In view of the upcoming Malaysia's general election, Graceworks has conducted an interview with all the contributors of The Bible and the Ballot: Reflections on Christian Political Engagement in Malaysia Today. Here is the second round.
Questions 2: There are seven articles in the book. What’s yours about?
My article “Naming Names” tries to make a biblical case for churches to be less hesitant in identifying with specific political candidates. I’m hoping to abolish the fear of a preacher speaking against (or for) a particular candidate. I wish to draw some connections between how Jesus and the prophets were tembak-ing certain specific people, and how maybe we needn’t hesitate that much today if we come across similar crimes.
My piece “Strengthening Democracy in Malaysia” deals with the public sphere. I point out that Malaysian laws have stemmed public information and discussion on issues that concern all of us. However, with the advent of social networking tools and the results of the 12th General Elections, things have changed. People are increasingly getting and sharing information that was once restricted and organizing themselves into groups to make their concerns known to the authorities. Consider, for example, the public protests that have taken place in the past year or so, and how the government is becoming responsive to these concerns.
In my piece “Why am I Attending Vigils for Dr Jeyakumar and EO6?” I tell of my encounter with deaths in detention. I also share how studying the book of Revelation with the aid of a book by Eugene Peterson helped me recognize that I had been radicalized by the Messiah. I cite Vishal Mangalwadi who gave me fresh insight into what to expect when we proclaim Jesus as King, not only of heaven, but also of all the kings of the earth. I explain why my mere presence at a protest is power for others. While my contribution is mostly a personal story, the other contributors seek to motivate and suggest frameworks for reflection and action.
My contribution in the book “Prayer and Political Consideration” is to provide a guide for Christians to pray for the country and how we can respond to others. For example, Matthew 5:44 says that we ought to pray for those who persecute us. Does this mean that Christians can only pray and must not defend themselves when persecuted? Also, what does it mean to ”love your enemy” when the Christian community is mistreated politically? These are the issues that we try to engage in the book.
On my part, rather than writing another article, I offered to write an “Afterword” because I saw that each individual piece was actually part of our ongoing conversation together in different arenas at different times, i.e., face to face or in most cases screen to screen via blogs, email and Facebook.