed, there simply would not be resolution among dissenting countries and corporations since everyone is driven by self-interest.

To give an example, Stiglitz argued from the ground of "fundamental values" that a comprehensive democratic process would subject pharmaceutical companies to trade off profit for the right of life. (p.131-132) However, it is doubtful that democracy, which basically a polity empowered by the people’s self-interest, would bring about a better-adjusted economic process.

When subjected to democratic process, pharmaceutical companies' willingness to trade off profit depends on workers in the companies to cast vote for that trade off. If the majority of the citizens are against the trade off, then does that means there is nothing can be done?

The persistence of these perplexing questions demonstrates that at the bottom of the discussion on globalization is the negotiation on who says what belongs to who and why. This is a political question as much as a moral discovery. If it is not the invisible hand, then who should have the final say on goods distribution, citizens’ employment and welfare, and corporations’ global responsibility? In the book, Stiglitz tells us that there is no invisible hand and hence the market by itself cannot provide answers to these questions. Yet he does not tell us how can the government and citizens of the globe fare better.

Monday, July 04, 2011

UMNO & Malaysian police force facilitating violence

Malaysia's ruling party UMNO-BN and the police force arrested and detained peaceful citizens who wore yellow t-shirt featuring BERSIH 2.0 rally, but allowed violent demonstration by UMNO-BN and PERKASA members at Georgetown, Penang.

If ever Malaysia becomes chaotic, it is all due to the ruling party's failure to conduct itself in fairness.

This is the public statement by Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng (emphasis added):

Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 4 July 2011.

Does Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein Dare To Ban Perkasa As He Has Banned Bersih Or Arrest Senator Ezam Mohamad And Khairy Jamaluddin Just As The Police Has Arrested Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj Under The Emergency Ordinance To Prove That The Police Does Not Practice Double-Standards Or Favouritism?

Does Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein dare to ban Perkasa as he has banned Bersih or arrest UMNO’s Senator Ezam Mohamad and UMNO Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin just as the police has arrested Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj under the Emergency Ordinance to prove that the police does not practice double-standards or favouritism?

DAP questions Hishammuddin insistence that the authorities will act fairly in stopping all gatherings despite only outlawing electoral reforms group Bersih, when no action was taken against UMNO and Perkasa for organising a violent demonstration in Penang on 1.7.2011. Why has Hishamuddin also not arrested Ezam under the Emergency Ordinance for his threats that there is no need to wait for general elections and he wanted to do more protests to force me to step down as Chief Minister earlier?

The Penang Chinese Journalists and Photographers Association (Pewaju) has condemned the unprovoked attacks on a journalist, a photographer and a videographer by the protestors during violent and illegal rallies in George Town downtown and on Penang Bridge. Pewaju questioned why the police did not enforce the law and failed to take preventive measures to stop the demonstration before hand when they already knew about it a day earlier.

Question also arises on why the police have been so tough to clamp down on the Bersih 2.0 rally which is yet to take place, while being incompetent in halting an illegal rally by Umno and Perkasa that actually took place. What is shocking is Pewaju’s statement that the attacks on the journalists took place right before the police eyes, but the law enforcers were hapless, helpless and hopeless to stop the assault. The ineptness of the police raised a question on their integrity, competency and credibility to protect ordinary Malaysians.

DAP supports peaceful demonstrations but condemns violent demonstrations. The failure by the police to act against the violent demonstration by UMNO and Perkasa only shows that there is clear double-standards and favouritism.

Jeyakumar was unjustly arrested under the Emergency Ordinance with 5 other PSM members despite the government’s failure to produce any proof that he was waging war against the King and country. Allegations of spreading communism is ridiculous when Malaysia enjoys close relations with Communist countries like Cuba, China and Vietnam.

Should not then Khairy Jamaluddin be also arrested and charged for trying to revive communism by setting up a permanent secretariat on October 12 2009 to strengthen ties between Barisan Nasional Youth and the Communist Youth League of China (CYL). Barisan Youth chairman Khairy Jamaluddin had said that the permanent secretariat would facilitate continuous bilateral programmes to promote a stronger bond between the two entities.

Clearly the BN government is only victimising Bersih supporters who are arrested in the past week and its secretariat raided on Wednesday, when they have not organised any demonstration whilst UMNO and Perkasa demonstrations are allowed to proceed unpunished. These unjust actions will only sully Malaysia’s international image and its record of not practicing what it preaches on respecting basic human rights.

Friday, July 01, 2011

What's your favourite Contemporary Christian Music?

Many friends have shared about their favorite Christian hymns. From the comments, it seems that the most favored one is 'Be Thou My Vision', which its original lyrics is traced back to the 6th century A.D. Ireland when it is sung in Irish folk song's tune. The song was 'hymnized' in the early 20th century by Welsh musician David Evans.

Now, I wonder what's your favorite Contemporary Christian Music (commonly abbreviated as CCM)?

CCM is, as described in wikipedia, "a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith." The famous CCM artists are Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns, and others.

This is my favorite CCM, a song with vivid observation of evil, exploration in theodicy, self-criticism, pastoral exhortation and a deep yearning for the apocalytic:



What's wrong with the world, mama
People livin' like they ain't got no mamas
I think the whole world addicted to the drama
Only attracted to things that'll bring you trauma
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin'
In the USA, the big CIA fightin'
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you're bound to get irate, yeah
Madness is what you demonstrate
And that's exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y'all, y'all

[Chorus]
People killin', people dyin'
Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love

Where is the love
Where is the love
Where is the love
The love, the love

It just ain't the same, always unchanged
New days are strange, is the world insane
If love and peace is so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don't belong
Nations droppin' bombs
Chemical gasses fillin' lungs of little ones
With ongoin' sufferin' as the youth die young
So ask yourself is the lovin' really gone
So I could ask myself really what is goin' wrong
In this world that we livin' in people keep on givin' in
Makin' wrong decisions, only visions of them dividends
Not respectin' each other, deny thy brother
A war is goin' on but the reason's undercover
The truth is kept secret, it's swept under the rug
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where's the love, y'all, come on (I don't know)
Where's the truth, y'all, come on (I don't know)
Where's the love, y'all

[Chorus]
People killin', people dyin'
Children hurt and you hear them cryin'
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love

Where is the love
Where is the love
Where is the love
Where is the love
Where is the love, the love, the love?

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I'm gettin' older, y'all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin'
Selfishness got us followin' our wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema
Yo', whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness in equality
Instead of spreading love we're spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity
That's the reason why sometimes I'm feelin' under
That's the reason why sometimes I'm feelin' down
There's no wonder why sometimes I'm feelin' under
Gotta keep my faith alive till love is found
Now ask yourself

Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?
Where is the love?

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
Where is the love?

Sing with me y'all:
One world, one world (We only got)
One world, one world (That's all we got)
One world, one world
And something's wrong with it
Something's wrong with it
Something's wrong with the wo-wo-world, yeah
We only got (One world, one world)
That's all we got (One world, one world)

What is your favorite CCM?