Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hannah Meets Carol

Having fetched Carol home from church a few times, I am touched by how independent, strong and self giving she was amongst the multiracial community at Angsana flats, USJ1. Not only did she shop at Mydin on her own battery-powered wheelchair, she was also a socially conscious activist for persons with disability, teacher and writer. She was always cheerful and the children at Angsana love her. Only one lift at the apartment was in order for some time, causing inconvenience to the residents inc Carol so I'm glad that YB Hannah Yeo personally took the trouble to assist and serve the Subang community.

Read all about it here

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Batman: The Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins starts in the time frame a year after the first movie ends.
[warning: contains spoilers]

With Batman patrolling the streets at night, Captain Gordon with a new District Attorney, Harvey Dent going all out to enforce the law, the crime lords are running scared and Gotham may soon become a respectable city.

Then came Joker, a man with a dark past, a psychopath who have no moral standards who calls himself "a agent of chaos" who wants to bring "crime in Gotham up to a new level."

I watched this movie at the imax screen at a cinema in Vivo-City in Singapore. The extra large screen brings out the details, supported with an excellent audio system was truly a cinematic experience.

The movie has all the dynamic features of a fast paced adventure story, with fancy car chases, explosions and damage to buildings, fights with fists and weapons, and many of Batman's fancy gadgets. The only complaint I have is that too much is compressed into the film.

While the first film explores the reasons why a man will wear a mask and become a vigilant in Gotham, this movie explores a few themes.

The first is Batman's resolution to continue to be the Batman. I guess the initial thrill has worn off and being the Batman is taking a toll on Bruce Wayne. He begins to realise that he has to give up a normal ordinary life. He starts to look for a way out. He beginning lookig for a reason why Gotham will not need a Batman and found that in Harvey Dent, a fearless crusader for justice that the press dubbed as the 'White Knight'. In the story, he is willing to reveal his secret identity when forced to by the Joker but was prevent to by Harvey. Again I am reminded that often we charge in "where angels fear to tread' and are stuck in such situations. We have to keep in mind that this is a young and inexperience caped crusader.

Second, the criminals Batman has been battling so far are normal human beings. With success, Batman began to feel complacent. Along come the Joker with his dark personality and scars on his face. He is a liar (he gave many stories about how he got his scars and about his father), a man totally without scruples, a genius for improvising and literally is evil incarnate. Batman who trained himself to fight human criminals is totally out of his depth to deal with this type of evil; blowing up a hospital, turns innocent people into potential mass murderers in order to save their own lives, and uses hostages as cannon fodder. He is so extreme a psychopath. However, I do not think that he is insane.

Third, the Batman's code of not killing anyone saved the Joker twice in the movie. However by not killing the Joker, Batman inevitable allows the Joker to continue killing other people. Comic readers will know that Joker will go on to kill the second Robin, Jason Todd and paralyse Batgirl, Babara Gordon. The Batman's argument is that when he allows himself to start killing, he will be no better than the criminals he catches. I still have problem with the code of Batman. As Ra's Al Ghul said in the first movie, compassion is the flaw in Batman's logic.

Finally, the fall of Harvey Dent. Harvey Dent became scarred in the right side of his face and became Two Face. He obsessed with the death of his girlfriend and he starts murdering those he thinks is responsible for her death. The White Knight of Gotham has become the Dark Knight.

Then there is the cover-up. In order to keep Harvey's name clean, Batman confesses to Harvey's killing thus becoming an outlaw. Hence the Dark Knight. I like the play on words here on the movie's title.

Personal tragedy changes people. The murder of his parents make Bruce Wayne, the Batman. The murder of Rachel moved Harvey into his dark side. No one knows about the dark past of the Joker.

This movie stands out in this year's summer season blockbuster releases because it is a rare combination of good story telling and cinematic showing. A good movie, like good books, should not only entertain. It should also forces us to think.

This may not be a suitable movie for children as there is a lot of violence or what a New York Times reviewer calls "consistently violent but not bloody."

What others say:

Erik Amaya of Comic Book Resources

Christopher Nolan never meant to be a director of titanic tent-pole films, but he delivers them with grace, confidence, and power. The fights are true to Batman and the chase scenes are electric. If "The Dark Knight" were simply an action film, it would be one of the best. However, what makes the film truly amazing is how it grows beyond its basic remit as a summer action film. The story, guided by the Joker's antics, reveals a dark rumination on the Western World in the twenty-first century. It suggests the line between upstanding citizen and a homicidal clown is not very well defined. The film has a sense of relevance in a way no other superhero movie can claim to suggest. This is a truly amazing feat for any film, never mind one which features an actual building exploding.

Todd Hertz of Christianity Today

There is hefty story material here. Can decent people walk in a land of indecency without being crushed, tainted, or turned? At what cost should good men fight evil? How do you stop a terrorist with no limits, no real motive, and no rules? If Batman Begins shows why a grown man would dress up like a bat, its sequel shows why that figure can't really be a white-hat hero—but something far darker.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Earliest Arabic Biblical Text?

From Kam Weng's blog: "...I refer readers to what is possibly the oldest biblical Arabic manuscript (Codex 151). I cite the judgment of Bruce Metzger, one of the most outstanding scholar of textual criticism of our time, “What appears to be the oldest dated copy of the Arabic Acts of the Apostles, and the Catholic Epistles, is cod. Sinai arab, 151. Written in A.D. 867 in what Atiya describes as a ‘rubricate transitional hand between Naskh and Kufic, the codex contains many annotations in the margin which provide exegetical comments on the the Scripture text. The text of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Philippians, along with the annotations, has been edited, with an English translation, by Harvey Staal” (The Early Versions of the New Testament: Their Origin, Transmission, and Limitations Oxford University Press, USA (September 15, 1977), p. 261.

...he codex begins with the inscription “In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate” (note the first line which says bismillah al rahman al rahim!!). This seems to parallel the practice of Quranic script writers. A similar form is evident at the beginning of three books of this manuscript (Acts, Romans and 2 Corinthians) which read, “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Readers may be interested to access the following sites for more information on this ancient Arabic New Testament

More updates on the court case regarding the prohibition of the use of ‘Allah’ in non-Muslim media here

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Altared Living For Altered Lives

Peter Rowan, my homiletic teacher, preached on "Worship At The Kitchen Sink: Altared Living for Altered Lives" last Sunday and here are the sermon notes:

Where Does Worship Take Place?

The radical difference between early Christianity and the surrounding religions of the first century:

No longer is religion to be a sector of life as was with the case with the elusive and empty divinity cults. Christian worship is a total consecration involving belonging, obedience, brotherly love, in short, total service and adoration of the living and true God. (R. Corriveau)

1. Mind Your Language - Old Words, Wider Meanings

- Worship patterns in redemptive history (remember John 4): OT worship pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice and the perfect high priest - Jesus and the Cross.
- In the NT, OT worship language is transformed and widened in its application.

2. Do As The Romans Do - Worship 24/7

The Build-Up to the Call of Worship:
- 1:18-3:20 - sin keeps humanity from a true knowledge of God, making true worship impossible.

- 3:21 - 11:36 - God has not abandoned His world. Through Christ's sacrificial death, God has acted to bring humankind back to Himself.
- 12:1ff - Paul's exposition of the righteousness of God and of justification by faith leads to 12:1 "Therefore, in view of God's mercies, ..."
- Romans 12 expresses a new understanding of worship based on a right response to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Understanding 'understanding worship'

- This kind of worship involves the obedience of faith (1:5 & 16:26) - worked out by those whose minds are being transformed and renewed by God so that their lives in their totality are lived according to the will of God.
- The Christian's spiritual worship involves an extreme of realism - the offering of himself (R. Corriveau).

3. Worship at the Kitchen Sink: Altared Lives for Altered Living

- 12:1 "offer / present your bodies..." The presentation of ourselves to God at the beginning of our Christian lives - in terms of a deliberate, decisive, demonstrable surrender to God, is to be renewed on a regular basis.
- Our death to sin in the death of Christ, which Paul has declared earlier in Romans to be and accomplished fact, must become real in experience too (James Philip).

Altared Lives

- Not a disembodiment consecration, but the consecration of our whole lives.
- Ruth Graham had a card above her kitchen sink: "Divine worship offered here three times daily." All of life lived to the glory of God.
- OT language of sacrifice is applied now to the offering up of all our live all the time to God.

Authentic Worship Flows from an Altered Life

- The life that is fully acceptable to God is the life consecrated to Him through self-abandonment to the saving work of Jesus Christ. It is the life that seeks to serve Him in the context of everyday relationships and responsibilities, in the power of His Holy Spirit (David Peterson).

- Altared lives will result in altered living

Altered Living - The Life of Comprehensive Worship is to be lived out in the concrete relationships and circumstances of life:

a. relationship with yourself
b. relationship with other Christians
c. relationship with enemies
d. relationship to authorities
e. relationship to God's standards

- Philip Yancey talks about the kind of alternative lives we are called to live: Stalin built a village in Poland called Nowa Huta or 'new town' to demonstrate the promise of communism...

- "All too often, the church holds up a mirror reflecting back the society around it, rather than a window revealing a different way..." (What's So Amazing About Grace)

4. Real Worship: Connecting the Real World with the Real God

- (Romans 15:15-17) Paul sees his mission to the Gentiles as an expression of his worship to God.

- Evangelism has as its chief purpose the multiplication of worship, praise and thanksgiving to the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Andrew Kirk).

- Corporate worship should encourage us to engage with the world, and not escape from it.

- There can be no place for fantasy religion - worship is real only if it connects the real world with the real God (Mark Santer).

5. Our Debt Problem: The Solution to Sustaining True Worship

A Life for a Life
- a debt of gratitude
- a matter of obligation
- a matter of honesty

To see the meaning of the cross and still withhold our whole being from God is an impeachment of our sincerity and integrity (James Philip).

This is the worship God so desires and deserves:

- a comprehensive worship that flows from the totality of our lives
- worship that leads us to engage with the needs of the world
- worship sustained by the gospel of Christ

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Case For Real Jesus

Author : Lee Strobel
Publisher : Zondervan
Price : Approx RM39.95 (Available in Christian Book Stores)
Reviewed by : Henry Hock Guan Teh.

Like his other books, Strobel uses evidential methodology apologetics approach in this book to point out the errors and absurd assumptions of the liberal theorist about Jesus. Taking advantage of his journalistic forte, he intellectually wrote but carefully framing his interviews with leading scholars for narratives loving readers. The author’s main concern is that the public (including Christians) are duped by recent ill-supported assertions concerning Jesus, such as from the likes of Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code, 2003), Michael Baigent (The Jesus Papers, 2006) and James Cameron (‘The Jesus Tomb’, Discovery Channel Documentary, 2007).

Strobel also brilliantly exposed and explained away today’s cacophony of postmodernism by systematically presenting logical counter-arguments against conjectures such as:

● Jesus is portrayed in other non-canonical gospels;
● Tampering by the church had damaged Bible’s portrayal of Jesus;
● New explanations refuting Jesus’ resurrection;
● Christianity’s portrayal of Jesus drawn from pagan religions;
● Jesus failed to fulfil messianic prophecies, and
● Contemporary people should interpret their own way about Jesus.

I got this wonderful book as a Christmas gift from my wife. You can borrow it from CDPC library. I intend to keep my copy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

November Institute 2008 on Medical Ethics

November Institute 2008
Malaysia Bible Seminary

MEDICAL ETHICS: Biomedical Ethical Issues in the Contemporary Malaysian Church

November Institute
November Institute is a week-long study conference held annually one week after the MBS graduation. This conference intends to explore and engage contemporary issues that are affecting the Church and Society at large. Pastors, church workers, missionaries and laity from all denominations are invited to enrol for the conference wither for credit or audit.

Date: November 17-20, 2008 (Mon-Thur)
Venue: Malaysia Bible Seminari,
1-11, Jalan Dendang 1, Kaw.16
Berkeley Town Centre
41300 Klang, Selangor
Tel: 03-33427482
Fax: 03-33412094
Speaker: Dr Alex Tang

Speaker’s Profile:

Dr Alex Tang is a senior consultant paediatrician in Johor Specialist Hospital and teaches part-time in the Monash Medical School of Malaysia in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. He received his medical training in Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, and his theological training in Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. Alex has taught and written about biomedical ethics. He has contributed to numerous journals and his latest two books are; A Good Day to Die: A Christian Perspective on Mercy-Killing and Live and Let Live: A Christian Perspective of Biotechnology.


Advances in medical treatment modalities, biotechnological innovations, and genetic-molecular manipulations have brought about a set of unique challenges to issues not faced by the Church before. We live in a time of tremendous rapid changes, and incredible complexity. How then, should we as a Church responds to these issues and how can we help those who are struggling to live as Christian in these difficult times?

In this seminar, we shall use a pastoral-theological approach to examine, reflect and develop responses to these difficult moral and ethical issues – test tube and designer babies, facts and fallacies of stem cell therapies, cloning, reproductive issues, abortion, mercy-killing, allocation of scarce healthcare resources, living will, gene therapy, prenatal diagnosis, aesthetic surgery, transexuality - facing the contemporary Malaysian Church. This seminar is relevant to pastors, theologians, church leaders, counsellors, seminarians, doctors, and all Christians who are committed to living ethically in these changing times.

more information and registration form

United Voice: Self Advocacy

United Voice: Self Advocacy is based on the belief that people are their own best advocates. Thus persons with learning disabilities are their own best advocates to tell others what they want. A person with mild learning disabilities self-advocates by voicing out his or her views. A person with severe learning disabilities self-advocates by his or her presence in a public meeting.

Self-Advocacy is:

1) Knowing what you want
2) Making your own choices & decisions
3) Speaking up for yourself
4) Knowing your rights and responsibilities

UV (a self-advocacy society of persons with learning disabilities started by Rev Peter Young) is organising a fundraising dinner on 17 August 08. To lend your support to them, you can do so by buying the dinner tickets, advertise in their magazine, sponsor the goodies bag or just cash donation. Contact United Voice at Tel/Fax : +603-7958 8069 or
Email :

Friday, July 11, 2008

Resurgence of Apologetics

Frm Stand To Reason blog: "It's nice to see Christianity Today recognize that god is not dead yet. Seriously, the current issue of CT has three great articles on apologetics.

Bill Craig's piece discusses the renaissance of Christian philosophy and in particular, the arguments for God's existence. He includes a contemporary and concise overview of the most prominent arguments and then issues a warning to those who would abandon apologetics as a result of ill-conceived postmodern sensibilities. Mark Mittelberg concurs, arguing this is no time to jettison logic. And Troy Andersen documents the resurgence of Christian apologetics, with a special nod to Biola University and Talbot School of Theology.

Certainly these are encouraging signs."