Thursday, May 31, 2007

Your Presence An Absence

In Your presence there is an absence
silencing my greatest fear.
It is with You that I know the essence
of what is life, now that You’re near.

It is in the absence of Your presence
that I rekindle my desire;
and it is when I am without You
that I burn, an inextinguishable fire.

In Your presence there is an absence
of all that preys upon my mind;
for my heart’s desire before me,
and I leave all else behind.

It is in the absence of Your presence
that I have learned to be apart.
It is without You that I am with You;
for You are Joy within my heart.

Janet Rimmer

Your Presence An Absence

In Your presence there is an absence
silencing my greatest fear.
It is with You that I know the essence
of what is life, now that You’re near.

It is in the absence of Your presence
that I rekindle my desire;
and it is when I am without You
that I burn, an inextinguishable fire.

In Your presence there is an absence
of all that preys upon my mind;
for my heart’s desire before me,
and I leave all else behind.

It is in the absence of Your presence
that I have learned to be apart.
It is without You that I am with You;
for You are Joy within my heart.

Janet Rimmer

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Statement on Lina Joy's Problem

source

Christian Federation of Malaysia Statement on Lina Joy's case
Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 07:24pm

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is disturbed and saddened by the decision of the Federal Court in the Lina Joy’s case, where the Court has confirmed the National Registration Department’s right to insist on a certificate from the Syariah Court that she has apostatized, prior to registering her conversion in the identity card.

We reiterate that the NRD’s insistence on such a certificate being produced has curtailed the fundamental right of an individual to profess and express his or her religion as provided for in Article 11.

We have also noted with much concern that this decision reflects a growing trend of decisions in the courts where civil courts are abdicating their responsibility of providing legal redress to individuals who only seek to profess and live their religion according to their conscience.

As a result of this decision, it is now more pressing for the government and lawmakers to revisit the relevant legislation and to reinstate the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts so that equal protection of the right to choose and express one’s religion is accorded to all Malaysians, as enshrined in Article 11.

The CFM will continue to cooperate with the government and all Malaysians to uphold the Government’s vision of upholding the multiracial, multicultural and multi-religious character of our nation.

Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ
Chairman and Executive Committee
Christian Federation of Malaysia

You may download the Judgments of Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Justice Datuk Richard Malanjum by clicking here

Statement on Lina Joy's Problem

source

Christian Federation of Malaysia Statement on Lina Joy's case
Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 07:24pm

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is disturbed and saddened by the decision of the Federal Court in the Lina Joy’s case, where the Court has confirmed the National Registration Department’s right to insist on a certificate from the Syariah Court that she has apostatized, prior to registering her conversion in the identity card.

We reiterate that the NRD’s insistence on such a certificate being produced has curtailed the fundamental right of an individual to profess and express his or her religion as provided for in Article 11.

We have also noted with much concern that this decision reflects a growing trend of decisions in the courts where civil courts are abdicating their responsibility of providing legal redress to individuals who only seek to profess and live their religion according to their conscience.

As a result of this decision, it is now more pressing for the government and lawmakers to revisit the relevant legislation and to reinstate the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts so that equal protection of the right to choose and express one’s religion is accorded to all Malaysians, as enshrined in Article 11.

The CFM will continue to cooperate with the government and all Malaysians to uphold the Government’s vision of upholding the multiracial, multicultural and multi-religious character of our nation.

Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ
Chairman and Executive Committee
Christian Federation of Malaysia

You may download the Judgments of Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim and Justice Datuk Richard Malanjum by clicking here

Understanding Shalom

The word “Shalom” is an interesting word. Shalom is translated as:
(1) to be in a covenant of peace, be at peace, (Qal) to be at peace, peaceful one (participle), (Pual) one in covenant of peace (participle), (Hiphil) to make peace with, to cause to be at peace,(Hophal) to live in peace;
(2) to be complete, be sound, (Qal) to be complete, be finished, be ended, to be sound, be uninjured, (Piel) to complete, finish, to make safe, to make whole or good, restore, make compensation, to make good, pay, to requite, recompense, reward, (Pual) to be performed, to be repaid, be requited, (Hiphil) to complete, perform, to make an end of.
LXX translate Hebrew shalom, 250 times with the Greek word, eirene. Luke uses the word shalom (eirene) to describe the early struggling Christian church (Acts 9:31).

Wolterstorff, a Christian educator writes, “Shalom means people living in right relationships with God, themselves, each other, and nature- and in taking delight in such relationships. Shalom involves finding meaning in our experiences and celebrating the actualizing of creation’s potentials. Shalom involves recognizing in ourselves that place where Gods’ goodness finds its answer in our gratitude. Shalom is an ethical community where all the members have a full and secure place in the community. As such, it embraces a “non-abandonment” view of the creation that involves redeeming it.”

Expanding on this, Norma Everist from Wartburg Theological seminary in Duduque, Iowa writes, “Shalom looks both backward and forward. It recalls the paradisiacal Garden of Eden, and anticipates the coming of the reign of God. Shalom is personal, and may apply to Godself or to an individual human being. Shalom is communal, meaning the right relationship between friends, neighbors, a community, nation, or even all the inhabited world (oikoumene).”

The concept of shalom as having passive and active components is interesting. Everist goes on to explain, “For humankind, shalom is both passive and active. God’s people are dependent on this gracious, promised gift. Jesus made shalom through the cross (Col.1:20; Eph.2:15-16). When Jesus healed and forgave people, he dismissed them by saying, “Go in shalom.” We are to “seek and pursue it.” (Ps.34:14b as quoted in 1 Pet. 3:11 ). We are to be at peace, pursue it, send it, and keep it (Rom.12;18; 1 Thess.5:13; 2 Cor. 13:11) Rom.14:19; 1 Cor. 16:11). Shalom is an active fruit of the spirit and a mark of the realm of God. It is about the matrix of peace, harmony, and wholeness and is both a gift and task for the very goal of our teaching and learning life together. Finally shalom in Christian community is an inclusive concept, signifying a place, a dwelling and a life where we can be different together (Eph.2:14-22).” Therefore the heart of the meaning is close to life itself.

Shalom is linked with truth and justice in the Hebrew Bible, especially by Jeremiah (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). Forgiveness, righteousness, justification, reconciliation, pardon, restoration, good news, and salvation-words which point to harmony in any relationship- are all part of the semantic domain of shalom. In Paul’s theology in the New Testament Bible, justification by faith gives shalom with God through Jesus Christ. Shalom is Jesus’ “parting gift” to his disciples (Jn. 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26). Therefore it is in shalom that the process of spiritual formation proceeds.

I will suggest that it is our responsibility as Christian educators to bring followers of Jesus to a cognitive KNOWLEDGE of God, to an EXPERIENTIAL encounter with Him, to develop an INCARNATIONAL and MISSIONAL lifestyle, and to a place of BEING in a right relationship with God and other people so as to be in SHALOM.

.

Understanding Shalom

The word “Shalom” is an interesting word. Shalom is translated as:
(1) to be in a covenant of peace, be at peace, (Qal) to be at peace, peaceful one (participle), (Pual) one in covenant of peace (participle), (Hiphil) to make peace with, to cause to be at peace,(Hophal) to live in peace;
(2) to be complete, be sound, (Qal) to be complete, be finished, be ended, to be sound, be uninjured, (Piel) to complete, finish, to make safe, to make whole or good, restore, make compensation, to make good, pay, to requite, recompense, reward, (Pual) to be performed, to be repaid, be requited, (Hiphil) to complete, perform, to make an end of.
LXX translate Hebrew shalom, 250 times with the Greek word, eirene. Luke uses the word shalom (eirene) to describe the early struggling Christian church (Acts 9:31).

Wolterstorff, a Christian educator writes, “Shalom means people living in right relationships with God, themselves, each other, and nature- and in taking delight in such relationships. Shalom involves finding meaning in our experiences and celebrating the actualizing of creation’s potentials. Shalom involves recognizing in ourselves that place where Gods’ goodness finds its answer in our gratitude. Shalom is an ethical community where all the members have a full and secure place in the community. As such, it embraces a “non-abandonment” view of the creation that involves redeeming it.”

Expanding on this, Norma Everist from Wartburg Theological seminary in Duduque, Iowa writes, “Shalom looks both backward and forward. It recalls the paradisiacal Garden of Eden, and anticipates the coming of the reign of God. Shalom is personal, and may apply to Godself or to an individual human being. Shalom is communal, meaning the right relationship between friends, neighbors, a community, nation, or even all the inhabited world (oikoumene).”

The concept of shalom as having passive and active components is interesting. Everist goes on to explain, “For humankind, shalom is both passive and active. God’s people are dependent on this gracious, promised gift. Jesus made shalom through the cross (Col.1:20; Eph.2:15-16). When Jesus healed and forgave people, he dismissed them by saying, “Go in shalom.” We are to “seek and pursue it.” (Ps.34:14b as quoted in 1 Pet. 3:11 ). We are to be at peace, pursue it, send it, and keep it (Rom.12;18; 1 Thess.5:13; 2 Cor. 13:11) Rom.14:19; 1 Cor. 16:11). Shalom is an active fruit of the spirit and a mark of the realm of God. It is about the matrix of peace, harmony, and wholeness and is both a gift and task for the very goal of our teaching and learning life together. Finally shalom in Christian community is an inclusive concept, signifying a place, a dwelling and a life where we can be different together (Eph.2:14-22).” Therefore the heart of the meaning is close to life itself.

Shalom is linked with truth and justice in the Hebrew Bible, especially by Jeremiah (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). Forgiveness, righteousness, justification, reconciliation, pardon, restoration, good news, and salvation-words which point to harmony in any relationship- are all part of the semantic domain of shalom. In Paul’s theology in the New Testament Bible, justification by faith gives shalom with God through Jesus Christ. Shalom is Jesus’ “parting gift” to his disciples (Jn. 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26). Therefore it is in shalom that the process of spiritual formation proceeds.

I will suggest that it is our responsibility as Christian educators to bring followers of Jesus to a cognitive KNOWLEDGE of God, to an EXPERIENTIAL encounter with Him, to develop an INCARNATIONAL and MISSIONAL lifestyle, and to a place of BEING in a right relationship with God and other people so as to be in SHALOM.

.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Christianity Today Book Awards 2007

Christianity Today's Book Awards 2007
together with the judges' comments


Apologetics/Evangelism

The Language of God: 'A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Francis S. Collins (Free Press)
Our judges said:
"Faces head-on the most tactically challenging issues that keep people from Christian faith in our time with both clarity and charity. And by showing a Christian who loves creation, science, his neighbors, and his Lord, it presents a rare and welcome picture of mature Christian character."



Biblical Studies

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony
Richard Bauckham (Eerdmans)
Our judges said:
"Wonderful. A dazzlingbook. It reads beautifully, grabs the reader with its fascinating detective work, and sets the scholarly discussion of the historical Jesus on a new (very old!) foundation: eyewitness reports as the basis of the biblical gospel. This is biblical scholarship of the highest order that can be read with enjoyment by the thoughtful layperson."

Christianity and Culture

The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World
Miroslav Volf (Eerdmans)
Our judges said:
"How should a Christian handle the memory of abuse? If it is forgotten, where is justice for the accuser? How is reconciliation possible when abuse involves communities and nations? Volf addresses these questions with a profound theological grasp of their implications both for the present and the future."



Christian Living

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
Philip Yancey (Zondervan)
Our judges said:
"Directness and liveliness of illustration and argument, theological substance, quality of biblical reflection, and readability that may make it accessible even to those coming to faith, Bible reading, or prayer for the first time."




The Church/ Pastoral Leadership

Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples
Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger (B&H Publishing)
Our judges said:
"This very practical book addresses a big gap in most evangelical churches: the lack of a functional process for actually making disciples (not just incorporating church attenders)."
Our coverage:


Fiction

Dwelling Places
Vinita Hampton Wright (HarperSanFrancisco)
Our judges said:
"Literarily sophisticated and subtle. Characters and setting are extremely well developed. The nexus of family drama and large sociopolitical context is very rare. Faith plays a subtle but powerful role."




History/Biography

Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War
Harry S. Stout (Viking)
Our judges said:
"Likely to change people's minds about deeply important cultural views and memories. The Civil War, Stout argues, was not a just war in its inception or in its conduct."




Mission/Global Affairs

The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative
Christopher J. H. Wright (IVP Academic)
Our judges said:
"Completely fresh with new insights presented in a lucid and compelling way. This is an important work of scholarship that will likely give future generations a firm foundation for thinking theologically about the church's mission in the world. Likely to affect the way that biblical theology and exegesis are done in evangelical seminaries."

Spirituality

The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life
Robert E. Webber (Baker Books)
Our judges said:
"A brilliant and convincing exposition of the deficiencies of intellectualized, mysticized, and experientialized approaches to spirituality with a convincing, positive case for Christian spirituality as entering into the reality (divine embrace) of what Christ has accomplished for us on the Cross. The engagement with the rich history of spirituality, orthodox and otherwise, is outstanding."


Theology/Ethics

The Shadow of the Antichrist: Nietzsche's Critique of Christianity
Stephen N. Williams (Baker Academic)
Our judges said:
"This book tackles a subject too often ignored by evangelical Christians. The role of Nietzsche in forming what we call modern culture is of foundational importance, and Williams expounds this for us in a clear and compelling way. Every pastor and Christian educator should read and ponder this book when addressing the concerns of modern society."

read more

Christianity Today Book Awards 2007

Christianity Today's Book Awards 2007
together with the judges' comments


Apologetics/Evangelism

The Language of God: 'A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
Francis S. Collins (Free Press)
Our judges said:
"Faces head-on the most tactically challenging issues that keep people from Christian faith in our time with both clarity and charity. And by showing a Christian who loves creation, science, his neighbors, and his Lord, it presents a rare and welcome picture of mature Christian character."



Biblical Studies

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony
Richard Bauckham (Eerdmans)
Our judges said:
"Wonderful. A dazzlingbook. It reads beautifully, grabs the reader with its fascinating detective work, and sets the scholarly discussion of the historical Jesus on a new (very old!) foundation: eyewitness reports as the basis of the biblical gospel. This is biblical scholarship of the highest order that can be read with enjoyment by the thoughtful layperson."

Christianity and Culture

The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World
Miroslav Volf (Eerdmans)
Our judges said:
"How should a Christian handle the memory of abuse? If it is forgotten, where is justice for the accuser? How is reconciliation possible when abuse involves communities and nations? Volf addresses these questions with a profound theological grasp of their implications both for the present and the future."



Christian Living

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
Philip Yancey (Zondervan)
Our judges said:
"Directness and liveliness of illustration and argument, theological substance, quality of biblical reflection, and readability that may make it accessible even to those coming to faith, Bible reading, or prayer for the first time."




The Church/ Pastoral Leadership

Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples
Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger (B&H Publishing)
Our judges said:
"This very practical book addresses a big gap in most evangelical churches: the lack of a functional process for actually making disciples (not just incorporating church attenders)."
Our coverage:


Fiction

Dwelling Places
Vinita Hampton Wright (HarperSanFrancisco)
Our judges said:
"Literarily sophisticated and subtle. Characters and setting are extremely well developed. The nexus of family drama and large sociopolitical context is very rare. Faith plays a subtle but powerful role."




History/Biography

Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War
Harry S. Stout (Viking)
Our judges said:
"Likely to change people's minds about deeply important cultural views and memories. The Civil War, Stout argues, was not a just war in its inception or in its conduct."




Mission/Global Affairs

The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative
Christopher J. H. Wright (IVP Academic)
Our judges said:
"Completely fresh with new insights presented in a lucid and compelling way. This is an important work of scholarship that will likely give future generations a firm foundation for thinking theologically about the church's mission in the world. Likely to affect the way that biblical theology and exegesis are done in evangelical seminaries."

Spirituality

The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life
Robert E. Webber (Baker Books)
Our judges said:
"A brilliant and convincing exposition of the deficiencies of intellectualized, mysticized, and experientialized approaches to spirituality with a convincing, positive case for Christian spirituality as entering into the reality (divine embrace) of what Christ has accomplished for us on the Cross. The engagement with the rich history of spirituality, orthodox and otherwise, is outstanding."


Theology/Ethics

The Shadow of the Antichrist: Nietzsche's Critique of Christianity
Stephen N. Williams (Baker Academic)
Our judges said:
"This book tackles a subject too often ignored by evangelical Christians. The role of Nietzsche in forming what we call modern culture is of foundational importance, and Williams expounds this for us in a clear and compelling way. Every pastor and Christian educator should read and ponder this book when addressing the concerns of modern society."

read more

Monday, May 28, 2007

Han Suyin, a lady doctor in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Some information about Han Suyin by Dr. Wong Yin Onn, Johor Bahru;

THE greatest literary success in novelist Han Suyin's career is A Many Splendoured Thing, a book that was made into a film titled Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, starring Jennifer Jones and William Holden . This 1955 classic won four Academy awards for Best Picture, Best Song, Best Score and Best Costume. You may even know the lyrics to the song by the same name, sung by Nat King Cole.

She was born Elisabeth Chow Kuanghu (Zhou Guang-Hu) in 1917 in Henan, China, to Zhou Yuan Dong and Marguerite Denis, her Flemish-Belgian mother.

In 1933 she was admitted to Yanjing (Yenching) University (later part of Peking University). In 1935 she went to Brussels to study science. In 1938 she returned to China, working in an American Christian mission hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan, then went again to London in 1944 to study medicine, graduated MBBS in 1948 and went to Hong Kong to practice medicine in 1949 at the Queen Mary Hospital. Her husband, Tang, meanwhile, had died in action during the Chinese Civil War in 1947.

In the novel, Han described Hong Kong of 1949 and 1950 and how thousands of refugees escaping from the Communists swelled the population each week. She made the filth, despair, poverty and vice come tragically alive but all these were the backdrop for a passionate love affair. A Many-Splendoured Thing is frankly autobiographical. The novel described the love affair between the author and Ian Morrison, an Australian correspondent for The London Times. All Hong Kong knew about the love affair. They were inseparable, walking the streets of the city and the hills of the island at all hours, meeting openly at his hotel. They made no effort to keep the affair quiet. She was a well-known doctor, a Eurasian widow with a small daughter. He had a wife and children. The affair lasted several months and was suddenly interrupted by Morrison's front line death in Korea, when reporting on the Korean War. After his death, Han poured her grief into writing A Many Splendoured Thing and it seemed to bring a closure for her.

In 1952, she married Leon F. Comber, a British officer in the Malayan Special Branch, and went with him to Johore, where she worked in the Johore Bahru General Hospital, and later opened a clinic in Johore Bharu and Upper Pickering Street, Singapore.

In 1955, Han Suyin contributed efforts to the establishment of Nanyang University in Singapore. Specifically, she offered her services and served as physician to the institution, after having refused an offer to teach literature. Chinese writer Lin Yutang, first president of the university, had recruited her for the latter field, but she declined, indicating her desire "to make a new Asian literature, not teach Dickens".

She spent at least 10 years in Johor Baru, later working in an anti-tuberculosis clinic located above Universal Pharmacy, at 24 Jalan Ibrahim!Long before Guardian, Apex or Pharmacare existed, Universal Pharmacy was where JB folk went for pharmaceutical needs as it was well stocked with a wide range of imported merchandise on the ground floor. A broad wooden staircase led to the clinic upstairs where patients consulted Dr Elisabeth. Conversant in Hakka, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay, French and English, she is well remembered by older generation Johoreans. She now lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, and maintains her name as Dr Elisabeth C.K. Comber.The building that Universal occupied has been demolished and is now a vacant lot opposite Johor Central Store. So the next time you pass Johor Baru's busy Jalan Ibrahim, check out that space next to the motorcycle service shop and picture what used to be Universal Pharmacy and the clinic upstairs where Dr Comber, GP, once worked.


Here are additional personal information by Dr. Tan Chow Wei of The People’s Dispensary, Johor Bahru.


Here are some of the less known facts about the great Han Suyin, even missed by the NST reporter (because he missed interviewing an expert in JB history):

She practised medicine in JB in the 50s where she opened her first clinic near the old Cathay cinema (where Johoreans go to savour the famous beef noodle). The clinic was known as Chow Dispensary (In those days, clinics or surgeries were known as dispensaries, the word polyclinic was not even born. So when you see a clinic such as The People's Dispensary, you instantly know that it is a "grandfather clinic"!). Han Suyin was then affectionally called "Dr.Chow". She later relocated her clinic to the up-stair of the 2-storey shop house above the Universal Pharmacy, still retaining the name "Chow Dispensary". It is just a stone's throw away from the oldest clinic in JB, The People's Dispensary, where Dr.Tan Chow Wei (who is also a Hakka) is proud to be associated with. She used to visit Dr.Yeoh Hon Shu, the founder of The People's Dispensary and more than 20 years her senior, (who incidentally, was the first GP in JB to have a post-graduate degree, MRGP.) By the way, next to The People's Dispensary, where the Chinese Association was (Now being converted to museum of Chinese history in JB), was the birth-place of Robert Kuok, the richest man in Malaysia.

Han Suyin's husband then, Leon Comber was a Malayan Special Branch Officer during the 1948 to 1960 'Emergency' period. (After many years in book publishing he is now a research associate at the Monash Asia Institute of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia).

“Han Suyin” is a pseudonym. What does it stand for? According to her daughter, Tang Yungmei, Han Suyin stands for “the clear voice of the Han people.” There has been some debate about the origin of Hakka people whether they belong to "Han" people or a minority from "Xiongnu". From most of the evidence gathered, it can be concluded that Hakkas are likely Han people rather than a derivative from the Xiongnu.
Han Suyin’s conclusion is:

"The word Hakka does not denote a racial group, for the Hakkas are Han People, Chinese People. It was a word applied to all displaced peasants, and only after the tenth century came to design a special group. Moving en masse these refugees from misery were 'people who sought a roof, hence called Guest People' which was more courteous than calling them displaced persons or refugees...”

"The Hakkas say they are the true people of Han, and that they have escaped degenerate habits brought by foreign rule. They are proud of their singularity” As the Guest People, especially among the overseas Chinese, where their clans are prosperous and strong.”

So we can see that Hakka people are the Han people, not belonging to a minority. That is one main reason why Han Suyin chose “Han” as her surname.

She used to say: "I am a Hakka, my roots are in China.”

In December 2001, Tang Yungmei visited her mother Han Suyin. Later Tang Yungmei told me " Even at the age of 86, my mother knows clearly what has happened to China and what is happening."

Her other name Chow Kuanghu (Zhou Guanghu), "Chow" of course is her family name. "Kuang" is her generation name, which was a typical traditional Chinese custom that all the brothers, sisters and cousins in a family must take a same character in their given names.

Han Suyin's passport name is Dr. Elisabeth C.K. Comber. And it is also written on the door of her apartment in Switzerland. "Comber” is the family name of her English second husband, she apparently preserved. "C.K." holds for her Chinese name Chow Kuanghu. She puts her English name and Chinese name together with a tendency to show that she is a Eurasian.

Han Suyin is a very productive and prominent contemporary novelist. Most of her writing is in English some is in French and Chinese. Her works mainly fall into four categories: autobiography and fictions biography and sociological essays.

Han Suyin has long been based in Lausanne, Switzerland. She said then that she owned neither a television nor a radio but that she read five newspapers per day. At various times, she has maintained homes in Beijing and New York. She remains WHO consultant on China Affairs.

.

Han Suyin, a lady doctor in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Some information about Han Suyin by Dr. Wong Yin Onn, Johor Bahru;

THE greatest literary success in novelist Han Suyin's career is A Many Splendoured Thing, a book that was made into a film titled Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, starring Jennifer Jones and William Holden . This 1955 classic won four Academy awards for Best Picture, Best Song, Best Score and Best Costume. You may even know the lyrics to the song by the same name, sung by Nat King Cole.

She was born Elisabeth Chow Kuanghu (Zhou Guang-Hu) in 1917 in Henan, China, to Zhou Yuan Dong and Marguerite Denis, her Flemish-Belgian mother.

In 1933 she was admitted to Yanjing (Yenching) University (later part of Peking University). In 1935 she went to Brussels to study science. In 1938 she returned to China, working in an American Christian mission hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan, then went again to London in 1944 to study medicine, graduated MBBS in 1948 and went to Hong Kong to practice medicine in 1949 at the Queen Mary Hospital. Her husband, Tang, meanwhile, had died in action during the Chinese Civil War in 1947.

In the novel, Han described Hong Kong of 1949 and 1950 and how thousands of refugees escaping from the Communists swelled the population each week. She made the filth, despair, poverty and vice come tragically alive but all these were the backdrop for a passionate love affair. A Many-Splendoured Thing is frankly autobiographical. The novel described the love affair between the author and Ian Morrison, an Australian correspondent for The London Times. All Hong Kong knew about the love affair. They were inseparable, walking the streets of the city and the hills of the island at all hours, meeting openly at his hotel. They made no effort to keep the affair quiet. She was a well-known doctor, a Eurasian widow with a small daughter. He had a wife and children. The affair lasted several months and was suddenly interrupted by Morrison's front line death in Korea, when reporting on the Korean War. After his death, Han poured her grief into writing A Many Splendoured Thing and it seemed to bring a closure for her.

In 1952, she married Leon F. Comber, a British officer in the Malayan Special Branch, and went with him to Johore, where she worked in the Johore Bahru General Hospital, and later opened a clinic in Johore Bharu and Upper Pickering Street, Singapore.

In 1955, Han Suyin contributed efforts to the establishment of Nanyang University in Singapore. Specifically, she offered her services and served as physician to the institution, after having refused an offer to teach literature. Chinese writer Lin Yutang, first president of the university, had recruited her for the latter field, but she declined, indicating her desire "to make a new Asian literature, not teach Dickens".

She spent at least 10 years in Johor Baru, later working in an anti-tuberculosis clinic located above Universal Pharmacy, at 24 Jalan Ibrahim!Long before Guardian, Apex or Pharmacare existed, Universal Pharmacy was where JB folk went for pharmaceutical needs as it was well stocked with a wide range of imported merchandise on the ground floor. A broad wooden staircase led to the clinic upstairs where patients consulted Dr Elisabeth. Conversant in Hakka, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay, French and English, she is well remembered by older generation Johoreans. She now lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, and maintains her name as Dr Elisabeth C.K. Comber.The building that Universal occupied has been demolished and is now a vacant lot opposite Johor Central Store. So the next time you pass Johor Baru's busy Jalan Ibrahim, check out that space next to the motorcycle service shop and picture what used to be Universal Pharmacy and the clinic upstairs where Dr Comber, GP, once worked.


Here are additional personal information by Dr. Tan Chow Wei of The People’s Dispensary, Johor Bahru.


Here are some of the less known facts about the great Han Suyin, even missed by the NST reporter (because he missed interviewing an expert in JB history):

She practised medicine in JB in the 50s where she opened her first clinic near the old Cathay cinema (where Johoreans go to savour the famous beef noodle). The clinic was known as Chow Dispensary (In those days, clinics or surgeries were known as dispensaries, the word polyclinic was not even born. So when you see a clinic such as The People's Dispensary, you instantly know that it is a "grandfather clinic"!). Han Suyin was then affectionally called "Dr.Chow". She later relocated her clinic to the up-stair of the 2-storey shop house above the Universal Pharmacy, still retaining the name "Chow Dispensary". It is just a stone's throw away from the oldest clinic in JB, The People's Dispensary, where Dr.Tan Chow Wei (who is also a Hakka) is proud to be associated with. She used to visit Dr.Yeoh Hon Shu, the founder of The People's Dispensary and more than 20 years her senior, (who incidentally, was the first GP in JB to have a post-graduate degree, MRGP.) By the way, next to The People's Dispensary, where the Chinese Association was (Now being converted to museum of Chinese history in JB), was the birth-place of Robert Kuok, the richest man in Malaysia.

Han Suyin's husband then, Leon Comber was a Malayan Special Branch Officer during the 1948 to 1960 'Emergency' period. (After many years in book publishing he is now a research associate at the Monash Asia Institute of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia).

“Han Suyin” is a pseudonym. What does it stand for? According to her daughter, Tang Yungmei, Han Suyin stands for “the clear voice of the Han people.” There has been some debate about the origin of Hakka people whether they belong to "Han" people or a minority from "Xiongnu". From most of the evidence gathered, it can be concluded that Hakkas are likely Han people rather than a derivative from the Xiongnu.
Han Suyin’s conclusion is:

"The word Hakka does not denote a racial group, for the Hakkas are Han People, Chinese People. It was a word applied to all displaced peasants, and only after the tenth century came to design a special group. Moving en masse these refugees from misery were 'people who sought a roof, hence called Guest People' which was more courteous than calling them displaced persons or refugees...”

"The Hakkas say they are the true people of Han, and that they have escaped degenerate habits brought by foreign rule. They are proud of their singularity” As the Guest People, especially among the overseas Chinese, where their clans are prosperous and strong.”

So we can see that Hakka people are the Han people, not belonging to a minority. That is one main reason why Han Suyin chose “Han” as her surname.

She used to say: "I am a Hakka, my roots are in China.”

In December 2001, Tang Yungmei visited her mother Han Suyin. Later Tang Yungmei told me " Even at the age of 86, my mother knows clearly what has happened to China and what is happening."

Her other name Chow Kuanghu (Zhou Guanghu), "Chow" of course is her family name. "Kuang" is her generation name, which was a typical traditional Chinese custom that all the brothers, sisters and cousins in a family must take a same character in their given names.

Han Suyin's passport name is Dr. Elisabeth C.K. Comber. And it is also written on the door of her apartment in Switzerland. "Comber” is the family name of her English second husband, she apparently preserved. "C.K." holds for her Chinese name Chow Kuanghu. She puts her English name and Chinese name together with a tendency to show that she is a Eurasian.

Han Suyin is a very productive and prominent contemporary novelist. Most of her writing is in English some is in French and Chinese. Her works mainly fall into four categories: autobiography and fictions biography and sociological essays.

Han Suyin has long been based in Lausanne, Switzerland. She said then that she owned neither a television nor a radio but that she read five newspapers per day. At various times, she has maintained homes in Beijing and New York. She remains WHO consultant on China Affairs.

.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

When The Rubber Hits the Road


How to be a Christian in a Wicked World
Text: Psalm 37: 1-9

Summary
It is possible to live a Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit in trusting, delighting, committing, and be patient in the Lord in a wicked and evil world.

Text: Psalm 37: 1-9

PS 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

PS 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

PS 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

PS 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

PS 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

PS 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

PS 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

PS 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret--it leads only to evil.

PS 37:9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Introduction
All fans of Formula One racing will know that winning a race is the combination of the driver, the maintenance team and the design of the car. Even though the driver seems to get all the glory, it all goes back to the design of the car. Nowadays car designs are very dependent on computer modeling- the aerodynamics, the cooling system, the capacity of the engine, the air-fuel mix, and the weight of the car. However, no matter how el designed is the car, it will prove itself only when you get it on the road and drive. Hence when the rubber/tire hits the road. This is the same with our Christian life. No matter how much we memorized and study the Bible, how much we pray, and how much fellowship we have with our church, the test of our Christian living is in the world.

Psalm 37 has an acrostic structure. It begins each stanza with the Hebrew alphabet. This helps the students in memorizing the psalm. This psalm is considered part of the wisdom literature, like the book of Proverbs. Its purpose is not so much to teach theology, but rather practical living. It is a psalm about how to live. And this is particularly relevant to us today as we seek to live a Christian life in a world turned upside down.

How do you live in a world where the evil seems to triumph and the good seems insignificant? Is it possible to live a Christian life in a wicked world? When the tire hits the road, can our Christian principles hold?

PS 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

PS 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

There is the natural temptation to be upset and envious at the success of evil people, especially when living a moral life creates hardship. We look around and we see people whom we know to lie, steal, and cheat driving around in luxuries continental cars and live in large mansions. And they seem to get away with it. We know of evil persons who cause untold suffering and death of millions of people like Pol Pot of Cambodia and Mao Ze Dong of China dying of old age! The normal axiom is that the “good die young.” Why should the good die young? Shouldn’t the good live longer? Where is the justice in that?

Prov. 24:19 -20
PR 24:19 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of the wicked,
PR 24:20 for the evil man has no future hope,
and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.


But their success is superficial and not to be envied, for having no deep roots, they shrivel up as soon as testing comes along.

So how do we then live in this unjust world? Do we throw away our principles and jump in the in the murk? And if we want to live a Christian life, is there any way we can do that without failing? I believe that the psalmist had given us the answer in this section of this great wisdom psalm. The audience of this psalm also lives in times like us. Times where evil people are in control, where cheating and stealing are common, where injustices are common, and where it is difficult to live according to Godly principles, especially in the business world.

(1) Trust in the Lord (v.3)
PS 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Evil people tend to trust in their wealth, power, or connections. The righteous shall trust in the Lord.

Prov. 3: 5-6
PR 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
PR 3:6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.


Trusting in the Lord is very important. That is the basis of our belief. If you do not trust in the Lord, there is no point in talking about living a Christian life. One of the greatest examples of trust is the flying trapeze in a circus act. In the act, they will launch themselves into thin air and trust their friend or partner in the other trapeze will catch them in time. That’s absolute trust. This is especially so when they are doing it without net. There is no room for mistake, or a bad hair day. One mistake and they fall plunging into the hard ground below. I always look at trust in the Lord that way. Are we willing to launch ourselves into the air without a safety net below, trusting God to be there to catch our outstretched hands? That is trust.

(2) Delight in the Lord (v.4)
PS 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Evil people tends to live for themselves and fulfill their basest desire, the righteous shall delight in the presence of the Lord.

Together with trust is joy. Trusting the Lord will give us joy. Joy is different from happiness. If you give me a million dollars or a big house, I will be happy. However that happiness is transient. It disappears when the income tax man come to audit me or the land office demand payment of the quit rent. Joy, however persists in spite of circumstances. We can have joy in the most perverse of situations. This joy comes as a delight in the Lord. What is the purpose of our existence? Why are we here? We are here because God loves us. And we are here because God wants us to be his partners or co-creators for the redemption of this creation.

Prov. 8:30-31
PR 8:30 Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
PR 8:31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

(3) Commit to the Lord (v.5,6)
PS 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:


The act of trust and commitment acts like trigger, releasing God’s capacity to act. Commitment is a conscious decision. Like Peter Parker in Spider-man 2, life is a choice. He has received awesome powers- the strength of ten men, the ability to climb walls, shoot webs from his wrists, and swing from buildings to buildings. However, he has to choose to continue to be Spiderman, or to be a normal person by not using his powers. He wants to live a normal life and marry his sweetheart, Mary Jane. . Aunt May Parker said, "I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most, even our dream." Peter decides to become that hero. He has made his choice and commitment.

Prov. 16:3
PR 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
PR 16:4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends--
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

PS 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.


The conviction in v.6 is that the setbacks are only temporary, like clouds obscuring the sun. Eventually God will move the clouds away and true light will appear.

(4) Be Still before the Lord (v.7-9)
PS 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.


PS 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret--it leads only to evil.
PS 37:9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.


This verse advocate patience, not achieved by observing the instant-success schemes of this world, but by learning to wait on God’s appropriate timing.

The type of anger highlighted here is ‘anger against God’. This anger arises from the experience of trouble in the world where the evil people are evidently trouble-free, and the consequences of human experiences seem grossly unfair. Again, patience is encouraged because this type of anger is futile, because it will only bring grief to them. And also the evil will eventually cut off (as the Canaanites before them) and the faithful shall inherit the land (as their predecessor did).

Prov.16:32
PR 16:32 Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.


Can we learn to look at the world through the Lord’s eyes? Can we look at the world through the Lord’s timing. Even though evil flourish, it will be only for a while. In God’s own timing (which may be different from ours), justice will be done.

Conclusion: How to be Christian in a Wicked World
We can be Christians in a wicked world by
• Trusting the Lord
• Delighting in the Lord
• Commitment to the Lord
• Be patient in the Lord
This is not easy but can be done. That is because we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

Today is Pentecost Sunday (27 May 2007). About two thousand years ago, on a day like today, the Holy Spirit came like flames of fire and fill all Christians, empowering them to be witnesses and to live as Christians in wicked world.
Acts 2:1-4
AC 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

It is possible to live a Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit in trusting, delighting, committing, and be patient in the Lord in a wicked and evil world.

soli deo gloria

When The Rubber Hits the Road


How to be a Christian in a Wicked World
Text: Psalm 37: 1-9

Summary
It is possible to live a Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit in trusting, delighting, committing, and be patient in the Lord in a wicked and evil world.

Text: Psalm 37: 1-9

PS 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

PS 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

PS 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

PS 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

PS 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

PS 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

PS 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

PS 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret--it leads only to evil.

PS 37:9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.

Introduction
All fans of Formula One racing will know that winning a race is the combination of the driver, the maintenance team and the design of the car. Even though the driver seems to get all the glory, it all goes back to the design of the car. Nowadays car designs are very dependent on computer modeling- the aerodynamics, the cooling system, the capacity of the engine, the air-fuel mix, and the weight of the car. However, no matter how el designed is the car, it will prove itself only when you get it on the road and drive. Hence when the rubber/tire hits the road. This is the same with our Christian life. No matter how much we memorized and study the Bible, how much we pray, and how much fellowship we have with our church, the test of our Christian living is in the world.

Psalm 37 has an acrostic structure. It begins each stanza with the Hebrew alphabet. This helps the students in memorizing the psalm. This psalm is considered part of the wisdom literature, like the book of Proverbs. Its purpose is not so much to teach theology, but rather practical living. It is a psalm about how to live. And this is particularly relevant to us today as we seek to live a Christian life in a world turned upside down.

How do you live in a world where the evil seems to triumph and the good seems insignificant? Is it possible to live a Christian life in a wicked world? When the tire hits the road, can our Christian principles hold?

PS 37:1 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;

PS 37:2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

There is the natural temptation to be upset and envious at the success of evil people, especially when living a moral life creates hardship. We look around and we see people whom we know to lie, steal, and cheat driving around in luxuries continental cars and live in large mansions. And they seem to get away with it. We know of evil persons who cause untold suffering and death of millions of people like Pol Pot of Cambodia and Mao Ze Dong of China dying of old age! The normal axiom is that the “good die young.” Why should the good die young? Shouldn’t the good live longer? Where is the justice in that?

Prov. 24:19 -20
PR 24:19 Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of the wicked,
PR 24:20 for the evil man has no future hope,
and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.


But their success is superficial and not to be envied, for having no deep roots, they shrivel up as soon as testing comes along.

So how do we then live in this unjust world? Do we throw away our principles and jump in the in the murk? And if we want to live a Christian life, is there any way we can do that without failing? I believe that the psalmist had given us the answer in this section of this great wisdom psalm. The audience of this psalm also lives in times like us. Times where evil people are in control, where cheating and stealing are common, where injustices are common, and where it is difficult to live according to Godly principles, especially in the business world.

(1) Trust in the Lord (v.3)
PS 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Evil people tend to trust in their wealth, power, or connections. The righteous shall trust in the Lord.

Prov. 3: 5-6
PR 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
PR 3:6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.


Trusting in the Lord is very important. That is the basis of our belief. If you do not trust in the Lord, there is no point in talking about living a Christian life. One of the greatest examples of trust is the flying trapeze in a circus act. In the act, they will launch themselves into thin air and trust their friend or partner in the other trapeze will catch them in time. That’s absolute trust. This is especially so when they are doing it without net. There is no room for mistake, or a bad hair day. One mistake and they fall plunging into the hard ground below. I always look at trust in the Lord that way. Are we willing to launch ourselves into the air without a safety net below, trusting God to be there to catch our outstretched hands? That is trust.

(2) Delight in the Lord (v.4)
PS 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Evil people tends to live for themselves and fulfill their basest desire, the righteous shall delight in the presence of the Lord.

Together with trust is joy. Trusting the Lord will give us joy. Joy is different from happiness. If you give me a million dollars or a big house, I will be happy. However that happiness is transient. It disappears when the income tax man come to audit me or the land office demand payment of the quit rent. Joy, however persists in spite of circumstances. We can have joy in the most perverse of situations. This joy comes as a delight in the Lord. What is the purpose of our existence? Why are we here? We are here because God loves us. And we are here because God wants us to be his partners or co-creators for the redemption of this creation.

Prov. 8:30-31
PR 8:30 Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
PR 8:31 rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

(3) Commit to the Lord (v.5,6)
PS 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:


The act of trust and commitment acts like trigger, releasing God’s capacity to act. Commitment is a conscious decision. Like Peter Parker in Spider-man 2, life is a choice. He has received awesome powers- the strength of ten men, the ability to climb walls, shoot webs from his wrists, and swing from buildings to buildings. However, he has to choose to continue to be Spiderman, or to be a normal person by not using his powers. He wants to live a normal life and marry his sweetheart, Mary Jane. . Aunt May Parker said, "I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most, even our dream." Peter decides to become that hero. He has made his choice and commitment.

Prov. 16:3
PR 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
PR 16:4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends--
even the wicked for a day of disaster.

PS 37:6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.


The conviction in v.6 is that the setbacks are only temporary, like clouds obscuring the sun. Eventually God will move the clouds away and true light will appear.

(4) Be Still before the Lord (v.7-9)
PS 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.


PS 37:8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret--it leads only to evil.
PS 37:9 For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.


This verse advocate patience, not achieved by observing the instant-success schemes of this world, but by learning to wait on God’s appropriate timing.

The type of anger highlighted here is ‘anger against God’. This anger arises from the experience of trouble in the world where the evil people are evidently trouble-free, and the consequences of human experiences seem grossly unfair. Again, patience is encouraged because this type of anger is futile, because it will only bring grief to them. And also the evil will eventually cut off (as the Canaanites before them) and the faithful shall inherit the land (as their predecessor did).

Prov.16:32
PR 16:32 Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.


Can we learn to look at the world through the Lord’s eyes? Can we look at the world through the Lord’s timing. Even though evil flourish, it will be only for a while. In God’s own timing (which may be different from ours), justice will be done.

Conclusion: How to be Christian in a Wicked World
We can be Christians in a wicked world by
• Trusting the Lord
• Delighting in the Lord
• Commitment to the Lord
• Be patient in the Lord
This is not easy but can be done. That is because we have the Holy Spirit to help us.

Today is Pentecost Sunday (27 May 2007). About two thousand years ago, on a day like today, the Holy Spirit came like flames of fire and fill all Christians, empowering them to be witnesses and to live as Christians in wicked world.
Acts 2:1-4
AC 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

It is possible to live a Christian life by the power of the Holy Spirit in trusting, delighting, committing, and be patient in the Lord in a wicked and evil world.

soli deo gloria

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Monthly Book Hunting Quest

Friday afternoon is my favourite time of the week because I do not have clinic. If I am not on call, I am totally free from the hospital. I use this time to have lunch with friends or people I am mentoring.


However, once a month, I will drive over the causeway to Singapore for my monthly book hunting quest. I enjoyed book browsing and shopping very much. I look forward to discovering treasures among the shelves and the stacks. I do have a shopping list in mind but most of the books bought are chance discoveries.

I will always start off at SKS books Warehouse at 315 Outram Road #09-03, Tan Boon Liat Building, Singapore. This is the largest Christian bookshop in Singapore and its almost 3,000 square feet are filled all all genres of Christian books. I always get a very good selections there.


Next I head off to Absolute Comics at Bugis Junction. I can usually find a good selection of comics titles here and also a good selection of figurines and action figures.


The next stop will be Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road. Here too is an excellent selection of books. The religions, psychology, and philosophy sections are well stocked. I usually have a coffee break before and then dinner after Kino.

My last stop will be Borders at Whitlock Place at the junction of Orchard and Scotts Road. The reason is that Borders closes at 11.30pm on Friday. Hence I will miss the traffic jam at the causeway when I start home after Borders close. I find that Borders have a better selection of literature and science fiction books. Unfortunately, its religions section is shrinking.

I usually have no problem getting across custom at the causeway except to answer the usual incredious questions from the custom officers.
"Are these books?"
"How much did you spend?"
"Do you actually read them"

This book hunting quest is one of my favorite activities of the month.


.

My Monthly Book Hunting Quest

Friday afternoon is my favourite time of the week because I do not have clinic. If I am not on call, I am totally free from the hospital. I use this time to have lunch with friends or people I am mentoring.


However, once a month, I will drive over the causeway to Singapore for my monthly book hunting quest. I enjoyed book browsing and shopping very much. I look forward to discovering treasures among the shelves and the stacks. I do have a shopping list in mind but most of the books bought are chance discoveries.

I will always start off at SKS books Warehouse at 315 Outram Road #09-03, Tan Boon Liat Building, Singapore. This is the largest Christian bookshop in Singapore and its almost 3,000 square feet are filled all all genres of Christian books. I always get a very good selections there.


Next I head off to Absolute Comics at Bugis Junction. I can usually find a good selection of comics titles here and also a good selection of figurines and action figures.


The next stop will be Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City on Orchard Road. Here too is an excellent selection of books. The religions, psychology, and philosophy sections are well stocked. I usually have a coffee break before and then dinner after Kino.

My last stop will be Borders at Whitlock Place at the junction of Orchard and Scotts Road. The reason is that Borders closes at 11.30pm on Friday. Hence I will miss the traffic jam at the causeway when I start home after Borders close. I find that Borders have a better selection of literature and science fiction books. Unfortunately, its religions section is shrinking.

I usually have no problem getting across custom at the causeway except to answer the usual incredious questions from the custom officers.
"Are these books?"
"How much did you spend?"
"Do you actually read them"

This book hunting quest is one of my favorite activities of the month.


.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

An "Egoistic" Spirituality


An “I, Me, Myself” Spirituality

What is the Focus of Spiritual Life? Scot McKnight asks in an article in The Christian Century, September 7, 2004, p. 22-24. In this article, he defines discipleship as “refers to a Christian who is radically committed to obeying Jesus Christ, one who studies Jesus’ teachings and puts them into practice.” It is this radical commitment that defines discipleship. However, to develop radical commitment, one has to develop or commit to spiritual disciplines. McKnight thinks that this is not enough.


He encourages us to look beyond discipleship to a spiritual formation of love. This process of spiritual formation of love is based on combining the Shema (Deu.6:4-9) and Lev. 19:18. What comes out is “loving God and loving others” (Mk. 12: 28-31). McKnight calls this the Jesus Creed, and identifies it as the focus of the spiritual life.

There is however an interesting paragraph McKnight writes while delineating the limits of discipleship;

Just as the barnacle of legalism can grow onto the (spiritual) disciplines, so also can the barnacle of individualistic pietism. Individual piety is a noble good that produces other goods like sanity and tranquillity. But it can also lead to an egoistic spirituality that assigns God the task of serving me – of making me a better person, of making the world clear to me, of swooping down to earth just for me. People who fall into this error can be identified by what social scientists call “attribution theory,” a cognitive game in which Christian claim to understand why everything in the course of human events is occurring and what meaning specific events – like getting a flat tire or losing one’s job - have in their lives. That is, “God made my tire flat so I would hear a specific song on the radio so I could use those words in a personal relationship with someone else who needs to hear just those words on this particular day.

I wonder how many of us suffer from this type of “egoistic spirituality”. I know I do all the time. If I am to believe that God is interested in all aspects of my life, why should I not believe that he will use all and every circumstances or opportunities? I do not believe in coincidence. There is no coincidence to God the Creator. Every coincidence is a deliberate line of code in the chaos theory in the system which is the created order.

However I do not believe God does it only for me. I believe he does it for his greater plan of which I am a part. If I am in need of a new heart and suddenly a compatible donor heart became available because its owner had an accident, I will thank and praise God. However, I do not believe that God will cause the accident so that I will get a new heart. That will be indeed an “egoistic spirituality”.

What do you think?
.

An "Egoistic" Spirituality


An “I, Me, Myself” Spirituality

What is the Focus of Spiritual Life? Scot McKnight asks in an article in The Christian Century, September 7, 2004, p. 22-24. In this article, he defines discipleship as “refers to a Christian who is radically committed to obeying Jesus Christ, one who studies Jesus’ teachings and puts them into practice.” It is this radical commitment that defines discipleship. However, to develop radical commitment, one has to develop or commit to spiritual disciplines. McKnight thinks that this is not enough.


He encourages us to look beyond discipleship to a spiritual formation of love. This process of spiritual formation of love is based on combining the Shema (Deu.6:4-9) and Lev. 19:18. What comes out is “loving God and loving others” (Mk. 12: 28-31). McKnight calls this the Jesus Creed, and identifies it as the focus of the spiritual life.

There is however an interesting paragraph McKnight writes while delineating the limits of discipleship;

Just as the barnacle of legalism can grow onto the (spiritual) disciplines, so also can the barnacle of individualistic pietism. Individual piety is a noble good that produces other goods like sanity and tranquillity. But it can also lead to an egoistic spirituality that assigns God the task of serving me – of making me a better person, of making the world clear to me, of swooping down to earth just for me. People who fall into this error can be identified by what social scientists call “attribution theory,” a cognitive game in which Christian claim to understand why everything in the course of human events is occurring and what meaning specific events – like getting a flat tire or losing one’s job - have in their lives. That is, “God made my tire flat so I would hear a specific song on the radio so I could use those words in a personal relationship with someone else who needs to hear just those words on this particular day.

I wonder how many of us suffer from this type of “egoistic spirituality”. I know I do all the time. If I am to believe that God is interested in all aspects of my life, why should I not believe that he will use all and every circumstances or opportunities? I do not believe in coincidence. There is no coincidence to God the Creator. Every coincidence is a deliberate line of code in the chaos theory in the system which is the created order.

However I do not believe God does it only for me. I believe he does it for his greater plan of which I am a part. If I am in need of a new heart and suddenly a compatible donor heart became available because its owner had an accident, I will thank and praise God. However, I do not believe that God will cause the accident so that I will get a new heart. That will be indeed an “egoistic spirituality”.

What do you think?
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Gospel According to Spiderman

The Road to Forgiveness

The much anticipated movie, Spider-Man 3 hit the big screen on May 2007. The movie opens with Spiderman being the toast of the town. He is a hero to New York which just cannot see enough of him. There are video clips on the streets, photos in the papers, balloon and action figures. In the first fifteen minutes, he saves Gwen Stacey and later in a huge ceremony, is given the key to the city.

Uncle Ben Parker said to Peter Parker/Spiderman in Spider-Man 1, "You've been given a gift Peter, with great power, comes great responsibility." Unfortunately Uncle Ben did not advise his nephew about power that corrupts and lead to pride.

In Spider-Man 2, we saw how Peter struggled whether he wants to use his power or not. He has to make a choice between continuing to be Spiderman or to live a normal life. Aunt May Parker said, "I believe there's a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most, even our dream." Peter decides to become that hero.

In Spider-Man 3, we begin to see a dark side of being a hero. All the adoration has gone to his head. Peter was becoming self-centred and proud. Even when his sweetheart, Mary Jane Watson was trying to explain how bad she was feeling after a bad performance review in the paper about her debut, Peter cannot see from any perspective except his own. This was made worse when Captain Stacey revealed to Aunt May and Peter that the real killer of Uncle Ben is Flint Marko.

Things came to a crisis when Peter was infected by Venom, an alien symbiote that brings out the worst aggression in its host. Spider-Man entered the dark side literally- his colour changed from blue and red to black. The extra power given by the alien to Spiderman was like a drug; exhilarating and intoxicating. He became more aggressive and violent. Peter/Venom, when out of costume was a different character; spiteful, proud, revengeful, and murderous. He used Gwen to humiliate Mary Jane and hammered the Sandman/Flint Marko into mud, thinking he has killed him. He mockingly yelled, “If you want forgiveness, get religion!”

Aunt May was horrified when Peter told her that Spiderman has killed Flint. She said, "Uncle Ben wouldn't want us living with revenge in our hearts, it's like a poison. It can take you over and turn us into something ugly." It was that thought that brought Peter to his senses.

In a poignant moment, Peter/Spiderman/Venom realised that he had became who he always fought- a villain, an anti-hero. The scene was a dark, rainy, and stormy night. The darkness of the night was broken by flashes of lightning. In the background was the spire of a church and on the top of the spire is a cross (symbolism abound in this movie!). Peter/Spiderman/Venom crawled into the belfry of the church and Peter tried to tear the dark costume from his body. It is with only the ringing of the church bells that Peter was able to tear off Venom and was cleansed clean. Thus was the redemption of Peter Parker in a church.

The road to redemption is the road to forgiveness. Aunt May started it by saying, “First, you have to do the hardest thing. You have to forgive yourself.” Spiderman was beaten almost into a pulp by the Sandman and Venom/Brock in the final confrontation. Sandman/Marko turned out to be a misunderstood thief who accidentally shot Uncle Ben. Flint Marko said. "I'm not asking for your forgiveness. I just want you to understand." Understanding the evil that resides in all of us, Peter Parker hesitantly said, "I forgive you."

It was friendship and forgiveness that brought New Goblin/Harry Osborn to the rescue of Mary Jane and Spiderman. Harry sacrificed himself when he jumped between Venom and Spiderman, allowing Venom to impale him with his own sled. Forgiveness involves sacrifice, confession and reconciliation:

Peter Parker/Spiderman: "I never should have hurt you. And said those things."
Harry Osborn/New Goblin: "None of that matters, Peter. You're my friend."
Peter Parker: "Best friend."

It was a long road and Peter Parker finally came to realise the stuff heroes are made of- the ability to forgive others. Real heroes are not those who have the power, or the might, or the strength to beat up others. Real heroes are those who can forgive others who did them harm. They are those who reject the road to revenge and choose instead the road to reconciliation.

Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu chose the road of forgiveness and reconciliation in post apartheid South Africa instead of vengeance. Elisabeth Elliot tasted the bitter fruit of losing her young husband to the Huaorani natives, walked the road of forgiveness that led her through the “Gates of Splendour.” It is not an easy road to walk. The road to forgiveness is full of thorns, suffering, pain, and loss. Jesus also chose the road of forgiveness and reconciliation. God incarnate, Jesus Christ, hung naked, humiliated and broken on a cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk 24:34)

The movie Spider-Man 3 ended with Peter Parker voice over “We are the result of the choices we make, even the hard ones”

Reflection Questions
1. Why is it so hard for us to forgive someone who has hurt us?
2. How do we get rid of our need for revenge? Why do you think our need for revenge will injure our spiritual, emotional, and physical lives?
3. Picture in your mind someone who has hurt you badly and you are struggling to forgive. Pray for that person. Pray for yourself.

Lord God, help us to forgive one another. It is so hard to forgive, so easy to hate and yearn for revenge. Dear Holy Spirit, please work in our spirits so that we learn to forgive, to reconcile, and to love. Dear Jesus, thank you for your supreme work on the cross that brought us the Father’s forgiveness and reconciliation. Amen