Sunday, November 12, 2006
I know that there is no more turning back for me now that I have become aware of the superficiality of church life (at least it is to me), but I can't help but wonder: Can it be the some people, nay, most people, are 'destined' to obey an institution that insist themselves to be shepherds to the followers of God? That individual like myself is more an exception rather than the rule?
Whatever the answer is, I'm in no way troubled by it, since I firmly believe that each person's faith is personal, and there's no right or wrong that we fellow humans could judge it, as God is the only one all of us are accountable to in the end. I am just curious about other people's... how shall I call it? 'Internal wiring'? Lol. To each his own, I guess.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Although I dislike the forced service and insincerity that are often associated with such activities (I admit, I do see genuine sincerity in certain individuals), I guess it is better than doing nothing at all. I have a serious problem in applying my faith now to everyday life, since I just can't find a situation in which I can actually react according to my faith. Such laid-back, passive faith-life is making me very uneasy, yet at the same time, I don't have any idea what am I supposed to do to solve it.
On another note, I realise that the concept of morality is gradually detaching, slipping away from my view of Christianity. As the emphasis on love and forgiveness grow stronger, the moral significance of the so called "sinful acts" starts to deteriorate in me. I guess this can be interpret in 2 ways: either I'm growing less and less judgemental, or I'm suffering from moral decay. 2 very different explanations, which one is true?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
"Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but live it."
- Charles Caleb Colton
This is one of the most tragic truth about the state of Christianity as practised in our world now (I won't comment on any other religions since it's Christianity that I am most acquainted with). Which is why I have to insist, again, that one's faith is personal, and not subjected to anybody's approval except God himself. If we can learn this and stop passing judgement on each other, but instead, focus on our own relationship with God and the lifestyle we profess to follow in accordance to our faith, then the world would be a better place, and we could all be one step closer to God...
Why must the church be the moral and theological police of its congregation? Isn't God the only one worthy of that position and authority? How can a sinner judge another fellow sinner, even if it is based upon the laws as stated in the Bible? We should learn and practise mercy, and leave justice to God's hands. Indeed, mercy triumphs over judgement! Isn't that the heart of Christ's teaching? How do we ended up losing sight of that?
"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.
- John 8:7
P.S. On a personal note, I have to remind myself not to only write about my faith, but to live it. Ah, that's is so so much harder than it sounds. I always wonder if persecution could do the trick. Maybe I am lacking pressure to actually move forward... The tendency to stand still is always there...
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
It's interesting to note that many people arrive at Christ starting with the worldview of orthodox Christianity then to the person of Christ, while I 'discovered' Christ 1st than the rest of Christianity as an organized religion.
Ask around and many will tell you bout Christ this way: God created the world, Man rebel against him and therefore sin befels on all humanity, which is why Christ is reincarnate as a man to die for our sins on the cross for the salvation of humanity.
For me, I was (and still is) moved by the very person of Christ and his teaching first before I know all about Christianity as a religious movement. The way he's so uncannily confident of his then-unorthodox teachings, his wise and incredibly insightful parables, his passion and submission to God and the way he lives his life.
In a way, I sort of absorb Christ's teaching that is totally independent from interpretation of church theology or any form of biblical scholarships, which might explain why I'm not as attached to the church life as part of my Christian living as do my fellow brethens. It was Christ who changed me, not the Christian religion nor the Christian church.
I used to think that the lack of persecution to the Christian faith is something we should be thankful about, as this is seen as a blessing from God where we can practise our beliefs without any forms of suppression and censorship from the government and the society around us. Which explains my extreme hatred of the Communist party of China in the past when I think of the millions of Christian who are persecuted and hunted down for their faith. I was concerned that such relentless persecution from the government will prevent many individuals to find the purpose of their lives in Christ, as I rationalize that such acts of persecution will scare people away from getting themselves involve with the Christian religion.
Now I've come to realize that the intensity of such persecution does not put out the flame of people's faith, but strangely fuel up the believer's faith so much more (as I've read in the book The Heavenly Man), that I have to admit that I am ashamed for my own cowardness and lack of faith. These people have done what seemed to be the impossible: their faith is flourishing under an incredibly suppresive government, and here I am, living complacently even as I have the full freedom to believe what I wanted and live accordingly without any hindrance.
Could it be that persecution of our faith is one of the true mark of honest and sincere discipleship to Jesus' teachings? Could it be that the reason for our freedom of worship is not because of some lofty principles of individual liberty and tolerance, but is due to the fact that our beliefs have become so... acceptable to the world that we ceased to be a threat to its way of living? That we have become just a shade, just an extension of the world that Christ has warned us not to be a part of?
After all, did Jesus not say that the world will hate us on his account? So why is everyone coming to the church every Sunday, smiling and happy and greet the pastor warmly and exchange some sweet and polite gestures and commenting about the weather and stock exchange (as if we're all attending some sort of social events), when on other parts of the globe, people were arrested and tortured when they were caught worshiping underground?
Are we the ones that our persecuted brethens should be worried about after all, and not vice versa?
If the worldly life centers only around the self and no others (and God is definitely left out of the equation), is living a life which centers around God and away from oneself the only other alternative to a worldly life? To me, the Self is as important as God and the Eternal, for otherwise, what is my faith but a blind obediance to a higher power for fear of some form of divine punishment if I transgress his laws?
Which is why existential Christianity is the model that makes most sense to me in terms of how I should live my life. For what is the point for me to swallow in the entire package of 'Christian doctrines and theology' if I cannot even live as one? What's the use of boldly proclaiming my faith, serving in a church and engage in apologetics againt the theory of evolution when I can't learn to love one another and love God with everything that I am?
Think of a very long railway train – but long ago the locomotive ran away from it. Christendom is like this. Generation after generation has imperturbably continued to link the enormous train of the new generation to the previous one, solemnly saying: We will hold fast to the faith of the fathers. Thus Christendom has become the very opposite of what Christianity is. Christianity is restlessness, the restlessness of the eternal. Any comparison here is flat and tedious – to such a degree that the restlessness of the eternal is restless. Christendom is tranquillity. How charming, the tranquillity of literally not moving.
Yet another superb contrast between Christianity (Christ's teachings) and Christendom (the Christian church) by Soren Kierkegaard. Whatever has happened till we became so complacent with life and so completely unconcerned with our obligations to God, and yet we're still totally unaware about the grave situation we're in?
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?
Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.
I open the New Testament and read: “If you want to be perfect, then sell all your goods and give to the poor and come follow me.” Good God, if we were to actually do this, all the capitalists, the officeholders, and the entrepreneurs, the whole society in fact, would be almost beggars! We would be sunk if it were not for Christian scholarship! Praise be to everyone who works to consolidate the reputation of Christian scholarship, which helps to restrain the New Testament, this confounded book which would one, two, three, run us all down if it got loose (that is, if Christian scholarship did not restrain it).
In vain does the Bible command with authority. In vain does it admonish and implore. We do not hear it – that is, we hear its voice only through the interference of Christian scholarship, the experts who have been properly trained. Just as a foreigner protests his rights in a foreign language and passionately dares to say bold words when facing state authorities – but see, the interpreter who is to translate it to the authorities does not dare do so but substitutes something else – just so the Bible sounds forth through Christian scholarship.
We declare that Christian scholarship exists specifically to help us understand the New Testament, in order that we may better hear its voice. No insane man, no prisoner of the state, was ever so confined. As far as they are concerned, no one denies that they are locked up, but the precautions regarding the New Testament are even greater. We lock it up but argue that we are doing the opposite, that we are busily engaged in helping it gain clarity and control. But then, of course, no insane person, no prisoner of the state, would ever be as dangerous to us as the New Testament would be if it were set free.- Soren Kierkegaard
I confess, I used to dream about attending bible seminary classes a few years ago. The idea of pursuing such a holy, biblical scholarly lessons were so incredibly appealing to me that I once told myself that I should grab hold of the 1st oppurtunity I have to attend a crash course on biblical theology when a long break from my studies arrives.
Since the early days when I've become a Christian, I've prided myself over the fact that I can absorb many of God's Word into memory. While I can't exactly quote word-by-word, I can easily recall the bible verses that suit the current topic that we're discussing in cell group. It was not after some time that I begin to notice an inner fear within me everyday I'm reading the bible, the New Testament to be exact. I ignore it at first, since I can't explain the reason behind its existence, but the feeling eventually boiled over after I've read Andrew Murray's Humility.
For the first time in my life, I'm gripped with a terrifying sense of despair. My eyes were suddenly opened to the ignorant, complacent 'Christian life' that I've been living: Yes, I read God's Word, I reflect deeply upon them, and I share my thoughts about them with other believers, but I have never applied them. Worse, I realize that I cannot even perform them as the way Jesus has taught. I realize what it really means to follow God: to become nothing, nothing at all, to bear the cross, and to follow him.
I'm sure many Christians will be perplexed with my reaction. Why should I fear about following God, since it's such a joy to live according to his will? Loving Him, love your neighbours, forgive one another, spread the good news... how hard can all these be? I can understand them perfectly well, since I used to think the same way too. But if one is to take up the challenge to forget everything except pledging oneself to act accordingly to the New Testament... do u realize what is the implication?
No, it is not enough merely to intellectually acknowledge Christ's teachings, one must fulfill them, in action. To those who deny this, to those who claim that following Christ consists merely of intellectually accepting Christ as their lord and saviour: Have Christ not said that, "If you love me, you will obey what I command?" Eerily, that what many biblical scholars are trying to convince us: 'Hurray, you've accepted Jesus, you're saved now from eternal damnation! So now, go and enjoy your well-deserved vacation! Everything is done!'"If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.""Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.""Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.""If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.""If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.""Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
So forgive me if I sound exceedingly paranoid towards biblical scholars, but what these people say and what I'm reading in the bible are so incompatible, I'm amazed that they managed to get the whole Christendom fooled. Or perhaps it's because we were just too afraid to study the bible for ourselves and let these 'experts' do the work for us? That the idea of being alone with God's Word is so terrifying as it exposes all our shortcomings, makes us all seek comfort under the shade (shadow?) of Christian scholarship?
Would you dare to take up the challenge of facing the full impact of God's Word all by yourself, without the interpretation and commentaries from biblical scholars? Do you dare to stand naked before God as his Word is poured out upon you, without the scholars and theologians reducing the intensity of his Message? For me, truth be told, I'm completely petrefied. But I will gather my courage to face this challenge, just as a kid has to face the possibility of falling down when he first learn to walk.
I have to face this fear, if I am to follow Christ. God please grant me the will to face you.
What we really need, then, is a reformation that sets even the Bible aside. Yes, this has just as much validity now as did Luther’s breaking with the Pope. The current emphasis on getting back to the Bible has, sadly, created religiosity out of learning and literalistic chicanery – a sheer diversion. Tragically this kind of knowledge has gradually trickled down to the masses so that no one can read the Bible simply any more. All our Bible learning has become nothing but a fortress of excuses and escapes. When it comes to existence, to obedience there is always something else we have to first take care of. We live under the illusion that we must first have the interpretation right or the belief in perfect form before we can begin to live – that is, we never get around to doing what the Word says.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Moving out from my apartment was more sad than I have imagined. To think that I won't be seeing the place again after staying there for 2.5 years... I have many memories that linger around the corridors of Vista Komanwel, some sweet some bitter, but I will cherish all of them.
Sad that I never have a doctor as a role model throughout my course, though I do admire certain facets of a few lecturers. A sad fact, but nothing could be done. Hopefully I can find one in New Zealand.
Been busy vacationing all around Malaysia lately. Been to Genting Highlands and Penang so far, Cameron Highlands and Pulau Redang coming up next if I'm not exhausted by then. Really desperate for a nice tan at a sunny beach... Pulau Redang sounds perfect!
Saturday, July 22, 2006
We now have, unlike original Christianity, a complete cast of bishops, deans, and pastors; educated clergy, degree and all, talented, gifted, humanly well-meaning. They all preach with tremendous confidence – doing it well, very well, stupendously well, tolerably well, or badly – but not one of them lives in character with the Christianity of the New Testament. This grand cast of characters accomplishes one thing: it gives rise to a false impression that because we have such a complete cast we must of course have Christianity, too.
We also have what one might call a complete inventory of church buildings, bells, organs, pews, altars, pulpits, offering plates, and so on. But when Christianity does not exist, this inventory, so far from being an advantage, is a peril, because it is so very likely to give rise to the false impression that we must have Christianity, too.
The illusion of a Christian nation, a Christian “people,” masses of Christians, is no doubt due to the power that numbers exercise over the imagination. And yet how many are able to say of their Christian acquaintances that they are truly Christians in the New Testament sense, or that their lives are even close to resembling those of the first disciples. But when there are thousands upon thousands who confess to being Christian, one becomes easily confused. Perhaps we are all Christians after all. Why be so harsh?
This brings to mind a ridiculous story about an innkeeper. It is said that this innkeeper sold his beer by the bottle for a cent less than it cost him. When a certain man said to him, “How does that balance the account? You’re losing money,” he replied, “No, my friend, it’s the big number that counts.”
When you have finished laughing at this story, you would do well to take its lesson to heart, which warns against the power that numbers exercise over the imagination. No doubt this innkeeper knew very well that one bottle of beer at 3 cents meant a loss of 1 cent since it cost him 4 cents. And, no doubt, he realized that selling 10 bottles also meant a loss. But 100,000 bottles!
Here the big number stirs the imagination. The innkeeper becomes dazed. It’s a profit, he says, for the big number does it. So also with every calculation that arrives at a Christian nation, and dare I also say at a church, by adding up units which are not Christian, getting impressed with the results by means of the notion that it is the big number that counts!
Numbers are the most dangerous of all illusions. Inasmuch as Christianity is spirit, the honesty of eternity, there is nothing its detective eye is so suspicious of as of Christian states, Christian lands, Christian endeavors, Christian movements, a Christian people, and (how marvelous!) a Christian world. Even if there were something true in this talk about Christian peoples and cultures, everything this world has up to this point seen in the way of criminal affairs is a mere nursery rhyme in comparison with this crime.
Christ requires followers and defines precisely what he means by this. They are to be salt, willing to be sacrificed. But to be salt and to be sacrificed is not something that the thousands naturally go for, still less millions, or (still less!) countries, kingdoms, states, and (absolutely not!) the whole world. On the other hand, if it is a question of size, mediocrity, and of lots of talk, then the possibility of the thing begins; then bring on the thousands, increase them to the millions – no, go forth and make the world Christian.
The New Testament alone, not numbers, settles what Christianity is, leaving it to eternity to pass judgment upon us. It is simply impossible to define faith on the basis of what people in general like best and prefer to call Christianity. As soon as we do this, Christianity is automatically done away with. There are, in the end, only two ways open to us: to honestly and honorably make an admission of how far we are from the Christianity of the New Testament, or to perform skillful tricks to conceal the true situation, tricks to conjure up a forgery whereby Christianity is the prevailing religion in the land.
Honestly, New Testament Christianity simply does not exist. If the human race would rise in rebellion against God and cast Christianity away from it, it would not be nearly so dangerous as this clever way of making Christians of everybody and giving this activity the appearance of zeal for the truth. This is nothing but a scoffing at God by offering him thanks for bestowing his blessing upon the progress that Christianity was making.
- Soren Kierkegaard
excerpts from Attack Upon "Christendom"
Kierkegaard's entry mirrors my thoughts on megachurches who boast of their numbers, as if that's a miraculous sign of a 'revival'. I say, it has too many 'impressive' theatrical effects but a cold, empty core. I'd rather see a face I know turn to God after years of doubts and struggle than to see hundreds of people crowding to the altar in tears and being 'slain' because they're moved by the pastor's 'powerful' speech. One just can't rule out for certain whether the entire reaction is caused by mass hysteria instead of a sincere, conscious choice of an individual to reach out for God. I fear many of the 'newly-converted' would doubt their decision days after the event when the speakers and the crowds that were so affirming are no longer around them...
Friday, July 21, 2006
* Long, weary exhale *
After months of apathy, weeks of panic attacks, and days of insomnia, boredom and depression, I am glad that my sanity remains intact... At least I think it still is... (Note to self: May need an external observer to verify that.)
Goodbye Medicine! See you again in 6 months in New Zealand! I'm gonna grasp all the oppurtunities I have now to do things I have longed to do all these while. Will plan the details later.
As for this blog, I have a lot of things in mind to write about for the next few weeks; But right now, I juz wanna enjoy my long-deserved rest after going thru such a traumatic period of last minute studies and fear of failure.
Till then, have fun everyone!
P.S. Oh I'm quite optimistic about my results. Thanks for all the prayers and support! Really appreciate them.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
"The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die... an imperative of understanding must be taken up into my life, and that is what I now recognise as the most important thing. That is what my soul longs after, as the African desert thirsts for water... What is truth but to live for an idea?"
- Soren Kierkegaard
In that few sentences, Kierkegaard summarised, in the most eloquent manner, the very same passion of my life - my quest for truth, and my strivings to live up to it. Ever since my discovery of Kierkegaard's ideas and writings, I have move forward by a huge step in this lifelong quest of mine. But as time pass, I'm becoming increasingly aware of an element which I lack which would make all my attempts to live up for the truth which I have embraced futile - humility.
Ah, humility - Such a wondrous, admirable virtue, and yet, how much despair has it has evoked within me! For to become nothing before God seems like an impossible task for me, for a willful person like me. Instead of getting inspired when I am edified concerning the importance of humility, I shrunk back in horror and despair as I realized how sinkingly low I am in comparison to God's standard! I despair for the very fact that my passion may not be compatible with my self after all!
What's stopping me from learning to be humble? Anger, intense fury. Anger at the injustice that has been done by the people and the world around me. Anger at the self-righteousness and hypocrisy I'm seeing everywhere. Anger at the restriction of freedom by societal norm and expectations. Anger for the world's consistent pushings to make everyone a conforming zombie. Anger, intense fury.
What am I supposed to do? Retire from the world and live a hermit's life, away from the world which I have come to hate? Or to renounce all my sense of self that has become increasingly conscious because of my anger and alienation from my surroundings? I can't see how I can learn humility unless I can first sever all my ties from the world. And that, I can't, I just can't...
Monday, June 26, 2006
I'm whispering, "I get lost! That's why I chose this way"
When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't speak with human pride
I'm confessing that I stumble - needing God to be my guide
When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I'm weak and pray for strength to carry on
When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not bragging of success
I'm admitting that I've failed and cannot ever pay the debt
When I say, "I am a Christian," I don't think I know it all
I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught
When I say, "I am a Christian," I'm not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible but God believes I'm worth it
When I say, "I am a Christian," I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name
When I say, "I am a Christian," I do not wish to judge
I have no authority -- I only know I'm loved
- Carol Zimmer -
What humility has the author express in the poem! And what insight has she in exposing the self-righteous smugness that has become all too common in Christendom! Reflect upon the words of the poem: no, not just as a sickly sentimental poetry, but as a mirror of our own caricaturistic practise of Christianity!
Friday, June 23, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Just because Jesus uttered "It is finished!" 2000 years ago doesn't mean that all the pain and suffering he has to go through for us is something of the past and long forgotten, as he still bears the mark of the crucifixion to this day and will bear it for all eternity. Forgiveness comes at a price, not on us, but on our beloved Lord and Saviour. Remember that everytime you ask for forgiveness, lest you mock God's sacrifice for us unworthy sinners.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I want to hope for the best and continuously have faith that it will happen, for did God not say that if you have faith as little as a mustard seed, you can move mountains? Yet at the same time, how would I know that if by constantly hoping for the best from my perspective, that I'm not denying God's will? Should one stick to an outcome in mind and pray rigorously for it, or should he just resign everything and leave everything into God's hands?
Abraham, Abraham, I can't never understand you. How did you managed to be both the Knight of Infinite Resignation AND Knight of Faith at the same time? How can you obediently go forward with the order to sacrifice your son whom God promised will continue his line as the father of nations, yet at the same time have not even a single strain of doubt that God will not break his promise? How did you managed to live with such contradictory extremities and yet, completely un-plagued by doubts?
Sunday, May 28, 2006
But I will go on to say this: Christianity is not merely a relationship; it is a lifestyle. For it is easier to have some beliefs in certain qualities and characters of God, as compared to actually living out our life by obeying his commands. For that is the ultimate expression of our faith: If you love me (Christ), you will obey what I command. (John 14:15)
Christ is not merely a teacher of truth, he IS Truth. Therefore, to be a true Christian, one do not merely hold some intellectual opinions or dogmas about Jesus; one lives them. Did Christ not say, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." and "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:53-54)? Unless we internalize the Way, the Truth and the Life, we have no part of him in us. Unless we live out our Christian life existentially (existing within Christ's teachings and acting accordingly instead of merely observing and believing in a detached manner), we are NOT Christians.
And that, is one inconvenient truth to many self-professed Christians. To add works into "faith only" requires an active participation on our parts, which will bring us directly into conflict with the world. Na, people would rather just lay back and believe that we will be saved by merely believing in Jesus, for it's oh-so-inconvenient to actually live as one and to step into the battlefield against the world.
And that my brothers and sisters, is the ultimate deception. Such beliefs are even more dangerous than any active atheists or pagans can come out with: for the ultimate defeat comes not from without, but within. Sadly, the threat has alrealy infiltrated deeply into the psyche of Christendom. One must therefore not only resist temptations from the world, but from the culture and norm of the Church itself.
True, it is highly possible for people who has taken this choice to walk a lonely way in their struggle to live a life worthy to be called a Christian, espeacially when one can't find much support even within the Church itself. But if one perseveres till the very end, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
Remember, God's grace is sufficient for us!
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
So to start off, I will study up the very foundation in which Christianity is based: the 4 gospels. I've already started off with John, and I will report my findings concerning each gospels as I go along.
Ah, a fresh beginning... I can hardly wait!
Friday, May 19, 2006
But one thing's for sure: i'm gonna burnt out completely if this constant stimulus persists, and i'll undergo a mental breakdown which will make me a total wreck. Now i can finally understand the temptations of sex and drugs to elevate oneself from stress...
Ok ok, i better stop here before i start to disturb my readers... >=)
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
As for the address proper to his blog, it's http://existentialchristianity.blogspot.com, otherwise you can access it by clinking on the 'Existential Christianity' link under the 'Favourite Hangouts' section of my blog.
The author also categorize all his significant posts as well, which you can access under this link. Having said all that, I have to confess that I'm a big fan of Timothy Neal's posts on Existential Christianity! ;)
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Thus, if someone wants to have faith and reason too, well, let the comedy begin. He wants to have faith, but he wants to assure himself with the aid of objective deliberation. What happens? With the aid of reason, the absurd becomes something else; it becomes probable, it becomes more probable, it may become to a high degree exceedingly probable, even demonstrable. Now he is all set to believe it, and he dares to say of himself that he does not believe as shoemakers and tailors and simple folk do, but only after long and careful deliberation. Now he is all set to believe, but, lo and behold, now it has indeed become impossible to believe. The almost probable, the probable, the to-a-high-degree and exceedingly probable, that he can almost know, or as good as know, to a higher degree and exceedingly almost know – but believe, that cannot be done, for the absurd is precisely the object of faith and only that can be believed with the passion of inwardness.
Christianity claims to be the eternal, essential truth that has come into existence in time. It proclaims itself as the paradox and thus requires the inwardness of faith – that which is an offense to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks, and an absurdity to the understanding. It cannot be expressed more strongly: Objectivity and faith are at complete odds with each other. What does objective faith mean? Doesn’t it amount to nothing more than a sum of tenets?
Christianity is nothing of the kind. On the contrary, it is inwardness, an inwardness of existence that places a person decisively, more decisively than any judge can place the accused, between time and eternity, between heaven and hell in the time of salvation. But objective faith? It is as if Christianity was a little system of sorts, although presumably not as good as the Hegelian system. It is as if Christ – it is not my fault that I say it – had been a professor and as if the apostles had formed a little professional society of thinkers. The passion of inwardness and objective deliberation are at complete odds with each other. There is no way of getting around it. To become objective, to become preoccupied with the “what” of Christianity, instead of with the “how” of being Christian, is nothing but a retrogression.
Christianity is subjective; the inwardness of faith in the believer is the truth’s eternal decision. Objectively there is no truth “out there” for existing beings, but only approximations, whereas subjectively truth lies in inwardness, because the decision of truth is in subjectivity. For how can decision be an approximation or only to a certain degree? What could it possibly mean to assert or to assume that decision is like approximation, is only to a certain degree? I will tell you what it means. It means to deny decision. The decision of faith, unlike speculation, is designed specifically to put an end to that perpetual prattle of “to a certain degree.”
- Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, paraphrased.
I never really like Christian apologetics - they often sound too perfectly logical, too simplistic, too black and white. They seemed so preoccupied in creating a perfect, harmonious big picture of God and Truth by labouring hard to form this complex structure of systematic and predictable/comprehendable laws under the giant label 'Theology'. Jesus pass down his teaching, and instead of living the way he thought us to, people starts to categorizing them and draw cross-references with the Old Testament and juz... 'systematicalize' them.
It's scary how people overates Logic - funny how not many people realize that something can be perfectly logical while completely untrue. It's funny how people assume that Logic is the ultimate level of conscious thoughts when human nature itself is often illogical, like emotions and trust and faith. To be completely objective in one's faith, or to try to be objective, is to construct a system which is impossible to have faith in, for why would faith be required if everything is so glaringly obvious and self-explanatory?
To 'know' and to 'believe' are two very different things - many Christians have this bizarre perception that by studying and memorizing the Bible tirelessly, they will be more 'spiritually matured'. Balderdash. To read the Word is merely to 'know', or in other words, to not be ignorant of Truth. But to 'believe' requires action, and internalization of Truth into part of a person's being. Is it not said in the book of James: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."?
Yes, it's important to read the Word of God, every pastors and priests and reverends etc etc have emphasized on that, and all the Bible Knowledge competitions also prove the point. But it's merely the 1st step, and an incomplete step by itself, in the process of understanding Truth. One has to look inward into himself, and take the words in not as if the Ultimate Truth has been passed down upon him thru the holy words of the bible, but to establish a connection with God himself, with all the passion of inwardness. The establishment of the relationship itself, is so much more important than merely furnishing one's mind with all the Word of God in its hollow words without meaning. For meaning will only arise when one puts the Word into practise, into one's being, and not merely some 'floating' knowledge in the head of the so-called believer.
In order to clear off all the distractions and obstacles in establishing the relationship between God and the individual, one have to 1st deconstruct the entire myth of what Christianity is all about, as propaganded by the countless facets of Christendom, in all its factions and petty arguments. One have to disregard all the logical system that has been laid down throughout the entire so-called 'history of the Christian church', and take the leap of faith by relying on God and God alone, not some theology created, developed and finalized by mere humans. One has to realize that 'Truth is Subjectivity', that Truth can only be understood after one exists in it, after one take the step of living it, and not the other way round.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
did Jesus not said that "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)? How would a life filled with constant struggle against the nature of oneself be 'victorious'? consider Jesus' walk to Golgotha, carrying the burden of the cross to be crucified: is it not filled with pain, humiliation, and eventually culminated in something that comes close to despair: eli eli lama sabachthani? would u apply the adjective 'victorious' to this final torturous walk of Jesus earthly ministry?
to me, becoming a christian isn't about boasting about how i am saved and how the devil has no power over me. in fact, it is the 1st step into a life full of struggle, as i have now decided to take up the burden of the cross and deny my carnal nature which is corrupted by Sin, as with the rest of mankind. everyday is a test, and while there are times where i do the right thing, i believe that i fail miserably most of the time. so ya, my Christian life, and being victorious, are mutually exclusive of one another. for the more i try to be perfect, the more i realize that i will never be perfect, which is why God's grace is so precious to humanity: God's willingness to love the unlovable, is the basis of my carrying of the cross for him, and not the desire to be justified before God.
i believe that whether i am victorious in this struggle is not of primary importance: the fact that i decided to take up the cross and deny myself, that is the Decision, and the fact that i will stick to the struggle and carry on the burden without giving up and denouncing God's ownership of my whole being, that is the life that I believe God wants out of me.
a Christian life cannot be victorious or glorious in any sense. one juz have to look at Christ: he was never a 'celebrity' of sorts during his earthly ministry, and he always avoid situations which will glorify his status. so neither should we.
being victorious is something that should be reserved till we enter the kingdom of heaven. for now, we are to struggle against the 'prince of this world', and more importantly, against our very own sinful nature.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
What is truth, and in what sense was Christ the truth? The first question, as is well known, was asked by Pilate (Jn. 18:38), and it is doubtful whether he ever really cared to have his question answered. Pilate asks Christ, “What is truth?” That it did not occur to Pilate that Christ was the truth demonstrates precisely that he had no eye at all for truth. Christ’s life was the truth (Jn. 14:6). To this end was Christ born, and for this purpose did he come into the world, that he should bear witness to the truth. What, then, is the fundamental confusion in Pilate’s question? It consists in this, that it occurred to him to question Christ in this way; for in questioning Christ he actually denounced himself; he revealed that Christ’s life had not illumined him. How could Christ enlighten Pilate with words when Pilate could not see through Christ’s own life what truth is!
Pilate’s question is extremely foolish. Not that he asks, “What is truth?” but that he questions Christ, he whose life is expressly the truth and who at every moment demonstrates more powerfully by his life what truth is than all the most profound lectures of the cleverest thinkers. Though it makes perfect sense to ask any other person, a thinker, a teacher, or whoever, “What is truth?” to ask Christ this it is the greatest possible confusion. Obviously Pilate is of the opinion that Christ is just a man, like everyone else. Poor Pilate! Pilate’s question is the most foolish and confusing question ever asked by man. It is as if I were to ask someone standing right before me, “Do you exist?” How can that person reply? So also with Christ in relation to Pilate. Christ is the truth. “If my life,” he might say, “cannot open your eyes to what truth is, then what can I say? For I am the truth.”
As with Pilate, in our day Christ as the truth has also been abolished: we take Christ’s teaching – but abolish Christ. We want truth the easy way. This is to abolish truth, for Christ the teacher is more important than the teaching. Just as Christ’s life, the fact that he lived here on earth, is vastly more important than all the results of his life, so also is Christ infinitely more important than his teaching.
Christ is the truth in the sense that to be the truth is the only true explanation of it; the only true way of acquiring it. Truth is not a sum of statements, not a definition, not a system of concepts, but a life. Truth is not a property of thought that guarantees validity to thinking. No, truth in its most essential character is the reduplication (reduplication is Kierkegaard’s term meaning to exist in what one understands, to manifest the truth in one’s life. It means to live out in life the challenges of thought, to be what one says) of truth within yourself, within me, within him. Your life, my life, his life expresses the truth in the striving. Just as the truth was a life in Christ, so too, for us truth must be lived.
Therefore, truth is not a matter of knowing this or that but of being in the truth. Despite all modern philosophy, there is an infinite difference here, best seen in Christ’s response to Pilate. Christ did not know the truth but was the truth. Not as if he did not know what truth is, but then one is the truth and when the requirement is to be in the truth, to merely “know” the truth is insufficient – it is an untruth. For knowing the truth is something that follows as a matter of course from being in the truth, not the other way around. Nobody knows more of the truth than what he is of the truth. To properly know the truth is to be in the truth; it is to have the truth for one’s life. This always costs a struggle. Any other kind of knowledge is a falsification. In short, the truth, if it is really there, is a being, a life. The Gospel says that this is eternal life, to know the only true God and the one whom he sent, the truth (Jn. 17:3). That is, I only know the truth when it becomes a life in me.
Truth is not a deposit of acquired knowledge, the yield. This might have been if Christ had been, for example, a teacher of truth, a thinker, one who made a discovery. But Christ is the way as well as the truth. His teaching is infinitely superior to all the inventions of any and every age, an eternity older and an eternity higher than all systems, even the very newest. His teaching is the truth – not in terms of knowledge, but in the sense that the truth is a way – and as the God-man he is and remains the way; something that no human being, however zealously he professes that the truth is the way, dare assert of himself without blasphemy.
Christ compares truth to food and appropriating it to eating it (Jn. 6:48–51). Just as food is appropriated (assimilated) and thereby becomes the sustenance of life, so also spiritually, truth is both the giver and the sustenance of life. It is life. Therefore one can see what a monstrous mistake it is to impart or represent Christianity by lecturing. The truth is lived before it is understood. It must be fought for, tested, and appropriated. Truth is the way. And when the truth is the way, then the way cannot be shortened or drop out unless the truth itself is distorted or drops out. Is this not too difficult to understand? Anyone will easily understand it if he just gives himself to it.
- Soren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity -
Monday, April 10, 2006
You're like some kind of hermit who has distanced himself from the community and yet has a lot to say to them.
While that statement didn't hit me when he said it, it stays in my head for the past few days until now when I realize the bizarre paradox that is within me. Yes, indeed, I am losing faith in the community that I am surrounded with, and worse, I may have lost faith in the entire human race. But at the same time, I still have the hope within me that so long as I can help affirm a few individuals who have somehow walk upon the same path of realization as I do (juz as how Timothy Neal's writings affirm my belief), I will continue to voice out to the people, no matter how unpopular I may become as a result of it.
No, I am not under a delusion of grandeur, I am juz doing wat I sincerely believe is the right thing to do: to strive for truth, and to help others who are along the same path, juz like the Good Samaritan. I, am a seeker of Truth, and I will not let any religious institution/dogmas or any atheistic figures stopped me from moving on in my quest, though I have absolutely no idea where I might end up at.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
1. Persistence need not be equate to annoyance. It is an effective method to get things done. Be nice and diplomatic to others and don't push them to do something they should would only result in stagnancy and I'll be the only one who's losing out. Stop being such a timid wuss Thom, and do wat needs to be done without procrastinating.
2. "Mind your own business" isn't completely a selfish, egoistic phrase after all. I used to associate that phrase with insolence and anti-social, but I have come to realize the value of personal privacy, and really, sometimes, we juz shouldn't dig in so much about a person's private affairs. It can be seriously annoying, and it can cause potential deterioration of friendships.
3. Just bcuz one is constantly surrounded by idiots doesn't mean he should succumb to this twisted phenomenon called 'peer pressure' whereby one is forced to reduced ones intelligence to fit into the level of these lowlings. Just be yourself Thom, and do wat u believe is right. After all, you are at least slightly above average in terms of intelligence among the general population.
4. There's limited oppurtunity to learn, so grab hold of it when u can. To hell with the humiliating criticism and intimidating challenges: all med students need to go thru this anyway. Go for it, suffer thru the fire, and you may emerge a better, more skillful person. To those who give pretty excuses in order to avoid coming under fire, they are the only ones in the losing end. There's plenty to gain in all the small windows of oppurtunity of learning, and everything to lose if one misses them.
Monday, March 27, 2006
That is the question...
I chose the former.
Is that the right choice?
My conscience says it is.
But who can rule out any mistakes in this case?
Nevertheless, I've did wat I've did with the very best intentions. And that's sufficient justification for me.
Whatever be from now on, will be.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Once cannot claimed to have a firm perception of the world while at the same time be open-minded that what others say can be true. Open-mindedness may very well be the primary symptom of uncertainty and doubt of one own's view of the world, and it also display publicly of one's lack of confidence of himself.
Perhaps 'tolerance' is a better word to replace 'open-mindedness', for the only way one can be open-minded is to have absolutely no or weak beliefs of his own.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
"What is truth?" Pontius Pilate asked. We all should be asking the same questions ourselves. Cuz none of us seems to have the answer. The best answer I can think of is "Jesus is truth", but honestly, wat exactly does that mean? And why didn't Jesus reply Pilate then, when faced with such a question?
What is Truth? Why has the answer been so elusive all this while? Or perhaps there never was, never is, and never will be, an answer? That truth is however we choose to view the world, whatever we choose to define the meaning/ purpose of our existense? That truth can only be understood from within, shaped by the lived experiences of reality as each individual defined them, in their own respective manner?
That truth is subjectivity? Or perhaps there never is truth in this world, but only in the one beyond? Then all search of truth in this world will amount to nothing, and only a leap of faith brings a solution to this dilemma? A decision made, based not upon rational thoughts or analysis, but upon surrendering our trust to the highest Being, and believe, without adequate or substancial evidence or understanding of any kind?
Is Faith the answer to Truth then? Or at least, the path that will one day leads us to Truth itself... whatever it is?
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Sing me to sleep
Come and free me
Hold me if i need to weep
Maybe it's not the season
Maybe it's not the year
Maybe there's no good reason
Why i'm locked up inside
Just cause they wanna hide me
The moon goes bright
The darker they make my night
Are often by a window
In a room where nobody loved goes
She sits alone with her silent song
Somebody bring her home
Still holds a tune
Lock on the lid
In a stale, stale room
Maybe it's not that easy
Or maybe it's not that hard
Maybe they could release me
Let the people decide
I've got nothing to hide
I've done nothing wrong
So why have i been here so long?
Still holds a tune
Years pass by
In the changing of the moon
The mood of the song and the lyrics do create an image of Aung San Suu Kyi in my head, sitting alone in the dark near the window, beside an unplayed piano, and the moonlight shining pass the window to show a silhouette of her: incredibly lonely and longing to be let out...
She's one incredible woman...
"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."
- Aung San Suu Kyi
Saturday, March 04, 2006
I often feel overwhelmed when I'm going thru a whole lot of emotions within me, and it's definitely worse when they're negative. When anger stirs, everything about the particular guy is perceived as evil, annoying, awful, or at least, inferior to the self. When boredom strikes, everything seems dull and lifeless, and there seemed to be no way to squeeze out the fun around me.
But the worst of all negative emotions (at least to me) is despair. And sadly, it's one that I'm becoming rather familiar with. Everything appears bleak, every way out seems to be blocked, and shadows lie on every corner from my sight. However, all these are, usually, hardly the facts: they're merely my perception, which coloured my interpretation inside my head; just like how Dorothy and her friends thought everything in Emerald City are really green when in fact that's only bcuz they're seeing everything thru the green-tinted eyeglasses they're wearing. Reality is rarely as bad as a pessimist views it, and as good as an optimist inteprets. Reality is (most of the time) constant, while our emotions colour the interpretation.
Having said that, even with the knowledge of such phenomenon, it is hard to see truth thru the illusion coloured by our emotions. If we really think about it, things probably aren't as bad as we think (I'm focusing more on the negative side here), but the emotion stubbornly shrouds our view of the Big Picture. It requires a strong discipline, or perhaps a deep faith (or are they overlapped?), to conquer our emotions and perceive truth as it is, or at the very least, believe that the truth is not as we feel it to be.
We all know about this already bcuz when we look back at things after the storm is over, we realize that the situation was never that bad after all, but somehow, our vision that cuts thru time tends to easily get obstructed by our emotions. There never really is a "light at the end of the tunnel", bcuz the tunnel never existed! And the light has always been there!
I looked back at my previous posts a year ago, and I'm surprised to find this entry which I've posted about a year ago, at March 13th, 2005. I find that it kinda fits with my current post, so I decided to repost it here:
"This too will pass.”
I was taught these words by my grandmother as a phrase that is to be used at all times in your life. When things are spectacularly dreadful, when things are absolutely apalling; when everything is superb and wonderful and marvellous and happy-say these four words to yourself.
They will give you a sense of perspective and help you also to make the most of what is good and stoical about what is bad.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Nevertheless, when I think about their situation, I can't help but feel this intense sadness that must have been surrounding them all these time. We were... comrades, in a way, entering med school 2 years ago, probably beaming with pride, for who can deny that only the cream of the crop can make it into med school? We 'battled' together, with the hours of lectures, countless CSU sessions, and the awfully stressful exams. We spent lots of money here in med school, all hoping that they're worth the investment in the end...
Can you imagine how it feels like in the end, when, after you've spent almost RM 100,000, all the money is gone to waste bcuz you can't pass one exam? Some more heartless people might argue that if they can't make it thru, that means they're not fit to be a doctor, for who wants a doctor who knows less than two thirds of the knowledge that is imparted to us? We're dealing with human lives here! But when I think about it, who are we to give such judgements, for who knows whether we'll survive the obstacles in the future ourselves? Will more of us fail along the way and dun have the chance to recite the Hippocratic Oath? And will some of us ended up changing their profession after realizing that Medicine is not their calling after all?
We were comrades, we faced the same trials before, and it's truly saddening that not all of us pass thru the filter. And what's even more saddening is that these drop-outs who can't make it dun have a proper chance to say goodbye to us, the rest of his comrades, but juz disappear unceremoniously, disappear from most of our memory... When we've all graduated, I wonder will we ponder about the people who were with us before, but unfortunately not with us now in the graduation gowns?
People forget too easily...
Friday, February 24, 2006
After 35+ hours worth of research and writing and that damned citations, I've completed by literature review assignment!!!
Argh I should have known that exams are WAY better than write-ups, anytime! Shouldn't have chosen this stupid selective topic in the 1st place! Man the alcohol group is SO lucky...
Oh well all that's left for me to do is to print it in the E-lab tomorrow... er, I mean, next morning... er I mean in a couple of hours time. Man, it's 6am already... I've been working on that damned paper almost non-stop since 3pm yesterday...
Gosh my afternoon nap time has juz been switched with my night sleeping time, thanks to the stupid timetable for my selective and the horrible write-up I juz finished. Sleep from 5 am to 8 am, then 1 pm to 8 pm...
My world is crumbling into a huge pile of mess! I dun even know whether my meals are to be called 'breakfast', 'lunch', 'dinner' or 'supper' anymore!!!
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Come to think about it, who brings the most disgrace to God? Is it not the Christians themselves? Who among us aren't hypocrites to a certain extent, who among us practise exactly everything that we preach? Who among us don't contribute their parts into further deepens the stereotype of the 'typical bible-thumping, narrow-minded, Christian' by totally neglecting our PR status with the non-Christians?
Even the worst atheist targets their criticism much more often on the believers themselves rather than God himself, and when you think about it, some of them rings true. For example, God commands us to go out and spread the gospel to the people, but never has he said that GETTING people CONVERTED is of our concern. We are supposed to be mere messengers, not forceful converters, no matter how much love we claim to have for them that we wanna see them saved. To forcefully and persistently pushing someone towards accepting Christ not only increase the person's uneasiness with Christians, it shows how lacking the believer's faith is in the power of the Holy Spirit. Isn't a person's decision to accept Christ as his saviour a direct influence of the Holy Spirit, rather than the persistent "gospel-shoving" of that believer?
I believe that we are to show them the gospel by lying it out on the table and explaining it to them, not shoving it into their mouth and persistently annoys them hoping that one day a miracle will happen and they'll become Christians. A friend of mine tells me why he dislikes Christians: When his newly-converted Christian uncle came back from Australia, the first thing he do is trying to remove the idols from his Taoist mother's house and stated that he wanted to destroy these 'false deities'. He won't stop bugging his mother to accept Jesus as the only way to salvation, and hurls insults and all towards her Taoist faith. One might argue that he is motivated by his concern over his mother's salvation, but what impression does that give to non-Christians? Does the self-important, self-superiority image of Christianity brings any glory at all to God?
All of us Christians should keep this in mind at all times: Just as we are God's ambassadors and God's glory can be bring about thru our everyday speech and actions, we are equally at risk of bringing shame and disgrace towards God by our everyday speech and actions. But despair not my brothers and sisters, but believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and stop the reliance on the self over God, and your spiritual fruits will be abundant.
But seek first humility, humility before God and men, and all these fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, will blossom within you.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
However, there exists a kind of people, who can't help but constantly giving out advices no matter how unwanted they are, and who can't stop passing judgements on other people's perception based on theirs. Their self-righteouness is incredibly repulsive, and yet, they are totally unaware of their flaw. They have this twisted idea that they are doing this to help, but to many, what they said are perceived as harsh criticisms, or worse, an outright insult.
These people really need to realize that just as much as they find other people's perception to be unpractical/stupid/wrong, it is only fair for them to realize that others may think of their perception as unpractical/stupid/wrong. This... my-ideas-are-the-right-one-so-just- do-things-these-way-or-you're-an-idiot attitude should be dealt with... But how to do so for a guy who detests an outright confrontation like me?
I'm sick of listening to all of their self-righteous judgements and unwanted advises (heck if their advices so successful, why aren't they?), but I'm also sick of avoiding them just so that I won't explode one day and give them a piece of my mind (which probably will lead to a permanent rift between us).
How do one live peacefully without the harassments from all these repulsive individuals?
And so, I choose avoidance. Friendship estrangement is still better than frank hostility. Sad, but necessary. You just cannot like and please everyone.
(P.S.: Matt, in case you're feeling paranoid, not this is not about you. =P)
Saturday, February 11, 2006
It's annoying when the majority are idiots. Makes life so unnecessarily difficult for an intelligent person to play along with their silly games. No wonder most eccentrics are geniuses of sorts: play your game a bit different, and people will cry foul and make a laughing stock out of you.
Perhaps segregating society into their respective intelligence level is a good idea... Let the peasents govern themselves, while intellectuals can form and shape a more enlightened future for themselves...
Man I'm such a fantasizing elitist... >=)
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Is it superficial politeness born out of cultural expectation?
Is it a longing juz to be normal?
Or is it juz plain guilt?
Which explains why I'm always stuck in a cycle of sparks of interest, enthusiastic growth, eventual boredom, burning conflicts, and then rapid destruction followed by a period of depression before a new beginning blossoms.
Sometimes the only way to be free is to tear down everything that is close to you, everything that you hold dearly. It is only when you've lost everything are you truly free, for obligations and restrictions will no longer bind you to your knees.
But is freedom worth the price of losing everything?
Saturday, February 04, 2006
I found a rather interesting piece of news in the NST yesterday concerning a controversial comic strip published in a French newspaper depicting the muslim prophet Mohammed that sparked protests all over the muslim world. Here's a link to CNN's report of it:
Papers reprint Islam row cartoons
I've always support freedom of expression, but I nv really consider about its justification when used to blatantly insult people's faith and religious belief. I have seen comic strips that uses Christian and Jewish religious figures in the papers here in M'sia, but really they ain't such a big deal. Some are slightly offensive, but ntg that will make me burn the papers, start a boycott or anything like that.
Nevertheless, I believe that everyone should respect each others' belief too, me being a ardent follower of the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you want others to do unto you. One shouldn't use the freedom of expression as an excuse to make fun out of ppl's beliefs!
Still, after viewing the published comics, I must say that it isn't exactly THAT insulting. And neither are they caricatured for purely amusement purposes, for they do conveyed satirical undertones about the muslim world. The muslims do have the right to protest and all, but to go as far as to burn flags and effigies or boycotting a nation's product is juz exaggerating, and maybe even a bit silly.
The response shown by these angry ppl disturbs me more than it amuses: the fact that they can react so violently to some small, mischievous jokes juz doesn't make any sense. Perhaps these fanatics are a bunch of walking timebombs - make us angry and we'll kill you all! or something along that line.
Oh come on guys, things aren't really that bad! Lighten up! As one of the comic says, all religious figures from different religions have been caricatured all these time. Why make such a big fuss over such minor trivialities? Channel more of your energy to please God as you deemed fit instead!
Nevertheless, I think targeting the jokes on the image of muslim extremist would be a better choice over the founder of the religion himself. After all, I don't think the shortcomings of the followers of a religion should be blamed upon the founder himself! Replacing an image of a fundamentalist over Mohammed himself in the following comic does stir up something that's thought-provoking, dun u think?
Friday, February 03, 2006
I haven't been attending church services for years now, but I wanna stress that it doesn't mean that I've abandoned my christian faith. On the contrary, I believe that it has grown much since the last time I attended church. The problem is that somehow I have this strong feeling that my deeper understanding of my faith has becoming increasingly incompatible with the (mostly) fundamentalistic beliefs of my ex-church, as well as the increasing displacement of rituals over love for one another.
My recent Christian growth is heading more and more towards liberalism and anarchism - I've come to realize that God, though an objective being, cannot be experienced by us finite human, as an objective whole. We, the creations, are divided from our creator bcuz of our limitation in time and space (not to mention thought capacity etc etc), can nv fully comprehend God until we unite with him in spirit, until we depart from our material world. Therefore, God can only reveals himself to us in glimpses of his true self, for the human mind is incapable of understanding God without associating God with something that exists around us. Therefore, biblical portrayals of God are mostly symbolic, for example: our heavenly Father. The ideal idea of a father taking care over his children, further superimposed with the word 'heavenly' to describe his sovereignty.
Therefore, if what we understand with the word, or concept of God, is not only as far as how much he reveals himself to us, but also in the limitation of our material world. Which is why God often reveal his power thru power over Nature: e.g. splitting of the Red Sea, Jesus calming the storm, the Great Flood etc, in order to display his infinite, omnipotent power to us humans.
Thus I reached the biggest discovery I have in years: that Christianity is a purely subjective relationship of one individual and God himself. No one can truly claimed that this is how God like and your concept of God is wrong, for no one has truly comprehend God, or capture the entire essence of what God truly is. God reveals himself to all of us in a personal manner, therefore, different people may have different perception of who or what God is, but no one can claim complete understanding of God himself, for our thoughts and senses are limited in our finite world.
Fundamentalist will argue that the bible has revealed everything that has to be known about God, and therefore Christianity should be an objective truth, with fixed laws and what is true and what is false, what is righteous and what is sinful etc etc. In my opinion, a quick look at the apostle Peter's vision in Acts 10:9-16 will reveal that the things that are mentioned in the bible are not absolute, constant fixations, but are fluid and subject to change, if it is God's will. God proclaim that the animals that are used to be unclean according to the law of Moses are now clean, symbolising that Gentiles too can now come to God, not juz the Jews.
Another example: When God as Abraham to sacrifice his son on the altar for his honour, does it not seemed to contradict God's commandment of "thou shalt not kill"? Of cuz, Abraham did not kill Isaac in the end, but that does not change the fact that God did command Abraham to do something that many christians will nowadays perceive as heresy. Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher and Christian theologian, call this the "Teleological Suspension of the Ethical", and he concluded that true faith in God would means to side aside all forms of morality and even biblical law in order to fulfill God's will.
In other words, one's relationship with God should supersedes conventional morality and even biblical laws in order for it to be truly pure and genuine. What is wrong in the sight of a believer towards a seemingly erring fellow believer is not necessary wrong in the eyes of God, and therefore, a believer has no right whatsoever to judge another person to be sinful or otherwise, eventhough the bible may state the a particular action/concept is wrong, e.g. Peter's vision, Isaac's "sacrifice".
So, if what is right in God's eye can only be known for sure by God himself (unless he chose to reveal it to all), then Christianity is a subjective faith, where one's understanding of God should not be determined by an institution (i.e. the christian church) or other fellow believers, but derived directly upon the individual's relationship with God himself, and how God chose to direct the individual.
So, what are the implications of such a belief on the "teleological suspension of the ethical"? It would mean that it is normal that there are diverse opinions and beliefs in God, for Christianity, or the relationship between Man and God, is purely subjective. Thus, my view on Christianity would be one of extreme individualism and liberalism - that faith in God depends on individual subjective experience, and it is the right of believers to hold and express views which differ with the conventional, orthodox belief.
Well, now that I've come to this conclusion, how does this discovery affect me? My biggest problem now is that I'm having difficulty having fellowship with my fellow brothers and sisters without having to resort to a fixed set of beliefs on who God really is, how are we supposed to worship God etc etc. I've been to many churches, but many seemed to place themselves, their denomination, to be exact, to be at least a little higher than others. While few denominations accuses publicly of other denominations as heresy, there seemed to be a strong sense of distrust and sense of superiority over ppl who are not from their denominations.
I have seen and heard many charismatics teasing conservative christians on how dead and boring the worship sessions are in conservative churches. The reverend from my ex-church once say that he suspected that the charismatic has roots in New Age movements. A friend of mine sees Catholic beliefs to be heresy, while my cousin told me an incredibly disturbing statement from his charismatic pastor: The Devil loves people who worship God by standing still (or something like that, can't remember the exact statement). Some claimed that you're only truly saved after you speak in tongues, while others believe that speaking in tongues is a manifestation of demon possesion.
Why are churches seeding strife and promote xenophobia instead of uniting believers under one Body of Christ? What is the true purpose of the christian church in the 1st place? To issue decrees, to uphold rigid dogmas, to exercise power over the religious communities? Since when did God command the creation of an institution to act as some sort of "belief police"? Yet throughout history, many bodies have act as a governing force over the religious communities, e.g. the Pharisees, the Inquisition etc.
In my opinion, christians are united, no matter how diverse our opinions are, by common intuitions and experiences. Therefore, the purpose of a Church is to provide some sort of supportive framework, in which all believers can come together to discuss, share and explore the multiple facets of God, to encourage one another in testimonies and assistance, and to worship God in our own manner, without inhibition nor judgement from any fellow believers. Yet so far, I have yet to encounter a church like that.
The closest thing that I've encountered that resembles this ideal gathering of believers is my batch's cell group. All of us come from different christian background, and many of us have different opinions of our faith, but we are united together by a common thing: we all are saved by our faith in Christ's sacrifice for our sins. Here, we truly come together, not to criticize each other nor to decree any dogmas, but to discuss and share new insights of our faith with all, and encouraging one another with our testimonies and the lessons we've learned from the past, and to worship God as a syncitium.
The fact that I've found such an ideal fellowship brings about a question: when then, do I choose to skip so many of the CG sessions lately? The answer is simple - while we started off pure and united, something foreign that is not with us from the beginning has joined our midst. At the beginning, it was a really good thing, for it brings new insights to all of us about the nature of our faith. But as time passes, this figure becomes more and more dominant, more and more vocal bout his particular beliefs, and suddenly, one day, his entire presence seems to dominate the group. Prayers are lead forcefully by him, testimonies and encouragements are forced out forcefully by him, and ultimately, what's best for a believer and what's not is forcefully decreed out by him.
Having witness how the purity of the original fellowship has been tainted by this presence, I've slowly, disappointedly dissappear from the group, and now continue on with my quest on seeking another ideal fellowship of believers. Truth is, one of my friend accurately predicted this very outcome when I told him why I love the CG so much some time ago, that things will change as time passes... Sigh... But I guess that Change is inevitable in our material world...
So, ya, here I am, mostly on my own now, continuing my journey to further understand God and where I stand in the whole picture. I truly yearn for a constant companion in this mostly lonely journey of mine, where we could both continuously share new insights and encourage one another for the rest of the journey. Guess all I can do know is pray for God's providence then... <=)
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.
(In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love)
- Moravian Church Motto -
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
|How You Life Your Life|
You seem to be straight forward, but you keep a lot inside.
You tend to avoid confrontation and stay away from sticky situations.
You prefer a variety of friends and tend to change friends quickly.
You tend to dream big, but you worry that your dreams aren't attainable.
Monday, January 16, 2006
So, if I try to help a friend out after he asked me to, and sadly I failed to help him out in the end bcuz of an ignorance from my part, am I in the wrong then? Do I deserve to be scolded and such? I really can't stand such unappreciative mentality. If you're not satisfied with my help, fine then. Next time, juz go get a professional's help who don't happen to be your friend. That way, you can have your satisfaction after you paid him the service charge.
Stop blaming me if my good intentions in helping you failed in the end. Yes, it pisses me off, seriously.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Now that 2006 is here, I wanna spend some time reflecting bout some of the changes in perceptions (maturation?) that I have. Throughout year 2005, I've grown increasingly introverted, so much so that I've even surprised myself when I think about it. It feels good to have some space to myself, and juz sharing some of it with only a few of my closer friends, rather than mixing with everyone around the table and engage myself with their varied interests and temperaments. I'm still fascinated by the variety of personalities and mentalities in different individuals, it's juz that I'm exploring now in a slower pace.
However, it is a bit sad, and perhaps regretful, to see that how easily many of my friendships juz start to fade away as I pull myself further away from the spotlight. Come to think about it, I rarely made any lasting friendships throughout my life: I've been moving too fast to actually stick around with them long enough for deep friendships to be bonded. Or was it that I feel trapped in these entangling relationships that I juz wanna break free from them and start anew?
I've come to realize how my friendships with people correlates closely to the different phases in my life: primary school friends during my primary school years, college friends during college year etc. I keep having a new set of friends everytime I move on the another phase of my life. Geography and course differences are hardly the reason why I'm increasing estranged with friends of the last phase; I juz move on without really care about whether my old friends are with me or not. They juz... fade away from my preoccupation. Even now, as I imagine about how my life would be when I'm studying abroad, there's 1 thing I know for sure: I will not keep in touch with many of my currents friends when I've entered 'the next phase'. Sad, but true.
I only realized how some people can maintain long-term friendships when I see how a friend of mine received so many calls from his past acquitances until he sometimes have a phobia to answer some of their calls! Lol. Honestly, having a friend who called you all the way from Scotland juz to wish you a Happy New Year and to check things out with one another... that's juz amazing. Hell, I won't even bother sms my friends, wishing them Merry Christmas or Happy CNY or anything like that! Maybe they're all juz too mundane to me, all the festivals and stuff. They're juz an excuse for a holiday break! >=)
...So, now what? Should I embark on a quest to forge stronger friendships with people around me? I can't help but wonder, "Does it matter really?" Well, ya, I can't live without being surrounded by people, but neither do I enjoy being obligated to countless people for some silly trivialities. Must friendships be so demanding? I always see it as a 'giving' thing than an 'receiving' thing. I wonder why I have to forfeit my freedom to do what I feel like to sometimes juz to fulfill some bizarre 'friendship obligations' that I understand nothing about.
Guess I'll juz go along the flow now and see what life has to teach me. In the mean time, que sera, sera!