Youngest kid of six with an inferiority and black sheep complex, but determined that God saves not just his soul to heaven but the remainder of his manic-depressive life, so others won't say he became a Christian and remained a jerk.
i won't be transparent before i'm opaque. and you'll get to know me starting from the small things: who my favourite bands are. what kind of movies i like. who are my heroes.
I’m convinced that when confronted with sincere, real love, the Jesus factor will become obvious. But let’s not plant the cross before we carry it. I’m not trying to con you.
Some dreams are meant to be achieved. I know that. But maybe other dreams are meant to drive us, privately. Never known to anyone but ourselves.
It is a sadness that, when choosing between crying and sighing, will choose sighing. I'd almost say that melancholy is being sad about sadness itself.
On memory and nostalgia
It saddens me when life moves forward and people decide that certain things are worth forgetting.
I've learnt that the word irregardless is filed as a non-standard word in the English language. That's a lexicographer's way of saying it's not a real word.
Crowds are fickle things. So when we stand in the thousands and cry against the present government, do we know who we're actually crying for?
People always want the best for themselves. But I want to sometimes take second or third or fourth best, just so that the loser down the road doesn't always have to come in last. It must feel like shit to always come in last.
On growing old
Leasehold property make me feel sad. It doesn't matter how old the family photos are that you put on your wall. It's your family but it's not really your wall.
I ask you, if God loves everyone, and if God is also incapable of loving evil, how can there be such a thing as an evil man?
On a daily basis
One line quips, like this.
Thursday, March 31, 2005
THE FAITH INCUBATOR
God does this thing i like to call "incubate faith". by this, i'm referring to the time spent between praying and getting our prayers answered (affirmative or negative). we all know how excruciating this period can be. for me, i get all excited and anxious and i start pacing around, my life goes on a wire for days or weeks on end and i run the risk of going absolutely crazy. but what happens while this erratic and jumpy time goes by is far more profound than just being on the edge of one's seat.
it is when God puts me in this faith incubator that i start to draw meaning out of things. i find i start to talk to myself a lot more after praying because my mind is forced to jog in its bid to ascertain what Father is doing with my now submitted prayer request. while it doesn't always happen, i am sometimes stretched to the point where i am put to a decision: if i wanna keep fretting then i might as well chuck the whole christianity thing out and go solo, or quit fretting and let God be.
it's not easy being in that hotroom. and sometimes, i can almost see Father waiting lovingly, thinking to Himself "a bit more, he's coming around to it..... just a bit more". and just as i'm on the verge of buckling, on the edge of tipping over, he scoops me up and puts me back on a safe place. this isn't some balyhoo either, it's biblical.
1 Corinthians 10:13
"And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
on my last night in sydney, i went for a movie and it finished quite late. i stood at the taxi stand waiting and really, nothing came. i prayed and asked God to bring me a taxi. i needed to get back to the hotel. then i waited, and waited. then God reminded me that i could call the hotel and ask them to send a taxi to where i was. i did that and then i waited and waited. and the taxi took so long to come. all that time, i questioned the relevance of praying, and God's response. i considered what He must have been doing and whatnot.
in all this, he incubated my faith and allowed the (albeit small) pressure cooker to heat up until i'd been standing there so long, wondering if i was at all gonna get a ride back to the hotel to sleep and fly the next day. when i had done all my thinking and questioning and waiting, and when He had done His work cooking up a new level of faith in me - a new ability to trust Him - then He answered, and a cab duly swung by.
it reminds me of abraham on the verge of sacrificing isaac. it reminds me that if God answered all our prayers instantly, we would definitely take Him forgranted. it reminds me that God is sovereign and that He has His thang goin on, and it is a good thang. and ultimately, it forces me to confront the truth that He loves me, that He has all the power available to sort things right and will exercise that power with regards to me, because He loves me.
it makes me feel safe. it makes me feel grown. and i thank God for incubating me. in some matters, it has gone on for months or even years, but as He keeps things cooking, i learn to let Him cook. and i prefer it this way.
4:58 pm ]
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
ON GOD'S GRACE, FREE WILL AND A FEW COLD BEERSI learned to drink beer in Melbourne. I knew how to drink beer before that but i really learned to enjoy it sometime in my five years there. of course, that is not to say that i am at all a drinker. i barely drank, even then, and i'd have perhaps a beer a month!
(but i did enjoy it).
i remember hearing all these stories, especially when i came home, of people who prayed and asked God to take away their tastebuds for cigarettes. and God answered. for these people, they miraculously stopped liking the taste of and everything associated with smoking. now, i never prayed to stop liking beer. maybe my mum did - she said she got worried, though the worry was, of course, unnecessary.
but you know what? i lost it. it was on the very day we shot the alleycats video (we being bracket pictures, my old job) and after the shoot, we sat down for a drink (we now being bracket pictures and the alleycats guys) and the beer tasted really foul. it was Tiger beer, by the way, and it tasted really awful. i never saw that coming. my boss took the rest of my drink and i went away that night wondering what had happened.
i tried beer again on another occasion, making sure it was a beer i normally liked. and again, it tasted really bad. i can't account for it, you know. i can only ascribe it to God taking away that enjoyment, cos i didn't find any joy in slugging down a cold one. i tried twice again, months and more months later, going for smooth good beer like Corona and they all tasted like piss. (if i knew what piss tasted like, of course).
so i laid it off. i gave it up to God and told Him that if He wanted to take it away, then it was completely fine. it's not a good habit anyway. i won't go as far as to say it's sinful to drink beer - i think that kind of legalistic morality misses the point. but i will say it's not a good habit and i was glad the habit had left.
and then, i went back to australia.
actually, it started quite a little earlier - with ironically, another Tiger beer while having a dinner of crabs with my cell (ok, so drinking beer on a cell outing might sound a bit odd, but i highlight again the paragraph above). and it tasted quite good. i perhaps had a beer or two across chinese new year and then, in sydney, it happened again. i enjoyed beer. what was going on? stella artois tasted really good. i looked forward to trying out my favourite beer, san miguel, to see if i "still had it".
and then i thought about God's intervention and how that might come into play. i thought about it - was it God the first time? i really disliked it, for no reason or other. maybe it was my mood, or the beer, or my tongue. if it was God, why did the liking come back? God takes and God gives, right? right. God gives.
this is my interpretation of things: God took away my tastebud for beer to show me something. i guess He wanted to show me that all big bad habits start as small bad habits. he probably also wanted to teach me that finding joy (in fact, any joy) in a drink (any drink) was ultimately a futile enterprise if that drink was not His Son's blood. and then - now here comes what makes our Father amazing - he gives me back my tastebud. after i've had time to reflect on drinking, on what it means, what it does, and after i've had time to consider what He feels about me drinking (albeit only once in a while), He goes and lets me like it again.
why does He do this? because He is a God of free will! how awesome is that? the same God who allows us to hate Him so that when we love him it is for real has allowed me the option to take a drink i used to like and now like again with the full knowledge of what it.... "spiritually" tastes like. it's a feeling and more than a feeling, i know it. He's letting me enjoy beer again so that when i abstain from the drinking habit, i am doing it not because i don't like the taste anymore but because i choose it. when He removed my liking for it, it was called Grace. now that He's given it back to me, it's called Choice.
i'm concluding that our Father in Heaven is a God of both choices and grace. He will always allow us to choose, but where He knows we aren't strong enough to choose well, He will be gracious and step in, soften things, make crooked paths straight. any christian will tell you that there are days where He answers prayers like a floodgate gone go. and then there are days where He holds back. it's the same principal here. my straight path has gone crooked a little now but i've got new shoes and a better map to take me there.
now, there are people who prayed for God to make the cigarettes kick go away, and it worked. i wanna find one and ask them if it came back.
8:04 pm ]
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
SYDNEY IN THUMBNAILSHi everyone! Glad to be back at blogging. Ain't got time to post much, but here are some photos from Down Under!
5:56 pm ]
Saturday, March 19, 2005
THE GRACE OF SYDNEYI'm going to sydney! praise the Lord!!!
it was only this tuesday that we were in the young adult's prayer meeting. and pastor lee choo was leading us all to pray for favour in our workplaces. and we did. we prayed really fervently over this. now, i know this is God. i know it's Him because nothing happens without Him.
two days later, i get word from my boss that i'm being sent to the sydney office for training. praise God!
you know, when good things happen to not-always-good people, there's always the feeling of why. and i've been thinking a lot about this - why me? i'm sure there are lots of folks in my office with the same question on their lips - why him? did i do something right?
then i remember the parable Jesus told about those guys who were hired in the morning, and they earned x amount. and those guys who joined in in the afternoon, but they also earned x amount, like the morning guys. and when the morning batch found out, they started asking what was wrong with the reward system. and the boss in the parable told them, if i want to pay them x, it's up to me. as far as i'm concerned, you agreed to work for x, so don't complain.
i always see this from the perspective of the morning folks. but now, hey, i've been blessed. you know, i'm getting something i probably don't deserve. i've to look my colleagues in the eye and try to have a laugh over it when for all intents and purposes, they're wondering "why not me". there are friendly colleagues who openly tell me they wish it was them. and then there are colleagues who don't say anything. it's hard. why me?
it does, ultimately, boil down to one's theology of grace. i believe that God is gracious and He will give to us blessings which we do not deserve. and in His own way, He will reward those who love Him with all kinds of rewards they can never earn. this is grace - the abject failure of people to earn blessings, yet by God's generosity, He gives it to us anyway.
have i loved God more? have i prayed harder for favour? have i been a better christian to warrant this? no! this is essentially the point! i have not earned this. so, does this make God unfair? i dunno. but God is God and He does what He likes without having to explain. i am convinced beyond doubt that God's grace falls on all who love Him. and sometimes even those who have issues with Him.
in the meantime, i'll be in sunny sydney from this sunday to the next. i'll try to go to Hillsong church for good friday or something. i'll try to blog from there if i get the chance, but if i don't, trust that i'll be having the time of my life.
until then, i'll rest in reverance of the indescribable grace of God, which you and i know, exceeds all understanding. fair dinkum.
2:18 pm ]
Thursday, March 17, 2005
MAC ATTACKSome itches, you scratch. some itches, it's a bit hard to scratch. like, if i had an itch for goreng pisang, it would be quite easy for me to go out, find a warong down the road and scratch that itch with two ringgit. but when the itch comes in the form of a G4 ibook, whipping out those long nails is a bit more complicated than you think.
people always talk about mac converts. they talk about it like christianity. but i won't really call myself a mac convert. not least of all also because i use a pc at work, but also because i'm essentially a desktop guy and my desktop at home is, of course, a pc. the only macs i've ever used were in church. so, why mac? i'm just a himbo with some money, right? haha!
i wanna do video editing, that's why! i recently covered dan and grace's wedding, and if this research proposal gets picked up, i'll probably be shooting a documentary with jan as well. in the course of just one month, that's quite a lot of post-production that needs to be done. and all this doesn't even take into account that Capital A, my long-since-canned short film, has also never seen the light of an editing suite.
i've been advised by my chief mac-man eric that the ram needs to be boosted to 1 gig and a separate harddisk obtained. i kinda figured. it is, after all, video editing. but i guess that's nothing that can't be worked out, pending of course a well-planned loan-of-sorts.
but why mac? am i only going to do video editing on this piece of thing? well, no. since SIB went wi-fi, our church has seen lots of notebooks popping up from out of everywhere. always one to pick out good bandwagons to jump on, i'm now inclined to take this leap of craving, if not faith.
i've also been keeping an eye on the stats of this place and the hits have been plunging. but i know why it's been happening. for starters, i've not been posting quite as frequently as i used to. nobody likes to return to an unmaintained blog. also, of course. i've been posting on some pretty wanky topics that i think even my regulars don't bother reading. don't get me wrong, i'm very commited to posting on the relevance of christ to contemporary culture, and if philosophers find their way in, they find their way in. and lastly, i apologise that i haven't been visiting peoples' blogs significantly. and when you don't hit, you don't get hit.
now, cease wondering why i'm housekeeping midway through a post on buying an ibook. here's why. how often have i been caught out, blog idea in mind but little other than a napkin and a waiter's ballpen to compose a properly thought out piece! no. but i'm convinced that if and when i do buy my book, this place, which i love, will be much better maintained. my wanky pieces on scientific, communist and christian revolutions will probably be interspersed at greater proximity with lighter hearted accounts of pink umbrellas and flying faecal spores. and i'll definitely drop by more often.
besides, it looks cool. (not consistent blogging, i'm talking about the ibook!) it looks very cool, and the vain boy in me (there is one, i confess!) longs to prowl the streets of PJ with one of these sweet things hanging off my arm. and using macs is cool. i don't know what kind of bizarre social custom it is, or a perverse cultural impression, but using macs is cool. only cool people use macs. if you get into a conversation with a group of people, and you find out that one of them uses macs, you'd likely think "this person is different. this person is cool".
but alas! for all the vanity, and all the improved-blogging rituals, and even for all the video editing, i admit that the best part of me doesn't know why i want it. i just want it. and as my flesh yearns to simply possess one of these notebooks, my head cannot fully justify why such an investment is prudent. it isn't! it will probably be the least cost-effective thing i could do. i'll end up editing wedding videos (free), research documentaries (not funded), personal short films (hobby), blog (time wasting and free), go on the internet a lot (time wasting and NOT free) and, my word, mac software is supposed to cost quite a bit more, isn't it?
i dunno. like i said. i can't justify this. i've been bitten by the ibook bug. i've been mac attacked. my nails are sharpened. behold! i scratch!
1:50 pm ]
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
WHY GREEN? can someone tell me why exit signs and english league goalkeepers from the 80s always come in green?
3:39 pm ]
Saturday, March 12, 2005
THE LOST SHEEP now that i find all this around me, all this adversity. they are looking me in the eye, awaiting an answer to this deafening question. if i had enemies, they too would surround me, box me in, but attack me they won't. they would stand there waiting for the word on my mouth. and all the heavenly bodies would stop from quaking, from their wars, they will all stop. and they will wait and watch me waiting. if it's pindrop silence, it's pindrop silence. and it's cold and silent here now.
who am i?
a vagabond. i am a homeless traveler, a wanderer through towns i do not own, through places i must not love. i tresspass over this place like it were mine, but i am only homeless. i'm not a troublemaker. i didn't come here to steal you, to kill you, i didn't come here to destroy that which you love. i am a vagabond. i used to have a lot on me, but right now this is all there is. i've been stripped off my lofty things, so now i wander through your reeds, your trees, your cities like some kind of non-man.
who am i?
a blind man. everywhere i turn, i strain my eyes to see, to make sense of the world before me, yet i cannot make out its forms. the shapes and colours and textures i used to know are now alien to me. i look but i don't see. my eyes have been scattered so that everything before me is just a hazy approximation of yesterday's expectations. i am blind! there is nothing in front of me, so i walk and i stumble. i remember he said walk while there is light. but for one with no eyes, the night feels so, so long.
who are you?
do you mean me well? surely you do. yet, i do not feel i belong here, yet i do not see it as you mean it. who is this behind the scene, this almighty scribe of my presently miserable tale. they say you are an author with an eye for good endings. they say you are a father yourself, and you know how to love. they say you are a son yourself, and you know how to need to be loved. you see me right now, you know the pain i'm going through. for all i know you wrote this pain yourself. who are you? what incredible man do you have in mind to make me into that you must now write in such incredible despair? what sense is this you use, this sense that you alone use? if i could only grasp it, maybe i could try and play along.
who am i?
a lost sheep. not one that has fallen into a ditch of sin, just one that is lost. i am the sheep that has strayed from the flock, the sheep that stops in its tracks and looks around, and with its limited capacity to comprehend fear and abandonment and loneliness, starts bleeting for its shepherd. i am the sheep that wanders into a foreign land, a vagabond, the sheep that did not look, a blind sheep. i am the sheep that sits alone by a rock, and if it had eyes, it would cry.
where is my shepherd?
where is your rod and your staff? you call yourself shepherd. don't leave me here all night, please. if you don't come and lift me up and carry me back, i will surely die. i will perish in this alien place. in my blindness, i will be devoured by what i wouldn't even know. shepherd, i need you to save me. shepherd, i need eyes so i can see, i need a pathway so i can go home. shepherd, i know your voice, i just need to hear it. i know your footstep, it is slow and assuring, not like the ones of onrushing beasts. now that i've stopped seeing, and looking, let me hear you, your voice, your steps, your come-home call.
then surely, goodness and mercy shall find me, and follow me, and i will sleep in your arms forever.
Labels: defeat, melancholy
7:43 pm ]
Monday, March 07, 2005
MARX & CHRISTHave you ever heard people say that Jesus was the first communist?
people who have said that would no doubt be referring to the time when Jesus spoke with a rich young man who led a pretty upright life. this dude thought he had it all to qualify for the kingdom of heaven until Jesus told him to...
...sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.
and this guy, disappointed, left the scene knowing he didn't have what it took.
so, sell your posessions. is Jesus a communist? well, that's an inadvertently ironic comment, since communism rejects God and Jesus is God Himself, but if you can look past that one glaring inconsistency, and humour yourself a little, you might start seeing communism under a pretty different light.
yes, in most parts of the "rest of the world" (and by that i speak of the world as opposed to america), communism has had a pretty healthy ground to introduce itself, let itself be known and evaluated by people, and almost, so to speak, given a shot. ok, so if that coats a lot of maple syrup over our histories of communist guerrilla wars, killings in the night, and less than savoury attempts made by the powers that be to get rid of such reds, forgive me. but i dare say that most parts of the rest of the world have had some real and tangible experience with communism. so, is it such a bad thing? if it is, why is this Jesus freak writing so lovingly about it?
when marx wrote the communist manifesto, he was of course reacting to an economic climate distinct to his time. it was the industrial revolution! people were being oppressed in factories while the bourgeoise fat cats fattened themselves to no end. marx predicted that communism was the natural progression of the history of economic power relations. well, no doubt he got that wrong. we're not here to talk about the authority of marxism.
i like the similarities between christ and marx. apart from the fact that one man was God incarnate and the other was a mistaken philosopher (ahahaaa!), both were revolutionaries in their own right. both kickstarted moves in history that affected and forced the rest of the dulled world to wake up and make a stand. but my greatest interest in them is that both men are interested in utopia. marx envisioned a lennon-esque/imagine-esque world (or rightly so, lennon imagined a marxist world) where "there's no heaven, no hell, no countries, no hunger, nothing to greed or die for and no religion too". surely, at some level, this must have appealed to the masses in an era such as marx's. what relevance was the church to them at a time when widespread oppression and exploitation in the workplace ruled the day. did the proletariat have time to even go to church? could they keep the sabbath? was God not there?
well of course God was there. but i sidetrack, i'm sorry. in a different way, Jesus was interested in a utopia, but His utopia was heaven, and He came from there. and apart from the reality of heaven and hell, the rest of lennon's utopia isn't too different from the idea of the biblical heaven (note especially, no more religions). it's again ironic, therefore, that in his pursuit of a so-called heaven on earth, marx took God out and everything stopped happening. it seems that without its opiate, the world - not just the masses - held no future for this mistaken well-meaning philosopher.
i like it that they were rebels. i love it whenever i read about how Jesus used to go into temple courts and turn the tables over and scold people for turning His Father's house into a marketplace. i love it when Jesus repeatedly says to the highpriests and the Romans that He is King of the Jews, even if it meant inching himself closer to the hurt of the cross. marx caled for a similar kind of rebellion, requiring that change can only take place with revolution, overturining the superstructure. it's the kind of wholesale change where all the people at the top get killed off. it's the kind of wiping out that reminds me of Israel in the old testament, and how God used to ask them to kill off everything and everyone of their enemies.
you know, Jesus always tells us to relinquish our will for His. to submit our desires unto Him and let His desires be ours. why does He want this? because He knows better, knows that we don't know better, and in the process of relinquishing our wants to Him, we build a relationship of trust and faith with Him. interestingly, marx called for a similar kind of sacrifice. he called for the people to relinquish their private property and give it up to the state. marx's state is a christlike body that gives generously "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs". what awesomeness! does it mean that i can do what i'm good at - no matter what - and i'll be taken care of, no matter how? wow! that sounds like our ministries when we go to heaven!
they are more similar than we normally think. and as a christian, i am proud to be a marxist. so i don't agree with marx on the point of God but he meant well and his core ideas are definitely closer to the truth than descartes, nietschze, and a host of other modern thinkers. i won't wear my CCCP tshirt to church, but by golly, if you think Nike is selling a Just-do-it worldview that is in any way closer to the heart of our Father, you are dead wrong.
sell your posessions! give to the poor! give up your will and hand it over to a higher body. you will be looked after. you will be free. you will no longer live in the bondage and oppression of the wicked. this is the inevitable progression of our historic timeline! this is the portion of he who goes against the grain of the world and moves headlong towards a brighter future! this is freedom to the slaves! good news to the weary! salvation to the downtrodden!
Labels: christianity, politics
3:37 pm ]
Thursday, March 03, 2005
KUHN & CHRISTPre script: i had originally wanted to use a photograph of Thomas Kuhn himself to lead this blog. i went out into the fruitful world of cyberspace images, guns ablaze, and very quickly found a picture of him on the cover of a book. then, i studied the picture intently, eyeing mr kuhn's thick glasses, receding hairline, formal clothes and cheesy smile, and it struck me so hard that a) i am a geek, and b) it was the wrong picture to lead this blog. you will therefore only find mr kuhn's portrait somewhere down the middle of this blog. (it was later, in a triumphant state of geekiness that i tiled his picture as the wallpaper on my office computer!)
In The structure of scientific revolutions, kuhn talked about paradigms. a paradigm is the belief system, or structure, of a scientific community, the collective worldview, through which scientists interpret the world and practice. at the heart of these paradigms are usually paradigm theories that act as the core of the entire paradigm's beliefs. for example, the chemical atomic theory (the theory that everything is made up of single, undividable atoms with energy) forms the core of most of today's scientific worldviews.
but this has not always been the case. there was a time when people believed in "phlogiston", and this formed the core of an entirely different paradigm. phlogiston was a colourless, odourless "substance" that gave other substances, among other things, heat, metallic sheen, etc. when chemical reaction happens, the phlogistonist will attribute the reaction to phlogiston leaving one place and going to another. so, let's put paradigms in place: the phlogiston paradigm will interpret water boiling as phlogiston leaving water. the chemical atomic theorist will look at it and see water molecules at high energy, escaping the liquid form.
the interesting thing about kuhn is that to him, each paradigm by and large explains and justifies itself. the facts that are founded within a paradigm will usually be consistent with the core paradigm theories. most of scientific knowledge will be explainable via this paradigm's beliefs. a different paradigm will have entirely different problems, entirely different issues to deal with, and it will explain the world according to its own consistent justifications as well. in other words, the phlogiston theory helps me explain a range of things such as the burning of sulphur, the melting of ice, the spread of smells, etc. most of these explanations will relate to phlogiston, and therefore be consistent.
now the interesting thing is this - kuhn doesn't talk about absolute truths. the phlogiston theory may or may not be true, but all its explanations are consistent with each other. now this is where i want to pick up. my view of world religions and christianity is kuhnian in the sense that i see these religions as competing paradigms. the christian faith, for example, says (in a ridiculously simplified form) that there is a God who created man, man sinned, and God saved sinful man through Jesus Christ. from within this paradigm, almost everything from sickness to a guy striking the lottery to the natural phenomena of rainfall can be explained consistently with each other. likewise, the buddhist faith (again, simplified) says that there is life and death in indefinite cycles perpetuated by our karma, which needs to be overturned from bad to good through righteous living. this worldview will also be able to interpret to a high if not complete degree of internal consistency sickness, a guy striking the lottery, and the natural phenomena of rainfall. both (and more) paradigms will offer conflicting answers to experiences, and each will be able to back itself up with a web of interlinking "truths", most of which will usually be internally consistent.
now if you're shaking your head and thinking "but that's just relativism", we're on the same page. yes, (now back to the man) kuhn was criticised for being a relativist. he denounced it, saying that there were supra paradigmatic criteria that judged which paradigms were "better" or "more efficient". but that is science. and while kuhn argues that a latter paradigm replaces a former when it solves the descrepencies of the former. kuhn never says that the latter paradigm is closer to the truth. it is just more efficient and useful. this is around where kuhn ends and i begin.
while kuhn shies away from absolute truths, i come before you a christian, sold out to Jesus because i have felt the reality of His saving power. my testimony is a testimony of God's reality. it is the testimony of God's truth. it is interesting to note now that to kuhn, when a scientist moves from one paradigm to another, s/he doesn't do so by being proven wrong. rather, the switch is more akin to the religious experience of conversion, a move inspired by persuasion and convincing. i believe the same is quite true for religious faiths. i would find it a mighty task trying to debunk buddhism (or hinduism or islam or anything!) simply because these paradigms are usually tightly knit and have a high value of internal consistency. put differently, they will be able to answer and account for most things without internal loopholes.
if my worldview has little or no internal loopholes, and neither does yours, and both of our worldviews say different things, then one of ours is wrong. is there an absolute truth? i argue that my testimony of its reality is sufficient, but a buddhist or hindu or muslim will argue the same. i still maintain that there is an absolute truth that can be felt because God is real. but you see the deadlock building up here. therefore, i go back to kuhn.
kuhn argued that there are supra paradigmatic criteria (criteria that exist above the competing paradigms) that judge how efficient different paradigms are. he has a complex list of criteria, but never mind that. i believe that if you wanna put absolute truths aside for a moment, kuhn's model can still work here. let's talk about supra paradigmatic criteria that judge how efficient a religious paradigm is! now, i'm in no place to say what this criteria absolutly constitutes, but i do know it must include
a) internal consistency
(i say hope and love because these are, i dare say, fundamental and primary human desires that NEED to be addressed by any self-respecting "religion")
without going into a), let me flat out say that the christian faith is the most hopeful one i've ever come across. to begin with, the karmic religions are all depressing (ok, i'll resist using such value laden words) because the nature of the karmic system is one of crime and punishment, good deeds and reward. the christian doctrine of grace is one of crime and forgiveness, confession and blessings. this makes christianity infitely more hopeful than buddhism (and all its permutations), hinduism (ditto) and the bulk of eastern religions. i also dare say that christianity is a more loving religion (gosh i hate that word) than, say islam, because the doctrine of a God who is a Father and an intimate relationship-driven God is a much more loving idea than the islamic God whom one cannot attempt to fathom (excuse me again, if i simplify). again, the theology of Jesus as the messiah is more hopeful than the judaistic one, where the victory of grace over sin is yet to be won. and lastly, and most importantly, christianity is by far a more internally consistent paradigm than religious pluralism and multi-faith-ism. unlike christianity, which posits one truth, religious pluralism accepts all truths - even conflicting ones. for this alone, it fails the test of internal consistency.
yet, in spite of these arguments, i maintain that the supra paradigmatic criteria is not enough. call me one who loves to overkill, i say that on top of these points, God is real because i gave Him a chance and He showed me. i say salvation on the cross is real because i believe the words of the Bible and i have personally experienced God's salvific joy. i say that Jesus Christ is alive and real because i know Him - He is with me day and night. if you feel the same way about your god then let's go back to kuhn's supra paradigmatic criteria. and if you don't have a god (or if it is, in fact, science) then allow me to persuade you, to convince you (as kuhn argues is how it's done) that there is a God who loves you, who created more than human scientists can ever fathom, who wants to get partnered with you in your day-to-day life and make sure it heads down the best direction possible! if you're thinking that your worldview holds up as it is - well, lots of other worldviews hold up as well. but not all worldviews are good news. i can't say which is better or worse but the life and death and ressurrection of Jesus Christ is good news. it is news that is actually positive and hopeful. can i persuade you? can i convince you?
thomas kuhn said that when a paradigm switch happens, it happens like looking at those gestalt switch pictures shown here. once you see the other paradigm, you can't not see it anymore. you can't ignore it. and when you see it, you see it fully, all at once. can you see this good news paradigm? this hopeful and positive paradigm? this is the paradigm of Jesus Christ. the paradigm theory is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to make life good for you, and then, to cap it all off, to give you eternal life in heaven. and all you have to do is believe. it's theo-philosophical anarchy! it's the overthrowing of the old office! kuhn called it scientific revolution. christ calls "i love you so much".
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