Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cold ...... very cold indeed..

First it was the rain. Then comes nice pleasant snow. Then comes the nice sunlight that cast a pretty natural spotlight on the pretty snowcovered buildings and cars. However the scene is deceptive. The temperature is below -6 degrees celsius. Windchill is expected to drive the temperatures to below -20 degrees! RESULT: Freezing cold. My fingers, my toes and my hands were really frozen. My gloves do not seem to help at all. Commentators on the radio at News1130 AM, continues to advise motorists to avoid using hot water to melt the snow to their car keyholes, as it will re-freeze pretty quickly. We are thankful that our car is not parked out in the open to collect snow and ice!

I guess the rest of Canada is laughing at those of us in Vancouver. Some even made a welcoming statement that Vancouver is finally a Canadian city. For a city that has prided itself as being the warmest city in the whole of Canada, this Winter is going to break records in terms of cold and snow. Wednesday is coming. So will snow.

I have finished NT Wright's voluminous 700+ book: "Jesus and the Victory of God". Borrowed another 7 books to write a paper on Jesus and the parables. At the same time, I need to engage theologically with a film of which I have chosen "Gospel of John." While the outside looks like a giant ice-cube, inside the warm apartment, I am frantically trying to write my papers. One down. Four more to go.

Sigh. I've got a night class. Despite the cold, I need to go. If only I can have a remote camera, then I can do remote monitoring and studying. But no way. The class discussions are super! Better go.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Windchill -10C

Snow continues to fall. Traveling on the roads tonight will be dangerous as the snow freezes into ice.

Staying home

It is a snowstorm. UBC Vancouver is closed because of the campus wide power outage. Regent College and VST is closed. Most post-secondary schools are closed. We have to reason with our kids that even if we can successfully maneuver our car to their school, we have to think about the return trip. Despite their pleas, we decided to stay home.

Seems like almost the entire city is on a standstill. Without power and long delays with all kinds of transportation, it is much safer to stay home. Moreover, the current civil services are already maxed out. Firstly, we avoid becoming another statistic in the accident prone snowy conditions. Secondly, we can enjoy the nice and clean fluffy snow falling all over. Seems like God is giving us a nice early Christmas snowfall. More news available at the links below:

1) "Schools, roads closed after snowfall"
2) "Snow causes flight delays"
3) "Pile-ups, emergencies plague snow-struck B.C."
4) "Say it ain't snow! B.C. blanketed"
5) "Lights are off"
6) "News AM 1130 Storm Watch"


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Snowfall in Vancouver (Pictures)

Christmas is only 30 days away. But snow comes early.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Vancouver braces for snowstorm

As flurries come down the UBC Campus, it is nice to think of Christmas as it is exactly 30 days from now. Looking out of my apartment, cars and roads are filled with nice fluffy snow. Pretty sight indeed. Makes me want to stay home and have a nice cup of Hot Chocolate. Well, my Sabbath rest has begun. We watched TV as a family. "Miss Congeniality" is a good and hearty movie to watch. It is great to have a rest day even though I have 4 more papers to submit by early December.

Friday, November 24, 2006

They forgave because Christ forgives

Someone sent me a touching article. It is one piece of news not usually reported by the major news agencies. I searched Google News and hardly any of the major news feeds reported on this. On Oct 29,2005, some Muslim men brutally beheaded three young girls attending attending a Christian school in Indonesia. Here is an excerpt from CBN News
Difficult as it is, Yarni's father and the parents of Alfita and Teressia have released forgiveness to the murderers of their daughters. They believe that it is God who will judge them.

Markus Sambuwe, the father of one of the girls, remarked," I am really angry, but the Holy Spirit touched my heart and changed me. I forgive them just as Jesus has forgiven my sins."

Several suspects have been arrested in the Christian school girl beheadings, but just a week after those brutal murders, two other Christian girls were shot by snipers.

While tensions remain high here, so far, Christians are remaining true to their faith. They are responding in a spirit of forgiveness and restraint, by turning the other cheek.

The road to peace and goodwill is never an eye for an eye. It is forgiveness. The parents were seen crying as they forgave the murderers. It is gut-wrenching and it reminds me how those who forgave no longer feels imprisoned by hatred or vengeance. Instead, they are liberated to love. The murders are utterly cruel and disgusting. The forgiveness is deeply moving.

May such acts accelerate a sense of forgiveness as well for others practicing their religions. Without forgiveness from all, there can never be peace.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Water Turbidity in Vancouver

On Thursday, our children came back excitedly with a 'water advisory' which says tap water should not be used for drinking, brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables. In fact all water should be boiled for at least 1 min before it is safe for drinking. So I dutifully boiled 2 pots of water and allowed them to cool before I refill the water containers. I avoid using my filter as it could mean clogging the filter bags really fast. This water turbidity (cloudy water), is due to the recent spate of heavy rains which caused sediments to flow into the Seymour and Capilano reserviours. Not only are there sediments, disinfectants like chlorine has been increased as well. Tempers were sorely tested as many rushed to stock up on bottled water.

This is the largest boil-water advisory in the history of British Columbia and even Canada! On Thursday, many coffee shops would only serve bottled beverages. Starbucks had to turn away many customers who needed the caffeine fix. I heard one of the supermarket assistant talking to her colleague about not having her cuppa that day. Water though plentiful, if not properly cleansed, is still no good. I remember that Thursday morning, I actually had a wonderful cup of Dark Roast at The Well at Dunbar.

Irony indeed. We use water so mindlessly at times that water is a commodity taken for granted. Canada is reputed to possess the world's largest quantity of freshwater. This is Day 3 of the water turbidity problem. I miss drinking my fresh water from the tap.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Incomplete understanding of sin

I am reading Philip Yancey's "The Jesus I Never Knew" and came across this interesting quote from Flannery O'Connor. The ones in italics was extracted by Yancey. I have underlined those which has gotten me thinking.

"Glibness is the great danger in answering people's questions about religion. I won't answer yours because you can answer them as well yourself but I will give you, for what it's worth, my own perspective on them. All your dissatisfaction with the Church seems to me to come from an incomplete understanding of' sin. This will perhaps surprise you because you are very conscious of' the sins of Catholics: however what you seem actually to demand is that the Church put the kingdom of heaven on earth right here now, that the Holy Ghost be translated at once into all flesh. The Holy Spirit very rarely shows Himself on the surface of anything. You are asking that man return at once to the state God created him in, you are leaving out the terrible radical human pride that causes death. Christ was crucified on earth and the Church is crucified in time. and the Church is crucified by all of us, by her members most particularly because she is a Church of sinners. Christ never said that the Church would be operated in a sinless or intelligent way, but that it would not teach error. This does not mean that each and every priest won't teach error but that the whole Church speaking through the Pope will not teach error in matters of faith. The Church is founded on Peter who denied Christ three times and couldn't walk on the water by himself. You are expecting his successors to walk on the water. All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful. Priests resist it as well as others. To have the Church be what you want it to be would require the continuous miraculous meddling of God in human affairs, whereas it is our dignity that we are allowed more or less to get on with those graces that come through faith and the sacraments and which work through our human nature. God has chosen to operate in this manner. We can't understand this but we can't reject it without rejecting life."

Quote from Flannery O'Connor (in a letter to Cecil Dawkins) - Letters of Flannery O'Conner, p307.

An incomplete understanding of sin leads to disillusionment with Church and the Christian faith in general. O'Connor is simply right on, in pointing out the impatience of the human being with regards to sin. Cynical people expects church people to be perfect, or close to their perceived views of perfect saints. This is not to say that the church should not be perfect, or find excuses for their weaknesses. This is for all of us to understand that criticising one another is like sawing off the SAME branch of hope we are standing on. Are we behaving childishly in expecting God to meddle in our world all the time? Are we regularly on a complaining mode, dissatisfied with nearly everything we see? Are we waiting for something better, even when we ourselves are able to take initiatives to DO SOMETHING BETTER NOW?

I have heard time and again the following:
- "The Church comprises people who are hypocrites" {I will reply saying all human beings are hypocrites in one way or another.}
- "If the Church themselves are sinning, what hope is there for the world?" {My reply will be, the Church is a place where sinners are able to look together to God in the name of Christ. It is a place where all depend on the mercy of God. Any attack on the church is essentially an attack on the one Christ has died for. Our faith is built with Christ as the cornerstone, not on the behaviour of the people inside.}

The antidote for people's cynicism about the church is grace. If Christ had not shown grace and mercy, all of us would have perished and live on this earth without much hope. True, the church is not perfect. All continue to live under grace. If we reject this grace, our lives will become inherently graceless and bitter. Being able to give and receive grace is one of the best human expressions in life. In fact, grace is the essence of true living. O'Connor puts it very well. We cannot reject grace without rejecting life itself. Live in grace and learn to live graceFULLY.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Fastest Messaging in the world and How kids spent their time.

What do you make of this?

“The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the more ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human”

This is the message that was keyed in on a cellphone in a world record breaking 41.52 seconds by a Singapore student. Read it here. To give you an idea how fast it is, a comparative typist on a normal computer keyboard typed the text more than 40 seconds! I am not surprised that an Asian (even a Singaporean teen) has taken the prize. There are many in the country who can live without lunch or dinner, but they cannot live without their cellphones. The time they spent there is unimaginable. They text it in the morning, in the classroom, during meal times, in the cinemas, in the bus, and some even do it in the car, with one hand on the wheel and the other on the cellphone! Fastest messenger in the world? Of course. The next question is: So What?
- How is the quality of life improved? (maybe it is the publicity and fame generated)
- How is this going to help in life's complicated web of human relationships? (not much, except that it might plunge more kids into trying for a faster record instead)

It would have been nice to read on the headlines, "Student from Singapore, has found a cure for Aids." or "Student from Singapore has the world's fastest response to the Disaster-Aid programme." or some other humanitarian matters.

Recently I have been thinking about how kids in Asia spend their time, other than studies, tuition and homework. One significant time-killing monster is electronic gadgets. I will put computer games in this category as well, together with video gaming, electronic players and various sensual eye-tingling sensation. The world of cyberspace has become a place more preferred than the natural world of forests, gardens, beaches, oceans and mountains. Exchanging the natural with things not so natural. Tools of work productivity are fast becoming platforms of leisure and relaxation. I remember as a kid I used to crave for video games at the public arcades. At that time, distance and money were prime considerations on how often and how long I stay there. Once my pocket money is used up, the only place to go is home.

Compare that with kids who spent their whole time at home, playing unlimited computer games, all for the price of an Internet connection! They are at home all the time but their minds are out of this world, into cyberspace. Virtual reality has been a much touted phenomena. The problem is when it starts to falsify our relationships in the real world, or even worse, when one cannot tell the difference between what is virtual and what is real. A desire for fastest messaging in the world. Will it breed more impatience? A rising hunger for latest and newer gadgets? Will it lead to more temporal relationships in favour of the next most beautiful gal or hunkiest guy? Will there be an ironic situation eventually when machines become more humanlike while people become more machinelike?

If I were to extrapolate from our modern infatuation with electronic gadgets, that is a real possibility.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Quote - Elie Wiesel

In today's Systematic Theology class, we talked about suffering. The text chosen was 2 Cor 1. On topics like this, I cannot help think about Elie Wiesel, the man many gave credit for coining the word 'Holocaust'.

"I would say, favour the question, always question. Do not accept answers as definitive. Answers change. Questions don't. Always question those who are certain of what they are saying. Always favour the person who is tolerant enough to understand that there are no absolute answers, but there are absolute questions. " - Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize for Peace, 1996

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thoughts on Ted Haggard - Pt 2

The past week has been brutal to the North American evangelical scene. CNN published an eye-catching Top 10 scandals. Latest is that James Dobson quit the counseling team, citing lack of time. As I think about it, those who bask in the limelight of fame will have to wrestle the same with the liabilities of shame. This article by Gordon MacDonald is a thoughtful attempt to reconcile feelings of hurt and disappointment into one that is healing and hopeful. He reminds us that the one who is more hurt is not necessarily Ted Haggard but his wife and children. Thanks to Joy's blog for highlighting this.

This is the time for the Church to learn what grace means. The best thing the Church at New Life and others should do now, is to pray. It is important to remember that in the light of such sad events, God is hurt most of all. The media and various critics may continue to pile hot coals on the heads of the fallen. We need to remember that God does not necessarily do that. God has already directed his entire anger & punishment upon Jesus on the Cross at Calvary. When Jesus said "It is Finished", all the wages of man's sin, has been paid in full. That is why He is able to continue to show mercy and grace, for the people that Christ has died for. For God is love.

Κύριε ἐλέησον, Χριστὲ ἐλέησον.
Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison.

(Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy)


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thoughts on the Evangelical Scandals

The latest news on the scandal of Ted Haggard appear to have the evangelical world on the retreat. The media is having a hey-day publicizing it. I did a search today on Google News and came up with 1851 news references with highlights like: "Ted Haggard Admits Steamy Gay Massage & Meth Purchase", "Root of All Evil", and Scandals etc. Clearly, there seem to be sarcastic criticisms associated with it. Anyone calling themselves 'evangelical' will at some point entertain thoughts of dissociating with anything 'Ted Haggard' or National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). A press release has been made by the NAE here. It shows regret and ask for grace from the public.

Criticisms are fast and furious. Even fellow bloggers has blogged about it. One talked about hypocrisy 101. Another good commentary gives a thoughtful analysis. Not many talked about grace and forgiveness. Not many suspend judgment pending further information. The majority remained silent.

Indeed, we need to be gracious on the one hand, and yet be vigilant against any form of moral laxity. It is tempting to retreat to safe territory when the leader is hurt. It is easy to say "I have no part in that, so leave me alone." We need to take things into perspective. Remember the gospel writers writing about the disciples deserting Jesus when Jesus was arrested. Peter denied Christ 3 times. The disciples flee in all directions. Are we appalled? Are we shocked? Are we crying out hypocrisy? True, Ted Haggard is no Jesus. He is plain human, even though he is a famous leader. Point is, if Jesus can be deserted and scandalized even when he is sinless, why should we be shocked when an imperfect believer is scandalized? At least Ted Haggard did the right thing, to resign and to relinquish all of his influential posts, pending investigation.

Keep our eyes on Jesus, not on any famous leader. Keep our faith in Jesus, not in the integrity of any human institution. Keep our hearts on the cross, to nail our pride, shame and imperfections. The evangelical world may be shaken, but we need to recheck our faith placement whether it is on people or on Christ. Things of the world will almost certainly fail us, including Christian establishments. Our God will never fail us. We do not have all the facts yet. We do not know what is the exact circumstances leading to the events. We should not be too quick to judge anything.

Let him who have no sin, cast the first stone. (John 8:7)


Friday, November 03, 2006

Idea of "Ketuanan Melayu"

Those who want to understand a little more about the underlying political forces in Malaysia will recognize a strong racial thread in it. Here is link to an article that talks about the concept of Ketuanan Melayu in Malaysia. In essence, the Malay race is the ruler over all non-Malays in the country, without exception. Understanding this is important, as Malaysian democracy is defined within Ketuanan Melayu.

This may be taboo to those more used to Western democracy. When we remember George Orwell's "Animal Farm" story, the idea of all are equal, but some are more equal than others, will explain Malaysia's brand of democracy.

Pray for the country of Malaysia, whether such a policy can truly bring peace to a society with potentially high racial tensions. More so, as any racial tensions in Malaysia will spill over to Singapore as well.


Latest Posts