Wednesday, December 31, 2008

500 years of John Calvin

Calvin was born in 1509. In the year 2009, the Protestant churches worldwide will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Genevan Reformer with numerous events.







A brief biography

John Calvin

Born July 10, 1509 in Noyon, France, Jean Calvin was raised in a staunch Roman Catholic family. The local bishop employed Calvin's father as an administrator in the town's cathedral. The father, in turn, wanted John to become a priest. Because of close ties with the bishop and his noble family, John's playmates and classmates in Noyon (and later in Paris) were aristocratic and culturally influential in his early life.

At the age of 14 Calvin went to Paris to study at the College de Marche in preparation for university study. His studies consisted of seven subjects: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Toward the end of 1523 Calvin transferred to the more famous College Montaigu. While in Paris he changed his name to its Latin form, Ioannis Calvinus, which in French became Jean Calvin. During this time, Calvin's education was paid for in part by income from a couple of small parishes. So although the new theological teachings of individuals like Luther and Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples were spreading throughout Paris, Calvin was closely tied to the Roman Church. However, by 1527 Calvin had developed friendships with individuals who were reform-minded. These contacts set the stage for Calvin's eventual switch to the Reformed faith. Also, at this time Calvin's father advised him to study law rather than theology.

John Calvin

By 1528 Calvin moved to Orleans to study civil law. The following years found Calvin studying in various places and under various scholars, as he received a humanist education. By 1532 Calvin finished his law studies and also published his first book, a commentary on De Clementia by the Roman philosopher, Seneca. The following year Calvin fled Paris because of contacts with individuals who through lectures and writings opposed the Roman Catholic Church. It is thought that in 1533 Calvin experienced the sudden and unexpected conversion that he writes about in his foreword to his commentary on the Psalms.

For the next three years, Calvin lived in various places outside of France under various names. He studied on his own, preached, and began work on his first edition of the Institutes—an instant best seller. By 1536 Calvin had disengaged himself from the Roman Catholic Church and made plans to permanently leave France and go to Strasbourg. However, war had broken out between Francis I and Charles V, so Calvin decided to make a one-night detour to Geneva.

But Calvin's fame in Geneva preceded him. Farel, a local reformer, invited him to stay in Geneva and threatened him with God's anger if he did not. Thus began a long, difficult, yet ultimately fruitful relationship with that city. He began as a lecturer and preacher, but by 1538 was asked to leave because of theological conflicts. He went to Strasbourg until 1541. His stay there as a pastor to French refugees was so peaceful and happy that when in 1541 the Council of Geneva requested that he return to Geneva, he was emotionally torn. He wanted to stay in Strasbourg but felt a responsibility to return to Geneva. He did so and remained in Geneva until his death May 27, 1564. Those years were filled with lecturing, preaching, and the writing of commentaries, treatises, and various editions of the Institutes of the Christian Religion.

read more

500 years of John Calvin

Calvin was born in 1509. In the year 2009, the Protestant churches worldwide will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Genevan Reformer with numerous events.







A brief biography

John Calvin

Born July 10, 1509 in Noyon, France, Jean Calvin was raised in a staunch Roman Catholic family. The local bishop employed Calvin's father as an administrator in the town's cathedral. The father, in turn, wanted John to become a priest. Because of close ties with the bishop and his noble family, John's playmates and classmates in Noyon (and later in Paris) were aristocratic and culturally influential in his early life.

At the age of 14 Calvin went to Paris to study at the College de Marche in preparation for university study. His studies consisted of seven subjects: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. Toward the end of 1523 Calvin transferred to the more famous College Montaigu. While in Paris he changed his name to its Latin form, Ioannis Calvinus, which in French became Jean Calvin. During this time, Calvin's education was paid for in part by income from a couple of small parishes. So although the new theological teachings of individuals like Luther and Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples were spreading throughout Paris, Calvin was closely tied to the Roman Church. However, by 1527 Calvin had developed friendships with individuals who were reform-minded. These contacts set the stage for Calvin's eventual switch to the Reformed faith. Also, at this time Calvin's father advised him to study law rather than theology.

John Calvin

By 1528 Calvin moved to Orleans to study civil law. The following years found Calvin studying in various places and under various scholars, as he received a humanist education. By 1532 Calvin finished his law studies and also published his first book, a commentary on De Clementia by the Roman philosopher, Seneca. The following year Calvin fled Paris because of contacts with individuals who through lectures and writings opposed the Roman Catholic Church. It is thought that in 1533 Calvin experienced the sudden and unexpected conversion that he writes about in his foreword to his commentary on the Psalms.

For the next three years, Calvin lived in various places outside of France under various names. He studied on his own, preached, and began work on his first edition of the Institutes—an instant best seller. By 1536 Calvin had disengaged himself from the Roman Catholic Church and made plans to permanently leave France and go to Strasbourg. However, war had broken out between Francis I and Charles V, so Calvin decided to make a one-night detour to Geneva.

But Calvin's fame in Geneva preceded him. Farel, a local reformer, invited him to stay in Geneva and threatened him with God's anger if he did not. Thus began a long, difficult, yet ultimately fruitful relationship with that city. He began as a lecturer and preacher, but by 1538 was asked to leave because of theological conflicts. He went to Strasbourg until 1541. His stay there as a pastor to French refugees was so peaceful and happy that when in 1541 the Council of Geneva requested that he return to Geneva, he was emotionally torn. He wanted to stay in Strasbourg but felt a responsibility to return to Geneva. He did so and remained in Geneva until his death May 27, 1564. Those years were filled with lecturing, preaching, and the writing of commentaries, treatises, and various editions of the Institutes of the Christian Religion.

read more

Henri Nouwen on Identity

You can deal with an enormous amount of success as well as an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity, because your identity is that you are the beloved. Long before your father and mother, your brothers and sisters, your teachers, your church, or any people touched you in a loving as well as in a wounding way-long before you were rejected by some person or praised by somebody else-that voice has been there always. "I have loved you with an everlasting love." That love is there before you were born and will be there after you die.

Blog Anniversary : Year 4


I have completed my third year of blogging and am looking forward to another year. I thank you for your visits and look forward to interact with your comments on my postings.

.

Blog Anniversary : Year 4


I have completed my third year of blogging and am looking forward to another year. I thank you for your visits and look forward to interact with your comments on my postings.

.

Orson Scott Card: Ender in Exile

Orson Scott Card wrote a series of books based on a group of teenagers who were specially selected and trained as soldiers in a Battle School on Eros. As part of their training they have to play computer wargames. Ender or Andrew Wiggins was the leader of a group that was eventually involved in the final battle of the game. Only after winning the game by destroying the planet where the hive Queen aliens were did the children discover that it was no game. They were in fact directing real solders which ended in total victory- destruction of the Hive/Bugger civilisation. Earth was actually at war with that civilisation. Ender thus became the Savior of the Earth! And Orson Scott Card went on in the next 20 years to write a series of books in the Ender universe.

Ender's Game (1985, Ender's Game won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel)
Speaker for the Dead
Xenocide
Children of the Mind

Ender's Shadow
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant

It all started with child soldiers of 11 to 13 years -old. What was attractive about these novels was the way Card interweave the mental, physical and emotional development of the children of Battle School within the stories. There is the emphasis he places on the effect of parents on these children's development and subsequent characters. Each child's behavior and character is the result of the presence and/or absence of parenting. The type of parenting given is also important in Card's stories. Much of Ender in Exile deals with a manipulative and domineering mother and her daughter.

I have enjoyed reading Ender in Exile (2008) which is also the last book I read in 2008. Written almost 25 years after Ender's Game, it place into perspective what happened to Ender after the defeat of the Hive Queen. As a sequel written much later, it is a well written narrative, fitting into the Ender universe with only a few discrepancies. This, Card wrote, will be corrected in subsequent reprints/editions of the series of novels. This will be my last book recommendation in 2008. Happy New Year.



I also found that Marvel is printing the books in the comic format. I already have 2 out of 5 issues of Ender's Game and 1 out of 5 of Ender's Shadow.

Orson Scott Card: Ender in Exile

Orson Scott Card wrote a series of books based on a group of teenagers who were specially selected and trained as soldiers in a Battle School on Eros. As part of their training they have to play computer wargames. Ender or Andrew Wiggins was the leader of a group that was eventually involved in the final battle of the game. Only after winning the game by destroying the planet where the hive Queen aliens were did the children discover that it was no game. They were in fact directing real solders which ended in total victory- destruction of the Hive/Bugger civilisation. Earth was actually at war with that civilisation. Ender thus became the Savior of the Earth! And Orson Scott Card went on in the next 20 years to write a series of books in the Ender universe.

Ender's Game (1985, Ender's Game won both the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novel)
Speaker for the Dead
Xenocide
Children of the Mind

Ender's Shadow
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant

It all started with child soldiers of 11 to 13 years -old. What was attractive about these novels was the way Card interweave the mental, physical and emotional development of the children of Battle School within the stories. There is the emphasis he places on the effect of parents on these children's development and subsequent characters. Each child's behavior and character is the result of the presence and/or absence of parenting. The type of parenting given is also important in Card's stories. Much of Ender in Exile deals with a manipulative and domineering mother and her daughter.

I have enjoyed reading Ender in Exile (2008) which is also the last book I read in 2008. Written almost 25 years after Ender's Game, it place into perspective what happened to Ender after the defeat of the Hive Queen. As a sequel written much later, it is a well written narrative, fitting into the Ender universe with only a few discrepancies. This, Card wrote, will be corrected in subsequent reprints/editions of the series of novels. This will be my last book recommendation in 2008. Happy New Year.



I also found that Marvel is printing the books in the comic format. I already have 2 out of 5 issues of Ender's Game and 1 out of 5 of Ender's Shadow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

True Power In Paul


30 December 2008


True Power in Paul

David Harold-Barry SJ


Zimbabwean Jesuit David Harold-Barry looks at the concept of power expressed in the letters of St Paul, as part of Thinking Faith’s series for the Pauline Year. How does Paul’s idea of power differ to the manifestations of political power we see today?

read more


Interesting perspective of Pauline Theology from Africa
.

True Power In Paul


30 December 2008


True Power in Paul

David Harold-Barry SJ


Zimbabwean Jesuit David Harold-Barry looks at the concept of power expressed in the letters of St Paul, as part of Thinking Faith’s series for the Pauline Year. How does Paul’s idea of power differ to the manifestations of political power we see today?

read more


Interesting perspective of Pauline Theology from Africa
.

THE LEADER'S OUTER WORLD
The Reason for God
Belief in an age of skepticism by Tim Keller (Dutton)

"Tim Keller models for pastors how to thoughtfully and winsomely respond to the most common questions that people ask." –Rich Nathan

Also recommended:

Culture Making
Recovering our creative calling
by Andy Crouch (IVP)

"This book transcends the twin perils of Christian cultural engagement, lament and mimicry, with a wise and bold call to fully live out our creational mandate and go make something." –Mark Buchanan

Axiom
Powerful leadership proverbs
by Bill Hybels (Zondervan)

"This book truly helps Christians become more skilled leaders by offering practical wisdom that can be readily applied." –Sarah Sumner

Consuming Jesus
Beyond race and class divisions in a consumer church
by Paul Louis Metzger (Eerdmans)

"Consuming Jesus sounds the death knell for a paradigm of church growth driven by the homogeneous unit principle and that measures success by numbers, dollars, and buildings." –Mark DeYmaz

Church Unique
How missional leaders cast vision, capture culture, and create movement
by Will Mancini (Jossey-Bass)

"Remissionalizing established churches can be rough going. If leaders are to successfully steer through the spiritual, cultural, and institutional challenges of the 21st century, they will need help. Will Mancini is a savvy navigator and Church Unique is an impressive blueprint for renewal." –Alan Hirsch


THE LEADER'S INNER WORLD
Surprised by Hope
Rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church
by N.T. Wright (HarperOne)

"Engaging the mind and soul, Surprised by Hope is an invigorating read that places the mission of the church within the massive context of God's redeeming work through the resurrection of Christ." -David Swanson

Also recommended:

The Jesus Way
A conversation on the ways that Jesus is the Way
by Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans)

"Eugene Peterson has a way of asking pointed questions but allowing the answers to surface conversationally, much like Jesus. Peterson lives what he writes, which means his tough questions come attached with redemptive motives." –Clark Cothern

The Attentive Life
Discerning God's presence in all things
by Leighton Ford (IVP)

"The school of spiritual formation is in session in the mundane rhythms of life, and Ford reveals how the Spirit intends to shape us through our attentiveness to God's movements in our ordinary life." –Matt Tebbe

Life with God
Reading the Bible for spiritual transformation
by Richard Foster (HarperOne)

"Foster helps us apply the Bible on a deeper level. He teaches us to read the Bible for transformation not just information. It should fill our lives and not just our brains." –Benny Perez

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor
The life and reflections of Tom Carson
by D.A. Carson (Crossway)

"In an age when pastors are told that in order to be successful we must seek power, recognition, and status, Carson shows us that God defines success in terms of giving, not taking; self-sacrifice, not self-indulgence; going to the back, not getting to the front." –Tullian Tchividjian


THE LEADER'S OUTER WORLD
The Reason for God
Belief in an age of skepticism by Tim Keller (Dutton)

"Tim Keller models for pastors how to thoughtfully and winsomely respond to the most common questions that people ask." –Rich Nathan

Also recommended:

Culture Making
Recovering our creative calling
by Andy Crouch (IVP)

"This book transcends the twin perils of Christian cultural engagement, lament and mimicry, with a wise and bold call to fully live out our creational mandate and go make something." –Mark Buchanan

Axiom
Powerful leadership proverbs
by Bill Hybels (Zondervan)

"This book truly helps Christians become more skilled leaders by offering practical wisdom that can be readily applied." –Sarah Sumner

Consuming Jesus
Beyond race and class divisions in a consumer church
by Paul Louis Metzger (Eerdmans)

"Consuming Jesus sounds the death knell for a paradigm of church growth driven by the homogeneous unit principle and that measures success by numbers, dollars, and buildings." –Mark DeYmaz

Church Unique
How missional leaders cast vision, capture culture, and create movement
by Will Mancini (Jossey-Bass)

"Remissionalizing established churches can be rough going. If leaders are to successfully steer through the spiritual, cultural, and institutional challenges of the 21st century, they will need help. Will Mancini is a savvy navigator and Church Unique is an impressive blueprint for renewal." –Alan Hirsch


THE LEADER'S INNER WORLD
Surprised by Hope
Rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church
by N.T. Wright (HarperOne)

"Engaging the mind and soul, Surprised by Hope is an invigorating read that places the mission of the church within the massive context of God's redeeming work through the resurrection of Christ." -David Swanson

Also recommended:

The Jesus Way
A conversation on the ways that Jesus is the Way
by Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans)

"Eugene Peterson has a way of asking pointed questions but allowing the answers to surface conversationally, much like Jesus. Peterson lives what he writes, which means his tough questions come attached with redemptive motives." –Clark Cothern

The Attentive Life
Discerning God's presence in all things
by Leighton Ford (IVP)

"The school of spiritual formation is in session in the mundane rhythms of life, and Ford reveals how the Spirit intends to shape us through our attentiveness to God's movements in our ordinary life." –Matt Tebbe

Life with God
Reading the Bible for spiritual transformation
by Richard Foster (HarperOne)

"Foster helps us apply the Bible on a deeper level. He teaches us to read the Bible for transformation not just information. It should fill our lives and not just our brains." –Benny Perez

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor
The life and reflections of Tom Carson
by D.A. Carson (Crossway)

"In an age when pastors are told that in order to be successful we must seek power, recognition, and status, Carson shows us that God defines success in terms of giving, not taking; self-sacrifice, not self-indulgence; going to the back, not getting to the front." –Tullian Tchividjian

Wishes for 2009

Wishes for 2009

Monday, December 29, 2008

LustBader: The Bourne Sanction

In this 2008 book, Eric Lustbader continues the adventures of Jason Bourne, a character created by Robert Ludlum.

Jason Bourne is the 21st century ultimate secret agent as James Bond is the agent for the 20th century. The interesting twist is that Jason Bourne does not exist but is an alter-ego created by the CIA to catch Carlos the Assassin as seen in Ludlum's trilogy: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatium. These have been made into movies. Eric Lustbader took up writing Jason Bourne thrillers and so far has produced two: The Bourne Betrayal and now, The Bourne Sanction. Eric Lustbader is a good choice to take up the mantle of Ludlum in writing Jason Bourne stories. I have enjoyed his Nicholas Linnear novels and China Mardoc novels.

This book took up with the life of David Webber, who is the real person. Jason Bourne is a created personality. David is teaching in an American college and having an identity crisis. He does not know whether his real persona is Jason Bourne or David Webber. This reminds me of The Batman/Bruce Wayne.

As in other stories, this weakness is manipulated by others. This time it is the Russian mob, an ultra secret terrorist organisation, and the CIA. In the pursue of his mission, Bourne leaves behind a trail of destruction and dead bodies. I like this book which has people double and triple crossing each other and thus is a mystery-thriller. What strikes me as I read these books is that basically David Webber and Jason Bourne has a deep sense of decency and loyalty to his friends. I look forward to the movie.

Related postings
The Quest for Jason Bourne
The 20 greatest fight scenes ever

LustBader: The Bourne Sanction

In this 2008 book, Eric Lustbader continues the adventures of Jason Bourne, a character created by Robert Ludlum.

Jason Bourne is the 21st century ultimate secret agent as James Bond is the agent for the 20th century. The interesting twist is that Jason Bourne does not exist but is an alter-ego created by the CIA to catch Carlos the Assassin as seen in Ludlum's trilogy: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatium. These have been made into movies. Eric Lustbader took up writing Jason Bourne thrillers and so far has produced two: The Bourne Betrayal and now, The Bourne Sanction. Eric Lustbader is a good choice to take up the mantle of Ludlum in writing Jason Bourne stories. I have enjoyed his Nicholas Linnear novels and China Mardoc novels.

This book took up with the life of David Webber, who is the real person. Jason Bourne is a created personality. David is teaching in an American college and having an identity crisis. He does not know whether his real persona is Jason Bourne or David Webber. This reminds me of The Batman/Bruce Wayne.

As in other stories, this weakness is manipulated by others. This time it is the Russian mob, an ultra secret terrorist organisation, and the CIA. In the pursue of his mission, Bourne leaves behind a trail of destruction and dead bodies. I like this book which has people double and triple crossing each other and thus is a mystery-thriller. What strikes me as I read these books is that basically David Webber and Jason Bourne has a deep sense of decency and loyalty to his friends. I look forward to the movie.

Related postings
The Quest for Jason Bourne
The 20 greatest fight scenes ever

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Outliers: Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell (2008), Outliers: The Story of Success (New York: Harchette Book Group).

One of my observation is that most medical students who scored well in their assessment examinations during their long medical courses do not do well and become successful medical practitioners after they graduate. Of course, there are rare exceptions. Usually those who are average and sometimes borderline passes do well in their lives after graduation. I have often wondered about this.

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Blink: the power of thinking with thinking and The Tipping Point: how little things can make a big difference offers some insights into this. Gladwell is an insightful author, looking behind the obvious to gives us a more obvious answer.

Outlier (noun) means:
(1) something that is situated from or classified from a main or related body, and
(2) a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample.
In an average mean chart, an outlier will be a person who is either in the top or bottom 10% of the mean.

Gladwell tried to analyse the lives of successful men and women, those whom he calls 'outliers' to discover the secret of their successes. As in the previous books, he balanced his arguments with facts and anecdotes. His theses are both fascinating and obvious.

There is a limitation to what genetics can offer a person. For example, IQ. The higher the IQ a person has does not automatically translate to a more successful life. In fact, there is no advantage to being a success beyond a 120 IQ points.

Galdwell's theses has a lot to do with nurture. Given a person with average intelligence, these are the factors that will help make a person a success:

(1) Nurture
both in families and communities that produce an higher EQ. It is the high EQ that is a determining factor. The nurture of EQ seems to be better in higher income families and in families who are concerned to help their children grow.

(2) Opportunities
one example quoted is Bill Gates who in high school was given the opportunity to learn from the very best computer code writers and be allowed a job to write computer codes himself while as a high school student.

(3) Cultural legacies
such as the Asian culture of hard work ( Asian students tend to score well in Maths) which produce successful people and the hierarchical system in Asia which inhibits individual initiative and thus inhibits success (example the high rate of airplane crashes in Korean Air in the past).

It will be useful if Gladwell defines what he meant by success instead of mentioning men and women who "did things out of the ordinary" and launched into various biographies and autobiographies. My gleaming of what he meant by success is something very achievement-orientated, secular and individualistic. There is no spiritual or moral element in his definition of success. It will be useful to include these two elements into his group of 'outliers' and see how many still remains after this two criteria are added.

Another problem I have with this book is the way data from some researches are used. I find it hard to understanding how the hard work related to rice farming in China is linked to Asian children doing better in Maths. While it it true that rice farming demands hard work, it is a leap of faith to declare that the Chinese cultural legacies of hard work is related to the rice field and also to Asian children doing well in Maths. Another explanation offered in why Asia children do better in Maths is that numbers in English is longer that the same numbers in Mandarin. For example the pronunciation of the numbers: 7 in English is double syllable se-ven, while in Mandarin is monosyllable. Also English has more number names than Mandarin; English-eleven ,twelve, thirteen... while in Mandarin, Korean and Japanese, it is more logical- ten-one, ten-two, ten-three...

My impression is that Galdwell has formulated his theses first and then find studies to support them, i.e. he is working backwards. Thus he was very selective in his choice of literature. On the whole this is an interesting book to read. I am amazed at the varieties of studies Galdwell has dug up.

.

Outliers: Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell (2008), Outliers: The Story of Success (New York: Harchette Book Group).

One of my observation is that most medical students who scored well in their assessment examinations during their long medical courses do not do well and become successful medical practitioners after they graduate. Of course, there are rare exceptions. Usually those who are average and sometimes borderline passes do well in their lives after graduation. I have often wondered about this.

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Blink: the power of thinking with thinking and The Tipping Point: how little things can make a big difference offers some insights into this. Gladwell is an insightful author, looking behind the obvious to gives us a more obvious answer.

Outlier (noun) means:
(1) something that is situated from or classified from a main or related body, and
(2) a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample.
In an average mean chart, an outlier will be a person who is either in the top or bottom 10% of the mean.

Gladwell tried to analyse the lives of successful men and women, those whom he calls 'outliers' to discover the secret of their successes. As in the previous books, he balanced his arguments with facts and anecdotes. His theses are both fascinating and obvious.

There is a limitation to what genetics can offer a person. For example, IQ. The higher the IQ a person has does not automatically translate to a more successful life. In fact, there is no advantage to being a success beyond a 120 IQ points.

Galdwell's theses has a lot to do with nurture. Given a person with average intelligence, these are the factors that will help make a person a success:

(1) Nurture
both in families and communities that produce an higher EQ. It is the high EQ that is a determining factor. The nurture of EQ seems to be better in higher income families and in families who are concerned to help their children grow.

(2) Opportunities
one example quoted is Bill Gates who in high school was given the opportunity to learn from the very best computer code writers and be allowed a job to write computer codes himself while as a high school student.

(3) Cultural legacies
such as the Asian culture of hard work ( Asian students tend to score well in Maths) which produce successful people and the hierarchical system in Asia which inhibits individual initiative and thus inhibits success (example the high rate of airplane crashes in Korean Air in the past).

It will be useful if Gladwell defines what he meant by success instead of mentioning men and women who "did things out of the ordinary" and launched into various biographies and autobiographies. My gleaming of what he meant by success is something very achievement-orientated, secular and individualistic. There is no spiritual or moral element in his definition of success. It will be useful to include these two elements into his group of 'outliers' and see how many still remains after this two criteria are added.

Another problem I have with this book is the way data from some researches are used. I find it hard to understanding how the hard work related to rice farming in China is linked to Asian children doing better in Maths. While it it true that rice farming demands hard work, it is a leap of faith to declare that the Chinese cultural legacies of hard work is related to the rice field and also to Asian children doing well in Maths. Another explanation offered in why Asia children do better in Maths is that numbers in English is longer that the same numbers in Mandarin. For example the pronunciation of the numbers: 7 in English is double syllable se-ven, while in Mandarin is monosyllable. Also English has more number names than Mandarin; English-eleven ,twelve, thirteen... while in Mandarin, Korean and Japanese, it is more logical- ten-one, ten-two, ten-three...

My impression is that Galdwell has formulated his theses first and then find studies to support them, i.e. he is working backwards. Thus he was very selective in his choice of literature. On the whole this is an interesting book to read. I am amazed at the varieties of studies Galdwell has dug up.

.

No More Menstruation for Girls and Women

I wonder how much of a woman's psychological makeup is being linked to her menstrual periods. How much of womanhood is tied with the menstrual cycle? I know some peri-menopausal women have identities crises when their menses stopped.

For the younger woman, what if it is possible to stop menstruation without any damage to your bodies? There will be no more premenstrual symptoms and the need to be suitable equipped for that time of the month.

Here is an interesting article from New Scientist Volume 21 Issue 6 Page 24

No More Periods -Period
by Glenn McGee, the director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College, where he holds the John A. Balint Endowed Chair in Medical Ethics.

The birth control pill contains hormones that stop the release of an egg, which in turn prevents the buildup of the uterine lining. Bleeding occurs on traditional oral birth control (21 days of hormone pills, 7 days of placebo) only because of the interruption of the hormones during placebo days. A newer oral contraceptive, Seasonale, reduces the period still further, with only seven placebo days every three months. But the newest, continuous low-dose contraceptive, Lybrel, stops the period entirely...

read more

No More Menstruation for Girls and Women

I wonder how much of a woman's psychological makeup is being linked to her menstrual periods. How much of womanhood is tied with the menstrual cycle? I know some peri-menopausal women have identities crises when their menses stopped.

For the younger woman, what if it is possible to stop menstruation without any damage to your bodies? There will be no more premenstrual symptoms and the need to be suitable equipped for that time of the month.

Here is an interesting article from New Scientist Volume 21 Issue 6 Page 24

No More Periods -Period
by Glenn McGee, the director of the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College, where he holds the John A. Balint Endowed Chair in Medical Ethics.

The birth control pill contains hormones that stop the release of an egg, which in turn prevents the buildup of the uterine lining. Bleeding occurs on traditional oral birth control (21 days of hormone pills, 7 days of placebo) only because of the interruption of the hormones during placebo days. A newer oral contraceptive, Seasonale, reduces the period still further, with only seven placebo days every three months. But the newest, continuous low-dose contraceptive, Lybrel, stops the period entirely...

read more

Saturday, December 27, 2008

3D Dialogue: Kaballah

Jesse Hirsh host of 3D Dialogue interviews Tony Kosinec regarding the study and practice of Kabbalah."Kabbalah is not a religion. It is science so profound and fundamental to human existence that it can only be called Wisdom. It is a method that allows a person to know and enter the higher more inclusive reality."

3D Dialogue: Kaballah

Jesse Hirsh host of 3D Dialogue interviews Tony Kosinec regarding the study and practice of Kabbalah."Kabbalah is not a religion. It is science so profound and fundamental to human existence that it can only be called Wisdom. It is a method that allows a person to know and enter the higher more inclusive reality."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Footprints in the Sand

My friend Anna have blogged about her personal adaptation of Footprints in the Sand. I find it so good that I will like to share it with you.

One night a young girl had a dream. She dreamed that she was walking along the beach, across rocky paths and towards the cliffs, when she stepped into quicksand. As she struggled violently to free herself, the treacherous soil sucked her deeper and deeper in. At that moment, across the sky there flashed scenes from her life. For each scene she noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to her, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of her life flashed before him, she looked back at the footprints in the sand.
She noticed that many times along the path of her life there was only one set of footprints and that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in her life. She also noticed that during these times, the footprints seemed to be going in circles and that towards the end of her life it seemed to be heading towards the rocks and the stormy sea.

read more

Footprints in the Sand

My friend Anna have blogged about her personal adaptation of Footprints in the Sand. I find it so good that I will like to share it with you.

One night a young girl had a dream. She dreamed that she was walking along the beach, across rocky paths and towards the cliffs, when she stepped into quicksand. As she struggled violently to free herself, the treacherous soil sucked her deeper and deeper in. At that moment, across the sky there flashed scenes from her life. For each scene she noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to her, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of her life flashed before him, she looked back at the footprints in the sand.
She noticed that many times along the path of her life there was only one set of footprints and that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in her life. She also noticed that during these times, the footprints seemed to be going in circles and that towards the end of her life it seemed to be heading towards the rocks and the stormy sea.

read more

The Return of the Prophet

Hajjar Gibran (2008), The Return of the Prophet (London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd).

I am a great fan of the writings of Kahlil Gibran especially of his book, The Prophet (1923) which I have blog here. So it is with much anticipation when I read Hajjar Gibran's book. Hajjar Gibran claimed Kahlil Gibran to be his great-uncle. However, in a note in the end of the book, he reveals that they are more of distant relatives.

This book is autobiographical in nature with Hajjar attributing his spiritual awakening to visions and conversations with the Prophet of Kahlil Gibran. It documents his journey from despair at the death of his brother to his wild life and spiritual awakening. Then of his development of spiritual insights and success in Hawaii.

While the writing style imitates that of Gibran's masterpiece, it lacks the spiritual depth and wisdom of the book. Hajjar's work is more of a journal of a spirit channeling. Spiritual discernment is required to read this book.

The Return of the Prophet

Hajjar Gibran (2008), The Return of the Prophet (London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd).

I am a great fan of the writings of Kahlil Gibran especially of his book, The Prophet (1923) which I have blog here. So it is with much anticipation when I read Hajjar Gibran's book. Hajjar Gibran claimed Kahlil Gibran to be his great-uncle. However, in a note in the end of the book, he reveals that they are more of distant relatives.

This book is autobiographical in nature with Hajjar attributing his spiritual awakening to visions and conversations with the Prophet of Kahlil Gibran. It documents his journey from despair at the death of his brother to his wild life and spiritual awakening. Then of his development of spiritual insights and success in Hawaii.

While the writing style imitates that of Gibran's masterpiece, it lacks the spiritual depth and wisdom of the book. Hajjar's work is more of a journal of a spirit channeling. Spiritual discernment is required to read this book.

The Coming Surplus of Doctors in Malaysia

I have blogged about the potential surplus of doctors in Malaysia by 2020 in my post Too Many Doctors in Malaysia

In The Star newspaper article today (p.N14)"D-G: Report on future doctor surplus inaccurate", the director general of health in Malaysia was quoted as saying, "While it is true that projections indicate that Malaysia may be able to achieve a doctor to population ratio of 1:600 before 2015, this does not mean that we will face the surplus of doctors once the ratio is reached."

The 2005 statistics show that Malaysia has a doctor to population ratio of 1:1,400. To achieve a reduction of 1:1,400 to 1:600 in 10 years is an incredible increase in the number of doctors. What it means is that there is a large number of medical schools producing an incredible number of medical graduates to achieve this ratio. Once this ratio is reached in 2015, these medical schools are going to continue to produce doctors. Anyone can see that there WILL be a surplus.

It must be acknowledged that there is inequality in the distribution of doctors. There are more doctors in the urban centres than in the rural areas. And there is a 40% vacancy in the public section n 2007. However, the increase in licencing of medical schools will not solve the problem of shortage of doctors in the public sector. The three years 'compulsory service' all doctors have to serve the government may boost up the numbers in the public sector but increasing the number of fresh doctors is a short time answer to this shortage.

There have been an incredible increase of new medical schools in Malaysia. Somehow colleges which have been upgraded to university status, which do not even have their own campuses but work out of some shoplots in urban centres are setting up medical schools. Others like the University of Newcastle from the United Kingdom will be setting up a medical school in Nusajaya in Johor. I see a few problems with this scenarios:

First, what facilities can these new medical schools offer for their training of their students? Medical education must involve a large hospital for the students to learn medicine in. All the general hospitals already have a medical school attached to it. Where will these new medical schools be training their students? A district hospital will never be adequate as a main teaching hospital.

Second, where are the lecturers and professors going to come from? The pool of lecturers and professors are small in Malaysia and already many are playing merry-go-round; moving from one medical school to another. Many medical schools are calling doctors out of retirement to teach. Teaching medicine to medical students means that the teachers must be up to date and on the cutting age. Poorly equipped teachers will produce poorly trained doctors. There are no other possible outcome. Medicine is not something one can learn from a book.

Third, the large number of medical schools will need a large number of students. While there are overseas students enrolling in some of the better local medical schools, these are few in numbers. The majority still comes from Malaysia. What is happening? In fulfilling its quotas of paying medical students, the medical schools will be forced to reduce their entrance requirements. Students who would otherwise not be eligible to study medicine are admitted to the course. This may explain the high incidence of mental problems experienced by medical students and young doctors as reported by the Ministry of Health. The question to ask is whether you want these doctors to treat you when you are sick? Both the second and third point highlights the fact that too many medical schools in a small country like Malaysia may result in producing doctors who are not of sufficient standard to look after the health of the people of Malaysia.

Finally, one day the number of doctors will exceed the demands of the Malaysian society. Already in some urban centres, one can see two to three general practitioner clinics in a single row of shophouses. The value of a medical degree will drop as doctors will be forced to find employment outside their field of training. When that day comes, it will be a sad day for doctors in Malaysia.

.

The Coming Surplus of Doctors in Malaysia

I have blogged about the potential surplus of doctors in Malaysia by 2020 in my post Too Many Doctors in Malaysia

In The Star newspaper article today (p.N14)"D-G: Report on future doctor surplus inaccurate", the director general of health in Malaysia was quoted as saying, "While it is true that projections indicate that Malaysia may be able to achieve a doctor to population ratio of 1:600 before 2015, this does not mean that we will face the surplus of doctors once the ratio is reached."

The 2005 statistics show that Malaysia has a doctor to population ratio of 1:1,400. To achieve a reduction of 1:1,400 to 1:600 in 10 years is an incredible increase in the number of doctors. What it means is that there is a large number of medical schools producing an incredible number of medical graduates to achieve this ratio. Once this ratio is reached in 2015, these medical schools are going to continue to produce doctors. Anyone can see that there WILL be a surplus.

It must be acknowledged that there is inequality in the distribution of doctors. There are more doctors in the urban centres than in the rural areas. And there is a 40% vacancy in the public section n 2007. However, the increase in licencing of medical schools will not solve the problem of shortage of doctors in the public sector. The three years 'compulsory service' all doctors have to serve the government may boost up the numbers in the public sector but increasing the number of fresh doctors is a short time answer to this shortage.

There have been an incredible increase of new medical schools in Malaysia. Somehow colleges which have been upgraded to university status, which do not even have their own campuses but work out of some shoplots in urban centres are setting up medical schools. Others like the University of Newcastle from the United Kingdom will be setting up a medical school in Nusajaya in Johor. I see a few problems with this scenarios:

First, what facilities can these new medical schools offer for their training of their students? Medical education must involve a large hospital for the students to learn medicine in. All the general hospitals already have a medical school attached to it. Where will these new medical schools be training their students? A district hospital will never be adequate as a main teaching hospital.

Second, where are the lecturers and professors going to come from? The pool of lecturers and professors are small in Malaysia and already many are playing merry-go-round; moving from one medical school to another. Many medical schools are calling doctors out of retirement to teach. Teaching medicine to medical students means that the teachers must be up to date and on the cutting age. Poorly equipped teachers will produce poorly trained doctors. There are no other possible outcome. Medicine is not something one can learn from a book.

Third, the large number of medical schools will need a large number of students. While there are overseas students enrolling in some of the better local medical schools, these are few in numbers. The majority still comes from Malaysia. What is happening? In fulfilling its quotas of paying medical students, the medical schools will be forced to reduce their entrance requirements. Students who would otherwise not be eligible to study medicine are admitted to the course. This may explain the high incidence of mental problems experienced by medical students and young doctors as reported by the Ministry of Health. The question to ask is whether you want these doctors to treat you when you are sick? Both the second and third point highlights the fact that too many medical schools in a small country like Malaysia may result in producing doctors who are not of sufficient standard to look after the health of the people of Malaysia.

Finally, one day the number of doctors will exceed the demands of the Malaysian society. Already in some urban centres, one can see two to three general practitioner clinics in a single row of shophouses. The value of a medical degree will drop as doctors will be forced to find employment outside their field of training. When that day comes, it will be a sad day for doctors in Malaysia.

.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Pastors should Participate in Facebook



Pastors should participate in Facebook and other social network spaces because:

* it forces them to become more computer and Internet savvy. Many pastors are generations behind in their understanding and use of communication technology
* it introduces them to a new way of social interacting- the digital way.
* it makes them human. Depending on their openness and integrity, pastors who presents themselves as themselves will have to reveal a more personal and human side of themselves.
* allows them to understand and know what the younger generations in his/her congregation is doing in these social network spaces
* develop new aspects of their ministries. Most pastors do not realise that their ministry is limited to the verbal and printed words. They need to be missional with digital words
* provide the presence of Christ in these social network spaces
* make 'friends' with people from all over the world
* they need to create Christian faith communities in these social network spaces
* they should have fun


Read more here

Why Pastors should Participate in Facebook



Pastors should participate in Facebook and other social network spaces because:

* it forces them to become more computer and Internet savvy. Many pastors are generations behind in their understanding and use of communication technology
* it introduces them to a new way of social interacting- the digital way.
* it makes them human. Depending on their openness and integrity, pastors who presents themselves as themselves will have to reveal a more personal and human side of themselves.
* allows them to understand and know what the younger generations in his/her congregation is doing in these social network spaces
* develop new aspects of their ministries. Most pastors do not realise that their ministry is limited to the verbal and printed words. They need to be missional with digital words
* provide the presence of Christ in these social network spaces
* make 'friends' with people from all over the world
* they need to create Christian faith communities in these social network spaces
* they should have fun


Read more here

3D Dialogue: Falun Gong Part 2

3D Dialogue: Falun Gong Part 2

Evangelical Anxieties over Spiritual Formation

In the recent issue of Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, 2008, Vol. 1, No. 2, 129–148, there is this interesting article.

Sanctification in a New Key:
Relieving Evangelical Anxieties Over Spiritual Formation
by Steve L. Porter
Rosemead School of Psychology and
Talbot School of Theology (Biola University)

Abstract: This article is meant to be an apologetic for spiritual formation to those within the evangelical tradition who find themselves concerned about its emphases. Eight common objections to spiritual formation are presented with the twofold aim of recognizing any needed corrective and defusing the objection. While more must be said in response to each of these objections, it is hoped that enough will be said here to relieve much of the anxiety surrounding spiritual formation.

The eight general objections to spiritual formation from evangelicals are:
(1) Spiritual formation is just a fad
(2) Spiritual formation is Catholic
(3) Spiritual formation is New Age
(4) Spiritual formation is contrary to the sufficiency of Scripture
(5) What ever happened to old-fashioned obedience?
(6) Spiritual formation encourages works righteousness
(7) Spiritual formation is overly experiential
(8) Spiritual formation neglects mission/evangelism

Steve Porter addresses each one of these objections systematically, showing that Christians especially Evangelicals have nothing to fear from spiritual formation. In fact, spiritual formation as sanctification is very biblical. I am glad that someone has finally written an apologetic for spiritual formation.

In my teaching and researching of spiritual formation, I continually meet the same objections from some pastors and church leaders. Even today, I am on the blacklist of certain pastors and church leaders because of my association with spiritual formation.

Download the article here
.

Evangelical Anxieties over Spiritual Formation

In the recent issue of Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, 2008, Vol. 1, No. 2, 129–148, there is this interesting article.

Sanctification in a New Key:
Relieving Evangelical Anxieties Over Spiritual Formation
by Steve L. Porter
Rosemead School of Psychology and
Talbot School of Theology (Biola University)

Abstract: This article is meant to be an apologetic for spiritual formation to those within the evangelical tradition who find themselves concerned about its emphases. Eight common objections to spiritual formation are presented with the twofold aim of recognizing any needed corrective and defusing the objection. While more must be said in response to each of these objections, it is hoped that enough will be said here to relieve much of the anxiety surrounding spiritual formation.

The eight general objections to spiritual formation from evangelicals are:
(1) Spiritual formation is just a fad
(2) Spiritual formation is Catholic
(3) Spiritual formation is New Age
(4) Spiritual formation is contrary to the sufficiency of Scripture
(5) What ever happened to old-fashioned obedience?
(6) Spiritual formation encourages works righteousness
(7) Spiritual formation is overly experiential
(8) Spiritual formation neglects mission/evangelism

Steve Porter addresses each one of these objections systematically, showing that Christians especially Evangelicals have nothing to fear from spiritual formation. In fact, spiritual formation as sanctification is very biblical. I am glad that someone has finally written an apologetic for spiritual formation.

In my teaching and researching of spiritual formation, I continually meet the same objections from some pastors and church leaders. Even today, I am on the blacklist of certain pastors and church leaders because of my association with spiritual formation.

Download the article here
.