Saturday, November 29, 2008

Season of Advent


Today is the 1st Sunday of the season of Advent.

Advent in Latin means 'coming' and in the Greek 'parousia' which means "Second Coming". Today we remember the First Coming of Christ and look forward to His Second Coming.

The four candles symbolise the 4 Sundays to Christmas. The purple represent 'anticipation or waiting.' The pink represent joy and the green wreath represent life.
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Season of Advent


Today is the 1st Sunday of the season of Advent.

Advent in Latin means 'coming' and in the Greek 'parousia' which means "Second Coming". Today we remember the First Coming of Christ and look forward to His Second Coming.

The four candles symbolise the 4 Sundays to Christmas. The purple represent 'anticipation or waiting.' The pink represent joy and the green wreath represent life.
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Dallas Willard Shares on His Spirituality

Dr. Glen Scorgie asks Dallas Willard to define spirituality. The clip was filmed at Bethel Seminary San Diego on October 9, 2008. For more information about Bethel Seminary please go to http://seminary.bethel.edu/

.

Dallas Willard Shares on His Spirituality

Dr. Glen Scorgie asks Dallas Willard to define spirituality. The clip was filmed at Bethel Seminary San Diego on October 9, 2008. For more information about Bethel Seminary please go to http://seminary.bethel.edu/

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thomas Merton's Hermitage


Thomas Merton lived the last few years of his life in this hermitage... Filmed 5/31/08 using natural light on the finale day of Gethsemani III, a Buddhist/Catholic environmental conference... Web page - http://www.gethsemani3.info/ - Music by Fr. Cyprian Consiglio and John Pennington from the CD "Compassionate and Wise"

Thomas Merton's Hermitage


Thomas Merton lived the last few years of his life in this hermitage... Filmed 5/31/08 using natural light on the finale day of Gethsemani III, a Buddhist/Catholic environmental conference... Web page - http://www.gethsemani3.info/ - Music by Fr. Cyprian Consiglio and John Pennington from the CD "Compassionate and Wise"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Love Story- Andy Williams

Love Story- Andy Williams

December is my Sabbath Month


December is my Sabbath month. Every year, I reserve December for a sabbatical rest from my hectic life. I know many of my friends think I am crazy to do so many things at one time. I am used to multitasking, one useful skill I picked up early in my medical and pastoral career. Personally, I feel that being bivocational is more demanding on a person. A Sabbath month is different from a sabbatical. I still continue to practice paediatrics and serve in ministry but I have planned to reduce my engagements to a minimal. For me December is a time for rest and refreshing in the Lord, reflection on the year past and the year to come, and to do some forward planning.

In December, I normally ask myself three questions:

(1) How have I loved and did I love well?
In this, I do not look at the things I have done this year; how many sermons or lectures I have given, how many retreats I have led, how many articles or books have I written or people helped in my medical practice. Basically these activities are incidental. I can tally them up and make an impressive curriculum vitae (CV). What I want to know is how have I loved God and other persons through these activities? And have I loved well? Do people perceive my love to be genuine?

(2) Where am I on my journey?
I shall be looking for spiritual and physical marker stones (Ebenezer) in this year. Where am I in my journey with God? Am I bearing the fruit of the Spirit? Am I being gentler with others and with myself? Am I growing old gracefully or am I getting grumpier in my old age? Am I helping others on their journeys too?

(3) How am I with God?
Have I grown closer to my Beloved or have I grown further apart? Have my activities done in His name distanced myself from Him? Have I learned more about my Lord? Do I appreciate Him for Himself as He has revealed to me or am I too engrossed with His gifts? Am I comfortable to being and resting in Him?

I am looking forward to my December Sabbath. Please pray for me as I enter it. Soli Deo Gloria.


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December is my Sabbath Month


December is my Sabbath month. Every year, I reserve December for a sabbatical rest from my hectic life. I know many of my friends think I am crazy to do so many things at one time. I am used to multitasking, one useful skill I picked up early in my medical and pastoral career. Personally, I feel that being bivocational is more demanding on a person. A Sabbath month is different from a sabbatical. I still continue to practice paediatrics and serve in ministry but I have planned to reduce my engagements to a minimal. For me December is a time for rest and refreshing in the Lord, reflection on the year past and the year to come, and to do some forward planning.

In December, I normally ask myself three questions:

(1) How have I loved and did I love well?
In this, I do not look at the things I have done this year; how many sermons or lectures I have given, how many retreats I have led, how many articles or books have I written or people helped in my medical practice. Basically these activities are incidental. I can tally them up and make an impressive curriculum vitae (CV). What I want to know is how have I loved God and other persons through these activities? And have I loved well? Do people perceive my love to be genuine?

(2) Where am I on my journey?
I shall be looking for spiritual and physical marker stones (Ebenezer) in this year. Where am I in my journey with God? Am I bearing the fruit of the Spirit? Am I being gentler with others and with myself? Am I growing old gracefully or am I getting grumpier in my old age? Am I helping others on their journeys too?

(3) How am I with God?
Have I grown closer to my Beloved or have I grown further apart? Have my activities done in His name distanced myself from Him? Have I learned more about my Lord? Do I appreciate Him for Himself as He has revealed to me or am I too engrossed with His gifts? Am I comfortable to being and resting in Him?

I am looking forward to my December Sabbath. Please pray for me as I enter it. Soli Deo Gloria.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Contemplation has to offer

From Thomas Merton's The Hidden Ground of Love

What Contemplation has to offer

From Thomas Merton's The Hidden Ground of Love

May It Be- Anya



Beautiful scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love this video. I so identify with it.

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home

Morni utli (Quenya: Darkness has come) [1]
Believe and you will find your way
Morni alanti (Quenya: Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

May it be the shadow's call
Will fly away
May it be your journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun

Morni utli (Quenya: Darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way

Morni alanti (Quenya: Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

A promise lives within you now...

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May It Be- Anya



Beautiful scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love this video. I so identify with it.

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home

Morni utli (Quenya: Darkness has come) [1]
Believe and you will find your way
Morni alanti (Quenya: Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

May it be the shadow's call
Will fly away
May it be your journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun

Morni utli (Quenya: Darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way

Morni alanti (Quenya: Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

A promise lives within you now...

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A Possible Cover for New Book


This is exciting!

A Possible Cover for New Book


This is exciting!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Speak Softly Love-Andy Williams

Speak Softly Love-Andy Williams

If Ever I Would Leave You-Julie Andrews



If ever I would leave you
It wouldn't be in summer.
Seeing you in summer I never would go.
Your hair streaked with sun-light,
Your lips red as flame,
Your face witha lustre
that puts gold to shame!

But if I'd ever leave you,
It couldn't be in autumn.
How I'd leave in autumn I never will know.
I've seen how you sparkle
When fall nips the air.
I know you in autumn
And I must be there.

And could I leave you
running merrily through the snow?
Or on a wintry evening
when you catch the fire's glow?

If ever I would leave you,
How could it be in spring-time?
Knowing how in spring I'm bewitched by you so?
Oh, no! not in spring-time!
Summer, winter or fall!
No, never could I leave you at all!

If Ever I Would Leave You-Julie Andrews



If ever I would leave you
It wouldn't be in summer.
Seeing you in summer I never would go.
Your hair streaked with sun-light,
Your lips red as flame,
Your face witha lustre
that puts gold to shame!

But if I'd ever leave you,
It couldn't be in autumn.
How I'd leave in autumn I never will know.
I've seen how you sparkle
When fall nips the air.
I know you in autumn
And I must be there.

And could I leave you
running merrily through the snow?
Or on a wintry evening
when you catch the fire's glow?

If ever I would leave you,
How could it be in spring-time?
Knowing how in spring I'm bewitched by you so?
Oh, no! not in spring-time!
Summer, winter or fall!
No, never could I leave you at all!

Faiths in Creation (6)

Aspects of Environmental Ethics:An Islamic Perspective
Mohammad Shomali

In the final part of the Faiths in Creation series, Mohammad Shomali presents the Islamic texts that teach of the value of the natural world and the importance of our respect for it. He gives an Islamic perspective on how we should interact with the environment that surrounds us, and looks at the vices that we are most likely to succumb to.

One of the most important problems in today’s world is the environmental crisis. It seems that this problem started when modern man stopped understanding himself as the vicegerent and trustee of the All-Merciful God who must channel divine mercy to everything at his disposal or within his reach, and stopped understanding nature as a sacred sign and valuable trust from God. For the same reason, it seems that the best way to protect the environment from destruction and, indeed, to improve its condition is to revive these forgotten understandings by referring back to the teachings and instructions of divine religions and reviewing and readjusting our policies regarding the application of modern technology and in using natural resources appropriately. In this paper, I will try to briefly present some aspects of the Islamic perspective on environmental ethics in the light of Qur’anic verses and Islamic narrations (hadiths). The paper consists of four parts: nature; governing rules in Islamic environmental ethics; virtues related to human treatment of the environment; and vices related to human treatment of the environment.

read more

.

Faiths in Creation (6)

Aspects of Environmental Ethics:An Islamic Perspective
Mohammad Shomali

In the final part of the Faiths in Creation series, Mohammad Shomali presents the Islamic texts that teach of the value of the natural world and the importance of our respect for it. He gives an Islamic perspective on how we should interact with the environment that surrounds us, and looks at the vices that we are most likely to succumb to.

One of the most important problems in today’s world is the environmental crisis. It seems that this problem started when modern man stopped understanding himself as the vicegerent and trustee of the All-Merciful God who must channel divine mercy to everything at his disposal or within his reach, and stopped understanding nature as a sacred sign and valuable trust from God. For the same reason, it seems that the best way to protect the environment from destruction and, indeed, to improve its condition is to revive these forgotten understandings by referring back to the teachings and instructions of divine religions and reviewing and readjusting our policies regarding the application of modern technology and in using natural resources appropriately. In this paper, I will try to briefly present some aspects of the Islamic perspective on environmental ethics in the light of Qur’anic verses and Islamic narrations (hadiths). The paper consists of four parts: nature; governing rules in Islamic environmental ethics; virtues related to human treatment of the environment; and vices related to human treatment of the environment.

read more

.

John MacArthur on Christians and Yoga

John MacArthur on Christians and Yoga

Can a Christian Practice Yoga?



Can a Christian Practice Yoga? It depends on the individual Christian and the extent of his or her deep longing for union or Yoga that may lie deeply in the mind and heart. If one practices physical posture without the higher goals, it can hardly be called Yoga. It may be physical fitness, but it is no more Yoga than drinking wine and eating bread alone are Christianity. The point of this video is utterly simple. It is in support of Christians who would not want their communion practices with bread and wine denigrated. Practitioners of authentic Yoga also do not want their practices denigrated. Yoga is simply not a physical fitness program. It is a spiritual path or process. Nothing in this video is telling Christians to change their religious practices. It is suggesting that if one seeks the authentic goals of Yoga, then do it. If not, then don't do it. But don't distort and denigrate the true goals and nature of Yoga so that it matches your religion.

Can a Christian Practice Yoga?



Can a Christian Practice Yoga? It depends on the individual Christian and the extent of his or her deep longing for union or Yoga that may lie deeply in the mind and heart. If one practices physical posture without the higher goals, it can hardly be called Yoga. It may be physical fitness, but it is no more Yoga than drinking wine and eating bread alone are Christianity. The point of this video is utterly simple. It is in support of Christians who would not want their communion practices with bread and wine denigrated. Practitioners of authentic Yoga also do not want their practices denigrated. Yoga is simply not a physical fitness program. It is a spiritual path or process. Nothing in this video is telling Christians to change their religious practices. It is suggesting that if one seeks the authentic goals of Yoga, then do it. If not, then don't do it. But don't distort and denigrate the true goals and nature of Yoga so that it matches your religion.

Do Christians has a Fatwa on Yoga?


I visited ancient Corinth earlier this year. In front of the ruins of the temple of Apollo is a large area where the altar once stood. On festival days devoted to Apollo, hundreds of bulls were slaughtered until the gutter, specially built under the altar flows with blood. The priests cannot consume all of this meat so a lot if it ended up in the marketplace or agora, further down in the town. There is so much meat that butchers will not slaughter any more animals. Hence if anyone wants to buy meat, one will have to buy meat offered as a sacrifice to Apollo. This is the dilemma of the Corinthian Christians; buy meat offered as sacrifice to a false god from the agora or become vegetarians.

The ancient Corinthians believed that meat offered to the gods have special powers. Thus it is a blessing to consume such meat. Imagine if you are an ancient Corinthian Christian and do not believe in the god Apollo. How will you feel about eating such meat? Knowing that this contaminated meat will be digested and incorporated into your bodies. So what should you do? You ask your guru, St. Paul. “No problem,” St. Paul said, “meat from the altar is just a piece of meat and it will taste just as good going down. If you believe in the One true God, you will be okay. However, if you think it will a bad influence on other Christians then become a vegetarian” (1 Cor. 8: 1-13 my paraphrase).

In our religious worship and Christian traditions, there are many things borrowed from the different religions and cultures of different times and ‘sanctified’ as Christian practices. Ancient Mesopotamian religions tell of a ‘great flood.’ The Mithras cult from Persia which predates Christianity taught about baptism, table fellowship with bread and wine as blood and body of Mithras and even the fact that their god would die and rise from the dead in three days. Even the Greek word, logos, was adapted by St. John to mean the incarnate God. Many of our great Cathedrals were built on ancient pagan sites and even now, many of our churches face the east-west axis. Our church services are on Sunday (Sun god day) and Christmas on December 25th (ancient Roman pagan solar festival) which were also pagan holy days. So there always has been a tradition of adapting existing cultural and religious forms and ‘sanctifying’ them to become ‘Christian’ traditions. The foundational understanding is that everything is created by God and there is only one true God.

Yoga has its roots in ancient Indian philosophy. Its development and embrace by Hinduism may be traced to the earliest manuscript of the Brahmanas. In its long history, it has undergone many transformations. The yoga often referred to in our context which involves various standing postures (asana) is the Hartha Yoga as opposed to Raja Yoga which emphasise the seated posture (Padma-asana). The various postures of Hartha Yoga or the seated position of the Raja Yoga are but the beginning stages of the other seven limbs of yoga meditation. Hartha yoga, like the martial arts have a physical component and a deeper spiritual component.

As Christians, we should be able to practice the physical components as long as we are aware that that are deeper spiritual components that we should avoid. It is possible to do so. Many Christians practice Pilates without any problem, not knowing that the postures in Pilates were derived from yoga and stripped of all its spiritual components and repackaged as purely a physical and psychological exercise.

photo credit

Do Christians has a Fatwa on Yoga?


I visited ancient Corinth earlier this year. In front of the ruins of the temple of Apollo is a large area where the altar once stood. On festival days devoted to Apollo, hundreds of bulls were slaughtered until the gutter, specially built under the altar flows with blood. The priests cannot consume all of this meat so a lot if it ended up in the marketplace or agora, further down in the town. There is so much meat that butchers will not slaughter any more animals. Hence if anyone wants to buy meat, one will have to buy meat offered as a sacrifice to Apollo. This is the dilemma of the Corinthian Christians; buy meat offered as sacrifice to a false god from the agora or become vegetarians.

The ancient Corinthians believed that meat offered to the gods have special powers. Thus it is a blessing to consume such meat. Imagine if you are an ancient Corinthian Christian and do not believe in the god Apollo. How will you feel about eating such meat? Knowing that this contaminated meat will be digested and incorporated into your bodies. So what should you do? You ask your guru, St. Paul. “No problem,” St. Paul said, “meat from the altar is just a piece of meat and it will taste just as good going down. If you believe in the One true God, you will be okay. However, if you think it will a bad influence on other Christians then become a vegetarian” (1 Cor. 8: 1-13 my paraphrase).

In our religious worship and Christian traditions, there are many things borrowed from the different religions and cultures of different times and ‘sanctified’ as Christian practices. Ancient Mesopotamian religions tell of a ‘great flood.’ The Mithras cult from Persia which predates Christianity taught about baptism, table fellowship with bread and wine as blood and body of Mithras and even the fact that their god would die and rise from the dead in three days. Even the Greek word, logos, was adapted by St. John to mean the incarnate God. Many of our great Cathedrals were built on ancient pagan sites and even now, many of our churches face the east-west axis. Our church services are on Sunday (Sun god day) and Christmas on December 25th (ancient Roman pagan solar festival) which were also pagan holy days. So there always has been a tradition of adapting existing cultural and religious forms and ‘sanctifying’ them to become ‘Christian’ traditions. The foundational understanding is that everything is created by God and there is only one true God.

Yoga has its roots in ancient Indian philosophy. Its development and embrace by Hinduism may be traced to the earliest manuscript of the Brahmanas. In its long history, it has undergone many transformations. The yoga often referred to in our context which involves various standing postures (asana) is the Hartha Yoga as opposed to Raja Yoga which emphasise the seated posture (Padma-asana). The various postures of Hartha Yoga or the seated position of the Raja Yoga are but the beginning stages of the other seven limbs of yoga meditation. Hartha yoga, like the martial arts have a physical component and a deeper spiritual component.

As Christians, we should be able to practice the physical components as long as we are aware that that are deeper spiritual components that we should avoid. It is possible to do so. Many Christians practice Pilates without any problem, not knowing that the postures in Pilates were derived from yoga and stripped of all its spiritual components and repackaged as purely a physical and psychological exercise.

photo credit

Monday, November 24, 2008

Human Organs for Sale

Organ donation has always been regarded as an altruistic act. Thus all government, professional societies and ethics committees regard it as unethical to allow for sales of kidney. Altruism is implied that a person donates an organ (usually a kidney) without coercion and receiving any compensation including financial ones. Their only reward is satisfaction in their self-sacrificial action. Unfortunately there are not many altruistic persons around. Most organs for transplants come from brain dead or dead donors (cadaveric organ transplants). Very few living persons come forward as donors. The result is a scarcity of organs for transplants which results in thousands of deaths for want of organs.

By not allowing sales of organs, these organisations have unwittingly created a black market for organs sales. Unscrupulous middlemen have arisen to take advantage of the needs of organs. In countries where the laws were not so stringent, a commercial transplantation trade of transplant tourism has arisen where one may buy a kidney if one is willing to pay and not ask too many questions. There is no protection for donors. Horror stories abound of people being kidnapped and their kidneys removed, the poor exploited or prisoners forced to donate their kidneys. The middlemen reaped large amount while the donors were given pittance. In a recent court case in Singapore, the donor received $23,700 for his kidney out of the $300,000, magnate Tang Wee Sung paid the middleman. This is the unregulated free market!

In an effect to address the scarcity of organs for transplantation, the Singapore government has taken the bold step of legalising the monetary ‘compensation’ for kidney donors (The Straits Times, Nov 1, 2008). The amount which may be in five or six figures will compensate the donors for their kidneys. It is also suggested that all transplants be regulated through an independent organisation to ensure that the donors will not be taken advantage of. Singapore sidestepped the ethical issue by allowing monetary compensation rather than sales. This is the semi-regulated approach to organ donations.

A third alternative is the Iranian model which the fully regulated model. In Iran, all organs transplants are done through a state-sponsored body which regulate organ transplant in a transparent, non-commercial, and middle-man free process. Donors are paid by this government sponsored agency. It has worked well so far and in Iran there is no waiting list; all patients (rich, poor, educated, uneducated) have receive their transplants. Iran has a government sponsored healthcare system so the model may not work in other countries.

Is there a difference between a sale and compensation? A sale is a business transaction while a compensation is something given for something lost or given. However when it comes to human organ, it is a thin line between the two. It is interesting to note that while it is unethical to sell one’s kidney, however it is acceptable to sell one’s sperms or eggs or in some countries, blood. The moral ethical basis that lies behind the forbidding of sale of human organs come from the group of moral theories called virtue-based theories. The virtue-based theories are based on the premise that human beings are basically good and altruistic. Reality has however shown how far that is from the truth. It may be time for us to review the ethics of human organ sales.

picture credit

Human Organs for Sale

Organ donation has always been regarded as an altruistic act. Thus all government, professional societies and ethics committees regard it as unethical to allow for sales of kidney. Altruism is implied that a person donates an organ (usually a kidney) without coercion and receiving any compensation including financial ones. Their only reward is satisfaction in their self-sacrificial action. Unfortunately there are not many altruistic persons around. Most organs for transplants come from brain dead or dead donors (cadaveric organ transplants). Very few living persons come forward as donors. The result is a scarcity of organs for transplants which results in thousands of deaths for want of organs.

By not allowing sales of organs, these organisations have unwittingly created a black market for organs sales. Unscrupulous middlemen have arisen to take advantage of the needs of organs. In countries where the laws were not so stringent, a commercial transplantation trade of transplant tourism has arisen where one may buy a kidney if one is willing to pay and not ask too many questions. There is no protection for donors. Horror stories abound of people being kidnapped and their kidneys removed, the poor exploited or prisoners forced to donate their kidneys. The middlemen reaped large amount while the donors were given pittance. In a recent court case in Singapore, the donor received $23,700 for his kidney out of the $300,000, magnate Tang Wee Sung paid the middleman. This is the unregulated free market!

In an effect to address the scarcity of organs for transplantation, the Singapore government has taken the bold step of legalising the monetary ‘compensation’ for kidney donors (The Straits Times, Nov 1, 2008). The amount which may be in five or six figures will compensate the donors for their kidneys. It is also suggested that all transplants be regulated through an independent organisation to ensure that the donors will not be taken advantage of. Singapore sidestepped the ethical issue by allowing monetary compensation rather than sales. This is the semi-regulated approach to organ donations.

A third alternative is the Iranian model which the fully regulated model. In Iran, all organs transplants are done through a state-sponsored body which regulate organ transplant in a transparent, non-commercial, and middle-man free process. Donors are paid by this government sponsored agency. It has worked well so far and in Iran there is no waiting list; all patients (rich, poor, educated, uneducated) have receive their transplants. Iran has a government sponsored healthcare system so the model may not work in other countries.

Is there a difference between a sale and compensation? A sale is a business transaction while a compensation is something given for something lost or given. However when it comes to human organ, it is a thin line between the two. It is interesting to note that while it is unethical to sell one’s kidney, however it is acceptable to sell one’s sperms or eggs or in some countries, blood. The moral ethical basis that lies behind the forbidding of sale of human organs come from the group of moral theories called virtue-based theories. The virtue-based theories are based on the premise that human beings are basically good and altruistic. Reality has however shown how far that is from the truth. It may be time for us to review the ethics of human organ sales.

picture credit

Faiths in Creation (5)

Coping With Insecurity, Uncertainty and Risk
Helen Freeman

Why do we sometimes find it difficult to display humility and responsibility in our relationship with the rest of the natural world? Helen Freeman traces the history of Jewish thought on this issue, and advocates that a deeper understanding of consumerism and the need for rootedness and security will help us to see our relationship to the created world in a new light.

For Jews, our understanding of engagement with the created world goes right back to the creation story in Genesis chapter one. Once the beautiful world and its life forms have been created, God says, in verse 26:
’vayomer Elohim, na’aseh adam b’tzalmaynoo kidmootaynoo u-rdu vidgut hayam, oov’of hashamayim, oovab’haymah oov’khol ha-aretz oov’khol harems haromays al ha-aretz-And God said, let us make Adam in our image and likeness, and he will rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heaven and the cattle and all the earth and all creeping things that creep upon the earth.


The word for human being, adam, is related closely to the word for earth, adamah, and conveys the earthiness and closeness of the relationship between human beings and the soil of the ground.


The later rabbinical commentators understood the human right to rule over the other creatures to be an ethical imperative; if they did not do so justly, then terrible things would happen. Using a play on the word ’u-rdu – and rule – the fifth-century midrash in Genesis Rabbah 8:12 says this:
‘And have dominion (u-rdu) over the fish of the sea etc.’ Rabbi Chanina said: If humanity merits it, u-rdu (it will have dominion); and if humanity doesn’t merit it yirdu (it will descend/fall). Rabbi Ya’akov of Kfar Hanan: That which is ‘in our image, according to our likeness’, u-rdu (it will have dominion), and that which is not in our image according to our likeness yirdu (it will descend).


The challenge to humanity is then how we conceptualise our place of dominion over the created world.

read more

.

Faiths in Creation (5)

Coping With Insecurity, Uncertainty and Risk
Helen Freeman

Why do we sometimes find it difficult to display humility and responsibility in our relationship with the rest of the natural world? Helen Freeman traces the history of Jewish thought on this issue, and advocates that a deeper understanding of consumerism and the need for rootedness and security will help us to see our relationship to the created world in a new light.

For Jews, our understanding of engagement with the created world goes right back to the creation story in Genesis chapter one. Once the beautiful world and its life forms have been created, God says, in verse 26:
’vayomer Elohim, na’aseh adam b’tzalmaynoo kidmootaynoo u-rdu vidgut hayam, oov’of hashamayim, oovab’haymah oov’khol ha-aretz oov’khol harems haromays al ha-aretz-And God said, let us make Adam in our image and likeness, and he will rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heaven and the cattle and all the earth and all creeping things that creep upon the earth.


The word for human being, adam, is related closely to the word for earth, adamah, and conveys the earthiness and closeness of the relationship between human beings and the soil of the ground.


The later rabbinical commentators understood the human right to rule over the other creatures to be an ethical imperative; if they did not do so justly, then terrible things would happen. Using a play on the word ’u-rdu – and rule – the fifth-century midrash in Genesis Rabbah 8:12 says this:
‘And have dominion (u-rdu) over the fish of the sea etc.’ Rabbi Chanina said: If humanity merits it, u-rdu (it will have dominion); and if humanity doesn’t merit it yirdu (it will descend/fall). Rabbi Ya’akov of Kfar Hanan: That which is ‘in our image, according to our likeness’, u-rdu (it will have dominion), and that which is not in our image according to our likeness yirdu (it will descend).


The challenge to humanity is then how we conceptualise our place of dominion over the created world.

read more

.

Redeeming Your Time and People


Hebron EduCARE


Main Objective:


It offers an educational outreach platform – a church-based primary youth community project. It is designed to reach out to youth of ages 10-18 in the vicinity of the church through life skills, training and Christian education. It is also an educational center of continuous study for school leavers, school dropouts, unskilled young adults, adults, and senior citizens.


Recognizing that: "The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) also pointed out an estimated 25% of Chinese students dropout before reaching the age of 18; the annual dropout rate is estimated to be over 100,000 and worsening. Certain dropouts become apprentices in workshops, picking up skills like plumbing or motor-repair. Others eager to make a quick buck find themselves involved in illicit trades, such as peddling pirated DVDs or collecting debts for loan sharks.[6]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_Chinese#Education



Campaign Plan & Strategy:


Hebron EduCARE will be embarking on a fund raising program (by way of sponsorship) to help 20-50 school leavers/dropouts or more to learn life skills at our center this coming months commencing this November.



Goal:

To raise fund to sponsor 20 to 50 or more school dropouts within Skudai areas in particularly TUTA (Taman Ungku Tun Aminah) in Johor Bahru, Malaysia



1. Target Fund: RM20,000 to RM50,000 from the media industry or individuals.
2. Cost: RM1,000 @ Student; food, allowance, insurance and course fee (subsidized-1/3 of normal fee est. RM1,500).
3. Course module: Basic Communication English, Graphic, Web Design and 2D Animation Or b. Basic communication English, Illustration, Video and Sound Editing.
4. Course duration: 4-6 months; 4 hours x 3 days/nights.
5. Target Student: Remove/Form 1 to Form 4 dropouts, PMR/SPM school leavers; jobless or unskilled youth or unemployed graduates.



a. To provide Life Skills as an option for Education and Employment opportunities.


b. School Leavers/Dropouts: Life Skills and U Turn/Second Chance Opportunity.


c. Unemployed (unskilled including graduates): Life Skills.

d. Christian Leadership Development: Basic Communication English, "The Little Shoots" - 7 Habits & Habitudes.



Composition of Sponsorship:

a. 50% to Block 62-66 TUTA (we may roll out to sponsor at least 5 students in these areas during Christmas Carol in Dec 2008-good tiding flyer distribution).
b. 50% to the rest of TUTA/Skudai Areas.



Target Industry on graduation: Printed media-publication, advertising and events management; eMedia-Web design, Web development, multimedia ad, Sound and Video. digital photo stereo, PA and Broadcasting stereo, visual sound production etc.

Employment Contract: 1-2 years, salary: RM1,000 to RM1,500 per month.



Who Can Contribute? Individuals, group sponsors or Corporate.

a. How much: RM50, RM100, RM500, RM1,000 and above. We welcome any form of cash/cheque contribution payable to Hebron Presbyterian Church (please write at the back of your envelop/cheque 'Hebron EduCARE' or 'Campaign - Redeeming Your Time'. For those who wish to send by post, you may mail to HPC, 2 Jalan Temenggong 10, TUTA, 81300 Skudai, Johor OR to deposit at CIMB 0102-5001-4400-50, please eM/send your receipt to danielsinhf@gmail.com or the said address for reference.


b. How to get involved: Adopt them (individually or in group/s) and pray for them (name/s of sponsor/s will be assigned at later stage) and inform of their development and progress during and after training.


.

Redeeming Your Time and People


Hebron EduCARE


Main Objective:


It offers an educational outreach platform – a church-based primary youth community project. It is designed to reach out to youth of ages 10-18 in the vicinity of the church through life skills, training and Christian education. It is also an educational center of continuous study for school leavers, school dropouts, unskilled young adults, adults, and senior citizens.


Recognizing that: "The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) also pointed out an estimated 25% of Chinese students dropout before reaching the age of 18; the annual dropout rate is estimated to be over 100,000 and worsening. Certain dropouts become apprentices in workshops, picking up skills like plumbing or motor-repair. Others eager to make a quick buck find themselves involved in illicit trades, such as peddling pirated DVDs or collecting debts for loan sharks.[6]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysian_Chinese#Education



Campaign Plan & Strategy:


Hebron EduCARE will be embarking on a fund raising program (by way of sponsorship) to help 20-50 school leavers/dropouts or more to learn life skills at our center this coming months commencing this November.



Goal:

To raise fund to sponsor 20 to 50 or more school dropouts within Skudai areas in particularly TUTA (Taman Ungku Tun Aminah) in Johor Bahru, Malaysia



1. Target Fund: RM20,000 to RM50,000 from the media industry or individuals.
2. Cost: RM1,000 @ Student; food, allowance, insurance and course fee (subsidized-1/3 of normal fee est. RM1,500).
3. Course module: Basic Communication English, Graphic, Web Design and 2D Animation Or b. Basic communication English, Illustration, Video and Sound Editing.
4. Course duration: 4-6 months; 4 hours x 3 days/nights.
5. Target Student: Remove/Form 1 to Form 4 dropouts, PMR/SPM school leavers; jobless or unskilled youth or unemployed graduates.



a. To provide Life Skills as an option for Education and Employment opportunities.


b. School Leavers/Dropouts: Life Skills and U Turn/Second Chance Opportunity.


c. Unemployed (unskilled including graduates): Life Skills.

d. Christian Leadership Development: Basic Communication English, "The Little Shoots" - 7 Habits & Habitudes.



Composition of Sponsorship:

a. 50% to Block 62-66 TUTA (we may roll out to sponsor at least 5 students in these areas during Christmas Carol in Dec 2008-good tiding flyer distribution).
b. 50% to the rest of TUTA/Skudai Areas.



Target Industry on graduation: Printed media-publication, advertising and events management; eMedia-Web design, Web development, multimedia ad, Sound and Video. digital photo stereo, PA and Broadcasting stereo, visual sound production etc.

Employment Contract: 1-2 years, salary: RM1,000 to RM1,500 per month.



Who Can Contribute? Individuals, group sponsors or Corporate.

a. How much: RM50, RM100, RM500, RM1,000 and above. We welcome any form of cash/cheque contribution payable to Hebron Presbyterian Church (please write at the back of your envelop/cheque 'Hebron EduCARE' or 'Campaign - Redeeming Your Time'. For those who wish to send by post, you may mail to HPC, 2 Jalan Temenggong 10, TUTA, 81300 Skudai, Johor OR to deposit at CIMB 0102-5001-4400-50, please eM/send your receipt to danielsinhf@gmail.com or the said address for reference.


b. How to get involved: Adopt them (individually or in group/s) and pray for them (name/s of sponsor/s will be assigned at later stage) and inform of their development and progress during and after training.


.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Can't Take It With You

The first thing that come to mind when someone says, “You can’t take it with you” are our jewelleries, companies, fame and fortune. Very few of us think of our bodies, those vessels which have embodied our souls for so many years. Our bodies are being discarded as our souls move into the hereafter. Like discarding a dirty shirt for a clean one, we exchange our mortal bodies for immortal ones.

How many of us ever think of the mortal bodies we leave behind except to think of its disposal-cremation or burial? Yet our mortal left-behind bodies may still be of use to others. Yes, I am talking about organ donation.


Every year thousands of people are in need of organs for transplantation. They are quite happy to receive the organs from dead bodies (cadaveric organ donors). These organs can save their lives. People with kidney failure and on dialysis can tell you about their ordeals. A person with kidney failure will need to be dialysed on the average 2-3 times a week. Each session last 4-6 hours and incur financial cost. In between dialysis, they are tired and lethargic. They may be alive but there is no quality to their lives. They need kidneys.

There is such an acute shortage of organs for transplant that a black market exists to supply this need. People are going to countries like China, India, Turkey and other poorer countries to buy kidneys.

Personally I believe all Christians should be organ donors. After all we are going to get a new body! At least let the discarded one be of use; our final legacy to this world. Even better will be if we are to donate one of our kidney when we are alive. After all God gave us two kidneys and the body function equally well with only one. That will be truly self-sacrificing love.


photo credit

You Can't Take It With You

The first thing that come to mind when someone says, “You can’t take it with you” are our jewelleries, companies, fame and fortune. Very few of us think of our bodies, those vessels which have embodied our souls for so many years. Our bodies are being discarded as our souls move into the hereafter. Like discarding a dirty shirt for a clean one, we exchange our mortal bodies for immortal ones.

How many of us ever think of the mortal bodies we leave behind except to think of its disposal-cremation or burial? Yet our mortal left-behind bodies may still be of use to others. Yes, I am talking about organ donation.


Every year thousands of people are in need of organs for transplantation. They are quite happy to receive the organs from dead bodies (cadaveric organ donors). These organs can save their lives. People with kidney failure and on dialysis can tell you about their ordeals. A person with kidney failure will need to be dialysed on the average 2-3 times a week. Each session last 4-6 hours and incur financial cost. In between dialysis, they are tired and lethargic. They may be alive but there is no quality to their lives. They need kidneys.

There is such an acute shortage of organs for transplant that a black market exists to supply this need. People are going to countries like China, India, Turkey and other poorer countries to buy kidneys.

Personally I believe all Christians should be organ donors. After all we are going to get a new body! At least let the discarded one be of use; our final legacy to this world. Even better will be if we are to donate one of our kidney when we are alive. After all God gave us two kidneys and the body function equally well with only one. That will be truly self-sacrificing love.


photo credit

Random Glimpses of my Desktop (8)

Some more model spaceships. Man, I must have been really stressed.





Random Glimpses of my Desktop (8)

Some more model spaceships. Man, I must have been really stressed.





Trachea from Adult Stem Cells

From Christianity Today liveblog
November 20, 2008 12:32PM
Adult Stem Cells Score Again
A trachea engineered from bone marrow stem-cells makes ethical research more appealing.
Susan Wunderink



Claudia Castillo, whose lungs had been ravaged by tuberculosis, has a new trachea. She made it herself . . . sort of.


Doctors in Spain took stem-cells from Claudia Castillo's bone marrow and had them form a section of trachea based on the trachea of an organ donor. The scientists transplanted the 2.75-inch piece and published the results in The Lancet:

The graft immediately provided the recipient with a functional airway, improved her quality of life, and had a normal appearance and mechanical properties at 4 months. The patient had no anti-donor antibodies and was not on immunosuppressive drugs.
The results show that we can produce a cellular, tissue-engineered airway with mechanical properties that allow normal functioning, and which is free from the risks of rejection.

Castillo is the
first person to have an engineered trachea transplant, The Guardian says. She has had her new windpipe for several months without immunosuppressants—a breakthrough in surgery.

Besides giving hope to those who need transplants, Castillo’s case is also important to the debate over whether to allow stem-cell research which destroys embryos.

"Engineering new tissues and organs from stem cells has long been a goal of researchers, because it would help overcome a chronic shortage of donor organs.”
NPR says. “But controversies over the source of stem cells have slowed research in the United States."

However the transplant, rather than highlighting limitations, is another victory for ethical (and legal) stem-cell research. In its
Q&A on stem-cells, CNN says “In the past, because adult stem cells were considered stuck in their ways, the focus had been on embryonic cells but now scientists and doctors will be wanting to see if adult cells can be used to treat a wider range of conditions.”



.

Trachea from Adult Stem Cells

From Christianity Today liveblog
November 20, 2008 12:32PM
Adult Stem Cells Score Again
A trachea engineered from bone marrow stem-cells makes ethical research more appealing.
Susan Wunderink



Claudia Castillo, whose lungs had been ravaged by tuberculosis, has a new trachea. She made it herself . . . sort of.


Doctors in Spain took stem-cells from Claudia Castillo's bone marrow and had them form a section of trachea based on the trachea of an organ donor. The scientists transplanted the 2.75-inch piece and published the results in The Lancet:

The graft immediately provided the recipient with a functional airway, improved her quality of life, and had a normal appearance and mechanical properties at 4 months. The patient had no anti-donor antibodies and was not on immunosuppressive drugs.
The results show that we can produce a cellular, tissue-engineered airway with mechanical properties that allow normal functioning, and which is free from the risks of rejection.

Castillo is the
first person to have an engineered trachea transplant, The Guardian says. She has had her new windpipe for several months without immunosuppressants—a breakthrough in surgery.

Besides giving hope to those who need transplants, Castillo’s case is also important to the debate over whether to allow stem-cell research which destroys embryos.

"Engineering new tissues and organs from stem cells has long been a goal of researchers, because it would help overcome a chronic shortage of donor organs.”
NPR says. “But controversies over the source of stem cells have slowed research in the United States."

However the transplant, rather than highlighting limitations, is another victory for ethical (and legal) stem-cell research. In its
Q&A on stem-cells, CNN says “In the past, because adult stem cells were considered stuck in their ways, the focus had been on embryonic cells but now scientists and doctors will be wanting to see if adult cells can be used to treat a wider range of conditions.”



.

Faiths in Creation (4)

A Faith Perspective on the Economy
Makbul Rahim

Today marks the anniversary of Black Tuesday, a crucial date on the timeline of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, and in similar times of financial uncertainty our attitudes towards the economy are under the spotlight. Makbul Rahim describes how religious ethics can inform economic pursuits, asking particularly how a religious perspective might view the economy as a tool for tackling climate change.

In the modern economy and the business world, faith and religious ethics generally are often regarded as being of only marginal relevance. For those considering business transactions and activities, the primary factors and drivers are profit maximisation, market efficiency, maximization of shareholder value and the capital asset pricing model. Economic activities are seen as essential bread-and-butter matters – sources of one’s livelihood – with faith and religious ethics as leisure or part time activities for society and its members. In other words faith is not seen as an integral part of economics or business life. The emergence of investor protection and transparency and good corporate governance in the business world has not come about voluntarily out of faith considerations. Rather it has had to be imposed upon it by law and other means and is more related to sustainability of the confidence which drives and maintains the economy. Religious ethics, on the other hand, emphasise factors such as human flourishing, the good of society and human happiness, the nature of the human person, the demands of community and solidarity. These are not considered as critical drivers or important determinants by market players in the economy.

read more

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Faiths in Creation (4)

A Faith Perspective on the Economy
Makbul Rahim

Today marks the anniversary of Black Tuesday, a crucial date on the timeline of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, and in similar times of financial uncertainty our attitudes towards the economy are under the spotlight. Makbul Rahim describes how religious ethics can inform economic pursuits, asking particularly how a religious perspective might view the economy as a tool for tackling climate change.

In the modern economy and the business world, faith and religious ethics generally are often regarded as being of only marginal relevance. For those considering business transactions and activities, the primary factors and drivers are profit maximisation, market efficiency, maximization of shareholder value and the capital asset pricing model. Economic activities are seen as essential bread-and-butter matters – sources of one’s livelihood – with faith and religious ethics as leisure or part time activities for society and its members. In other words faith is not seen as an integral part of economics or business life. The emergence of investor protection and transparency and good corporate governance in the business world has not come about voluntarily out of faith considerations. Rather it has had to be imposed upon it by law and other means and is more related to sustainability of the confidence which drives and maintains the economy. Religious ethics, on the other hand, emphasise factors such as human flourishing, the good of society and human happiness, the nature of the human person, the demands of community and solidarity. These are not considered as critical drivers or important determinants by market players in the economy.

read more

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Random Glimpses of my Desktop (7)

I find building plastic model spaceships very relaxing and therapeutic. Here are some of the models my daughter bought for me to assemble from Hong Kong.











Random Glimpses of my Desktop (7)

I find building plastic model spaceships very relaxing and therapeutic. Here are some of the models my daughter bought for me to assemble from Hong Kong.











Faiths in Creation (3)

The Place of Humanity in Creation
Martin Poulsom

The way in which we think about ecological issues depends to a large extent on whether we consider humanity to be entirely different from, or fundamentally the same as the rest of the natural world, argues Martin Poulsom. How can we navigate a path between these two positions to gain a better understanding of our place in creation, with respect to God and to other creatures?

In order to investigate the role that Christianity might play in current debates about environmental and ecological concerns, it is vital first to substantiate the claim that Christianity has something useful to say. After all, in the minds and stated opinions of some interlocutors, it is Christianity that is the problem. Its way of thinking has led humanity inevitably to the disaster on whose brink the globe is now teetering. At the outset of this paper, what is often called the Dominion thesis will be briefly examined and compared with the position taken by Deep Ecologists. It will be seen that, despite first appearances, these two dia­metrically opposed positions are actually somewhat similar to each other. The possibility of finding a path between these extremes will be raised, a possibility which will be shown to fit remarkably well with one mainstream way of articulat­ing theologically what it means to be a created human being. On the basis of this understanding of creation, humanity will be able to be placed in creation, both with respect to God and with respect to other creatures, in a way that can both respect the unique value of humankind and, at the same time, avoid denigrating the value of everything else. On the basis of this account, some possible contri­butions to current debates will be mooted as a way of opening up an exciting possibility – that Christianity might well have something of value to say.


read more

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Faiths in Creation (3)

The Place of Humanity in Creation
Martin Poulsom

The way in which we think about ecological issues depends to a large extent on whether we consider humanity to be entirely different from, or fundamentally the same as the rest of the natural world, argues Martin Poulsom. How can we navigate a path between these two positions to gain a better understanding of our place in creation, with respect to God and to other creatures?

In order to investigate the role that Christianity might play in current debates about environmental and ecological concerns, it is vital first to substantiate the claim that Christianity has something useful to say. After all, in the minds and stated opinions of some interlocutors, it is Christianity that is the problem. Its way of thinking has led humanity inevitably to the disaster on whose brink the globe is now teetering. At the outset of this paper, what is often called the Dominion thesis will be briefly examined and compared with the position taken by Deep Ecologists. It will be seen that, despite first appearances, these two dia­metrically opposed positions are actually somewhat similar to each other. The possibility of finding a path between these extremes will be raised, a possibility which will be shown to fit remarkably well with one mainstream way of articulat­ing theologically what it means to be a created human being. On the basis of this understanding of creation, humanity will be able to be placed in creation, both with respect to God and with respect to other creatures, in a way that can both respect the unique value of humankind and, at the same time, avoid denigrating the value of everything else. On the basis of this account, some possible contri­butions to current debates will be mooted as a way of opening up an exciting possibility – that Christianity might well have something of value to say.


read more

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Friday, November 21, 2008

My New Book


My new book will be published next month by Armour Publishing, Singapore in time for the Christmas season.

Spiritual Formation on the Run
Meditations to Grow the Busy Life

If you are thinking of a Christmas present for a loved one, friends or colleagues, may I suggest my book.



We are a people in a hurry. Having survived the dangerous rush of parents hurrying to pick up their children after school in Kuala Lumpur; the dangerous crush of Japanese salary-persons during peak hours in a Tokyo subway; and the dangerous dash of diners heading for a free buffet meal in Singapore, I can attest that many of us live our lives very much on the run. Is there a place in the midst of busyness for spiritual formation, a discipline often associated with monks in their mountain-top monasteries, free from the cares and rush of the world, devoting themselves to Bible reading, meditation and prayer? Is spiritual formation simply out of the question for the rest of us mortals? It is my conviction that we can be spiritually formed to the “image of Christ” in our busy, hurried lives. What we need are habits of spirituality.

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My New Book


My new book will be published next month by Armour Publishing, Singapore in time for the Christmas season.

Spiritual Formation on the Run
Meditations to Grow the Busy Life

If you are thinking of a Christmas present for a loved one, friends or colleagues, may I suggest my book.



We are a people in a hurry. Having survived the dangerous rush of parents hurrying to pick up their children after school in Kuala Lumpur; the dangerous crush of Japanese salary-persons during peak hours in a Tokyo subway; and the dangerous dash of diners heading for a free buffet meal in Singapore, I can attest that many of us live our lives very much on the run. Is there a place in the midst of busyness for spiritual formation, a discipline often associated with monks in their mountain-top monasteries, free from the cares and rush of the world, devoting themselves to Bible reading, meditation and prayer? Is spiritual formation simply out of the question for the rest of us mortals? It is my conviction that we can be spiritually formed to the “image of Christ” in our busy, hurried lives. What we need are habits of spirituality.

.

Faiths in Creation (2)

Judaic Models of Social Transformation
Jonathan Gorsky

In the first of a series, Faiths in Creation, Jonathan Gorsky argues that responsibility for our environment falls on us all, at both a personal and social level. How can the models of social transformation advocated in Jewish tradition help us to change our approach and become reliable stewards of the environment?

In the case of Judaism, the Hebrew Bible records the many vicissitudes of an attempt to construct a new form of political community that was to be an inspiration and a blessing for all the world. The concept of a model community that would serve as a light for the nations is one that might touch all of our faiths: it is not only a matter of persuading individuals among us to pay at­tention to their carbon footprints, rather it is imperative that our respective communities seek to nurture cultures in which people do not feel that they need to keep up with every high street fashion in order to be accepted by their friends and neighbours.

Consumerism is often inspired by a need for such acceptance in an envi­ronment where the bonds of community have become so attenuated that our superficial social connections demand rigorous material conformity as the sole guarantor of status and acceptability. If we become poor or lose our em­ployment then social life rapidly disintegrates: consumerist culture carries un­spoken assumptions that are unexpectedly demanding and highly disciplinary. Parents’ frantic endeavours to get their children into the right schools speak volumes about the social pressures that accompany relative prosperity. Pope John Paul II’s vision of a civilisation of love that would transcend individual­ism can be seen as an ultimate response to current perils – a new form of deep environmentalism that is beyond the reach of purely political endeavour.

The Hebrew Bible yields two other prominent models of social transforma­tion; one is dependent on law as the instrument of its efficacy and the second is the prophetic tradition which draws on the language of inspiration and creativity.

read more
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