Saturday, September 24, 2005

Jonathan Edwards.

I love the man. His philosophical and engaging mind, his pleasantly romantic and long-winded writings, his brutality in delivering sermons of repentance in which all of these, were the radiance of his deep consciousness of his love, reverence and fear for God.

He made reading difficult, yet made no apologies to his readers for having to spend substantially more time in understanding his studies. He is uncompromising, having instilled the highest level of discipline in his discourse of understanding Scriptures. He is perhaps to some, an abomination to simplicity; a subject of interest to only the high and lofty, an intimidation to this generation of Christian men and women; yet, one must come to realization that this same man, also preached to the Indians of America- the least of the least among the uneducated, as well as congregations of scholars, thinkers and future pastors of his time.

One who reads him is no greater than one who doesn’t, yet I find it such a pity that Christians of this century take him for granted, opting for a diluted version of theology, which brings only disillusionment and self-sufficiency in their understanding of Scriptures. However, I must admit that one doesn’t read him without much struggling and wrestling- not only to understand him, but also wrestling with the entire point of dwelling in sacred intellectual. One would risk succumbing to the two extremes in attempts of understanding his philosophically-laden reflections- by turning into an intellectual snob or being put off by the sense of detachment from the world, that grows deeper upon each immense reading session. There is a fine line drawn between these two, and one is as what Edwards had once said, “hung by a thread at the mercy of God”.

A fresh reading of Edwards brought me back from edging too near that cliff. Having withdrawn from him for some time, I was acquainted to his theological reflections once again just recently. What is most glaringly important, is his firm assertion in the authority of Scriptures than being merely attracted to what great theologians, him included; had to say. “Be assiduous in reading the Holy Scriptures. This is the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be derived. Therefore let not this treasure lie by you neglected.”

Yet, having the ultimate regards for the Bible is not legalistic in nature, nor are we to be stoic about it. He wrote, “Sometimes, on fair days I find myself more particularly disposed to regard the glories of the world than to betake myself to the study of serious religion.”

He lived with strictest measures – “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.” “Resolved: To live with all my might while I do live.” Thus, he left behind a legacy of Christian faith so strong that it outlasted him by centuries and made me ponder on my complacency.

I don’t claim to have fully understood or understood at all, any of his treatises, sermons, and deep philosophies on freedom of will, Trinity and religious affections. I would require repetitive readings over my lifetime, possibly even more; to do that. Perhaps, when I see him in Heaven, I would have an opportunity to meet the man himself and to hear in his own words and voice, the wonderful teaching about God being most glorified when we seek pleasure in Him. Yet, I was already pleasantly in awe that a pastor who led the Great Awakening almost 300 years ago would once again awake me from my own spiritual slumber today.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Greater good?

“…absorbing Orang Asli would eliminate a category of people arguably “more indigenous” than Malays. Chinese and Indian critics of Malay special rights and privileges argue—privately, since it is illegal to question Malay prerogatives—that Orang Asli, not Malays, are the true bumiputera. They say that Malays, like themselves, descend from immigrants. If the government can assimilate the Orang Asli into the Malay population, then, it can eliminate a serious political embarrassment. As one Semai man told Dentan, “When all Orang Asli have become Malays, then Malays will become Orang Asli.”

That’s purportedly very clever, I should say.

It is in the hopes of many that the issues concerning the indigenous groups of Malaysia, or better known as the Orang Asli; would never be put to rest as long as there are small whispers of discrimination, marginalization and injustice echoing through the jungles of Peninsular Malaysia.

If one were to derive some observations from newpaper headlines, one would probably arrive to the deduction that cases of robbery, rape and cheat committed by those closest to the victims are on the rise. The Orang Asli seemed to have known this better than any of us. Having robbed of their physical inheritance in the form of land for ‘agricultural development’, the Orang Asli are already losing ground, literally speaking.

What is more shockingly dumbfounding is the discovery that more often than not, these looters and robbers were the very same people designated to help the Orang Asli- employed to listen, to represent and to protect them from infringement in bureaucratic and legal matters; matters which the Orang Asli were incapable of handling of themselves.

Yet, the robbery and the looting continues, not only exteriorly but also interiorly and this perhaps constitutes a greater harm to the Orang Asli- the assimilation of their indigenious identity to the legal definition of identity that of a Malay.

The consequences of this action are too atrocious to be regarded as ‘for the greater good of these people’. It is plain to see that this is a form of euphemism, played about by government officials when it is just as plain to see that what they are doing to the Orang Asli is ‘ethnocide’.

Once made ‘Malays’, these Orang Asli would be pushed deeper into a legal wrangle of special rights. Land initially reserved for them (already a controversial issue on its own) would actually be easier to be taken away, for instance. On a religiously pluralistic point of view, the Orang Asli would be induced to embrace Islam, as so to fulfill the legal definition of a Malay. Islam propogation is apparently, taking a bigger slice of the ‘reponsibilities’ of the Orang Asli Welfare Department than education and healthcare services; which the Department had originally pledged to commit themselves unto. Muslim ‘Orang Asli’, though with no inkling of Muslim doctrines and theology profess the faith anyway, for the sake of housing, educational, food and healthcare benefits that come in the package of becoming a Muslim; for him and his family. This, without them knowing at all that they would be subjected to the clause to freedom of religion as well. All these to strenghten the standings of a particular race?

The department has always viewed the Church in its missionary trips to the Orang Asli settlements, as a threat to their Islamic propagation. Therefore, it is even stipulated that no non-governmental groups are allowed to enter these settlements without the permission of the department. The Church is doing this in a subversive manner, needless to say in an illegal manner. Yet, if the department won't earnestly help them, can the Christians keep silent?

Although our capacities for now are merely to continuously let these issues bob on the surface of these troubled ‘waters’, with only fragile tension surrounding these ‘waters’, yet; we long to see ripples in these 'waters' soon, even if it were only a small pebble that caused them. Just as the ripples widen, so must our concern for these people widen and be brought further- from mere sympathy to genuine concern to concrete voices and action.

Prayerfully, the Church will make a difference.


Read more on this here and here.
bohtea's previous reflection here and here .

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Logistics

Christ Seminar has been receiving overwhelming support whether in words of encouragement, or in prayers ever since its inception.

Yet, Christ Seminar must have both its 'feet' planted into Christ the Solid Rock, before it is to set itself on a venture to plant similar models in other universities. It is safe to say that, Christ Seminar is still very much in its infancy, and the people working behind it are experimenting with various models; as so to provide an avenue for university students to engage in real issues with honest answers in a local setting.

Nonetheless, your prayers and encouragements have been the little lamps that lighted our hearts and we do appreciate these 'lamps' very much.

We are not expecting a surge of the Malaysian Church to Passion Cafe, we forbid ourselves to go in line with that thought, even! Yet, we welcome friends, well-wishers; particularly Christian university students to join us for an insightful afternoon.

Do send us a mail at christseminar@gmail.com if you would like us to expect your participation on that day. We would be limiting places, as so to be able to engage with one another in a comfortable setting. A small fee of RM5 would be charged for tidbits served during the session.
(Many thanks to Passion Cafe for their generosity in hosting us)

Fret not; those who would be missing the 8 Oct 2005 session, presentation papers would be available at Christ Seminar Online thereafter, for your theological and interaction pleasures.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Here.



















*Leon, hope you don't mind Christian being our promo little star.

It began with a vision- to see university students rise up to speak, to echo and to defend Truth, which is otherwise; dying among men and women of the present age.

Confronted by a serious intellectual drain and appreciation for Truth in the campus culture, a group of Christian students in University of Malaya, Malaysia decided to meet to probe into tough questions, ideas and issues about Truth, Life and Christianity.

These are university students who are passionate and concerned for the pursuit of knowledge and conveying messages of the Truth, the Way and the Life to the campus community at large.

In a seemingly confusing world where false ideologies and principles continue to uproot Truth itself, it is in the hopes of these students to present not the alternative ways to lead a purposeful Life through the philosophies of men, but to reintroduce the true meaning of Life through the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself.

Today, Christ Seminar continues to establish its role in challenging students to rethink, reconsider and to be reformed in their quest for Truth and Life.

Come join us for the first of the exciting series of Real Radical Reformation- Refuting Robert Funk's 21 Theses-

Topic: The God of the Bible
Presenter: Joshua Woo
Date: 8 October 2005
Venue: Passion Cafe
Time: 1 pm (after lunch)
Visit Christ Seminar online.

Juice-bits about the presenter: Joshua Woo is a friend and comrade to Christ Seminar. Despite being at a young age (only in his early twenties), he is a promising up-and-coming apologist and enjoys engaging in a theological debate or two, all the better if philosophy is thrown in. He is currently residing in Singapore and attending Orchard Road Presbyterian Church.

Sneak preview: Robert Funk of Jesus Seminar, in his 1st of the 21 theses to refute Christian doctrines- "The God of the metaphysical age is dead. There is not a personal god out there external to human beings and the material world. We must reckon with a deep crisis in god talk and replace it with talk about whether the universe has meaning and whether human life has purpose."

Is God merely an idea desperately clinged onto by these 'Christian zealots'?

or

"A God who is active within his world, who feeds the young ravens when they called upon him, who could be trusted to act more specifically on behalf of Israel, to overthrow pagan power at the political and the false gods of the nations; whose vindication of his people, liberating them finally from all their oppressors, would also be the vindication of His own name and reputation; whose justification of His people led to He himself be justified and in Whose righteousness, His covenantal faithfulness, His people would find their own?" - N.T Wright, Jesus and The Identity of God.

"Let's go exploring!"- Hobbes to Calvin, in the final Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

Thy World

This is My Father's World,
And to my listening ears,
All nature sings,
And round me rings;
The music of the spheres.
This is My Father's World,
Dreaming, I see His face,
I ope my eyes,
And in glad surprise cry;
"The Lord is in this place."
How matchless the grace, when I looked in the face Of this Jesus, my crucified Lord, My redemption complete I then found at His feet, That Calvary covers it all- Calvary covers it all.



Friday, September 02, 2005

Next stop Movieland

"I never knew you were such a hopeless romantic."
I almost choked at the statement.
"Well, erm; there is always a beginning somewhere on knowing something..." (though I was not sure whether it was a compliment or a good dose of sarcasm)

"I never knew that you... (oh, there it goes again!) Perhaps, it is time to expose the hidden skeletons in my closet, so to speak. I have a rather non-conforming liking towards movies, music and well, maybe books.

Why do I say "non-conforming"? Because no one alse really likes them, or not that I know of anyone who does. The contemporary description to this psychological tendency would be 'weird'.

And I must give credit to this-


Next Stop Wonderland tells the story of Erin Castleton going through the so-called "most difficult time of her life."- she was reaching 30, dumped by her lived-in boyfriend and worked in the most mundane conditions of nursing in a Boston hospital. Her nosy mother, decided to put a foot between the door, by placing a personal advertisement on her in a local newspaper- and unleashed hilarious havoc on her daughter's behalf.

The beauty of the story is at its beginning, its end and everything in between. Its beginning, because it tells the story of a woman who is either a 'me' or a "someone that I know of" (though it is a 'me', in reality) The end, because it is actually the beginning of a love story being unfolded-the two would-be lovers never quite met each other until the movie was about to end; and it was not through the personal-ads scheme her mother had used. And a profound ending calls for an even more more profounding 'everything in between'. So, if one enjoys watching the over-rated Sliding Doors and its dwelling in the mysteries of finding one another, then this under-rated movie of the same concept, but with more worthy thoughts to ponder upon as a complementary to our visual-pleasure; is certainly a Hollywood gem.

Why bother to stress myself out with going through such a seemingly 'difficult' movie? Simply the wit and profundity in its lines-

"The mystery is not how two people meet, but what keeps two people together after they meet"- Erin's nurse friend, on finding Mr/Ms. Right

"With men, there's always a choice; just a weak selection."- Erin's nosy mum, on finding a man (any man) for her daughter.

"So, what attracted you to nursing?" Erin: "Other people's pain."- Erin, on being a nurse whose shift lasts the night.

"When a woman sits alone by the bench to read, there will always be a man who would go to her thinking that she needs company, and if she rejects him; he will think, "What is wrong with her, as though a woman must not be alone and be happy at the same time?" Why can't a woman be alone- to read, to sit on a bench, to contemplate on something beautiful?"- Erin, on being alone and happy.

"Why did you put an ad on yourself if you were not interested in meeting people? Erin: "My mom put it." "Oh yea? Why don't you give me her number?"- A would-be suitor irritated by Erin's disinterest in her mother's scheme.

"Never close an opened book without reading what it says."- Erin's patient, when she was picking up a book on the floor. (A habit which I have picked up ever since)

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted by Erin's would-be love interest, 2 minutes before the movie ended.

Providing the backdrop of the movie would be a modest-looking Boston, really good classical brazillian music, brilliantly nosey mums and brilliantly pathetic-looking supporting cast to otherwise, an independent movie standing among other romantic giants of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks; with only its wit, dry humour and profound lines.

Trust me, it stands tall.