Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chocolate Heaven


Tides of the Spirit in the Christian Life

There has been an explosion of interest in classical Christian spirituality over the past 50 years. While a great deal of work has been done on the history of Christian spirituality, there has been no full-scale theological and pastoral treatment of Christian spiritual life since before the Second Vatican Council.

Beloved Dust takes a realistic, contemporary view of human being as entirely physical (dust) and shows it immersed in three great tides of the Holy Spirit, the traditional threefold rhythm of conversion, transfiguration, and glory. What is unique about Robert Hughes's approach is the effort to root spiritual theology in the doctrine of the Spirit, an outgrowth of the renewed interest in the Trinity among both Catholics (Karl Rahner) and Protestants (Robert Jenson). Also striking is Hughes's emphasis on "ordinary life". Here as a married Episcopal priest/theologian who brings a distinctly "Protestant" perspective to a traditionally "Catholic" enterprise for so long the preserve of celibate priests. What he achieves is a new presentation of the traditional teaching in the light of contemporary knowledge and practice.


Labels: ,

Autographed Books

Bought these two books at the National Association of National Counsellors Malaysia and have them autographed by the authors. Edmund Ng is the new Chairman of the association and John Court is the principal speaker. Am proud and privileged to attend the inaugural conference of the newly minted organisation in Malaysia.


Labels: ,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Expanding my Digital Library


bought this 238-volume digital Catholic Library Builder for USD $395 from Logos. 
The Catholic Library Builder enriches your library in several important categories.


Spanning from the Church Fathers to the Second Vatican Council, from St. Thomas Aquinas to Dr. Scott Hahn, this collection covers the full scope of church history.
  • The Ancient World was the cradle of Christianity. The enduring insights of St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Basil and so many others deserve a revered place in every Christian’s library, as the great edifice of Christian scholarship was built upon their work.
  • The Middle Ages were at one time maligned as the “Dark Ages,” but modern scholarship has revealed their rich intellectual, artistic, and spiritual achievement. The writings of Thomas Aquinas, Anselm of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvaux, and many others will add the profundity of medieval thought to your library.
  • The Reformation is the most contentious period in church history. Ignatius of Loyola’s and Teresa of Ávila’s writings, the canons of the Council of Trent, and many other important texts—shed light on the Catholic dimension of the period, illuminating both modern Protestantism and modern Catholicism.
  • Modernity was a period of great struggle for the Catholic Church as it confronted secularization, industrialization, and atheistic ideologies. From Pope Pius IX’s “Syllabus of Errors,” to the First Vatican Council’s declaration of papal infallibility, the Catholic Library Builder provides the essential documents of Catholicism’s attempt to arrest the decline of its influence.
  • Post-Modern Christianity is diverse and decentralized, but with its over one billion members and rapid expansion (especially in the Global South), the Catholic Church remains important and influential. The epochal Second Vatican Council was the springboard for this evangelical movement and an understanding of it is a necessary component of an understanding of world-wide Christianity itself.


There are few parallels in the history of Christianity to the great mystics and spiritual writers of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. The Catholic Library Builder includes St. John of the Cross’ The Dark Night of the Soul, Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, the writings of Thérèse of Lisieux, and many more classics on the soul’s search for God.

Theology and Exegesis

The Catholic Library Builder includes works from such prominent scholars as Scott Hahn, Raymond Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and John P. Meier. Their insights and scholarship will greatly enrich your Bible study.


Labels: ,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Random Glimpses of my Desktop (20)

Limited edition hand painted, cold cast porcelain stature 1327/5000
Produced by DC Comics
Designed by David Finch
Sculpted by Mike Locascio
Photograph by Ling Hong

(note: Batman costume first revealed in Batman Incorporated)



A Really Cool Cat


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Deepavali to my readers

This beautiful kolam made of coloured rice grains is on display at City Square Shopping Mall in Johor Bahru.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review of A Silent Action by Rowan Williams

What has the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican tradition has in common with a Cistercian monk from America? There is much in common between these two men who has never met face to face. This 2011 book is a compilation of various engagements of the Anglican theologian and the writings of the religious catholic in a series of lectures and journal articles over a period of time which was written by the Archbishop. I believed that Thomas Merton will be bemused if he is aware of the interest the Archbishop has bestowed upon him.

There is much to reflect upon in this slim book which reveals the spiritualites of these two men and their journeys on the contemplative path. During their journeys, they involved and engaged many other theologians into their dialogue which includes Reformed theologian Karl Barth and Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky. Mostly they have interacted with each other. What stands out in the dialogue is their conviction of God as the ground of their being and their commitment to the contemplative path as the journey in the silence of the soul from the false self or what Thomas Merton refers to as the 'delusory self image' to the real self.

A good read for fans of Rowan Williams and Thomas Merton.

note: The water color of Canterbury Cathedral on the book’s cover is by Owen Merton. In The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton refers to his father painting in the Cathedral Close at Canterbury during his Easter vacation from Oakham in 1929.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Review of The King Jesus Gospel

Prof Scot McKnight is a theologian, proliferate blogger and writer who has published several books such as The Jesus Creed (2004) and One.Life (2010) which are worth reading especially for those who are interested in spiritual formation. In this latest (2011) book, McKnight put forward the thesis that the contemporary North American Protestant churches are stuck in a 'salvation culture' mode when they should be in the 'gospel culture' mode. Being in the 'gospel culture' mode will ensure that these American Christians  become disciples of Jesus Christ.

The key to his argument is the definition of the gospel. McKnight defines the gospel as the good news of God's plan for a people of God worshiping Him in 'cosmic temple ' in Gen 2 to the 'new Jerusalem in Revelation. This includes fulfilment and completion of Israel in Jesus' coming, death and resurrection. The emphasis will then be also on Jesus as Lord and King in the kingdom of God in the post-resurrection era. He compares this to some understanding of the gospel as the good news for personal salvation. He attributes this 'salvation gospel' and its resultant 'salvation culture' to be the result of Augustine and the Reformation influences.

I find his distinction between the gospel announcement and personal salvation a little disturbing. And also the lower role of justification by faith he assigns in the gospel message. In his excellent exegesis of  1 Corinthians 15:1-5, 20-28, he tries to separate them but instead of either/or, I wonder if it should be and/plus. The gospel message aside from the  telling of the Israel and of Jesus should also include personal salvation and justification by faith. It will be useful if McKnight examines other Scriptures that explain the gospel message and share his thoughts on them.

I agree with McKnight in most parts but at times, I am left wondering at how did he arrive at his conclusions in others. It is a thought provoking book about our basic understanding of the gospel and salvation. Again as in many 'theological' discussion, I am left with a 'so what.' How does a gospel culture helps us to become committed disciples? Here, McKnight refers us back to his book One.Life. One.Life, like his Jesus Creed describes what we should do as disciples rather than how do we motivate people to intentionally become disciples. I believe that is the foundational question facing the church today. The debate about the gospel and salvation is a symptom rather than the issue. Christians know all about discipleship and following Jesus. The issue is how to get them to intentionally become one.


Labels: ,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Unclean

The Unclean

There was a time when I was clean,
had family, friends, relatives and a man.
Sunshine, joy, happiness, life was serene,
vanished when my bleeding began but not end.

O God, Thou creator of worlds without end,
why do Thou decree that I suffer so?
By my body issue cause that my life rend,
did I offend Thee that Thou afflict such sorrow?

Thou decree that woman with menses be unclean,
temple ceremonially so but contaminable too.
But Thou did created woman to bleed in between,
weeping of a womb disappointment accrue.

My bleeding did not stop continually unclean I remain,
Social outcast fled family, friends, man I hold dear.
Seek physicians and priests my misfortune to unchain,
Not spared prayers, cash, effort that I become clear.

Twelve years of loneliness longing for a human touch,
O God, Thou compassionate merciful wherefore are Thou?
Twelve years of darkness only to Thee I clutch,
O Lord, Compassionate and Merciful One, heal Thou me now!

(Mark 5:24-34; Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 8:43-48)

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Desiderata Revisited

by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be
greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career
however humble;
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you
to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham,
drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

by Max Ehrmann
©1927 (renewed) Bell & Son Publishing, LLC


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Language of Friendship

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Christian Contemplative Path of Silence

Just finished reading these two powerful books about the Christian contemplative path of silence. In his first book (2006), Martin Laird, spiritual director and professor in the department of theology and religious studies at Villanova University shares on the contemplative path of silence and dealing with distractions. Five years later (2011), he publishes his second book which is meant as a companion to the first in which he explores further the distractions and how that help to bring awareness to God as the ground of our being.


Labels: , , ,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God

What my online reading group is reading. Yes, we are an adventurous lot!

On the back cover

'Since the middle of the twentieth century,' writes Elizabeth Johnson, 'there has been a renaissance of new insights into God in the Christian tradition. On different continents, under pressure from historical events and social conditions, people of faith have glimpsed the living God in fresh ways. It is not that a wholly different God is discovered from the One believed in by previous generations. Christian faith does not believe in a new God but, finding itself in new situations, seeks the presence of God there. Aspects long-forgotten are brought into new relationships with current events, and the depths of divine compassion are appreciated in ways not previously imagined.'

This book sets out the fruit of these discoveries. The first chapter describes Johnson's point of departure and the rules of engagement, with each succeeding chapter distilling a discrete idea of God. Featured are transcendental, political, liberation, feminist, black, Hispanic, interreligious, and ecological theologies, ending with the particular Christian idea of the one God as Trinity.

Labels: ,

Value of Fortified Infant Formulas

At the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition (NCE) in Boston which is being held in 14-18 October 2011, this question was asked:

 Infant Formulas: Are We Making Smarter, Healthier Children?.
Frank Greer, MD, FAAP: ‘There are no studies showing long-term benefits for supplemental DHA/ARA in human infants.'

The claims are generally legal, said Frank Greer, MD, FAAP, University of Wisconsin, but none are supported by robust data..."The trend today is toward boutique formulas with a single brand name covering a family of different formulas with different additives aimed at different market niches," Dr Greer said during "Infant Formulas: Risks and Benefits — Are We Really Making Smarter and Healthier Children?" "All of these formulas are safe and all of them at a basic level will support growth. However, breastfeeding is still the best choice for smarter, healthier babies."..."I don't know of any real advantage to giving growing up formula to a child between 13 and 36 months," Dr Greer said....The same criticism applies to other substances added to infant formula, he said. All have a reasonable rationale, such as adding DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) to grow smarter babies with better vision. Both substances are important to prenatal and postnatal brain development, and both are found in breast milk but not in cow's milk.

Nevertheless, strong data is also lacking on the benefits of supplementing formula with these nutrients..."There are no studies showing long-term benefits for supplemental DHA/ARA in human infants," Dr Greer said. "The most convincing short-term benefit was seen in visual acuity at one year, which results in a one-line improvement in vision on the standard Snellen eye chart. There are no known advantages beyond one year of age."

read more

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spiritual Formation Institute Seminar on Christian Spiritual Formation

SFI Seminar 2011/4

        Christian Spiritual Formation
                 -The journey in Christ to Christ

What is the Christian spiritual life or spiritual formation? How can we grow spiritually in the midst of increasing demands of family and work, the busyness of life and in the loud jarring noise of contemporary culture? Deep within us, many of us feel dissatisfaction with our spiritual life, longing to connect more intimately with God and achieve a balance in our personal life, church and workplace/home/school. The Spiritual Formation Institute was started in 2003 with a seminar on Christian Spirituality by Dr Alex Tang. Come and join him eight years later with this anniversary seminar to revisit Christian Spirituality in the context of Christian spiritual formation.

Date      :            2.00pm- 9.30pm, Saturday 12 November 2011
Place     :             Berea, Holy Light Church, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Programme:            Session 1 : The Mind of Christian Spiritual Formation
What is Christian spiritual formation, Christian education and discipleship? This session defines these terms and gives a biblical and theological basis for them.
Session 2 : The Heart of Christian Spiritual Formation
       What drives our spiritual life and growth? This session give insight 
        into  the drives and motivations of Christian spiritual formation.
Session 3 : The Soul of Christian Spiritual Formation
How is spiritual formation worked out in our personal life, workplace, family and church? This session deals with spiritual formation and the Kingdom of God.

Dr Alex Tang is a senior consultant paediatrician in a private hospital and a ‘practical theologian’ with a deep interest in the spiritual life. His PhD research is on spiritual formation in congregations. He is a spiritual director, Bible teacher, preacher, blogger, socialmediorater (facebook, twitter), avid reader, cultural observer, lousy poet, and a fanatical Trekkie. Alex is the author of many books and his latest publication is Tales from the Monastery (2011). Check out his website Kairos Spiritual Formation and his blog.


Registration Form         (Seminar cost RM20.00 includes refreshment,dinner and seminar notes).

Spiritual Formation Institute Seminar 2011/4      
Christian Spiritual Formation

Name: …………………………………………………………………………………..………………………………………….. Church…………………………………………

Tel    : …………………………………………………………………………………. Email:………………………………………………………………………………………..

Please register with Sister Grace Soon of HLCE (Tel:07-2243285)



Science and Christianity in Perspective

The questions about whether science and religions are compatible is never ending. This interesting article by
Ted Davis Edward B. (“Ted”) Davis is Professor of the History of Science at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania offers Christianity and Science in Historical Perspective.

Many Christian scientists today continue to place science in a larger theological context, while still keeping both ways of understanding reality in focus. In my view, no one has done this more effectively than John Polkinghorne, a former mathematical physicist at Cambridge who is now an Anglican theologian. Polkinghorne sees science and Christianity as ‘cousinly’ enterprises that are both trying to establish ‘motivated belief’. His recent book, Theology in the Context of Science, stresses the crucial point that larger questions of meaning and purpose go well beyond science – in other words, science cannot make sense of itself: why is science possible at all? The universe ‘is not only rationally transparent’, he argues, but also ‘rationally beautiful, rewarding scientists with the experience of wonder at the marvelous order which is revealed through the labours of their research’. The laws of nature ‘have a character that seems to point the enquirer beyond what science itself is capable of telling, making a materialist acceptance of them as unexplained brute facts an intellectually unsatisfying stance to take’ (pp. 90-91). The fact that science is possible at all ‘is not a mere happy accident, but it is a sign that the mind of the Creator lies behind the wonderful order that scientists are privileged to explore’ (p. 37). In short, ‘the activity of science is recognised to be an aspect of the imago dei’ (p. 13). This is a robust theism, and Polkinghorne gives it an explicitly Christian content. Recognizing that the Resurrection is ‘the pivot on which the claim of a unique and transcendent significance for Jesus must turn’ (p. 135), he searches for motivated belief in such an event, sifting carefully through the evidence to conclude (with N.T. Wright) that a genuine miracle is the best explanation for the stories of the empty tomb and the post-crucifixion appearances of Jesus.

read more


Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rohr's Falling Upward

Some comments I have shared with my online reading group reading this book.

I am amused and challenged by Richard Rohr’s comment that he has “prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then [he] must observe what [his]reaction to it” (128). He said this in the context that as he became more well known in his writings and in his ministry, there is an element of pride always hiding in the shadows. He adds that “spiritual leader” or “professional religious person” is “such a dangerous and ego-inflating self-image” (128). Spiritual growth, he emphases, takes place when we struggle with our shadow self.
I agree fully with the danger of the ‘ego-inflating self-image”. I am very lucky because the people I minister to and my patients and their parents are very affirming (I am a paediatrician). Asians in general gives a lot of respect to their elders especially if they are in leadership positions. These can be very ego-inflating and one of my constant struggles is with the sin of pride. It is so easy to give into your shadow self and believe your own hype. However, I will not go as far as Rohr to ask the Lord for a good humiliation a day. I guess I am not there yet and my ego-self-image is still very fragile. One day, I hope I will be able to do so.

This week's (Chapter 6-8) reading forms the bridge between the two parts of the life journey he has been advocating. So far he has been describing the first half of life's journey which he liken to achieving or building-identity, career, family etc. I find that Rohr is very influenced by faith development theories of Eric Erikson, James Fowler, Lauwrence Kohlberg whic details human development which consists of a number of stages and one needs to overcome a crisis before one can attain the next year. It is fascinating that Rohr draws from mythology
and the great classics to reinforce the stage development theories such as loss, deep, falling and getting up. I have my doubts about faith development theories and I think Rohr is reading too much into it.

I am not comfortable with the way he brings in the Bible to support his theory. One glaring mistake is on page 49 where he writes "You will feel similar to Isaiah before he was sent into exile in Babylon.." Actually Isaiah was never exiled to Babylon. Isaiah lived during the Assyrian period. And the quote "In the noontime.." (Isa. 38:10) was spoken by King Hezekiah, not Isaiah as implied.

In spite of my misgivings about his theory, I find that there are many gems in the book. I am glad that he brought in the True Self and delighted that he points it to William Wordsworth's poem. I agree with Rohr that these few lines are pure theology in motion.

I have enjoyed the autobiographic sharing by Richard Rohr in the chapter Necessary Suffering especially in his experience with the Roman Catholic Church. There is much there that is between the lines in what he shares but the final result is that he has developed a great understanding of the catholic church which he named “incarnational mysticism” – “Once you get it, there is no going backward, because nothing is any better” (76).

Basically I agree with him that Christians need a stronger and deeper ecclesiology. I say this as an Evangelical and a Presbyterian. I admit that our ecclesiology is rather thin and shallow. As Rohr notes, our ecclesiology must be linked to the Mystery of God. That is why I am so taken by his term incarnational mysticism. It reminds me of what Karl Rahler said that all Christians are mystics. It also resonates with my reading of Karl Barth which is drawing me more and more to appreciate the Mystery of God.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Free Online Theological Library

It is one of my fondest hope that there should be free sharing of information and knowledge. Unfortunately much information and knowledge is locked up in books and journals that are jealously guarded by their publishing companies and only accessible by paying large fees. Some journal databases used to have accounts for individuals like ATLA but for some reasons, they have removed the individual accounts and now have only institutional accounts. This means that one has to belong to an established institution and that institution must have a library with such accounts. Otherwise, one will not have access to these books and journals. It is always my fervor wish that some organisation will set up a digital library that is accessible for all. which has a free ethics library has just set up a free theological library.

The aim of is to ensure that people in all regions of the world are empowered to reflect and act on ethical issues. In order to ensure access to knowledge resources in applied ethics, has developed its Library, the leading global digital library on ethics. took this initiative to ensure that persons - especially in Africa, Asia and Latin-America - have access to good quality and up to date knowledge resources. The founding conviction of was that more equal access to knowledge resources in the field of applied ethics will enable persons and institutions from developing and transition economies to become more visible and audible in the global discourse on ethics. There is no cost involved in using the library. Individuals only need to register (free of charge) as participants on the website ( to get access to all the full text journals, encyclopedias, e-books and other resources in the library.

So click link and get your access to a free theological library.


Labels: , ,

A Sick Woman and a Dead Girl

Sermon statement
Faith in believing in Jesus Christ. Jesus reintepretes the Levitical laws and introduce a new way of living by faith.
A Sick Woman and a Dead Girl
View more presentations from Alex Tang.

read more

Labels: ,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thirsty for God

Sermon statement
Jesus offers the ‘water of life’. To receive this water, we have to avoid distractions, acknowledge Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and become a disciple of Christ.
 Thirsty for God
View more presentations from Alex Tang.

read more

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 09, 2011

My Favourite Seafood Restuarant in Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco


Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Poverty of the Church

Poverty-striken as the church is today in many things, she is most striken here, in the place of prayer.
We have many organizers, but few agonizers;
many players and payers, few pray-ers;
many singers, few clingers;
lots of pastors, few wrestlers;
many fears, few tears;
much fashion, little passion;
many interferers, few intercessors;
many writers, but few fighters.
Failing here, we fail everywhere

-Leonard Ravenhill



Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Finding Your Center

The soul's center is God. When it has reached God with all the capacity of its being and the strength of its operation and inclination, it will have attained to its final and deepest center in God.

-St. John of the Cross



Monday, October 03, 2011

Corollaries of Christian Spiritual Formation

I have been thinking about Christian spiritual formation the last few days and suggests the following corollaries.

(1)   Growing into Christlikeness is the spiritual formation process of the restoration of the imago Dei.
(2)   Building relationships is the spiritual formation process of being in communion to the triune God and relating to others.
(3)   Becoming missional is the spiritual formation process of  embracing shalom and expanding the kingdom of God
(4)   Intentionality or the human response is a continuing partnership in spiritual formation.
(5)   Spiritual learning with the heart and mind guided by the framework of the Bible is the human role in spiritual formation.
(6)   Spiritual formation and transformation are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
(7)   Faith communities are the context and matrix (container) of spiritual formation.
(8)   Spiritual formation are enhanced by participating in faith communities.