Beauty and the Beast, Reading and Bribery

 

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

I always enjoy Michael Han’s blogposts. He writes with a poise, passion and persuasiveness that is refreshing. His perspectives are interesting, stimulating and enlightening. His piece about his personal reflections on his family outing to Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and the gay moment is so gracious, spot-on and disarming. Some of the things he mentioned:

  • There were many other unwholesome moments beside the gay moment
  • What his 6-, 11-, and 14 year old kids thought of the movie
  • That the story is about the power of love to bridge divides and to transform
  • That the story reminded him of the prodigal son story

Michael ended his post poignantly with a personal confession:

And as for me, as a father, a husband and a Christian, I too am accountable to my family, marriage and God. In my own fallen nature, I will stand for what is right, true and honourable. Parenthood is always a fraught road with many twists, turns, and bends. Sometimes, I take the road less travelled. At other times, I lapse into the broad road. Still at other times, I confront a crossroad struggling with my own demons.

But I do not see bringing my kids to watch the movie a detour or derailment in this journey of mutual growth with them because my family’s takeaway after the movie is not that it promotes a certain value incongruent with ours. On the contrary, it is a movie that teaches my kids some important lessons as I have written above. And the most relevant lesson of all is this: there is always a place for love in all relationships to bridge the gap, and this love transforms hearts by going beyond our differences, not reminding us of how different we are from them.

Insightful blogpost. You will enjoy reading his post on Beauty and the Beast.

READING EFFICIENTLY

Dr Alex Tang writes about an interesting idea about how reading is about getting to the main message of the writer, which he says is about 20% of the book. And if we can get to the central message and savour it, that is what reading is all about. He shares how he reads by listening to an audio book or a video at a higher speed for fiction or at a lower speed for difficult matters.

“Actually, the art of reading is not the speed but getting the main thesis or message of the book whatever the format. I will estimate that 80% of any book is padding and the gem is in the 20% if we can find it. The 20% contains the heart of the whole book. It does not matter at whatever speed we read, only that we discover this gem at the heart of the book. If we then slow down to savour, reflect, and assimilate, then we would have read that book well.”

I have started a through the Bible in a year listening program under the YouVersion Bible apps. It’s quite refreshing and I have already gone through Job and Leviticus, two challenging books in the Old Testament. I am not complaining. Maybe its the season I am in.

 Do you see yourself trying his efficient method of reading or do you feel that the joys and beauty of reading good literature may somehow be lost in all that efficiency? Read his post on “Reading at x1.5 Speed” .

BRIBERY

I love this piece on bribery by Methodist pastor Rev Sng Chong Hui. It is so succinct that it conveys everything needed to the common internet surfer who will allow you 2 minutes of his attention most times. Most people do not have time to read a research paper with statistics and survey results. There is a place for that too. But most people need to know that bribery is not merely a matter of corruption of two individuals or groups but something so insidious it will proliferate and one day erode society’s foundations. It is certainly outrageous when Presidents and Prime Ministers and judges and policemen and bankers take bribes and lie through their teeth. But even the seemingly harmless small bribe can spread gradually and pollute the whole of society over time. Read his post on the Bane of Bribery.

 

Interesting gleanings from other blogs

Here are some interesting stuff I have been reading as I scan my Google reader of all the blogs and websites I have subscribed:

There is still this persistent perception that Trinity Theological College is a liberal institution and Sze Zeng, unfazed by controversy,  argues against Benjamin Chew’s conclusion.  His argument is laid out here: Baseless gossip: “Trinity Theological College is liberal and filled with apostate lecturers”. The liberal as well as the fundamentalist label have been used by different parties to demonise groups they usually strongly disagree with. Some who hold that the King James Version is the only accurate, God-given one, categorize those who use other versions as “neo-orthodox” or even “liberals”, while they in return have been labelled “ultra fundamentalist”. Meanwhile, New Creation Church folks are “antinomian”, while those who hurl these accusations are in return called “legalists”. Isn’t it time to stop labelling and start understanding each other in true love and learn to agree to disagree.

What happens when you marry the contemplative habit of “mindfulness” with “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)”? Dr Alex Tang explains these two practices:

Mindfulness is a discipline that trains a person to be aware of the present moment and his or her place in that moment. It has a focus on the awareness which processes the mental and emotional responses of that person’s consciousness. Mindfulness is often associated with Buddhist meditation.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that undertakes to change behaviour by understanding and modifying the thinking behind that particular behaviour.

Read his blogpost “Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” to further grasp the usefulness of  MB-CBT.

Is New Creation Church a Cult? is an old topic but still bugs some people. Stanley Wong, a member of the church, answers this question logically.

I know this is a bit late but some of our best reflections do come long after a catastrophic event, like the earthquake and tsunami in north east Japan. Alwyn gives us three criteria by which to judge if any disaster is a judgement of God. Firstly, “The judgments were explicitly declared on very ‘public’ crimes”. Secondly, “There was a lengthy period of time for people to repent (and a fair amount of ‘bargaining’ allowed)”. Lastly, “There is always a righteous remnant (rescued at the 11th hour)”. Read this enlightening post, “Was the March Tsunami God’s Judgment on the Japanese?” .

Why isn’t the Kingdom of God, so prominent in the Synoptic Gospels, virtually low key in the rest of the New Testament? Let me introduce you to Dr. C. Baxter Kruger of whom I first heard in a YWAM conference (yes, this is a big surprise, isn’t it). In this post titled simply “The Kingdom” you will find a stunning insight about how eternal life is also Trinitarian life. Enjoy.

In Kuala Lumpur I met this lawyer who researched for evidence in the writings and sermons of theologians and pastors of another era that show they hold to the message of the gospel of grace or radical grace. Included in his archives are writings which show that  Martin Luther, Augustine, DL Moody, Charles Spurgeon, Watchman Nee, Major Ian Thomas, Martyn Lloyd Jones and even John Nelson Darby (Brethrenism) held to different extent similar beliefs on some of the distinct teachings associated with the message of radical grace that New Creation Church espouses. His blog is “His grace is enough”.

It was helpful that Steve McVey has written something on how “Stillness Speaks Volumes” particularly as I read it at this point in time before I make a trip to the Seven Fountains Retreat Center in Chiang Mai for a lengthy stillness. Going to take it a day at a time. Be mindful and fully present and rest in His love. My agape spa.

Talking about stillness, here is someone who practises stillness, contemplation, and centering prayer using photos and meditation to fill his blog, HearUout with insights and meditation. Have a look at this simple but interesting video.

A great idea comes from a personal blog of a church member Wei Yang. He will blog about how 300 people blessed and influenced his life. After all the political mud-throwing, its good to have some honest to goodness positive encouragement. 300 reminds me of Gideon’s 3oo and the 300 Greeks that stopped the whole Persian army from invading Greece. His blog is Be still and know. More people should do this. Wah….but 300. I am tired just thinking of it. May he succeed.

Finally something for Arsenal fans. Which players should Arsene Wenger buy this summer to give Arsenal FC the booster it needs to become English Premier League Champions in the new season? Read Jason’s idea of  “A ‘dream team’ for Arsenal’s next season” , and start dreaming.


Gleanings from blogroll 4

Took a stroll down my blogroll and read blogposts others have written and noted a few that struck me.

My friend James Creasman, President of CRMS, has great respect for Amy Chua and wrote about how he and his wife wished they weren’t too soft on their kids in Why Chinese Mothers are Better, but makes a fair and insightful conclusion on the matter that matters to every Chinese home.

Then there is Lilian’s post on her recent visit to Singapore’s spanking casino, contrasted alongside her encounter with the elderly and handicapped selling tissue paper packets in “Images of Singapore”.

Maria Ling, who once pastored a rural church in USA, and is now back there writes an honest heart searching piece about herself in “Discussing My Funeral”.

Dr Alex Tang, a voracious book connosieur, posted a penetrating review of John Piper’s book, “Think”. He wrote, “While I agree with his emphasis on reading and understanding the Bible (which he equate to thinking) and his asserting that thinking is loving God, I find it difficult to apply his conclusion to the rest of the world who……” Read Alex’s whole review.

For those who enjoy thinking about what the Bible says about the gospel of grace, it will pay you dividends, even if you are new to the debate, to patiently follow all the threads carefully woven in this post by my friend Jonathan Koh in  “Grace and Accusations of Antinominanism.”

To have an idea of the main thing that pastors caught at the Love Singapore Summit, read this post in the Christian Post Singapore, “Seeking God not Success”.

To all Chinese friends out there, have a very prosperous new year. This is the only time of the year when culture transcends doctrine, and you can wish people great prosperity without being accused of peddling the prosperity doctrine! 🙂