Monday, December 31, 2007

Moving from 2007 to 2008

With every power for good to stay and guide me,
Comforted and inspired beyond all fear,
I'll live out these days with you in thought beside me,
And pass, with you, into the coming year.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
from prison, New Year 1945

with these thoughts

wishing you all a Blessed New Year



What I have Learnt in 2007

(standing on the speaker stone in the Agora, Athens)

An unknown Abbot of Greve prayed, “Lord, may I be wakeful at sunrise to begin a new day for you, cheerful at sunset for having done my work for you; thankful at moonrise and under star shine for the beauty of the universe. And may I add what little may be in me to your great world.” I tried to live out this prayer for 2007.

As in 2006, God taught me many lessons. However, I have never been a good student, often rebellious and head-strong. I am blessed to have the Holy Spirit, a loving wife and children, and wonderful friends to make sure I learnt these lessons. Here are some of the lessons I have learnt in 2007:

• I’ve learnt that not making New Year resolution is a good idea.
• I’ve learnt that it is easy to pretend to be a Mr. Know-It-All but deep down, I know that I really do not know anything at all.
• I’ve learnt that it is okay to be me.
• I’ve learnt that God is not impressed with what I have achieved.
• I’ve learnt after leading a silent retreat for a group of graduating seminary students, that they have been trained to be activists rather than contemplatives.
• I’ve learnt that the more my true self wants to be closer to God, my false self draws me further.
• I’ve learnt that knowledge and information does not automatically translate to wisdom and practice.
• I’ve learnt that it is not easy to give up the things that I think I deserve.
• I’ve learnt that it is very easy to be misunderstood if you are a preacher, church leader or Bible teacher.
• I’ve learnt that acts of kindness can be mistaken as acts of cruelty.
• I’ve learnt that all people are self-centered including me.
• I’ve learnt that while darkness is my constant companion, God is also present in that darkness.
• I’ve learnt that while I value friends, I often take them for granted.
• I’ve learnt that I need more than 24 hours in a day if I am to do all that I want to do.
• I’ve learnt that the more I study the Bible, the more I uncover the multiple levels of meaning there.
• I’ve learnt that it is difficult for me to forgive and to receive forgiveness.
• I’ve learnt that either I accept that I will never be the person I want to be or be constantly angry.
• I’ve learnt that the more I try to detach myself from worldly status symbols, the more attractive they become for me.
• I’ve learnt that people do not like to learn the truth about the prosperity gospel.
• I’ve learnt that I can understand spiritual truths better by writing about Abba Ah Beng and his smart Ah Leky disciple.
• I’ve learnt that an academic pursuit of a PhD distances me from people and life.
• I’ve learnt that the more I research a subject, the more nebulous it become and the more uncertain I become.
• I’ve learnt that the pain I feel in my heart is the also the pain that God shares.
• I’ve learnt that it is easier to become cynical and judgmental when I become older.
• I’ve learnt that I enjoy working with university students and their youthful enthusiasm energizes me.
• I’ve learnt that the more I try to lose weight, the more I gain in kilos.
• I’ve learnt that inside this aging body is a little boy with a great sense of wonder.
• I’ve learnt that I comprehend more about Paul, Corinth and the Greeks by being there in Athens, Corinth and Delphi than all the books about them.
• I’ve learnt that in a top hotel in Athens, you must check your itemized bill because someone may try to change the amount on your credit card chit.

Each year is different, every year brings something new. I echo what Ruth Harms Calkin has written:

Mysterious new year
So wrapped in reserve and surprise
You have no reason to feel smug
Or even condescending.
After all, the majestic God
Has full knowledge of you
Just as he has of me.
There is not an issue that you can evade.
Furthermore you are powerless
To do anything to me
That God does not permit.
All he allows in his infinite wisdom
Is for my ultimate good
And his greatest glory.
Consequently, new year,
You cannot trick or disillusion me
By your baffling unexplainables
Or your feverish activity.
My times are in the hands
Of my sovereign God
Whose power is limitless
And whose love for me is everlasting

Soli Deo Gloria


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Exploring Christian Spirituality

Pearlie did an excellent book review on Peter Adam's Hearing God's Words: Exploring Biblical Spirituality. This is one of the many excellent monograph under the New Studies in Biblical Theology series.

Adam had segregated the Christian belief into 3 schools of thought:
(1) The Reformed and Evangelical View
(2) The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and some charismatics view
(3) The Quaker and Liberal View (2004, p. 40-41)

Holding to the first view, he tried to develop a biblical spirituality by combining biblical theology and historical theology. Unfortunately, Adam was not able to distinguish the difference between theology and spirituality. In fact, he did not develop a bliblical spirituality, just a rewording of biblical theology in his thesis. All Christian spirituality are based on the word of God and thus has biblical theology as its basis.

Sandra M. Schneiders, an American theologian, defines spirituality in The New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2005, p.1) as “conscious involvement in the project of life integration through self-transcendence toward the ultimate value one perceives.”

She clarifies, “First, spirituality is not a doctrine or simply a set of practices but an ongoing experience or life project. Second, its ultimate purpose is life integration. Thus, negative pattern such as alcoholism or consumerism (which can become the organising principle of a person’s life) do not constitute a spirituality. Third, the process of self-transcendence rules out a narcissistic self-absorption even in one’s own perfection. And fourth, the entire project is orientated toward ultimate value, whether this is the Transcendent, the flourishing of humanity, or some other value…When the horizon of ultimate value is the triune God revealed in Jesus Christ and communicated through his Holy Spirit, and the projection of self-transcendence is the living of the paschal mystery within the context of the church community, the spirituality is specifically Christian and involves the person of God, others, all reality according to the understanding of these realities that is characteristics of Christian faith.” (2005, p.1)

Taking this definition, there are many types of Christian spirituality. Some examples convered in the dictionary are:

African-American spirituality
African spirituality
Anabaptist spirituality
Anglo-catholic spirituality
Anglican spirituality
Apophatic spirituality
Apocalytic spirituality
Apostolic spirituality
Augustinian spirituality
Australiasian spirituality
Baptist spirituality
Benedictine spirituality
Beguine spirituality
Black spirituality
Bridgettine spirituality
Byzantine spirituality
Camaldolese spirituality
Carmelite spirituality
Carthusian spirituality
Calvinist spirituality
Celtic spirituality
Charismatic spirituality
Cistercian spirituality
Creation spirituality
Coptic spirituality
Dominican spirituality
Ecological spirituality
Ecumenical spirituality
English spirituality
Eremitical spirituality
Eucharist spirituality
Evangelical spirituality
Feminist spirituality
Franciscan spirituality
Gilbertine spirituality
Global spirituality
Grandmontine spirituality
Greek spirituality
Holistic spirituality
Hispanic spirituality
Ignatian spirituality
Irish Christian spirituality
Latin American spirituality
Liberation spirituality
Lutheran spirituality
Kataphatic spirituality
Macarian spirituality
Masculine spirituality
Mendicant spirituality
Moravian spirituality
Methodist spirituality
Mujerista spirituality
Norbertine spirituality
North American spirituality
Oratorian spirituality
Orthodox spirituality
Pauline spirituality
Pentecostal spirituality
Puritan spirituality
Quaker spirituality
Reformed spirituality
Roman Catholic spirituality
Russian spirituality
Salesian spirituality
Servite spirituality
Scandinavian spirituality
Sulpician spirituality
Scottish spirituality
Swedenborgian spirituality
Syriac spirituality
Unitarian spirituality
Thomist spirituality
Welsh spirituality
Vincentian spirituality
Victorine spirituality

Christian spirituality is a wide subject and is worthwhile to explore further.


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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Elements of Nature (4)

source: Elements of Nature, NUS Development Office


Friday, December 28, 2007

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

Lewis Buzbee, 2006. The Yellowed-Lighted Bookshop. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press.

This is a book for bibliophiles who suffer from bibliolust whenever the moon rises or the sun rises (and the time in between), for people who cannot resist walking into a bookstore even when it is out of their way, and for people who lust after books of whatever kind. Lewis Buzbee will understand such people because he confessed that he suffers from the same condition; bibliolust leading to bibliomania. To feed his lust, he has worked in two bookstores as a bookseller, as a book sales representative, and now as an author. It is a memoir of a man’s journey into a ‘gentle madness’ which is also the name of Nicholas A. Brisbane’s’ excellent book on ‘bibliophiles, bibliomanes and the eternal passion for books.’

Interspersed with anecdotes of his life was a history of bookselling with the final few chapters, a commentary on bookstores today. Many other bibliophiles are also booksellers. Two other great book memoirs are Percy Muir’s Minding My Own Business, as bookseller and Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine B. Stein’s Old Books in the Old World, as book scouts and buyers.

Apparently the earliest booksellers were Egyptian funeral parlour directors who convinced the grieving relatives that it was good to have a copy of The Egyptian Book of the Dead interned with the other stuff so that their loved one will have something to read in the afterlife. Early booksellers were often ‘rogues.’ Buzbee traced their origin from scribes, to salesperson carrying books around, to stalls, then independent bookstores, mass market and chain bookstores. And the wonderful link of bookstores with coffeehouses.

It is a well known fact that the Library in Alexandria confiscated scrolls from all ships docked in the harbour, copied these scrolls and returned the copied scroll and kept the original. In this unorthodox way, the library in Alexandria was built up. Those wanting to know more about other unorthodox and orthodox ways to build up library should read Don Heinrich Tolzmann, Alfred Hessel and Reuben Peiss’ book, The Memory of Mankind: The Story of Libraries since the Dawn of History.

Buzbee revealed a little known fact about the Alexandria Library. The Alexandria Library was what is nowadays called a reference, non-borrowing library. However, the librarians were not above making a little side income by illegally allowing books to be taken out and copied. Apparently pirating of originals is not something new. What is fascinating is that when the library was completely destroyed by Caliph Omar, the pirated copies (now in hands of readers, scholars, collectors and the rich) become the only copies available of these scrolls. I wonder what moral lessons we can learn about pirating original intellectual materials here especially on the Internet.

Another noteworthy mention was his comment on an author’s income from writing a best seller.
“If you think writing will make you a millionaire, then you’d better write a book that the publisher hopes will sell over 500,000 copies. The royalty rate for a book that sells this much will be higher than that of a 5,000-copy hardcover, about $3.13 per book. In 2004, only 47 hardcover novels sold over 300,000 copies. A $16.00 trade paperback has an average royalty of $2.00 per book, and in 2004 only 27 trade paperbacks, fiction and non-fiction combined, sold over 500,000 copies. With mass-market paperbacks, the royalty is considerably lower, 42 cents on a $6.95 book, and you’ll have to sell well over 2,000,000 copies to earn the fabled sum. In 2004, only 8 mass-market paperbacks sold this much or more. Your parents did not steer you wrong about writing: it’s a hard way to make a living, almost impossible to get rich.” (pp.134-135).

This and his many other comments about publishing and bookselling are worth the price of this book. I will grade it a 4 star read. I will buy it for the great cover design and title (HC) alone.


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Ah Lek inherits Heaven and Earth (2)

We may laugh at the image of Ah Lek waiting forever to inherit God’s treasures but there is an important lesson we may learn from him-that of the correct interpretation of the Bible. More specifically, do we take the words of the Bible literally or not? Ah Lek did; interpreting that as an heir he inherits everything from his father. Titus however understood being an heir of God meant receiving eternal life (Titus 3:5-7). In the Old Testament the Israelites understood being heirs meant inheriting the land of Canaan by a promise through Abraham (Heb.11:8).

Paul taught Timothy that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim.2:16-17). The literal interpretation will be that by Scripture, Paul would have meant the Old Testament because the New Testament, as we know it, has not being written yet. However, all have us have accepted that Paul has meant the whole Bible when he used the word ‘Scripture’ implying that we accept the essence rather than the literal words of Paul. Other examples of accepting the Bible literally is to accept that Jesus taught that he had renounced his mother and brothers (Matt.12:48), that we are to sell all that we have (Matt.19:20-22), and we have to be born again by natural childbirth (John 3:1-9; poor Nicodemus wondered how he could fit into his mother’ womb!). While these are obvious examples of Bible passages not to be taken literally, there are others which are not so obvious.

So what happens? Some Christians begin to pick and choose their passages. We can aspire to be a literal Acts 2 church while conveniently leaving out the part about “were together and having all things in common” (v.44) and “daily meeting in the temple courts.”(v.46). Some stand their grounds and insist that the whole Bible is to be understood literally. To do that, they have to live in their own communities and insulate themselves from the 21st century. The Amish is a good example of these Bible literalists. Those on the other end of the continuum are the Bible liberalists. They insist that the Bible are written by men and are example of good teachings on life and moral values.

How then, do we as Christians, understand the Bible? First, we have to understand that the Bible is divided into different genre: historical, poetry, prophetic or allegorical, and prescriptive. Thus, a poem cannot be understood literally and we must not derive a doctrine from a historical incident recorded in the Bible. Second, we have to be aware of the limitations of various translations (or versions) of the Bible. These translations are called versions for a reason: they only approximate the true Bible or word of God. Each translation of the Bible has their strengths and weaknesses. Different translation reflects the biasness of those who translate from the ancient Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Hebrew languages. It is good to have at least two or three different translations of the Bible to compare. Third, Bible commentaries are useful if we recognized that they too have their limitations. It is better to study individual book commentaries rather than single volume whole Bible commentaries. There are scholars have spent their whole life working on a single book or sometimes a few verses of one book of the Bible and are worth reading. Four, put yourself in the place of whom the Bible is addressing. While it may be impossible for us to put ourselves in ancient Israel, we may understand better if we know more about the background, culture and language of the people to whom the Bible was originally directed. Finally, be open to the Holy Spirit as we read the Bible. We must be aware of our human tendency to read into the Bible what we want to hear. Instead we should allow the Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes and hearts to what God is saying to us through the words and sentences of the Bible. That, in the final analysis is how we understand the Bible.

Reflection Questions
1. How can you tell whether a passage is meant to be understood literally or not?
2. Which English Bible version are you using? Why this particular version? What other translations will complement your present version?
3. How do we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Bible?

Dear Lord,

Help us to read Your Word well and open our eyes to your spiritual truths. Give us understanding in studying Your Word, help us to discern what may distract us and what will draw us into Your depths. Help us to hear Your Voice by the help of the Holy Spirit through Your Word.


soli deo gloria

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Elements of Nature (3)

source: Elements of Nature, NUS Development Office


Thursday, December 27, 2007

10 Gadgets that Gives You Superpower

Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's… you?

Admit it — you've fantasized about soaring through the sky like Superman or swinging from building to building like Spidey. Unfortunately, superheroes exist in only comic books, cartoons and movies. And then it usually takes being doused with radioactive waste or belted by gamma rays to hear a gun cock from a mile away or crush cars like soda cans.

But with scientists apparently drawing inspiration from the comics they read when they were kids, the line between science fiction and science fact has become blurred. Superheroics suddenly seem like a viable career option. Follow this
link to see how you, too, with today's technologies, can spin webs and get superhuman strength.


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Seasons Greetings from Marvel


Drifting Towards Holiness

PEOPLE DO NOT drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance;
we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom;
we drift toward superstition and call it faith.
We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation;
we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism;
we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

D. A. Carson, For the Love of God

read more of my favourite quotations here


Elements of Nature (2)

source: Elements of Nature, NUS Development Office


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Elements of Nature (1)

source: Elements of Nature, NUS Development Office


Season of Christmas

The nativity of our Lord is celebrated on December 25, followed by the festivals of the next two Sundays, which falls between December 26 to January 1, and January 2 and 5 respectively. The season of Christmas is a transition between Advent, waiting on the coming of the Savior, and Epiphany, encountering the Son of God himself.


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ESPress Religious KISS

ESPpress Dec 2007 issue

read my article, A Religious KISS here

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Blessed Christmas 2007

It's a Wonder-Full Life
It takes a special kind of birth to grab the world's attention.
Eugene Peterson posted 12/21/2007 10:11AM

Birth, every human birth, is an occasion for local wonder. In Jesus' birth the wonder is extrapolated across the screen of all creation and all history as a God-birth. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"—moved into the neighborhood, so to speak. And for thirty years or so, men and women saw God in speech and action in the entirely human person of Jesus as he was subject, along with them, to the common historical conditions of, as Charles Williams once put it, "Jewish religion, Roman order, and Greek intellect." These were not credulous people and it was not easy for them to believe, but they did. That God was made incarnate as a human baby is still not easy to believe, but people continue to do so. Many, even those who don't "believe," find themselves happy to participate in the giving and receiving, singing and celebrating of those who do.
Incarnation, in-flesh-ment, God in human form in Jesus entering our history: this is what started Christmas. This is what keeps Christmas going.

read complete article here


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Christmas Greetings 2007

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Monday, December 24, 2007

The God of Intimacy and Action

Campolo, Tony & Darling, Mary Albert. 2007. The God of Intimacy and Action: Reconnecting Ancient Spiritual Practices, Evangelism, and Justice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Christian activist, Tony Campolo, who is also professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in the United States, has teamed up with Mary Albert Darling, a spiritual director from the Ignatian tradition to produce a book on “mystical Christianity.” Darling is the associate professor of communication at Spring Arbor University and is a Protestant who is well versed in Roman Catholic mystic tradition.

They define “mystic Christianity” as a “holistic Christianity” which includes mystical spirituality, evangelism and social justice (p.xiv). A mystic as defined as “one who experiences God in transrational and nonempirical ways.” (p.4). What this means is that all Christians are mystics as they will have personal experiences of an encounter with God. Campolo highlights five types of mystical experiences:
1. New insights
2. I-Thou relationships
3. Heightened awareness
4. Conversion experiences
5. Breakthrough experiences (p.4-12)

He takes care to compare these with what William James described in his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience. While William James’ research was not in a Christian context, there are enough similarities to accept Campolo’s descriptions.

The main thesis that Campolo and Darling proposes is that a Spirit-filled Christians who have had mystic spiritual experiences will subsequently be concerned for evangelism and social justice. Campolo writes, “I believe there are four basic consequences for a sense of justice that grows from mystical unity with Christ. Each of them is essential to actualize something of the justice and social well-being that are part of what the Bible calls the Kingdom of God. They are
1. An awareness that Christ is in the poor and oppressed, waiting to be loved and served
2. A call to challenged institutionalized religion
3. An understanding of the importance of entering into one another’s sufferings
4. A plan for the world as it should be” (p.41)

This thesis is not new. Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen were the latest in the long line of Christian mystics who propose such a thesis. Merton’s activism comes from his time of contemplation in a monastery and Nouwen from his contemplative experience in the academia. Merton’s activism were in the political and cultural arena while Nouwen were in the handicap and socially deprived.

It is a common misconception that contemplatives are too otherworldly to be of any earthly use. A study of the life of Gregory the Great, Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena is enough to convince anyone that contemplatives are also social activists. What is new in this thesis is that two Protestants, Campolo and Darling propose it. What is also interesting is that social activist Campolo has to draw on the experience of Darling to support his concept of “mystical Christianity.” To develop or experience a mystical Christian life, Darling suggests the practice of the following ‘ancient’ spiritual disciplines
1. The prayer of examen
2. lectio divina
3. Centering prayer

will transform Christians into becoming more aware of the need for evangelism and to act for social justice. This is an important point because without a depth in God, our social activism will be mere ‘good works’. Thomas Merton explains it in Contemplation in a World of Action as thus, “He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening is own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.”

This is a good book in which the interconnectiveness of Christian spirituality and practices, evangelism and activism for social justice are revealed as essential for a holistic Christian life.


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Batman: Fear Itself

Novels based on characters from comics and mangas have become popular. Recently DC Comics licensed and release a number of novels based on their comic book characters.

Batman: Fear Itself (2007) is written by Michael Reeves who received an Emmy Award for his work on Batman: The Animated series.

{warning: contains spoilers}

The basic premise of this novel is simple. If you are a best selling horror writer who seems to be losing his edge and his sales, what and how far will you go to reestablish yourself as a writer?

Grey Berwald is that horror writer. His solution was to turn to the master of horror, the Scarecrow a.k.a Dr. Crane for help. The Scarecrow gave Grey a neurotoxin to spray on his novels so that whoever read them will have a heighten state of fear. Things went wrong when some people cannot handle their fear and caused accident and death.

Batman/Bruce Wayne and investigative reporter Maggie Tollyer investigates and finally confronts the Scarecrow.

Reeves works with some interesting premises; How far will you go as a writer to get sales and reach the top of the best seller list? Do you have limits in what you will and will not write? Are you responsible for what people do after they have read your writing? Will you sell your soul to the devil?


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Face to Face: Tricia Yeoh

Here is a blog interview of my friend, Tricia Yeoh

Face to Face: Tricia Yeoh

Posted by Raja Petra
Sunday, 23 December 2007

Tricia Yeoh, Senior Research Analyst of the newly minted Centre For Public Policy Studies (CPPS), Asian Strategic Leadership Institute (ASLI) confronts the hard issues affecting Malaysian society. Armed with the exuberance of her youth, Tricia Yeoh is the exception to George Bernard Shaw’s emotive that “Youth is wasted on the young”. Face to Face explores the hot-button issues in this year-end interview.

*Views expressed are my own personal opinions and may not necessarily reflect those of ASLI.

1. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: The CPPS has published a number of research material. How independent really is the CPPS in its analysis?

Tricia Yeoh: The CPPS is an independent policy research centre, which means it is not aligned with any one political party or individual. As a result, the CPPS is not required to strictly follow any "lines" with regards to its analyses and recommendations. Its independence is really political independence, and reports are written and published after discussion with its Advisory Panel, made up of a number of distinguished individuals representing a range of interests and expertise within academia and the corporate sector. It attempts to provide non-partisan and objective rigorous research based on factual data and statistics, followed by policy recommendations.

2. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Would you like to share with us some of the upcoming projects of the CPPS?

Tricia Yeoh: The CPPS has just completed a project investigating young Malaysians' views on national unity throughout Peninsular Malaysia. This quantitative project spanned young Malaysians between ages 18 and 35, and the results are indicative of their perceptions of unity presently, as well as the direction in which they feel the country is headed towards in respect of unity. We've also broken "national unity" down into a number of contributing components and analysed these individually. Finally, we made use of an econometric-style predictive model that gives pretty interesting findings as to "unity" ratings now and in 10 years' time. We expect to release the findings in early 2008.

The CPPS is also currently working on an Open Budget Project, an international initiative that Malaysia will be part of for the very first time. This project seeks to analyse the budget process in all stages, specifically on the availability of detailed documents to the public, and whether these processes allow for a thorough system of accountability. Very few independent monitoring of the budget process takes place in this country, which is an absolutely necessary task. This in turn allows Government to ensure they are providing the best, most up-to-date information and maintain constant dialogue with the public at large.

Other projects are in the pipeline, but broadly, the CPPS will continue to work on issues of national unity, confidence in the future of Malaysia (economic, political, social and otherwise) with the objective of providing constructive space for policy dialogue and recommendations. For more information, log onto

3. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: CPPS seems to be taking up many anti- Government stances in support of marginalized or opposition groups. Do you agree?

Tricia Yeoh: The CPPS does not see itself affiliated to any one particular group. It does, however, have strong stands on particular issues and it happens to be that some of these stances do not necessarily reflect those taken by Government of late. The CPPS stands for good governance, and this applies across the board. If the CPPS observes that good governance principles are being adhered to, it commends that this is being done. On the other hand, if it observes that good governance principles are being violated (without recognition of the rule of law), then it equally reacts by issuing a statement saying so. The CPPS' role is not to support any one party, but to provide analysis and recommendations it sees necessary to better develop a matured and civilised Malaysian society. I personally feel that Malaysians need to move beyond the paradigm of solely "supporting Government" or "anti-Government". Any concerned citizen of Malaysia should give praise when the right decisions are made. Equally, any concerned citizen should be critical when leaders behave wrongly. The mark of a truly developed democracy is when citizens are given the space and liberty to support and act upon ideological principles.

4. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: How would you rate the Right Honourable Prime Minister's term in office so far?

Tricia Yeoh: The Prime Minister has had four years of term in office. Within this period he has successfully maintained relative economic stability, appointed a new Cabinet, launched the 9th Malaysia Plan, initiated several Economic Corridors, and opened up great space for political commentary and criticism. However, many of the initial promises have been found wanting, if one rates the PM based on his very own benchmarks. His drive for anti-corruption has resulted in meagre efforts. His early warm mantra of "work with me, not for me" has shifted considerably to a stricter, harsher and colder stance with his recent arrest of 5 HINDRAF leaders under the Internal Security Act. His early criticism of mega projects seems to have reversed, with his signing on the Iskandar Development Region, amongst others. The PM has had numerous controversial issues to deal with, and many have come and gone without any real resolution from him, signifying that these will arise time and again with no end in sight. The Rakyat presently is in need of real leadership that will take these multitudes of issues under control and demonstrate real political will to change fundamental systemic flaws.

5. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: There appears to be a lot of discontent with bloggers leading the way followed by activists and opposition politicians, yet recent popular surveys suggest that PM enjoys majority support of the Rakyat. Would you like to comment?

Tricia Yeoh: The discontent and dissatisfaction with the nation's administration stems very much from the urban-centric populace, whereas the majority of the rural Rakyat are still very much in support of the PM. As long as the "negative factor" does not seep into the rural majority, forming the bulk of the electorate, incumbent politicians are not likely to be very much perturbed. My comment, however, is that the PM and his team cannot rule a country entirely dependent on its rural majority since urban intellectuals are the opinion shapers, whose views eventually reach their respective hometowns upon return, and they must realise that there is increasingly rapid urbanisation. Finally, since the country is targeting greater internet and Broadband penetration in the next years, information will be easily available, and the distinction between urban and rural views will eventually blur. Bloggers' writings although now identified as primarily urban may very well be read by someone in a kampung miles away.

6. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: HINDRAF and BERSIH rallies have churned up sensationalised reports around the world. Is this the right path for Malaysia to take considering the fact that CPPS supports the freedom of assembly.

Tricia Yeoh: This question has two parts to it: The manner and content of recent rallies. With respect to the form, the CPPS regrets that Malaysia has received some international bad press, as it inevitably affects our tourism and economic industries. However, the reason these rallies have become sensationalised is the fact that there was unwarranted police crackdown, both in the physical (some violence) and legal (arrests having taken place) senses. The CPPS supports the freedom of assembly and would have recommended for the police and Government to support peaceful assemblies as outlined in the Federal Constitution. We would recommend that the authorities show support by allowing these assemblies, with explicit guidelines and parameters within which the groups are obliged to follow. With respect to the content, we feel that Malaysia should primarily handle its internal affairs. Nevertheless, international pressure groups are equally important when outstanding issues do not receive the necessary attention locally. Note especially that we live in an increasingly integrated international community and cannot ostracise ourselves from external opinion. If we expect foreign investment and a vibrant foreign community within Malaysia, we must be willing to accept foreign commentary on our socio-political climate.

7. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: CPPS also supports the establishment of an Independent Judicial Commission. But isn't this requesting the Executive itself to interfere in the Judiciary. Attempting to correct an alleged wrong with another wrong?

Tricia Yeoh: In many countries around the world, including the UK, from whom we inherit our legal system, there exists an Independent Judicial Commission that governs the appointment and promotion of judges. There is a world of difference in asking the Executive to interfere in decisions made by the Judiciary in actual cases, as opposed to seeking judicial reform which would be more effectively implemented by the Government, or in this case, the Executive arm.

In essence, the Executive's role would only be to set up the Independent Judicial Commission (by introducing the necessary amendments to the Constitution, to be later passed by Parliament). The composition of the Independent Judicial Commission would comprise of key stakeholders and no one individual would have absolute power. Furthermore, the consequent running of the Commission and its decision-making processes would be completely independent of the Executive.

8. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Is there religious freedom in Malaysia?

Tricia Yeoh: Religious adherents are allowed to freely practice and profess their faiths in principle. This is not so clear in practice. Minority religions have found it difficult to secure areas for burial sites. Hindu temples have been torn down with little consultation nor lead time to secure alternative worship sites. Freedom to choose one's own religion is even more oblique, as we have seen from various cases such as Lina Joy, Subashini and so on, where as a result of choosing to leave Islam in favour of another, they have been chastised and ostracised from society respectively. On the surface, religious freedom seems secure. However, when one digs just a little bit deeper, there are numerous issues to contend with, all of which are necessary contributing factors towards "religious freedom". It is therefore a spectrum, and hence no, I don't believe that there is absolute religious freedom in Malaysia.

9. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Wither the Merdeka Statement? What next?

Tricia Yeoh: The Merdeka Statement was successfully launched, but was received poorly at the beginning by certain quarters, specifically by the Information Minister and some Islamic groups. The CPPS however does not take the Information Minister's response as representative of the Government as a whole. We have, in fact, tabled the Merdeka Statement to the Parliamentary Select Committee on National Unity just recently, and the Committee accepted it graciously with some discussion. The Department of National Unity hopes to take up some of the recommendations and the CPPS will be following this up with them shortly. The CPPS also conducted a second soft launch of its Merdeka Statement in London recently, at which a representative of ABIM (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia) gave his views and some issues were resolved amicably. The next step is to ensure that recommendations within the Merdeka Statement will be taken up by organisations working on ground level. This initiative has started, through distribution of the Statement to various youth, religious and NGO groups, sending it to respective networks. Anyone wishing to further contribute, respond to, or take this foundational work forward in their respective organisations can feel free to contact us at the CPPS, as this work is meant to represent a collective whole.

10. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: There seems to be a general malaise about the Malaysian economy despite a fairly healthy growth projection of the nations economy by Bloomberg for one. Why the scepticism on the ground?

Tricia Yeoh: Skepticism on the ground with respect to the Malaysian economy stems from a number of factors. Firstly, although the country projects a healthy growth rate, this comes from mega projects like the Northern, Southern and Eastern Corridors, largely supported by Government and projects given to a highly selective group of contractors. Secondly, the foreign direct investment into the country's economy has taken a fall recently, with the manufacturing sector especially that of semiconductors shrinking. Third, of late there have been negative socio-political incidents that may have a detrimental effect on the economy in the next quarter, where foreign travelers fear instability and investors from abroad are likely to take their money elsewhere, which leads to the fourth factor. Increased competition from our neighbouring countries, with Vietnam, China, India, Singapore, Thailand knocking at our doors. Next, malaise will continue to endure as long as Malaysia continues to make bad investing decisions, such as investing into physical infrastructure as opposed to skills, talent, human capital, education, research and innovation, factors that would truly move the economy up the value chain. Also, Malaysia is inextricably linked with the US market, and observers are watching closely the wobbling sub-prime market and its effect on the global economy. If the US takes a plunge, so will Malaysia. Finally, the economic cost of corruption, lack of transparency, inefficiency and bureaucratic red tape are rearing their ugly heads.

The impacts of the NEP (New Economic Policy), actually in the form of the National Vision Policy (NVP) today, are important to note. Where in the past many foreign investors favoured Malaysia because of its low labour costs and tax incentives, today other countries offer better alternatives. In order to maintain our competitiveness, Malaysia cannot rely any longer on cheap business set-up costs but ensure high quality labour, research and innovation skills, creating a highly competitive market. To do this, anti-competition policies should be gradually removed so the best individuals are employed and promoted in the private and public sectors (and institutes of higher learning); the best contracts are awarded (open up Government procurement and ensure transparency); the stock market should be left open with no minimum obligatory percentage given to any one group; and so on. Anti-competition policies, to my mind, are the most restrictive to long-term robust economic growth.

11. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: What impact will the issue of 'brain drain' especially in terms of non-Malay talent have on the nation at large?

Tricia Yeoh: The fact that it is called "brain drain" is itself telling of its impact on the nation. Firstly, the flight of human capital out of Malaysia means that it increases the scarcity of much needed highly-skilled labour in the country itself. This likely dampens long run economic growth and income, much of the country's investment on higher education not being utilised to strengthen the domestic economy. Secondly, labour gaps are filled by migrants from other developing countries, and this affects the socio-political makeup if they stay on in the country. Impact of illegal or overstayed migrants on issues of crime, security, citizenship, and so on will need to be further discussed. Third, if brain drain escalates, the bulk of the middle-class talent gone, this leaves behind a nation with bottom and top heavy income groups, and the gap between the rich and the poor will worsen. Specifically with regards to non-Malay talent leaving the country, it is highly likely that the population breakdown will change, with the Chinese and Indian communities diminishing percentage-wise.

12. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: What are your assessments for PM Abdullah Badawi in the event BN is embarrassed in the impending pools?

Tricia Yeoh: BN will not lose its two-thirds majority of Parliament and hence embarrassment, if any, will only come about in its reduction of popular vote and several seats. In the case that BN loses a significant amount of seats in the next elections, PM Abdullah Badawi will realise the dissatisfaction of the Rakyat at his administration. This would most likely mark the final term of his premiership if his popularity plunges to an all-time low, BN members themselves realising the need for a change in leadership. Of course, things will not change significantly since, in order for a PM to change, there first must be a change in UMNO Presidency; and in order for this to take place, there first must be nominations from a certain number of UMNO branches across the country and then a vote - all of which would indicate "lack of loyalty" to leadership, a counter-Malay-culture. Hence, Malaysia's PM's position is absolutely secure.

13. Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob: Any festive wishes for the Malaysian people?

Tricia Yeoh: Selamat Hari Raya Haji to my Muslim friends, a Blessed Christmas to my Christian friends, and a happy end of year break to all Malaysians. May this period be one of deep reflection and self-examination in light of numerous disturbing incidents of late. May the new year herald new things, and I urge everyone to work towards a better, matured Malaysia in your own respective ways. Petty differences should be resolved and an open, healthy, rational and constructive problem-solving relationship should be cultivated amongst us. Happy New Year 2008!

more here

way to go, Tricia!

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Thomas Merton on the Value of Life

Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.

Thomas Merton

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Thomas Merton on Prayer

Prayer is the movement of trust, of gratitude, of adoration, or of sorrow, that places us before God, seeing both Him and ourselves in the light of His infinite truth, and moves us to ask Him for the mercy, the spiritual strength, the material help, that we all need. The man whose prayer is so pure that he never asks God for anything does not know who God is, and does not know who he is himself: for he does not know his own need of God. All true prayer somehow confesses our absolute dependence on the Lord of life and death. It is, therefore, a deep and vital contact with Him whom we know not only as Lord but as Father. It is when we pray truly that we really are. Our being is brought to a high perfection by this.

Thomas Merton

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Jesuit and the Skull

I have always been fascinated by Teihard de Chardin. Pere Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest, geologist, palaeontologist, theologian, scholar and Christian mystic. This book is about him and the circumstances surrounding his discovery of the Peking man.

Teihard de Chardin fascinates me because he tried very hard to reconcile science and religion. He felt a calling to the Church and joined the Jesuits or Society of Jesus at a very young age. In spite of his all conflicts and heartache with the Jesuits, he never did consider leaving the order. During his training as a priest, he spent 4 years as a stretcher bearer during the First World War. The horrors and inhumanity of war had a profound effect on him. He was ordained a Jesuit. Aside from a theological education, he also studied the science of geology and palaeontology. He received his PhD when he was 45 years old.

Unlike many Christians, Teihard de Chardin did not find any conflicts between his belief in his Christian faith and science. He sees a convergence of both. His main thesis is that God is a God of change and all creation is in a constant flux of change until it all reaches a point of union with the One which he called the Omega Point. This means that human beings are also changing as we evolve to a higher level of consciousness. What this also means is that he embrace the theory of evolution as a theory of change. Not only do animals change or evolve but the earth itself evolves. This brings him to consider these changes as the evolution of the Noosphere. More on his theories here and here.

His acceptance and teaching of the theory of evolution came to the attention of the Jesuits and the Vatican. Teihard de Chardin was commanded to stop his teaching. However he was such an established scientist that the Church decided to send him as far away from civilisation as possible. They decided to send him to China! It is the greatest of irony that in China, Teihard de Chardin discovered the remains of the Peking man. The Peking man is considered scientific proof that human beings have evolved from earlier hominids. All these support evolution and are against creationism. Thus in sending him away to China, Teihard de Chardin was sent to a place to discover something the Church has wanted to avoid.

Teihard de Chardin was censored by his order and not allowed to lecture and publish. Most of his books and writings are published after his death. Timeline for Teihard de Chardin here.


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Friday, December 21, 2007

Daily Devotions 2007/2008

I shall be using these two books for my morning devotions from December 2007 to November 2008. James Houston has an excellent collection of correspondence to be used for devotions.

What will you be using for your devotional aids next year?

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rebellion Threatens Roman Empire

Scarrow, Simon (2007) Centurion: Rebellion Threatens the Roman Empire London: Headline Publisher

{review contains spoilers}

Fresh after their involvement with the Jews in the previous book, Roman soldiers Macro and Cato were involved in a brand new military adventure, this time in the kingdom of Palmyra, a desert state between Roman occupied Syria and the Parthian empire. The Roman Emperor wanted Palmyra as a buffer between them and the Parthians. Thus when a civil war erupted in Palmyra with the king besieged in his oasis fortress, the Roman governor of Syria were obligated to send soldiers to help. An advance detachment of the Tenth Legion led by Macro, and auxiliaries Second Illyrian cohort led by Cato, who was acting Prefect, were despatched to help the besieged king while the main army were to follow later.

In true, Scallow style, the story is fast moving with enough details about Roman military life to be interesting. The heavily armoured legionnaires and the lighter armoured auxiliaries were involved with fast marches, being besieged in a fortress and desert warfare against the Parthians. It is interesting to note that the Roman’s technique of phalanx was not so effective against the Parthians who rode horses and were expert archers. The slower moving Romans were like sitting ducks. Apparently this unequal warfare led to the historical military loss of armies of General Crassus and later of Mark Anthony when they fought against the Parthians, many years before the time of this novel. The Roman legions have not learnt from their defeat.

In terms of character development, Cato fell in love with the ambassador’s daughter and was pledged to marry when they return to Rome. Another good book for easy reading on military warfare and fighting men.


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Hari Raya Haji

Hari Raya Haji literally means the ‘festival of pilgrimage’. It is the festival marking the day of pilgrimage to Mecca, the fifth tenet of Islam. Hari Raya Haji is known to many as Hari Raya Aidil Adha. This festival is celebrated by Muslims to honour pilgrims who have completed their Haj to Mecca.Hari Raya Haji falls on the 10th day of the month of Dzulhijjah.

The 10th of Dzulhijjah marks one of the most important events in Islamic history - an event which dates back to beginning of mankind, to the days of Adam and Eve. Just outside the holy city of Mecca at Arafah, Adam and Eve, the father and mother of mankind, were sent down to this world by Allah (God). After their expulsion from Heaven, Allah sent them to separate places. Adam was placed in India and Eve in Jeddah but eventually met on a wide open field and were reunited. Thus, the blissful reunion of the father and mother of mankind symbolises the reunion of the whole of mankind.

Hari Raya Haji is also known as Hari Raya Korban, the festival of sacrifice. As such, the sacrifice of a cow or goat as food offerings to the poor is done. This is not a compulsory religious duty for everyone, but considered an obligation for those who can afford it.

Celebrated by the Muslims on the tenth day of the last month of the Muslim calendar. This is an occasion celebrated marking the conclusion of the annual Haj - the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, when the pilgrims are given the title of Haji for men and Hajjah for women. Thanksgiving prayers are offered in the mosque.

source here

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mercy Ships and Medical Mission

Christian Medical Mission on the Seas

Saving Faces
Mercy Ships surgeons perform medical miracles daily in remote ports of call.
Deann Alford in Accra, Ghana posted 12/14/2007 08:30AM

…on July 7, 1982, the Anastasis, a rehabbed 1953 Italian cruise liner, set sail for major ports throughout the majority world. It was the beginning of Mercy Ships, founded in 1978 within the nondenominational mission agency YWAM (Youth With a Mission).

As a floating hospital, its mission was to bring world-class surgeons and free medical care to the poor in the name of Christ. It was a dream come true for missionaries Don Stephens, his wife Deyon, and a dogged group of YWAMers who volunteered their labor for years before the Anastasis entered service. "Mercy Ships focuses on the lowest tier of need," founder Stephens told Christianity Today.

The original idea of a charitable hospital ship goes back five decades. From 1960 to 1974, the SS Hope, a decommissioned U.S. Navy hospital ship, visited 11 ports in developing countries, bringing medical care to civilians without access to such. After the horrors of World War II, the SS Hope was a global inspiration and captured the imagination of Stephens and YWAM leaders. Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) operated this ship. (It is now a land-based charity that provides health care expertise to agencies in the developing world.)…

Stephens told CT that the theology of Mercy Ships is based on four "M"s—model, message, methods, and metrics.

Jesus is the model. Stephens said, "For the gospel in the 21st century, Muslims, Hindus, and animists—they must see the Good News as well as hear the Good News. The gospel has two hands—doing it as well as teaching it. I see this in the model of Jesus."

The second "M"—message—is about "the nature and character of a loving God," because so many people never hear that God loves them individually, he said.

Mercy Ships' methods are twofold: hospital ships and on-shore development projects. One of its newest on-shore efforts is called Operation New Steps, started to respond to this gruesome fact: Land mines have severed the legs of some 30,000 children in the last 30 years. New Steps started as a 40-foot sea container equipped to manufacture a prosthesis within 24 hours. It now has its own stand-alone center and also works with polio patients.

Finally, Stephens uses the metrics of "cost per person served" to assess how well Mercy Ships does its work. He said costs are kept to a minimum because Mercy Ships staff raises their own financial support, and corporations donate millions in medical devices each year…

read complete article here

Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today previously reported on Mercy Ships in "Hope for the Living Dead" and "Against the Tide." The organization was one of our 100 Things the Church Is Doing Right.

Mercy Ships has photos, stories, and more about its ministry

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Spreading AIDS


Evan Almighty and the ARK

This comedy is about Junior Congressman, Evan Baxter's wish to change the world. He prayed to God for help. Highlight the axiom, "be careful for you pray for", God answered but not in the way Evan expected.

God wants Evan to build an ark.

[contains spoilers]

Timbers and work tools began arriving in the compound of his new house and Evan began to build an ark amidst the ridicule of his friends and neighbours. However, the ark saved all the people when the dam burst, flooding the valley.

The moral of the story is that one can change the world by ARK- Acts of Random Kindness.

Worth watching with the family.


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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

British Sign Boards are the Best

HT to Punna for these pictures


Top Ten Pediatric CME for 2007

Top Ten Pediatric CME for 2007 (Medscape for WebMD)

Applying New NIH Guidelines for Pediatric Asthma: An Infant Who Has Failed Previous Asthma Therapy CME
Noonan Syndrome: What Physicians Need to Know CME
Statement From USPSTF: Screening for Iron Deficiency Anemia -- Including Iron Supplementation for Children and Pregnant Women CME/CE
Spotting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Children CME
Vaccine Update CME/CE
Cases From AHRQ WebM&M: Rapid Mis-St(r)ep CME/CE
Neonatal Emergencies CME/CE
Challenges to the Management of Pediatric Asthma CME
A Better Way to Vaccinate Children Against the Flu? CME/CE
Vitamin C May Be Effective Against Common Cold Primarily in Special Populations CME/CE



Living the Bible Literally

Jacobs, A.J. (2007) The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. New York: Simon & Schuster

A.J. Jacobs is the editor at large of Esquire and an author. Though Jewish by birth, he confesses to be an agnostic Jew though he is related to Jews who are ultra-orthodox, practicing and unorthodox Jews. He wondered whether one could live a life following the teachings of the Bible literally without becoming involved spiritually. His thesis is to prove that legalists who follow the biblical teachings literally are misguided. To prove that thesis, he experimented using himself, as the test subject to try to live following the Bible as literally as possible in New York.

He studied the Bible and biblical sources as much as he can, gather a group of counsellors from Judaism and Christianity to guide him, and contact groups that take the Bible literally such as the Hasidic, Amish, Creation Museum, Jehovah Witness, fringe followers of Judaism in Israel, Samaritans, Christian Majority and evangelical Christians. He came up with a seventy two page list of biblical tasks he had to do literally. He did however wisely exclude the commands involving animal sacrifices.

His journal contains amusing accounts as he tried to relate to people without lying, letting his beard and hair grow, wearing a white gown, following food laws and his relationship with his wife when she was menstruating (considered unclean). This book makes for interesting reading because Jacobs revealed some rules or commandments that do not make sense, like the Bible forbids man to wear women’s clothing (Deu.22:5), break the neck of a cow at the site of an unsolved murder (Deu. 21:4), not allowed to wear clothes with mixed fibers (wool and linen) (Deu.22:11), not boiling a young goat in the milk of its mother (Exo.23:1) purify ourselves by finding a red cow (Num.19), and for urinating against a wall -King Zimri killing “all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall..” (1 Kings 16:11 KJV).

Jacobs highlights, in a graphic way, the ways Jews and Christians interprets and follows the Biblical teaching. The interesting point he makes is that they all select and choose the passages they want to follow literally in what he calls “Cafeteria Christianity”. Nobody follows every rules and commands in the Bible literally. Everyone chooses and selects these rules and commands they want to follow. The problem is, everyone disagrees on which rules and commands should be obeyed literally and which with interpretation. That is the cause of so much antagonism and animosities. Also in communities that choose to follow certain rules and commands literally, they will find ways to circumvent the rule and commands without breaking them.

Jacobs’ conclusion, after one year of trying to live a life following the Bible literally, is that the Bible should be interpreted and lived by each subsequent generation themselves. I believe that is the central message of this book and one we all do well to heel.

read Jana Riesis'(Religion Review Editor for Publisher Weekly) review here


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Monday, December 17, 2007

A Pound of the Eternal in a Paper Sack

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black person or pick crops with a migrant. I want ecstasy not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.

Tim Hansel, When I Relax, I feel Guilty (Elgin, IL: David C Cook Publications, 1979), 49.


Online Shoppers Be Careful

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Internet Predators Hunting Online

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Heaven Came Down

Heaven Came Down
Text: John 1:14

Sermon statement (big picture)
Christmas, by tradition is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Who is this Jesus? What are our different perceptions of him: “Santa Claus’ Jesus; “Buddy” Jesus; “Judgmental” Jesus; “Idealised” Jesus and “Incarnation” Jesus? Our perceptions of who Jesus is, is often defined by what He did rather than who He is.

read complete text of sermon here

listen here

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Prophecies

The Prophecies come true at the Birth of Christ

What Christmas teaches me about God

read my article here, here and here


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Friday, December 14, 2007

Star Trek: The Manga (2)

Kakan ni Shinkou or Star Trek: The Manga, volume 2 was published by Tokyopop Manga in September 2007. Like volume one, it is a collection of short stories. There are 5 short stories in this volume.

(1) Cura Te Ipsum (Story by Wil Wheaton, Art by EJ Su)
(2) Communication Breakdown (Story by Crhistane Boylan, Art by Bettina Kurkoski)
(3) The Trial (Story by Mike Wellman, Art by Nam Kim)
(4) Screan Gate (Story by Diane Duanne, Art by Don Hudson)
(5) Forging Alliances (Story by Paul Benjamin, Art by Steven Cummings)

Interesting mix but I am still not used to Captain Kirk and Mr.Spock, manga style.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

New York Times Best 10 Books of 2007

MAN GONE DOWNBy Michael Thomas. Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, paper, $14. This first novel explores the fragmented personal histories behind four desperate days in a black writer’s life.

OUT STEALING HORSESBy Per Petterson. Translated by Anne Born. Graywolf Press, $22. In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude.

THE SAVAGE DETECTIVESBy Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27. A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.

THEN WE CAME TO THE ENDBy Joshua Ferris. Little, Brown & Company, $23.99. Layoff notices fly in Ferris’s acidly funny first novel, set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.

TREE OF SMOKEBy Denis Johnson. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27. The author of “Jesus’ Son” offers a soulful novel about the travails of a large cast of characters during the Vietnam War.


IMPERIAL LIFE IN THE EMERALD CITY: Inside Iraq's Green Zone.By Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95; Vintage, paper, $14.95. The author, a Washington Post journalist, catalogs the arrogance and ineptitude that marked America’s governance of Iraq.

LITTLE HEATHENS: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.By Mildred Armstrong Kalish. Bantam Books, $22. Kalish’s soaring love for her childhood memories saturates this memoir, which coaxes the reader into joy, wonder and even envy.

THE NINE: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.By Jeffrey Toobin. Doubleday, $27.95. An erudite outsider’s account of the cloistered court’s inner workings.

THE ORDEAL OF ELIZABETH MARSH: A Woman in World History.By Linda Colley. Pantheon Books, $27.50. Colley tracks the “compulsively itinerant” Marsh across the 18th century and several continents.

THE REST IS NOISE: Listening to the Twentieth Century.By Alex Ross. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30. In his own feat of orchestration, The New Yorker’s music critic presents a history of the last century as refracted through its classical music.

more here

So embarassed-lah. Have not read a single one.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ah Lek inherits Heaven and Earth

Whack! The bamboo stick bounced off Ah Lek’s shaven head followed by his “ouch!” “Stop daydreaming,” warned Abba Ah Beng, who is teaching his disciple how to study the Scriptures. Abba Ah Beng is a strong believer of an imported teaching method from Ha-mer-li-ca which states that young minds are empty trash cans, waiting to be filled by their teachers. “Read the text,” ordered Abba Ah Beng.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans Chapter 8, verse 16 and 17” recited Ah Lek dutifully with the appropriate swaying motion of his body. For some strange reasons, the Sow Lin Monastery only uses the King James Version of the Bible. No other versions are acceptable. “We are heirs of God” ran through Ah Lek’s mind. Ah Lek remembers Ah Loong from his village. Ah Loong is born with a literal silver spoon in his mouth; being the sole heir of the rich village merchant. When Ah Loong’s father died, he inherited the family business. In the latest village gossip, he has ten concubines and three mistresses, five houses and slaves, and is severely obese (which is a sign of prosperity in ancient China).

“I am an heir of God!” The thought almost jolted Ah Lek off his stool. “God is rich,” he reasoned, “He owns everything. That means, one day it will all be mine!” After he has inherited God’s treasures, Ah Lek fantasies, he will drive to Ah Loong’s house in his brand new Lamborghini with a couple of pretty girls. His mansion will have a hundred rooms. It will be so huge that if he wants to find his wife, he will have to use his handheld GPS locator. He will be ruler of all the nations; presidents and dictators will come to pay their respects to him. He will have buildings and statues built by people who want to worship him….

Whack! “You cannot hit God’s heir!” slipped out before Ah Lek can control himself. “Why not?” asked Abba Ah Beng. “Because one day, I will inherit all of God’s riches. I am his heir. I will be rich and powerful,” Ah Lek, managed to stammer out a reply, fearful of the gleam in Abba Ah Beng’s eyes. “Ah,” said Abba Ah Beng, “heirs inherit when their fathers die. God, however, lives forever.”

What lessons can you learn from this story?

[special thanks to pearlie for the idea for this story]

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Monday, December 10, 2007

You Know You Are a Doctor When ...

1. You wake up at 6am on a weekend although you don’t have work.
2. A sound of a van reversing with a beep makes you look for a phone number.
3. You feel there is something wrong if you don’t have an exam coming up.
4. Can’t relax
5. Can whizz through a 300 page book in a day
6. Are sexually charged for no reason you can pinpoint!!
7. Watch scrubs ( or HOUSE, ER) and laugh at yourself.
8. Use the phrase “I am a doctor” to get away with something.
9. You are always tired.
10. When you keep on asking for stuff that doesn’t get done.
11. When you write more than a thousand words a day.
12. When you have no privacy.
13. When you look at a naked person on the beach and the first thing you notice is their appendectomy scar.
14. If you thought you have a disease you are studying about.
15. If you feel like you are over worked and under paid.
16. If people call you doctor.
17. You find yourself always carrying a pen even if you’re on a night out.
18. When you forget to have a haircut.
19. cannula please!!!!
20. Are expected to be in two places at the same time.
21. Are expected to know everything.
22. Are called in the middle of the night to sign a piece of paper.
23. Are dragged to the end of the world to talk to someone.
24. Are expected to smile everyday.
25. Don’t understand what people mean when they talk about the “hospital smell”.
26. When you can see someone’s guts and think about food.
27. When you are not disgusted by the previous sentence.
28. If you can’t remember what you ate the day before, but still manage to remember the blood results of every single patient you have.
29. You are always thinking about the next job.
30. Are reading this sentence!!!
31. You think green is a cool colour to wear!!

(HT: palmdoc)

picture credit

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Batman: Rules of Engagement

Batman: Rules of Engagement (2007) collecting magazine Batman: Confidential #1-6 in graphic novel form. This is an interesting concept of the second year after Batman began in Gotham. This story brings Bruce Wayne, CEO of WayneTech into direct competition with Lex Luthor, CEO of LexCorp.

[Contain spoilers]

Both companies are competing to get the US Army contract for humanoid robots fighting machines. Bruce Wayne/ Batman came up against the evil genius of Lex Luthor who wanted to take over the world using his robotic army. It also documents the first meeting of Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor.
Ang Diggle wrote a good story about the early days of the Batman mythos. The story explained the reasons why WayneTech decided against working for US government military and why the Wayne Foundation was founded. Whilce Portacio (penciller) drew a very action orientated Batman with dynamic frames and background.

The only fault I can find with the story is that the technology showcased is way beyond the early days of Batman. Otherwise it is an enjoyable read. Four stars.



Saturday, December 08, 2007


Johnny Hart died after the final drafts of this book was approved. This book is published in 2007. The format of this collection of caveman and cavewoman comic strips was similar to my earlier post on Peanuts. The difference is that Johnny identified his friends that he based his characters on.

read my comments on B.C. cartoonist Johnny Hart here



Malaysia's Identity Crisis

TIME magazine Asia, December 10, 2007 ran an article on Malaysia's identity crisis.

Read the article here


read an interview with Tricia Yeoh here

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A.W.Tozer and Soul Rest

Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather,... he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over.


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3D Dialogue: Sufism

Jesse Hirsh host of 3D Dialogue interviews Tina Petrova about Sufism and the way of the Sufi.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Spiritual formation, discipleship, Christian education (3)

Spiritual formation, discipleship and spiritual formation (3)

In two earlier posts, I have asked the question about the relationship between Christian education, spiritual formation and discipleship here and here. Thank you for your answers and discussions. It has helped to stimulate my thinking on their inter-relationships. I shall continue by offering some definitions and characteristics of Christian education, discipleship and spiritual formation and then re-examine the models I have presented before. As this is a work in progress, my definitions and characteristics may not necessary be correct so I hope you will correct me if you do not agree with them. I hope you will give me your comments and recommendations

Christian Education

• Education is the process of developing a worldview. Christian education is the process employed by Christians to help other Christians (children and adult) to develop a Christian worldview.

• Purpose of Christian education
o Teach core doctrinal beliefs
o Practical ethical Christian living
o Teaching local church’s mission, vision and traditions
o Community living
o Teach denomination traditions

• Educational activities carried out by the church
o Not all Christian education activities are Christian e.g. tuition, learning second language, skills development, leadership training
o Not all Christian education activities are educational e.g. indoctrination, role learning
o Teaching may have been carried out but learning may not have occurred

• Structured and unstructured components
o Follow a specific program, or theme or mission statement of the church
o There is usually a curriculum; especially null curriculum
o Structured e.g. adult bible classes, sermons, book studies
o Unstructured e.g. fellowship
o Influenced by the church leadership’s underlying philosophy and belief systems e.g. health and prosperity gospel, Spirit-filled, reformed, Wesleyan

• Most activities carried out in the church premises
o Exception outreach point, cell groups

• Educators are pastors, laypersons who may or may not be trained (theologically and as a teacher)

• The main pedagogy used is instructional-schooling (classroom style) though others such as adult learning, learning styles may be used
o Strong historical Sunday School influence
o Architecture of church-classroom or auditorium layout

• Target population are children and adults who attends the church

• Engagement with culture; depends on the church
o Some churches try to engage culture, e.g. emerging churches
o Some churches form religious ghettos

• Some programs are time limited e.g. courses in adult study classes

• More emphasis on cognitive rather than spiritual experiences

• Role of the Holy Spirit in Christian education activities

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Spiritual formation, discipleship, Christian education (4)

Spiritual formation, discipleship and spiritual formation (4)


• Discipleship is the process of developing followers of Christ

o A disciple- one who obeys Christ’s teaching
o Lifelong learner
o To make disciples

• Teachers
o Modern day, usually one person teaches another or a small group
o Navigators- one to one
o Mentors

• Pedagogy
o Sharing life experiences
o Mentoring and modelling
o Specific curriculum e.g. discipleship programs

• Contents
o Christ’s teachings
o Core doctrinal beliefs
o Spiritual disciplines e.g. quiet time, prayer, bible study techniques, sharing the gospels
o How to evangelise
o Practical ethical Christian living

• Focus of discipleship tend to be individualistic e.g. how do ‘you’ be a disciple

• Discipleship training by person/church is time limited. Spend some time together until the person is a ‘disciple.’ Then allow to carry on his/her own.

• May appreciate community of faith but not strongly community orientated.

• Setting
o ranges from formal sessions to informal, over coffee encounters

• Target population are person who are already converted, believed Christ as Lord and Saviour or equivalent experience
o Discipleship starts after conversion
o Discipleship in children? Preschoolers?

• More emphasis on cognitive rather than spiritual experiences

• Discipleship may not be fully engaged with culture

• Role of the Holy Spirit in conversion and the discipling process


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