Monday, January 30, 2017

Biomedical Ethics for the Contemporary Church

The course will be held over two weekends in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Biomedical Ethical Challenges Facing the Contemporary Church
STM TEE module

We are living in a time of a tsunami of change. Christians are often swarmed by newer and latest technologies without having a chance to examine the ethical considerations. This course will help to surf this tsunami by evaluating from a pastoral-theological perspective, issues that will involve everyone at some time in their lives. These issues include abortion, mercy-killing, advance medical directives, test tube and designer babies, gene editing, stem cell therapies, cloning, reproductive issues, gene therapy, prenatal testing, chimera research, life enhancement, aesthetic surgery, organ transplant, and regenerative medicine. These challenges are affecting every Christian in one way or other.

This non-technical course is for pastors, church leaders, counsellors and church members who are interested in surfing.


Dr Alex Tang is associate professor of paediatrics in Monash University and consultant paediatrician at KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital. He is an ordained Presbyterian elder and lectures at several seminaries. He has authored two books on biomedical ethics; A Good Day to Die on euthanasia or mercy killing and Live and Let Live on abortion, cloning and reproductive ethics and published numerous articles. For more information, visit his website at

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Vocational Holiness and Marketplace Spiritual Formation

This course for STM-TEE will be held over two weekends in June/July 2017 in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Vocational Holiness and Marketplace Spiritual Formation

Committed Christians are often concerned about discovering God’s will for their lives in terms of what occupation to take up or who to marry. The deeper question will be to discern what is God’s calling. Another concern is how they are to live and have their being in their workplace and marketplace. There are always questions on how to maintain the vitality of their spiritual life and growth in the modern lifestyle that is extremely hectic and exhausting. This course will deal with Christian discernment or decision-making and the theology of God’s calling and vocation. It will examine Ignatian, Quaker, Puritan and Wesleyan approaches to discernment. The issue of hectic and busy lifestyles will be examined and approaches developed to nurture the spiritual life. The concepts of Missio Dei and Sabbath in their vocations will be developed. Central to this course is how followers of Jesus Christ live out their Christian lives that is glorifying to God in their workplace.
Suitable for people who wants to know more about making important life choices, about Godly decision-making and God’s calling; about Christian discernment; about spiritual maintenance and growth in busy and stressful lifestyles.

Dr Alex Tang is a paediatrician, medical educator, practical theologian, spiritual director, author, preacher, Bible teacher, hospital administrator and grandfather. He regards being a grandfather as one of his more important vocations. Alex practice paediatrics at a private hospital and is associate professor of paediatrics in Monash University clinical school in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Aside from a busy preaching and teaching schedule in different churches he also lead retreats in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. He is adjunct professor to East Asia School of Theology (EAST), Singapore and several other seminaries. His areas of research are Christian spiritualities, spiritual formation and biomedical ethics. He is married with two grown children and two growing grandchildren.


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Beneath the Phrygian Sky

This haunting song by Loreena McKinnett has been ringing in my head as I read about the state of the world through my newsfeeds. I am been trying to understand the meaning of the song. But first the lyrics.
"Beneath A Phrygian Sky"

The moonlight it was dancing
On the waves, out on the sea
The stars of heaven hovered
In a shimmering galaxy

A voice from down the ages
So in haunting in its song
These ancient stones will tell us
Our love must make us strong

The breeze it wrapped around me
As I stood there on the shore
And listened to this voice
Like I never heard before

Our battles they may find us
No choice may ours to be
But hold the banner proudly
The truth will set us free

My mind was called across the years
Of rages and of strife
Of all the human misery
And all the waste of life

We wondered where our God was
In the face of so much pain
I looked up to the stars above
To find you once again

We travelled the wide oceans
Heard many call your name
With sword and gun and hatred
It all seemed much the same

Some used your name for glory
Some used it for their gain
Yet when liberty lay wanting
No lives were lost in vain

Is it not our place to wonder
As the sky does weep with tears
And all the living creatures
Look on with mortal fear

It is ours to hold the banner
Is ours to hold it long
It is ours to carry forward
Our love must make us strong

And as the warm wind carried
Its song into the night
I closed my eyes and tarried
Until the morning light

As the last star it shimmered
And the new sun's day gave birth
It was in this magic moment
Came this prayer for mother earth

The moonlight it was dancing
On the waves, out on the sea
The stars of heaven hovered
In a shimmering galaxy

A voice from down the ages
So in haunting in its song
The ancient stones will tell us
Our love will make us strong

What is the Phrygians? Initial googling reveals that Phrygian is a mode of musical notes. I am more familiar with Phryrians as a historical ethnic group. Wiki states
The Phrygians (gr. Φρύγες, Phruges or Phryges) were an ancient Indo-European people, initially dwelling in the southern Balkans – according to Herodotus – under the name of Bryges (Briges), changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the Hellespont. From tribal and village beginnings, the state of Phrygia arose in the eighth century BC with its capital at Gordium. During this period, the Phrygians extended eastward and encroached upon the kingdom of Urartu, the descendants of the Hurrians, a former rival of the Hittites. Meanwhile, the Phrygian Kingdom was overwhelmed by Cimmerian invaders around 690 BC, then briefly conquered by its neighbour Lydia, before it passed successively into the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great and the empire of Alexander and his successors, was taken by the Attalids of Pergamon, and eventually became part of the Roman Empire. The last mention of the Phrygian language in literature dates to the fifth century CE and it was likely extinct by the seventh century.
My initial exposure to the Phrygians came from my reading about the ancient Greek and Roman history. Having been in Turkey (ancient Anatolia), I can remember standing there and looking at the beautiful blue sky. A particular stanza from the song resonates within me.
We wondered where our God was In the face of so much pain I looked up to the stars above To find you once again
Sometimes we ask where God is in the face of so much suffering in the world, not realising that He is here all the time. He feels our pain and our sorrow. He suffers with us as the world drags its feet to the end of time.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Conversation with my Grandson about Education

Hello little boy,

You look so grown up in your new school uniform and cute school bag. You are so happy that you are now allowed to follow your Jie Jie up the school bus to go to school. Was it only a year ago when you drag your bag following your Jie Jie to the school bus and were upset because they did not allow you on? You were too young then. Now you are big enough. Grampa is very proud and happy that you are starting your formal learning which is a small part of your life-long learning. Formal learning is what you do in school. Life-long learning should be part of who you are, little one.

You have learnt much since you were a little bundle of joy. Well not too little as you were a big baby but a bundle of joy nevertheless. You are still learning. Grampa and Por Por are very impressed by you as you demonstrates new skills every time we see you. You have a long journey ahead of you in your formal schooling – nursery, kindergarten, primary, secondary, junior college, and university. All these are essential if you are to be equipped to be literate and earn a degree for employment. Big people called this schooling an education.

Big people with big titles proudly tell you that this education will teach you not to think inside a box but outside it. Grampa is not impressed with them or their boxes. What Grampa wants for you is to be able to think without a box! Why should you be limited by other big people’s narrow thinking? What Grampa hopes that in these years in school you will develop critical thinking skills and to love learning. This will be more valuable that all the degrees and professional certificates that you earn along the way. The world you grow up into will be different from the world today. Your first degree may get you into your first job. Then you will have to retrain for your next one.

Little one, learn to think critically and love to learning new things, skills and challenges. People has always asked why Grampa and Por Por did not send your Mummy and Ah Yee to be educated in Singapore. Singapore has one of the best schooling system in the world. Grampa and Por Por believed that while in Malaysian school, your Mummy and Ah Yee can learn to think and grow with more freedom. They did not turn out too badly, you will agree. Grampa is very proud of your Mummy and Ah Yee. They have turned out to be very clever people, much cleverer than your Grampa.

Little one, Grampa is boring you with this talk about thinking inside or outside the box. The only box you are interested in is a small one in which you can put in and take your toys; or a bigger one in which you can climb into and pretend you are driving a car. That works too. Grow well in your schooling. Do not let them conform you to their mould, but be transformed in your mental development by good teachers and facilities. Grampa will be helping you as long as Grampa is able.

Dear God,
Thank you the opportunity for this little one to start school. May his education be holistic and may he develop and refine his thinking skills. May he develop a love of books and of learning. May his pursue of knowledge leads to wisdom. May his questing leads to You.


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