Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Lost History of Christianity

Seaver College W. David Baird Distinguished Lecture Series presents Dr. Phillip Jenkins, lecturing on "The Lost History of Christianity".

Jenkins is the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University. His specialty is Christianity in the southern hemisphere, and he will explore the myths surrounding the history of the religion.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CNN on Bible Seizure in Malaysia

Bibles seized as Malaysia minorities fear fundamentalism

By Saeed Ahmed, CNN
October 29, 2009 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
Non-Muslims in Malaysia fear that Islamism is seeping into the moderate nation's fabric.
Non-Muslims in Malaysia fear that Islamism is seeping into the moderate nation's fabric.

(CNN) -- Authorities in Malaysia have seized more than 20,000 Bibles in recent months because they refer to God as "Allah," Christian leaders said Thursday.

The seizures have fed fears among minority groups, which see signs of encroaching Islamic fundamentalism in the predominantly Muslim but multi-racial country.

"There is a growing sense of Islamic assertion, yes," said the Rev. Hermen Shastri, general-secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia. "There is some concern."

The Bibles were written in the country's official language, Malay -- in which the word for God is "Allah," as it is in Arabic.

However, Malaysia's government says the word is exclusive to Islam.

Its use in Christian publications is likely to confuse Muslims and draw them to Christianity, the government says. So it has banned use of the word in Christian literature.

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Parenting Seminar

Helping Hands

In light of the recent natural disasters in Indonesia and the Philippines, the Johor Bahru Pastor Fellowship is initiating a relief project. Please help.

The Perfect Paediatrician

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who is a Bioethicist?

This post from contains an interesting argument between two famous bioethicists, Arthur Caplan and Zeke Emanuel on who may be claim to be a bioethicist.

Facts alone won't suffice for the field of bioethics
by Arthur Caplan

When you get old enough as a practitioner in any field young people seek your advice about what they should do if they want to do what you do. Given that my age seems to be increasing exponentially this has been happening to me with increasing frequency. Undergraduates, high school students, medical students, those pursuing degrees in law and nursing and even those interested in a mid-career change have been asking me what they need to do if they want to pursue a career in bioethics.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Literary Bar in Malaysia

There are a lack of serious writers in Malaysia and National Laureate shares his thoughts in the Star newspaper. Interestingly he thinks that there is no racial bias in awarding the National Laureate when he is the 10th and all ten are Malays.

Sunday October 25, 2009

Raising the literary bar


Our new National Laureate talks about the need for more serious works and an alternative media.

The malaise of Malay literature starts from schools, Anwar says. “In the school system, we don’t encourage too much serious discussions. It’s about following the format or scheme to answer questions. So when they grow up, there is the lack of a critical mind. ”

After writing for over 40 years, Anwar Ridhwan still believes in quality over quantity.

read more

Saturday, October 24, 2009

15,000 bibles detained by Malaysian Government

In the Religious Liberty Watch blog, nkm notes that 15,000 Bibles are detained by the Malaysian authorities and gives his opinion.

15000 Bibles Detained by Malaysian Government this Past Year

By nkw

It is bad enough that Malaysian government officials continue to seize and detain the Al Kitab (Malay Bible) at their whims and fancies. It is worse as the government is supposed to have a gentlemen’s agreement dating from the mid 1980s with the leaders of the Malaysian Church that allows the Al Kitab to be used within church premises.

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Sorry Your Book is Banned!

Elizabeth Tai highlights in the Star newspaper about book banning in Malaysia and what a sad state of affair it is.

It’s arbitrary, my dear


Given broad, vague guidelines that keep changing, publishers and authors are hard- pressed to decipher what books get banned.

ON March 9, 2001, a day after the start of the Kampung Medan clashes in Kuala Lumpur, Suaram chairperson K. Arumugam was chased by 20 motorcyclists when he drove into the area.

The experience affected him so much that he decided to write a book about it.

Right to Read, held in Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago, aimed to get people to ask why books are banned, and what happens when access to information is restricted.

After spending two years on research and RM10,000 on printing, 5,000 copies of March 8 (written in Tamil) rolled off the press in April 2006.

Nine months later – on Jan 19, 2007 – Elizabeth Wong (now Selangor exco member) informed Arumugam that his book, which had sold about 3,000 copies by then, had been banned.

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Shanghai Bund at Night

Memories of Shanghai 2009 #4: River Cruise

The Bund (simplified Chinese: 外滩; traditional Chinese: 外灘; pinyin: Wàitān) is an area of Huangpu District in central Shanghai, People's Republic of China. The area centres on a section of Zhongshan Road (East-1 Zhongshan Road) within the former Shanghai International Settlement, which runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing Pudong, in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. The Bund is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mystical-Political Theology

The latest from Thinking Faith...

Book Review: The Relevance Of Bernard Lonergan’s Notion Of Self-Appropriation To A Mystical-Political Theology by Ian B. Bell
Reviewed by Gerard Whelan SJ
In outlining his project for a ‘mystical-political theology’, Ian Bell offers a summary of some representative thinkers in both mystical theology and political theology and seeks to relate the thought of the Canadian Jesuit Bernard Lonergan to each of these currents. The book addresses issues of paramount importance with answers of real significance, and I hope it will whet an appetite to study further this remarkable thinker, Bernard Lonergan, whose thought has the widest of applications and potential importance today.


Walking the Yu Garden in Shanghai

Memories of Shanghai 2009 #3: The Yuyuan Garden- The Garden of Peace and Comfort

Yuyuan Garden (Simplified Chinese: 豫园; Traditional Chinese: 豫園; Pinyin: Yùyuán), located in the center of the Old City next to the Chenghuangmiao in Shanghai, China, is considered one of the most lavish and finest Chinese gardens in the region.

The garden was first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years building a garden to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty, during his father's old age. Over the years, the gardens fell into disrepair until about 1760 when bought by merchants, then suffered extensive damage in the 19th century. In 1842, during the Opium Wars, the British army occupied the Town God Temple for five days. During the Taiping Rebellion the gardens were occupied by imperial troops, and damaged again by the Japanese in 1942. They were repaired by the Shanghai government from 1956-1961, opened to the public in 1961, and declared a national monument in 1982.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reformed Perspectives Magazine Volume 11, Number 43

Reformed Perspectives Magazine Volume 11, Number 43 (October 25 to October 31, 2009), is now available. The following articles are featured in this issue:

The Doctrine of the Word of God
God’s Word as His Meaningful Authority
By: John M. Frame
Webpage PDF Word

1 Timothy 6:1-2
A Sermon
By: Scott Lindsay
Webpage PDF Word

Befriending the Soul to Live the Good Life, Part III
An Article
By: Mark A. Pinson
Webpage PDF Word

A Basket of Fragments, Part VIII
An Article
By: Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Webpage PDF Word

The Old and the New Man in Believers
An Article
By: Thomas Boston
Webpage PDF Word

The Ten Commandments, Part III
Sermons from the Heidelberg Catechism
By: G. Van Reenen
Webpage PDF Word

Freedom of the Will, Part XXIII
An Article
By: Jonathan Edwards
Webpage PDF Word

Food, Glorious Chinese Food

Memories of Shanghai 2009 #2 : Food, Glorious Chinese Food!

steamed pork with fermented bean curd- Suzhou style

look at the fat! positively sinful

Shanghainese Hairy Crabs

and Canadian lobsters too!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shanghai at My Feet

Memories of Shanghai 2009 #1: Shanghai at my feet

standing at 1,500 feet

The Oriental Pearl Tower (Chinese: 东方明珠塔; pinyin: Dōngfāng Míngzhūtǎ, Official Name: 东方明珠电视塔) is a TV tower in Shanghai, China. The Oriental Pearl Tower is located at the tip of Lujiazui in the Pudong district, by the side of Huangpu River, opposite The Bund of Shanghai.

It was designed by Jiang Huan Cheng of the Shanghai Modern Architectural Design Co. Ltd. Construction began in 1991 and the tower was completed in 1995. At 468 m (1,535 feet) high, it is the tallest completed tower in Asia, and the fourth tallest tower in the world after the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, the Ostankino Tower in Moscow, Russia and the Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower . It was also the tallest structure in China from 1994-2007, when it was surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center. The Oriental Pearl Tower belongs to the World Federation of Great Towers. (Wiki)

fooling around at the top of Shanghai- Malaysian tourist!

Shanghai skyline from the sky

reason why I was there


Demarest on Mysticism

An interesting article on Mysticism posted on METAmorpha

Bruce Demarest: Mysticism: Peril or Promise?

What Do We Mean?
Satiated with consumerism, technological gizmos, and frenetic activity, people of all stripes are exploring the mystical realm. We all resonate with moments of elevated wonder triggered by a beautiful sunset, rapturous music, or the birth of a baby. In a depersonalized age, image bearers are searching for relationship with something or Someone larger than themselves that will ease the dullness of daily life and energize the soul. Christians, in particular, hunger for more intimate experience of Jesus Christ and greater awareness of the Spirit’s ministry within.

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To understand mysticism I find it helpful to distinguish between hard, occult, and soft forms of mysticism. Hard mysticism alleges the merging of human nature with the essence of the Absolute or God, in such a way that self-consciousness is lost. The Buddhist seeks absorption into Nirvana (an egoless state), and the Hindu, merging of the self (Atman) with Brahman (universal deity). Meister Eckhart (1260–1327) was one of the few Christian mystics who made statements that border on hard mysticism. Occult forms of mysticism (e.g., est, New Age, Psycanics) seek transcendent insights and experiences through mind-altering substances and/or esoteric practices. Both hard and occult forms of mysticism are fundamentally opposed to orthodox Christianity.

While I appreciate his division of mysticism into soft, hard and occult forms, I find that it is too artificial a division. To limit 'soft' mysticism to orthodox Christianity, 'hard' mysticism to Buddhism and Hinduism, and 'occult' mysticism to New Age is to limit our understanding of mysticism.

Demarest is right to point out the numerous mystical experiences in the biblical records. However, as he also points out, Meister Eckhart and the Rhineland mystics may be included in 'hard' mysticism and if I may suggest 'occult' mysticism (as defined by Demarest) too. The ascetic practices of the desert fathers and mothers are dangerously close to 'occult' mysticism. Would we exclude Meister Eckhart and the desert fathers and mothers from 'orthodox Christianity'?

Buddhist mysticism seeks awareness of the non-self rather than 'absorption into Nirvana.' Hindu mysticism seeks a transcendent insight that will leads to a better karma. Christian mysticism seeks intimacy with God. Personally, I will prefer describing mysticism as from the traditions such as Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, Native American etc rather than soft, hard and occult.

The taxonomy of Christian mysticism will include Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran, Roman, Orthodox, Pentecostal...


Monday, October 19, 2009

God's Preparation of the Church in China

Click Here
Going to Ground
On the eve of World War II, John Sung swept China and South East Asia with revival, a final preparation for Christianity underground.

In 1935, a Chinese preacher in his mid 30s stood on a makeshift stage in Singapore conducting a Presbyterian-hosted revival. Chinese theologian Timothy Tow, a boyhood convert of that week, described John Sung as "attired in a light white Chinese gown . . . with a shock of black hair flapping his high forehead, he was jabbing away ... 'You ought to die, to die!'" Sung then proceeded to act out and shout out the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Finish this article from


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Be Afraid-Be Very Afraid

First Thing, October 2009

Why is so many people fascinated by horror movies? David Goldman gives us his take.

Be Afraid—Be Very Afraid
The horror-film genre is multiplying like one of its own monsters, showing six-fold growth over the past decade—turning what used to be a Hollywood curiosity into a mainstream product. Not only the volume of films but their cruelty has increased, with explicit torture now a screen staple.

Why do Americans pay to watch images as revolting as the cinematic imagination can discover? Many things might explain the vast new market for uncanny evil. If you do not believe in God, you will believe in anything, to misquote G.K. Chesterton; and, one might add, if you do not feel God’s presence, you will become desperate to feel anything at all. Terror and horror create at least some kind of feeling. After pornography has jaded the capacity to feel pleasure, what remains is the capacity to feel fear and pain...

But the growing morbidity of America’s imagination as shown in the consumption of cinematic horror suggests we might heed the tagline of Jeff Goldblum’s 1986 remake of Vincent Price’s The Fly, made famous by Christina Ricci in the 1993 spoof Addams Family Values: Be afraid—be very afraid.

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Makes me wonder whether watching horror movies is escaping from personal pain and loneliness to experiencing artificial horror. Scary.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spiritual Formation in the Priestly Life

I find this interesting and thought provoking as it reveals a facet of spiritual formation from the Roman Catholic tradition.

The latest from Thinking Faith...

The Hiddenness of Priestly Life
‘In the daily rhythm of receiving and being given, the priest allows himself to be shaped by the ebb and flow of grace, alive in the rhythm of the Spirit breathing in him.’ As part of Thinking Faith’s series to mark the ‘Year of the Priest’, James Hanvey SJ describes how the life of a priest is shaped by the relationships to which he is committed, yet is characterised always by the mysterious surrender of himself to the life of the Church. Read >>


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Miracles in the Middle Ages

In the period between 1150 and 1550 a number of Christians in western Europe made pilgrimages to places where material objects--among them paintings, statues, relics, and Eucharistic wafers--allegedly erupted into life by such activities as bleeding, weeping, and walking about. In this lecture, Professor Bynum describes the miracles, discusses the problems they presented for both church authorities and the ordinary faithful, and probes the basic assumptions about matter that lay behind them.

St Therese and Evangelism

The latest from Thinking Faith...

iWitness: St Thérèse: a mission of evangelisation
The tour of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux has been an invigorating event for the life of the Catholic Church in this country, but has been met by curiosity and even scepticism in some quarters. Sr Janet Fearns explains the value of the visit as an opportunity for evangelisation, as she recalls her encounters with journalists and pilgrims. How has St Thérèse enabled the many thousands of people who have queued to venerate her relics to become missionaries? Read >>


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Playing Batman: Akham Asylum

As a fan of Bob Kane's fictional hero Batman, I have always been wary of computer games featuring the Batman. Batman: Akham Asylum was a pleasant and enjoyable surprise for me. It was not as dark and frightening as the movie The Dark Knight especially with the new terrifying Joker. This game hearkens back to the golden age of Batman where good fights evil but with a delightful sense of make-believe comic book like feel. Even the Joker looks like the comic book character. I played the game on Xbox.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an action-adventure stealth video game based on DC Comics' Batman for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics. The PS3 and Xbox versions of the game were released on August 25, 2009 in North America and August 28, 2009 in Europe., and the PC version was released on September 15th in North America and the September 18th in Europe.

Batman: Arkham Asylum, written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini, is based on the long-running comic book mythos, as opposed to most other Batman games which are adaptations of the character in other media besides the source material. The Joker, Batman's archenemy, has instigated an elaborate plot from within Arkham Asylum where many of Batman's other villains have been incarcerated. Batman investigates and comes to learn that the Joker is trying to create an army of Bane-like creatures that threaten Gotham City, and is forced to put a stop to the Joker's plans. (Wiki)

The gameplay was easy with minimal training required. The storyline was also smooth and engaging. As in all Batman-Joker stories, there is good versus bad, good use of technology versus bad use of, virtues versus evil personality, and boils down to a mano-a-mano between two opposites of the same coin.

Until I played this, I did not realise how vulnerable Batman is. Even with his armour which one could upgrade during the gameplay, he is still vulnerable. This is more so in that he does not kill and he does not use a gun. Compared to other superheroes who can fly, have cosmic blasters and other weapons, Batman have to depend on his stealth and martial art skills. Sometimes during the gameplay, I wish he has something to shoot with.

The game received extremely high praise from critics, earning a 92% average on GameRankings, a game aggregator. This also earned it a spot in the Guinness World Records for "Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game". Sales were also high, selling over 2 million copies within its first two weeks of its console release. (Wiki)

This is a computer game with moderate amount of violence (but no gory scenes). I think I will play it again.

'nuff said!

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, here we come...