Sunday, March 04, 2007

QROH: Session 4: World

Session 4 on world starts at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. Brian says that he is sharing materials from a book he will be publishing soon. He also mentions that he has been thinking about this issue about the world and the church for many years. Unlike previous sessions, there are no stories but a straight forward presentation.

Brian started with the many organisations and projects which are working hard to identify the problems of the world today. There are about a list of about 11 problems/issues that needed to be addressed.

However, Brian presents his view of the problems facing the world as he sees it. In his conceptual, societal structure, prosperity is an important factor. Equity is the way wealth is created and thus equity is another factor. Unfortunately prosperity and equity makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. This makes the poor discontent. They then either migrate, turn to crime or revolt. Security for the rich becomes the next factor. Brian shows a diagram where prosperity, equity and security are circles which intersections. The centre area where all three circles overlap is what he calls “framing story”. Often the framing story is religion. Religion is often used by the rich and powerful to keep the poor underfoot. Religion is used to justify why the rich are rich and the poor should remain poor.

Therefore, the framing story is a metanarrative. A metanarrative is a story that erase all other stories and replace it with its own. Brian gives Caesar’s framing narrative:

Equality, prosperity and security come from a powerful leader (Caesar) who concentrates the means of violence and imposes peace through domination. The empire of Caesar is at hand.

Jesus confronts the system by reframing Caesar’s narrative:

Equality, prosperity and security come from a sacrificial people who embody reconciliation and bring peace through justice and love. The kingdom of God is at hand.

Later, Brian makes a comment about narrative.

Metanarrative as mentioned above wipes out other stories and replace them with its own.

Local narratives are your story, my story, their story etc. Unfortunately they are easily wiped out by the metanarrative.

Brian mentions a redemptive narrative which calls people to live with one another in peace and not wipe out others’ narrative.

In conclusion, Brian mentions four possible responses to “my neighbour (of another religion)”
(1) convert and assimilate
(2) persecute and marginalise
(3) ignore or isolate
(4) love and know…serve and protect.

The last response should be our response.

The facilitator is Tricia Yeoh and the conversation partners are Father Jojo Fung S.J., Dr. Hermen Shastri, and Steven Wong. The discussion started with Hermen informing us of his work with the World Council of Churches, the national CCM, interfaith committees and dialogue with the government. He ended his introductory remarks with a poem and shows us a metal cross made out of a bullet cashing. He says that the artist used to be a boy soldier in Liberia who becomes a Christian and now works as an ambassador of peace for the UN.

Steven mentions NECF’s work and Father Jojo explained the Roman Catholic Church involvement in Malaysia. Father Jojo also shares about his work with the Orang Asli and the Muruts in Sabah. He also raises two important points in reflection on Brian’s presentation; one is where does the smaller religions fit into the framing narrative, and how does the ancient civilisations, like Confucianism and Brahmanism affects the framing narrative. After this reflection, he concluded by considering a pig, a lowly creature allowing itself to be consumed. He sees himself as a pig to be consumed by others so that others may live a better life. Father Jojo quotes Gandhi, “We have to live simply that others may simply live.”

Then the discussion went onto to politics in Malaysia and what should Christians do about it. Here the conversation partners were divided. One suggests that politics should be left to the “experts” while another calls for more Christians to be involved in vigil, protest, etc.

This is the last session and it concludes by all participants standing in a circle, breaking bread and passing around a lighted candle.

Much has been said, much reflection needs to be done.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best part of the conference was meeting with friends whom I've been corresponding with but never really had a chance to engage with.

To know that we were seated together in one place, at a particular moment in time, sharing in one conversation, was the best experience in the event for me.

It was a pleasure meeting with you, Dr Tang.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

hi sk,

same here. The fellowship was warmth and embracing.

it is a pleasure meeting you too.


10:34 PM  

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