2009年12月27日 星期日

God's hand in our life (Ps.138)

(This is written in support of Liu Xiao Bo)

Coming to the end of the year, we are used to count the graciousness of God, and give thanks to God. Nevertheless, we find hard to sing the hymns of praise and thanksgiving in this moment of time, for our brother, Liu Xiao Bo, is sentenced for 11 years on December 25, 2009. In fact, Liu’s experience is the iceberg. How can we praise God when Liu Xiao Bo is unjustly sentenced? How can we celebrate when our government violates the right of the people?

Psalm 138 is a psalm of praise, but this is not the Psalm without context. It is in the context that God looks upon the lowly (v.6). Who are the lowly? The lowly are not just the poor. Nor are they taking up laborous work. Otherwise, there would not have enemies (v.7-8). The lowly are not the unfortunate, but rather are the people suppressed by the power. Hence, the phrase of that God looks upon the lowly means God’s justice instead of about seeking a well paid job for the lowly. Both God’s justice and solidarity encourage and strengthen the lowly (v.3). The author continues to say that ‘when I walk amid trouble, you grant me life in face of my enemies’ fury.’ (v.7) The Chinese version translates it into that ‘you save my life.’ Which is the appropriate translation? Perhaps, the history of humankind tells us that not so many righteous persons would be saved from being suffered and killed. Neither is Jesus. Therefore, I prefer to the English translation. In fact, the fury of enemies easily makes the lowly scare or fear, for the power can take the life of the lowly away. This is exactly what the Chinese government does on Liu Xiao Bo. No matter whether Liu has committed crime or not, 11 years sentence is enough to make Liu scare. Once you scare, you lose the life, for you no longer have freedom. I never blame people for the lack of courage. Rather I ask for God’s blessing so that I have courage and life in face of my enemies’ fury. Having courage and the power of life does not mean that the lowly would not be killed, but he would not lose his life before being killed. In fact, what makes the enemies scare is not because the lowly could not be hurted, but because the lowly have not lost courage and power of life even in the moment of being killed. This is what has been happened in Jesus’ life.

Even the lowly is killed, verse 8 affirms that ‘God acts as avenger on my behalf.’ The Chinese version is that ‘God will fulfill my concerns.’ These two translations are slightly different, but are related. On the one hand, God will act on my behalf even though I am not able to do. On the other hand, God will fulfill what I intend to achieve. Here, the I is not confined to the existential I, but rather the I is realized in God and in the truth. This is something that the existentialists do not accept, for the I is the most important. However, those who are struggling for the rights of other may understand the phrase- God acts as avenger on my behalf- better. Only in this light, Aung San Syu Kyi can see her life-fulfillment (the peace of her nation) even after her death. I believe that this is also the belief of Liu Xiao Bo and others working for the rights of others. In fact, if we do not have such a belief, I cannot imagine that we can fight for justice, for the road to justice is always discouraging.

Psalm 90 is a witness to God’s everlasting love and faithfulness. We may not be in the similar situation as the author. Despite this, Psalm 90 invites us to have a faith that, firstly, thanksgiving is not only dependent upon what God has fulfilled our prayers, but also is a result of our faith in God. Without the former, the latter can be a projection; likewise, without the latter, our faith in God is too functional. I am not asking that a suffering person gives thanks to God, but this is not ridiculous, for God acts on my behalf and fulfill my concerns. It is the tear with thanksgiving. Thus, thanksgiving is not based on what God has done, but what God will do.

Secondly, thanksgiving is possible even though we are the lowly, because God looks upon the lowly. In Jesus’ life, we see that God not only looks upon, but he is in the midst of the lowly. God’s compassion and justice brings him into action. Jesus’ life has shown us how courage and life can be emerged in the midst of difficulty. We give thanks to God, because we witness to a life that has not been scared by the power of threat. It is a life with hope and strength.

We pray for Liu Xiao Bo, Aang San Sku Kyi and many others so that they have courage and life in this difficult time. At the same time, we proclaim that ‘God acts avenger on our behalf’ (God fulfills my concerns).

2009年12月25日 星期五

A good place for living

剛從平安夜崇拜回來。因與兩位朋友計劃參加明年六月在香港嶺南大學舉行的文化研究研討會,趕快完成我的論文提綱。我們的專題是 A good place for living. 一位朋友將討論大澳, 另一位則討論梅窩, 而我則討論菜園村. 我的論文提綱如下:

Topic: Choi Yuen Village as Heterotopia: A Study of its Change of Function in the Process of the Protest Against the Demolition of Choi Yuen Village

Abstract: The paper employs the notion of heterotopia proposed by Foucault to analyze how the function of Choi Yuen Village has been articulated, reframed and transformed in the process of the protest against its being demolished that is due to the construction of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. The protest has reflected Choi Yuen Village as heterotopia understood in terms of the contrast between China and Hong Kong, urban and rural, landlords and leaseholders, service industry and farming, government and people. This paper suggests that since the protest itself is a process of rewriting the script of identity of the people of Hong Kong, Choi Yuen Village as being a heterotopia of illusion challenges the ideology of the good place for living featured by urbanization, commercialization and China-zation.

2009年12月15日 星期二

Advent 3: The light shines in darkness

One of the important themes in Advent is hope, and it is this hope that keeps us have faith to wait, fight on and believe. Since hope is about waiting, the difficulty of hope is not waiting itself, but rather is what kind of condition that you are are. If your condition is gradually moving towards what you are hoping (like getting married), waiting may not be that worse. But if your condition is in a desperate condition and even deteriorating (sickness), waiting may mean suffering more than hope. The latter is the context that I am going to explore the message of that ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’ (John 1:5)

Unlike many countries, Hong Kong is not suffered from political oppression. Therefore, democracy in Hong Kong does not have a high priority in the mind of the people. However, when we find that the current government is lack of vision of Hong Kong, democracy becomes necessary, not because democracy saves, but because we can move away the ineffective government. Ironically, this is not something that we can decide on our own. In fact, the Chinese government uses different means to stop the process of democratization in Hong Kong. Do we really believe that we have universal suffrage in 2017? Does waiting mean anything? On the other hand, such kind of hopeless situation is also found in the concern of climate change in Copenhagen. The serious sickness of the earth does not earn the pity of many governments. Rather economic growth is still in the high priority. We have to ask how long our earth can sustain. Can we wait for the day of conversion of the governments?

Another context is that our society is getting more homogenous than before, and everyone is forced to follow a kind of pattern of life. As a result, there is not much space for the young people and different people to survive and develop their potentiality. Let me give you two examples. Firstly, there is the tendency of ‘degree-zation’. In the West, being an animal nurse does not need to have a university degree, and therefore, this is a career for those completed high school. But recently, City University will offer a degree of animal nursing. I do not see it as a matter of raising the academic standard, but rather this exploits the opportunities of the high school leavers who do not reach the university requirement. Studying at university becomes to be an only option for young people, but there is nothing left for those who fail to get into it. Secondly, due to the change of economic structure, the government has spent 10 years to fix out what the next Hong Kong is, but unfortunately, Hong Kong still relies on financial and service industry. This does not help the people much, for this will further marginalize the less advantaged. An example of these is the prices of the flats. Our city is no longer for the people of Hong Kong, but for people who are rich enough. The low birth rate Hong Kong is not because the couple does not like children, but they do not see hope in the future of Hong Kong.

The final context comes to my mind is the personal issue. Since everyone is different, I am not able to give a generalization of the issues that each person faces. How do we keep hope in a broken relationship, deteriorating health and tight budget? What is the meaning of ‘the light shines in the darkness’?

The light shines in the darkness convinces us that there is light, and Jesus is the light. Thus, the issue is not where the light is, but rather the clouds are too thick so that it prevents the light shining through. What are the clouds? The clouds are both the external conditions and internal condition that I have mentioned. Can the light shine through it even as a very weak light? And can we do something to clear the sky?

Perhaps, we have had a lot of stories of how God works in our lives. These kinds of witnesses are very powerful, for we see the light in the darkness. Although we may not be the one who has experienced such kind of God’s gracious act, we are strengthened by listening to these stories. However, I have to admit that these kinds of witnesses may sometimes be turned to a kind of ‘Q’ spirit. Thus, I prefer to say that I experience the light in the darkness in worship. Our prayers, praises, lament and thanksgiving in the worship have convinced me that God is here. Where there is worship in a church, God is there and the light is shining. This gives us the reason why we come to worship. We not just come for friendship, but also for seeing the light. On the one hand, there is a light during worship. On the other hand, we are witnessing to the light during worship.

Since the cloud is thick that it prevents the light shinning through, what we do is not just to wait for the cloud moving away. What I am thinking is that the light does not come from above only, but ironically, the light can come from darkness within, because Jesus has incarnated into the world. In other words, we can see the light in darkness. Here, I gradually realize that it is not necessarily the external frustrations make us fail to see the light. Rather our desires, expectation and dream also prevent us to see the light. What I mean is that Jesus is assumed to be the victor, not the sufferer; rich, not the poor; peaceful, not struggling. As a result, we cannot see the light, because the light that Jesus has shown us is the light in the form of suffering, poor and struggling.

God shines through our worship as well as our struggle. May this message in the Advent strengthen our hope in waiting.

2009年12月14日 星期一

爆發與變態


在北京逗留的日子,盡吃北京美食,也到南鑼鼓卷漫步。這條街保留了元朝的風貌。當中有不同小商店,附近又有不同故居(冰心,和敬公主府等等)。值得一遊,而在其中,我也買了一隻杯來懷舊和抗議。
至於會議(基督宗教與經濟發展),沒有甚麼特別。這是第 13 屆由中國社科院舉辦的有關基督宗教會議,而參加者有 110 人。查實,這會議是讓從事基督宗教研究的人走在一起,多於學術會議。對於不太喜歡交際的我,這是我第一次參加,也相信不會有第二次吧!

2009年12月5日 星期六

Advent 2: A subversive humbleness (Phil 2:5-11)

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. This celebration is not just a family celebration, but also a cosmic celebration. Apart from being a sign of God’s salvation, the birth of Jesus has become a model of humility for humankind. We are taught to learn from Jesus that we should not be arrogant for what we have achieved, and who we are, for ‘Jesus did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited.’ (v.6) The incarnation of Jesus has shown us the virtue of humbleness and what the life for others is. Being humble becomes a virtue in Christian living. This is something that we should learn throughout our lives. Nevertheless, when humbleness is more associated with a kind of personal ethic and weak character, such as, never-mind and no fighting for rightness, we may distort Paul’s request, ‘Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.’ (v.5)

Being humble in our understanding of God
The incarnation of Jesus is fundamentally a challenge to a kind of belief that reduces God to a definition of omnipotence and omnipresence. Perhaps, the incarnation does not create any problem for Chinese, for there is no sharp distinction between God and humans in Chinese culture. But this is not the case in both Greek and Jewish context at that time. For instance, the Jewish word, holy (separation), applied to God highlights the distinction between God and humanity. The people at that time find ridiculous to accept that Jesus is the incarnated God. In their eyes, the incarnation of Jesus does not reflect the humbleness and the nearness of God to humanity, but the second class of God. Thus, the implication of the incarnation of Jesus is not just about being humble in general, but being humble in our understanding of God. God is always beyond what we understand and frame. The incarnated God opens our eyes to see that God is not defined in terms of powerfulness and glory, but revealed in terms of powerlessness and suffering. I consider that this is one of the messages in Advent. On the one hand, we have to reflect in what way we have distorted the image of God. On the other, we have to be humble so that we can see God in his own revealed way. You may not agree with me, but I have seen God in the lives of the homosexual.

Being humble instead of being success
The incarnation of Jesus is a challenge to an ideology of success measured by economic and social achievements as well as power. In fact, Jesus did not come with social status that the Jews had expected. What the incarnation of Jesus challenges is not against the rich. Nor is it against people with high social status. Rather it is against an ideology of success that is inclined to see the value of a person based on what achievements he/she has had. For instance, if you successfully enter into a university, get a well-paid job, have a flat and have good children, you are a successful person. There is nothing wrong to have all these, but it is wrong that these become criterion of what success is, for we have created a lot of failed persons. More importantly, these turn our lives fail to live differently, for we have already lost the power of imagination. This is exactly that this belief has dominated society. Jesus does not have a career, a property, a family and money, but he has a vision in his life (Lk 4:18-19). His vision does not earn reputation for him, but rather he is killed for it. Despite this, he is exalted (v.11). Being humble is not only about a matter of arrogance, but also about a life lived with the vision of God. Being humble does not mean that you should not be an CEO, but be an CEO with the vision of God. In other words, being humble is to choose to live differently, not the way in accordance with the logic of success.

Being humble is to welcome and share
Finally, the incarnation of God is a challenge to a hierarchical mentality. In fact, I find that Paul has such kind of tendency in his writing. What he said that ‘taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, and being found in human form’ (v.7) has an implication that human form is the lower than God's nature, and therefore, the idea of kenosis (being humble) is established. It is true that human lives are fragile and vulnerable, but human lives are still invaluable. Here, I am not arguing that God’s nature and human nature are on the same status, but rather their values are understood in their own terms, not in comparison. Likewise, we are not able to compare the value of humans and animals on the same status, for they are not the same.

Thus, the incarnation of Jesus has no implication of that the human nature is secondary, but ironically this is the human nature that can accommodate God. The incarnation of Jesus is not that the divinity of Jesus is clothed with human nature, but rather the divine nature has taken human nature in its own, and vice versa. In other words, the incarnation of Jesus signifies God’s openness to humanity in which humans are invited to participate into the life of the Trinitarian God. Likewise, we are challenged to be open to God and our fellow humans.

What the incarnation of Jesus has revealed is not just a privatized form of humbleness, but a subversive humbleness, for it challenges our concept of God, challenges us to think and live differently, and to open ourselves to my fellow humans as well as God.

2009年12月4日 星期五

2009年12月2日 星期三

We are a family?

Coming to the end of semester, I am supposed to be free. But this is not true. Apart from marking the papers and preparing for the new semester, I have to go to Beijing and Taipei for some days. Furthermore, I have to start to write my paper for Denmark's conference, and a proposal for QEF fund. Workload is still very heavy.

Recently, I have repeatedly heard something like that 'we are a family, and therefore, we should not fight with one another. We should have trust.' There is nothing wrong of such kind of saying, but what a family is. If it is talking about a family with blood tie, I may have less question about it although I am aware of that relationships in a family with blood tie is not always admirable. However, if a family is used metaphorically and is referred to a nation, a company or an institution, I have great reservation. In a family with blood tie, I may learn to forgive, but this may not be possible in a family understood as a nation or company. Forgiveness in a social context has to be linked with justice. In a family with blood tie, we can identify who the parents are, but this is hard in a social context. Does it mean that the governor is the parent or the boss is the parent? Therefore, the model of mutual respect in terms of equality and fairness is more appropriate than the model of respecting the parent, for the latter may easily be turned to support the heirarchical structure in a nation.

I do wish that our nation, company and institution is a family, but I have to be realistic. Hence, I take justice as a prior, and it is justice that can enhance trust. But in a family with blood tie, forgiveness is always possible, for trust makes it possible.

2009年11月29日 星期日

Advent 1: God's presence in his coming

The movie, 2012, is about the overwhelming natural disaster. One of the shots of the movie is that the Italian Prime Minister joined with the people prayed in Vatican instead of boarding, but there was no miracle. Ironically, St. Peter Cathedral was collapsed and the attendants were killed. Since 2012 is not a Christian movie, we should not expect that there is a shot that God finally manifests and saves.

Regarding the emergence of natural disasters, Christians normally have two kind of responses. Firstly, they are inclined to correlate natural disasters to the Parouisa (the second coming of Jesus). There is nothing wrong of this inclination, because this is what Jesus’ words have implied. He said,

Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see or yourselves
and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you
know that the kingdom of God is near. (Lk 21:29-30)

As a result, with reference to the frequency of natural disasters, they conclude that Jesus will come back soon. In this mentality, they are eager to preach the gospel and to be alert. Secondly, some Christians are inclined to provide theological explanations of natural disasters in order to show that the natural disaster does not come at its own, but under God’s control. This has happened in the outbreak of SARs in 2003, and tsunami in 2004. Religious reason is always very appealing and welcome during the time of natural disasters, for our normal rationality is suspending, and we need reason to go on. Are we satisfied with either of these explanations?

I prefer to neither of them. The message of today’s scripture (Lk 21:25-36) is not about the prediction of the coming of Jesus, for Jesus has said clearly that ‘about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’ (Mk 13:32) Hence, the core message of the passage is simply that God would not leave us alone. Catastrophe can kill, but this is not the last word, for God would save. But is this our experience? For example, does God save our people in the Sichuan earthquake in 2008? One may argue that if God did not stop it, the degree of catastrophe would be more serious. Some even may argue that the earthquake is not far from worldwide, and therefore, Jesus has not returned yet. I have no interest to explain the reason behind the disasters, for the attempts to explain the unexplainable is simply an attempt to control. To believe is learn to accept the unexplainable in lives.

Today scripture not only tells us, but also comfort us that we should not be afraid of what is and will be happening, because in the midst of catastrophe, we will not only see the glory of God, but God’s glory means that God will save (v.27-28). How can we see the people killed in the earthquake without fear? How can we see the people suffered in the time of flooding or drought without fear? In fact, fear is the natural instinct of humankinds in order to prepare ourselves for the worst. There is nothing wrong to fear, but if afraid of something has made you lose the courage to challenge and the hope to fight on, we have submitted to fear more than that fear helps us to prepare. Thus, the promise of God’s salvation has two senses. Firstly, it is about the final salvation. God would not leave us alone. Secondly, in the interim, the promise of God’s salvation strengthens our hearts so that we would not be defeated.

To be honest, the church has no exemption from the destruction of natural disasters, if any. In the movie, 2012, the Vatican is demolished, and the people who pray are killed. I do not think that this is an intention of the director to show that there is no God. On the contrary, I appreciate it very much, because the people of God share the same destiny of the people. Bishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in El Salvador said, ‘I am pleased to know that my priests are also killed, because we share the fate of my people (they are killed by the military).’ The scripture reminds us to see the fig tree and all the trees to know when God’s kingdom is near. We, Christians, may be comforted by this message. But what does this message mean to non-Christians who are in suffering? I think they need a message of God’s presence instead of a message of waiting for the realization of God’s kingdom. Has God’s kingdom arrived or is God’s kingdom coming soon?

It is both, because the incarnation of Jesus is the concrete realization of God’s kingdom, and his Parousia is the complete realization of God’s kingdom which is coming soon. Thus, it is our responsibility to show to non-Christians (the world) the concrete realization of God’s kingdom instead of the completer realization of God’s kingdom, for waiting for God’s kingdom, for them, is simply the absence of God. Matt 25: 31-46 tells us that the presence of God’s kingdom is revealed not in words, but in deed.

In church calendar, the advent is a time to remind us that we should not be afraid, for Jesus is coming. How can we proclaim the message of comfort to our society that does not believe in Jesus' coming? Do we turn our Christian message of comfort to be a message of an absent God?

2009年11月28日 星期六

Conference on church and mission

Next year Jan 27-29, a conference on church and mission will be hold in Aarhus, Denmark. Speakers like Stanley Hauerwas, John Drane and Andrews Walls will deliver speeches. Details of the conference can be read from http://www.teo.au.dk/churchandmission

I was in Aarhus this August to attend a conference on Reformation Theology, and I will be there again in next January to attend the conference on church and mission. Fortunately, I have a good friend staying in Aarhus, and therefore, I can save up some money for accommodation. The paper that I am going to present is Religion as Non-material Cultural Heritage: A Case Study of Ecclesiology in China.

In order to make the trip more economy, I have added a value on it by making side trips. My itineary is as follow:

Jan 23 take the KLM and fly to Edinburgh
Jan 23 Edinburgh, Glasgow
Jan 24 St Andrews
Jan 25 Lake District
Jan 26 York, Cambridge
Jan 27 Fly to Aarhus, and attend the conference
Jan 28 Conference
Jan 29 Conference
Jan 30 Copenhegan
Jan 31 Copenhegan and fly back to Hong Kong
Feb 1 Arrive Hong Kong in afternoon.

2009年11月13日 星期五

教會有未來嗎?

出席了一個教會咨詢會後,心中很不舒服,甚至很痛,因為某些參加者的質素令我為教會很擔心。例如,在一個討論家庭事工的工作坊,有參加者說,「這小組是有關家庭事工的討論,所以,我們不需要回應社會文化,經濟對家庭的影響。」我的反應是「天呀!」這種以教會為核心的宣教觀將教會從社會中切割,但這思維竟被高舉,而參加者興高采烈分享家庭祭壇如何推動、夫妻關係如何深化和建立家庭典範等等。相對地,他們對最低工資、工作時間、醫療政策、教育政策、房屋政策等等如何影響家庭不但沒有興趣,更不認為教會的家庭事工是關乎對在社會裡的家庭。他們不明白甚麼是世界是教會的牧區。面對這些教牧同工,我看不見教會的未來。

究竟我們的神學訓練出現甚麼問題,培養出如此封閉的教牧?是否神學訓練太受教會的意識形態影響,以致對教會狹隘的視野失去批判精神?小圈子的教會生活與人民鴉片無異。每年一度神學生日的主題設計令我對教會的未來更擔心,因為主題從沒有社會向度。若所謂以祈禱和傳道為事(徒六4) 就變得如此狹隘、封閉和落伍時,教會還有甚麼內容可以向社會說。

我對教會的擔心,因為很多牧者缺乏基本常理 (common sense) 。他們以為只懂聖經(實際卻不懂)就足以牧會。結果,他們跟猶太人基要主義者沒有分別,因為他們活在一個二千年前生活形態的社會 (前前現代社會)。或許,教會的悲哀不是沒有聖經,而是只有聖經,一本對神聖物化後的聖經。

教會有未來嗎?或未來是否需要教會?甚麼動力使我相信我所做(神學教育)的仍有價值?我沒有迷惑,只有心痛。

2009年11月10日 星期二

作文機器

學者是否作文能手? 當然, 作文不必然是 '吹水'. 12月中, 小弟有機會跟兩大智者, 釋衍空法師與關俊棠神父討論靈修與教育. 查實, 我不是最佳人選, 因小弟對靈修的經驗很有限. 或許, 我的優點是 yes-man, 和甚麼都很試. 所以, 我也答應參加這次研討. 小弟提交的文章是

神聖的體驗──以泰澤(Taize)的經驗探討宗教空間對青少年人靈性培育之啟發

摘要:靈性的培育不純是一種對身體和心靈操練,更牽涉與宗教社群空間的關係。事實上,宗教社群具體在地方出現本身已含意一種神聖空間的臨在,以致不屬於這宗教社群的參與者也可以從參與其中體會神聖的臨在。本文以本人在泰澤的經驗為基礎,指出宗教空間對靈性培育的重要性,而其重要性可適用於青少年人。

2009年11月6日 星期五

A furious response to a rude attack

There is nothing stimulating in the conference, but coming to the end of the conference, I had a word of fight with another keynot speaker. He was a professor of finance, and he commented on me, 'Religion is too timid. It shoud have confidence and courage to criticize the fault of economists. Don't see your contribution as fragments (this is the word I use). It is too timid.' My immediate response is:

I welcome your encouragement, but I am surprised that the economists do not have any self-critical spirit and just wait for the help from religions. How can it be possible that an academic is just waiting the salvation from religion? Religion can't save one who does not consider self-critical important.'

What is his response to me? Well, he simply annoyed me. Perhaps, he never expected that he would be challenged openly and unreservedly.

2009年11月4日 星期三

being away from blog for some time

Since I have returned from my trip, I am very very busy. I do not have time to get money from the bank, no time to buy a birthday gift for my youngest daughter, no time to go to cemetery on Chung Yeung Festival and others. It is hardly to be imagined, but it is a fact. Anyway, I am free now, for I have just finished a paper on 'The Management of the Public Household: Insights from Christian Involvement in the Issue of International Debt'. This paper will be delievered on Friday, and academics from economics, religion and business will comment on it. I hope I can survive. I will take a break tonight, anyway.

2009年10月24日 星期六

回憶-寫在重陽節

人生到了某時候,就比較傾向回憶。回憶不是因為將來不屬於他(例如,他已趕不上急速步伐或時日無多),而是因為他發現這多年來的生命原來是這樣破碎、零亂或遺漏。破碎,是因為人生中實在有很多遺憾和失望。例如,年少時,我曾自豪地對父親說,「當長大後,我會駕車接你。」然而,當我懂得駕車和有自己一輛車時,他已經不在人間了。零亂,是因為我們每日都被生活拉著走,卻沒有自己的生活。例如,我們不斷要滿足工作的要求,也每月努力為一層答應我們帶來安舒的房子供款,但卻忘記了自己的嚮往和夢想。遺漏,因為人生不可以再來一次,過去就是過去,沒有補救的可能。縱使因過去就是過去,以致人有將來時,但那不可重回的過去使我們對生命中的遺漏只有歎息。

所以,回憶不是懷舊,而是人生的整理。透過重述,希望零亂的人生找回秩序;透過重覆,希望遺漏的片刻可以填補。因此,每有機會到官塘,我總會繞月華街和功樂道一圈,因為這是我成長的地方。當中,我可以找回我的故事。同樣,我會選擇到蘇格蘭去,因為這留下我留學的片段。當中,我嘗試填補我人生的遺漏。回憶是一種向後的活動,但實際上,回憶是讓人生可以向前,即讓人生重整後,可以再聚焦。

相對地,年青人少對昔日嚮往,不是因為他們屬於將來,而是因為他們沒有能力去整理。相反,中年或以上人士多對回憶嚮往,不是因為他們已裝不入新事物,而是因為他們發現人生原來從整理開始。當將回憶放在如此重要地位時,我們卻至少面對兩個困難。第一,不是一切回憶都會帶來解放,因為它也可以是一種負面的吸納力量。負面,因為昔日跑到當下,並主導當下,使人看不見將來,甚至將來變成為昔日的重覆。吸納不一定因為被昔日的痛苦所困,也可以因昔日的快樂所致,以致流連在昔日中,不願意回到現在。一位朋友,他的妻子已離世六年了,但到今日,他還要服抗抑鬱藥。或許,昔日的快樂使他接受不了當下的孤獨。他也接受不了人生原來可以很荒謬。時間的熬練讓我學會了一件事,就是縱使昔日是曾在,但曾在已是一種存在了,而存在是不能被否定的。又縱使這曾在的存在不可能以當下的存在出現,但因任何存在都是獨特,我們就不需要將它重覆。重覆只會使他失去其獨特。回憶肯定他的存在,並他以其獨特向我存在。

第二,回憶不只是個人的活動,而是雙向性的。就此,我想起兩個場景。第一個場景,你對我的回憶不等於這也是我對你的回憶。當我認為我對你的回憶是如此寶貴時,但這不一定是你的想法。那麼,回憶就可能帶來痛苦了。老年癡呆症帶出第二個場景。一方面,患上老年癡呆症者逐漸發現自己記憶的衰退,而可能感到氣餒。事實上,這情境不一定只發生在老年癡呆症者身上。十一歲的女兒在三年前曾寫了一封信給已離世六年的母親:

「媽媽,我已很久沒有見你了。我真的很渴望能見你一面,只是一面,不是在相片中見你。我差不多已忘掉你的聲音,我也害怕終有一日也忘記你的樣貌。」

另一方面,就是如何對待一個對我已沒有回憶,但我對他仍充滿回憶的人。失去回憶,不能回憶和沒有對回憶有回應等等都使人陷於痛苦中。此刻,我慢慢體會回憶的重要在於我知道我是屬於誰。這是對回憶者來說,對被回憶者也是如此。所以,一個老年癡呆症者沒有因失去回憶而失去自己,因為他沒有被他所愛的遺忘。同樣,我的回憶使我知道我不是孤獨的,因為回憶使我存在。

基督教的上帝就是那位對我們說,祂從沒有忘記我們,並對我們說,「正像我創造的新天新地永遠長存,你們的子孫和你們的名也要長久流傳。」(以賽亞書六十六22)生命的破碎、零亂或遺漏, 也因著名字被長久流傳而得到救贖。

在學期中做閒人 (四)

短短在 Taize 逗留三天, 我就回到日內瓦, 準備由明天開始一連三天, 朝九晚六的會議. 會議議題是教會要求政府向公眾利益負責任. 參加者來自南非, Liberia, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbawa, Argentina, Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada...... 小弟是大會講員之一, 並發表一篇 A Politics of Exchange Relation: Churches as Political Capital, Social Capital and Moral Capital in Asian Contex. 反應如何? 激發起很大討論, 因為有人認為我鼓勵向政府妥協, 而不是要求政府負責任. 當然, 有很多人基本上就沒有看完我整論文, 但卻不斷說話.

至於那個聯合國高級官員的演說就是浪費時間. 縱使他是有料之人, 但沒有準備, 只是東拉西扯完成一個多小時的演講.

在學期中做閒人 (三)


Taize是否適合成人? 我有些保留, 不但因為參加者佔了七成都是青年人, 更因為其節目的設計也沒有針對成年人. 相對於在蘇格蘭的Iona就很不一樣 (可以上網知道更多有關它的背景). 它每周有特別主題, 又有其他活動 (例如, 行山, 圖書館). 若不是Taize這樣有名氣, 我相信我會選擇到 Iona.

在Taize期間, 我有兩個問題. 第一, 修士們主要提供的活動, 就是早,午,晚三次祈禱會 (每次約40分鐘) 和查經. 雖然沒有做調查, 但參加的青年人大都不是基督徒, 只是學校活動之一. 奇怪的是, 沒有歷奇活動, 又沒有營火會, 但青年人沒有因此而不來. 或許, 香港的青年工作可能怕青年人悶, 以致要大攪活動. 結果, 我們以為接觸了青年人, 但卻沒有為他們提供另類選擇.

第二, 有別於其他朝聖之地, Taize沒有聖人顯現. 為何它成為朝聖之旅. 原因只有一個很簡單的故事, 就是Roger 兄弟對第二次世界大戰難民收留的故事. 一個由人的慈心而發展了今日的 Taize. 所以, 相對於其他地點, Iona, Assis等地, Taize 的環境沒有甚麼吸引. 它只是一條綁村, 沒有吸引的環境, 也沒有仔細的設計. 一條很簡單的綁村.

在學期中做閒人 (二)

昨晚還趕得上參加晚禱會, 但因人數太多, 而咳嗽聲此起彼落, 所以, 很難投入. 今早早禱會, 我坐在最前方, 四周咳嗽聲較少, 但可惜的是, 我還未適應時差. 在安靜時, 已進入更美好的安靜 (睡著).

雖是如此, 但我仍很清醒, 心中有一個疑問. 相對於佛教和印度教, 基督宗教似乎沒有任何指引協助你進入寧靜. 唱了數首詩歌和讀了一兩段聖經, 當事人就被假設自動地進入寧靜. 然而, 這假設性在我身上並不成效. 為何基督宗教不教人學習呼吸, 不教人在身體上配合, 不教人集中焦點…. 想了一會: 這是否跟基督宗教強烈恩典和聖靈工作有關? 恩典, 因為這是上主的工作, 而不是人努力的結果; 聖靈, 因為上主有祂的自由, 而不受人的控制. 當然, 我們無需將上主工作與人的努力對立, 但實際運作就是這樣了.

事實上, 當早禱會到聖餐環節時, 我懶洋洋的感覺被甦醒過來, 有點像被聖靈 ’充滿’, 深受感動被聖體孕育. 這就是一種沒有準備的靈性體會.







2009年10月16日 星期五

在學期中做閒人 (一)


工作到晚上七時, 才回家吃飯. 飯後, 趕著收拾行李, 跟孩子們說再見, 八時半就出發去機場. 上機後, 才發覺還有數件事還未完成. 到達瑞士日內瓦, 立即以SMS文代工作.

今年是加爾文誕辰500週年, 日內瓦有不少慶祝活動. 至於紀念品, 我買了兩樽加爾文品牌啤酒. 不知是否可用來作聖餐之用? 呀, 這是啤酒, 不是葡萄酒. 下午四時左右, 我將會搭火車到法國Macon, 行車時間只需兩小時. 但從Macon 到 Taize 的巴士就要等兩個小時 (行車只需30分鐘). 有兩個祈禱內容, 希望有順風車, 可以早一點到. 第二, 希望正確下車, 並成功入宿. Taize 是甚麼地方? 不認識的話, 可以上網找出來. 查實, 我早於1986年留學丹麥時曾計劃一訪, 奈何當時法國恐怖活動, 一切外國人入境變得嚴厲. 所以, 那時沒有去, 而去了奧地利. 時隔23年, 終於可一嘗心願.

2009年10月11日 星期日

When will the promise be cashed?

Making promise and keeping promise cannot be separated. Otherwise, there is no trust. Without trust, we can’t live. This is the logic of life. Some people may argue that it is better not to make any promise so that there is no breaking of promise. This can be true. But can we live in a life without making promise? I don’t think we can. When the promise is related to the future, the question of that ‘when will the promise be cashed?’ is valid. This is the concern of today’s reading.

Mk 10:17-31 tells us that the rich man considered eternal life important, but the importance of eternal life was not really important in comparison with the earthly riches. This was why he went away when he was requested to sell all that he had and gave it to the poor. This is the background that Jesus talks about what the importance in life is. Jesus agrees with the rich man that eternal life is importance, but eternal life is not understood as a matter of life after death. It is here and now. This is why Jesus said, ‘there is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother, father or children or land for my sake and for the Proclamation, who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as much.’ (v. 29) What Jesus has said is that eternal life is not just about non-material reward. On the contrary, it is very materialistic. In fact, this kind of understanding is reflected in Job’s experience in the Old Testament. Job has blessed more than he had blessed the first. Unfortunately, the rich man is leaving too quick so that he has failed to have a full picture of eternal life. Otherwise, he might be voluntarily to sell all he had for the poor. Is his decision to leave just a result of lack of a full picture of eternal life?

I would say that if he remained here to listen to what Jesus had explained what eternal life was, he might be further disappointed, because one would experience persecutions (v.30). I don’t think that this is something that the rich man expects. In other words, what Jesus requested from him to sell all his possessions is relatively soft and mild, for the worst is to be a beggar, but being persecuted is even worse. He may be jailed, exiled, homeless and tortured. Thus, what Jesus has said to the rich man reflects that Jesus really loves him, and even lowers the request in order that he is able to inherit eternal life.

However, the rich man finds it difficult to do what Jesus requests, because he does not have faith in the promise of eternal life. This is why Jesus said, ‘For men, this is impossible, but not for God.’ For the rich man, what is in hand is more important than what is not in hand. This is the background why Jesus makes his promise of eternal life related to the present age. The promise of eternal life is not just a matter of faith, but is something that we can experience in here and now. The next question then is whether you really have received a hundred times of what you have given up for God.

There are differences between Christians in city like Hong Kong and Christians in nations like Myanmar (Burma), North Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and other nations in Africa. They have experienced persecutions due to their belief in Jesus Christ and their insistence in justice. They have experienced their families being killed. They have to take refuge in other nations, and become both homeless and stateless. Paradoxically, most Christian witnesses that we have heard in Hong Kong are more or less related to how God helps us to find a job, get a flat, overcome the difficulties and even heal the sickness. I never question the validity of these witnesses, but I am deeply stirred by Christian experience of being persecuted and suffering. What is the meaning of Jesus’ promise in Mk 10:29 to them? Is it better for Jesus to talk about eternal life in the coming age? What Jesus has promised in this present age has put him in a difficult situation.

My answer is that Jesus’ promise has to be understood with persecutions together. In other words, what Peter has said that they had left all to become Jesus’ followers (v.29) is not just about their sacrifice, but also about a result of fleeing or escape. In other words, it is not because a person has to leave all your home, family and land to follow Jesus, but because persecutions due to following Jesus make a person to flee from house to house, from family to family, from farm to farm. In this sense, the promise of that you would receive a hundred times as much does not mean that you would be rich enough to buy another piece of land, get a second wife and build a house, not flat, but rather that you would be received, cared and embraced in your life of persecutions and fleeing by the Christian community elsewhere. The promise that Jesus has made is not a reward, but a provision for need. Jesus never promises to get rid of persecutions and suffering in our lives, not because suffering leads to salvation, but because this is the reality of life. Even Jesus himself has no exemption. It is absolutely right to protest against injustice, but it is also equivalent important to show our solidarity as well as friendship to the persecuted and suffered. The promise that Jesus has made is that life is difficult, but God cares.

The church is a sign of God’s care. On the one hand, we are a community being cared by God. On the other, we are a community to show God’s care to the suffered. Through worship, prayer and fellowship, we embrace one another in love and tears, hope and frustration, solidarity and struggle to proclaim that ‘I believe in life before death’.

2009年10月4日 星期日

李景雄牧師八十大壽




今晚剛出席完李牧師的晚宴。為他的人生,獻上無比的感恩。願他繼續活得精彩。
我也計劃到五十攪一次感恩聚餐,因不知自己是否可以到八十。

沒有籬笆的教會

可10: 1-16

「誰是小孩子?」和「為甚麼門徒要阻止小孩子來見耶穌?」是這故事的核心。但這兩個問題是否有關聯?所謂關聯,就是若換了人(即不是小孩子),門徒就會讓他們來見耶穌。從耶穌的反應,我認為這兩個問題是有關聯的,因為耶穌肯定小孩子在上帝國的角色。那麼,為何門徒要阻止小孩子來見耶穌?這些小孩子是甚麼的小孩子?

按經文所說,不是小孩子主動來找耶穌,而是有人帶他們來。這些帶小孩子來的人應該是小孩子的母親,因為按當時社會習慣,母親是必然照顧孩子。她們要見耶穌的目的就是想耶穌摸她們的孩子。為甚麼她們想耶穌摸她們的孩子?當時的人應該聽聞耶穌治好患癲癇病的人,甚至瞎子的事蹟。那麼她們想耶穌摸她們的孩子就有兩個可能。第一,她們的孩子是患病的,所以,她們希望耶穌可以醫好他們。從這角度來看,來見耶穌的孩子是那些智障、殘障和患重病。他們的面容並不天真可愛,反而扭曲。他們的外貌可能令人產生同情,但同時也使人遠離。這解釋了為何門徒阻止他們來見耶穌,因為連門徒都不想看見這些孩子。第二,母親們想耶穌摸她們的孩子,因為她們希望耶穌祝福他們的孩子。一方面,這些母親們很實際;另一方面,這就是母親的特性。每年小一入學,我們豈不看見母親比兒女更緊張嗎?例如,當她的兒女成功考進一間心怡學校時,流淚的是母親,而不是孩子本身。從這角度來看,門徒阻止小孩子不只是阻止小孩子,更是他們的母親,因為她們太功利了。若接受這兩個門徒阻止小孩子來見耶穌原因的話,我們對耶穌接待小孩子一事就有新的體驗。

第一,耶穌對小孩子的接待正要肯定上帝國是開放。上帝國不是只為成人世界而設,更是為當時沒有地位的小孩子而設;上帝國不是只為四肢健全和身心健康的人而設,更是為身體有缺憾和心靈有痛楚的人而設。拒絕他們是違反上帝國。教會(我們)的責任是宣揚上帝國,而不是自告奮勇為上帝國把關,判斷誰可以進入,誰不可以進入。可惜的是,有太多時候,教會(我們)代上帝國發言,代上帝國宣判,而忘記自己只是上帝國的管子。門徒被責備,不是因為他們沒有原則,而是因為他們的原則是排他,不是歡迎。數日前,有一位同學跟我說,她的教會將有一位變性的信徒。按她教會的立場,變性是不可以接受的(我不知道為甚麼)。所以,教會決定送走他,安排他上基恩之家(基督徒同性戀團體)。我明白教會的憂慮,我也不知道若這變性的主內留下會否被它所屬教會歧視,但要離開教會的是那些歧視者,而不是受歧視者。

第二,耶穌對小孩子的接待反映他對小孩子母親的接待。在耶穌時代,沒有可以獨立討論小孩子。所以,接待小孩子就是接待母親。可惜的是,女人的角色和地位沒有因為她們的付出而得到平等對待。教會的女人比男人多,參與事奉比男人積極,但領導的卻是男人。又當我們看見孩子的成就時,卻看不見母親的辛苦。弔詭的是,當孩子發生事時,社會就將矛頭指向母親。當耶穌說,「若不像子孩子,不能進上帝國」不是一個個人的概念,而是一個關係的概念。重點不是你要成為一個小孩子,而是要成為一個母親的孩子,即顧念你的母親。換句話說只有一個對母親顧念的人,才可以進上帝國。對父母來說,他們並不期望看見一個不會獨立的孩子,但獨立不是切割。父母們仍渴望著已長大了的孩子可以間中回來吃飯,飲湯。但長大了的孩子明白他仍是母親的孩子嗎?

對你們來說,我以上的分享有點奇怪,因為聖經沒有描述小孩子是殘疾,聖經也沒有提到孩子的母親。我是否有太多個人想像?若留意可十1-12,耶穌是對無故休妻者和另嫁者的批判,這是律法。然而,律法不是最後,福音才是。這正是可十13-16對律法的回應。又若留意十17-31時,我們就發現十13-16是理解十17-31很重要的基礎。第一,是上帝對人恩典先於人對上帝的回應;第二,十29所說對父母的撇下是在肯定你是母親的孩子下來理解。基於此,我以上的詮釋是可接受的。

2009年9月21日 星期一

生日晚餐


















今天是小弟生日 (47歲), 與家人吃了一頓很好的晚餐. 地點是女兒建議, 點菜由太太負責, 而找數由小弟承擔. 飯後, 我跟他們說, 不如改一改傳統, 生日者請吃飯 (女兒們的生日分別是11, 12 和1月). 期間, 小女兒說 (14歲), 往麥當奴慶祝倒不錯.

今年生日禮物有鑽石手錶, 平治汽車, 旅遊世界機票 ..... (發夢或所謂 A貨).

2009年9月20日 星期日

from being the servant to serving

When I first read today passage (Mk 9:30-37), I am deeply puzzled. My discomfort is not whether what Jesus’ saying is radical or not, but whether his saying really makes the world better for living. During the cultural revolution in late 1960s, intellectuals in China were forced to become factories’ workers, farmers and labourers, while the farmers had taken the position of managers, teachers and CEO. This radical change had finally made China finally complete social disintegration and disruption. Therefore, what Jesus’ saying, ‘Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all’, should not be interpreted as that the pastor does the cleaning duties or the cleaner does the pastoral duties. It is not a matter of defending the hierarchy, but this is not a right way to understand Jesus’ saying.

There is an incident yesterday. A pupil who was injured and admitted to the casualties, but he hadn’t had a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID) with him, and his mum was asked to send a copy of his certificate of birth to confirm his citizenship status. Otherwise, he had to pay the non-local medical fee before he could be admitted to the hospital. Since this was an urgent case, his mum did not argue with the hospital and paid the non-local medical fee. After the treatment, his mum complaint to the hospital and this incident has raised the public concern. The government quickly responded that what had been happened was absolutely unacceptable, because this incident had happened in the casualties. Casualties meant urgent and emergency, and therefore, medical treatment should be provided irrespective of whether the patient was able to pay.

This experience provides us a perspective to understand what Jesus’ saying. We are called to serve which is not necessarily related to pick up positions of servant and lower ranks. Since what matters is serving, the CEO can still be a leader but serving, and the pastor can be a leader but serving. However, serving here is not understood in the setting of customer service, but is about adopting the perspective of the option for the less advantaged in your job duties. Let us return to the case I have mentioned. The managers, the doctors and the nurses have to give weight to the perspective of the option for the less advantaged to design the hospital’s building, administration and management. The pupil was rejected from immediate treatment, because the staffs did not have the patients’ perspective in their mind. On the contrary, patients have to be fitted into the bureaucratic system. In fact, this is only the tip of the iceberg. For example, hours of visitation in hospital is set by the hospitals, and no consultation with the patients and their family. It is convenience to the hospital, not the patients. Thus, the servants are servants, but they are not serving. On the other hand, the managers are not servants, but they can be serving. Serving is about taking the perspective of the option for the less advantaged.

Apart from the saying, ‘whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all’, Jesus puts his arm around a child and says, ‘Whoever welcomes in my name one of these children, welcomes me.’ This is another way of talking about serving. Why is a child chosen? The reason is not only because they are vulnerable, but because you would not receive reward from a child. For instance, a child seldom gives tips after the meal; a child seldom says thank you when you hold the door for him; a child seldom sends you a gift of appreciation. My description of a child has no intention to look down on a child, but this is the ‘is’ of a child. In this understanding, what Jesus requests us is to embrace and welcome a child whole-heartedly without any expectation of return. To show your embrace and welcome is not just about a word, but about extra time and energy. For instance, although I am not in a senior position in the University, I can’t deny that my position makes me have influence. Some years ago, I worked with a professor from the Social Work Department to support the workers in our university to fight for fair terms of service. Because of our presence, the workers felt being supported and encouraged. We had received a clap from the workers, but we might receive a ‘pig stamp’ from the University. I am not asking you to copy what I have done, but it is not enough just to fulfil the requirement of the job duties and to meet the needs of the boss. We should go beyond the terms of service, and make those who receive our service feel better.

I do hope that the interpretation above would not distract the child whom Jesus refers to is really a child. In other words, we should not ignore the needs of children. Some years ago we are very concerned about poverty of next generation (跨代貧窮). Children poverty is serious in Hong Kong. To embrace and welcome children means to have a social policy that supports them to participate into society freely and joyfully. In the coming government’s policy address, we have to ask what the government has done to combat poverty of next generation.

To be honest, what Jesus has said here is not really radical, for this is the value we find no difficulty to accept no matter whether you are Christian or not. But what this story inspires us is that we are exactly the children being embraced by God. We are the people being served (saved) by God. Once we realize that we are the recipients rather than the givers, we will be easier to identify taking a perspective of the option for the less advantaged, doing something more than duties and caring the children, for our Lord is there.

2009年9月13日 星期日

Who is the suffering servant?

Who is the suffering servant in Isa 53? According to Christian tradition, he is Jesus Christ. But today I would like to suggest a different perspective to read this text. First of all, let us pay attention to the characteristics of the suffering person. He or she does not have dignity and not attractive (v.2). He or she is not welcome and even despised (v.3). He or she endures suffering and pain because of us (v.4-5). He or she never complaints for what has been happened to him or her, but rather he or she is satisfied of our goodness (v.7 and 11). Who will be such a person in our society? I would unreservedly say that he or she is the old people in our society.

The old people are the suffering servants, not only because the wrinkles in their faces and their physical disability make them less attractive, but also because they are suffered a lot from getting old. Some may say that the suffering of the old people is simply because they do not have a saving plan or they do not take care of their health when they were young. But the Bible reminds us that ‘because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.’ (v.4) In other words, because of the laborious work, we are brought up, and our society is prosperous. I just want to tell you that our parents have given up their interests and dreams for our sake. It is our responsibility to take care the old people in society.

The government report (January 2009) said that 16 out of each $100 government spending is for the elderly services, such as, social security, medical expenditure and elderly homes. This is not a small percentage, but in reality, the old people have different experiences. For instance, the old people are often refused to receive further medical treatment, simply because the hospital argues that it is better to reserve the resource for the young. Last year the government proposed to revise the policy of the so-called ‘money of the fruit’. It proposed to change the policy from a respect to the old people to a social security. The public transport in this year had intended to abolish the concession fare for the elderly. Even today there is concession fare to the old people, but it is applied to Wednesday and public holidays. All these suggest that the old people are considered as the burden of society, and they are the people needed to be pitied, not respected.

It is not my intention today to assess whether the public money spent on the elderly service is fair or not. We have to monitor the government, but we cannot depend on the government alone. We have to call all sectors of society to consider the needs of the old people seriously. Firstly, we may consider to start a campaign for concession fare to the elderly, not just Wednesday and public holiday. When corporate social responsibility becomes a common concern among the businesses, we can push them to think about the senior policy in their businesses. Secondly, the church can consider developing the elderly ministry. If there are a lot of elderly homes around us, shall we pay a regular visit to them?

To be honest, elderly ministry is seldom in high priority among the ministry of the church. Unlike the young people, the elderly are not able to create wealth. Contrarily, they are the people to receive more than to give. Besides, if the church does not have enough young people, how can the church have the resources to serve the elderly? This is true, but this also means that the need of the elderly is always subject to the full development of others. In other words, the old people are always the last concern.

Let me share with you a story. The first church I served in 1988 was a very very small church. Sunday attendants were around 30, and half of them were old people. The deacons always wanted to develop the church, that is, more young people. Due to the location, and the demography of the church, it was hard to develop in accordance with what they expected. Till now, the number of Sunday attendants is also around 30. Although I am no longer the pastor of this church, I have to ask what the meaning of its existence is. I do not mind whether any merging movement of the churches would be taken place. My concern is what the purpose of merging is. After a serious reflection, I come to a conclusion of that the existence of this church is for the elderly, because half of the members are old people. Many of them are singles and widowers. What the church can do is to support them in their daily life as well as to accompany with them till death. This is what our society is reluctant to do, for this is very costly. In a society characterized by the mentality of growth and development, people find difficulty to accompany. Development and accompany are not in contrast, but they are different. I think when the church is aware of that development is not necessarily the goal of the church, the pastor and the deacons would be more realistic and sensitive to the people who are in the church.

There is a Chinese motto, ‘the sunset is marvellous’. If this is something we believe in, we have to support and take care of the old people in order that the old people can really feel good at being old. The suffering servants have given us life, and now it is our time to bring respect and comfort to them.

2009年9月11日 星期五

新計劃

昨日跟 Prof. Richard Madsen 閒談後, 發現一個在國內很有趣的社會現象, 就是宗教已被理解為非物質文明. 這概念牽涉全球化和經濟等問題. 現正計劃是否可就此這現象做一個神學反省, 寫一篇論文.

此外, 今日剛授了第二個課程的第一課 (基督教倫理). 現正考慮是否應寫一本有關基督教倫理的書. 有別於當下基督教倫理的書 (以議題主導或申明聖經立場), 我計劃針對倫理判斷時所牽涉的矛盾. 例如, 第一個題目是目的懸掛 (teleological suspension of ethical), 第二個題目是道德彩數 (moral luck). 應該有市場, 因為坊間沒有這類型的書 (強調生活世界的含混性). 用很學術的寫法還是生活化 (大眾化)? 在掙扎中, 希望今晚可以決定

2009年9月7日 星期一

生寄死歸 1

雖然當老師已有13年, 但從今年1月到8月 (安息年假), 我沒有正式授課. 所以, 對於明天的課總有點緊張和興奮. 這份心情反映出我仍可以繼續當老師. 這不是我第一次授這門課, 而是第三次了. 認識我的人都知道我絕不會翻抄, 而今次的特色就是從身體角度探討死亡. 從閱讀中, 我暫時還未接觸到這觀點. 或許, 我應考慮將這課變為書.

Death and Dying 生寄死歸

Lecture 1 Death and body

1. Death and body
A. Basic movements, such as, breathing and blood circulation, come to a stop.
B. A complete disintegration between body and soul (or material and immaterial) if one
believes there is soul.
C. A separation of social relationship, that is, no response.
D. A deteriorating process is undergone.
E. Paradoxically, the experience of that ‘I am my body’ is experienced in death and dying.

2. The implications of the death of body
A. Embodiment’s theory
- The place of the human body as the medium in and through which various kinds of experiences are acquired and come to be ‘known’.
- Existence is known through body. And this body relates to the social and cultural world, not just a material matter. The world we perceive is a world pregnant with meanings. Therefore, humans are body, mind and society. In M.Merleau-Ponty’s words, ‘the body expresses total existence, not because it is an external accompaniment to that existence, but because existence comes into its own in the body.’ (Phenomenology of Perception, p.166)
- The body is both existential and cultural

B. Peter Berger, Sacred Canopy (New York: Anchor, 1967).
- Since humans are embodiment, we construct meanings through our bodies. Hence, death is a threat to human activity and meaning of being humans.
- Death is ambiguous. On the one hand, it belongs to human experience. On the other hand, it denies human experience. The ambiguity of death challenges everyday life of human experience.
- Body is pointing to the future, and it let humans realize their potentialities. Ironically, death implies that humans are not able to integrate the future and the present. Death is the unfulfillment of life.

C. Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity (Cambridge: Polity, 1991).
- Modernity makes humans hard to face death, for modernity has broken up tradition in which tradition is supposed to give us identity.
- Humans are more inclined to the attention of personal lifestyle, for this gives one’s identity. Lifestyle is established through the management of the body. Finally, body becomes the last protection of self. Thus, death becomes threatening.
- There is a shift of the understanding of body from a natural sphere to cultural sphere.

D. Norbert Elias, The Loneliness of the Dying (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985).
- Modernity commercializes the body, and at the same time, self-identity is more closely bounded to body.
- But this is a socialization of body that fails to notice the natural side of body, a rationalization of body that emphasizes under control (medical research), and an individualization of body that separates us from the wider community.
- Thus, we lose the means to integrate death into our experience of life.

E. Stanley Hauerwas, Suffering Presence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989)
- Under the Enlightenment’s influence, under control and explainable become the myth of our understanding of the surrounding world.
- This affects the development of medicine deeply, that is to say, cure is more central than care.
- Death is about the relief of pain more than a matter of meaning.

F. Due to the importance of body, we are more difficult to accept death as part of life. Although the contemporary death education intends to demytheologize death, it goes to another extreme, that is, to ignore the anxiety and ex’ception of death.

3. Cemetery: an example of the presence of death in the living world
A. Heterotopia (異域) in Michael Foucault’s understanding
- Emplacement is about the relationship among places and their relationships.
- However, there are places whose relationship with other places is not in harmony, and even contradictory with the existing emplacement. It is counter-emplacement. In Foucault’s word, this is heterotopia.
- When society attempts to construct any identity and culture, it has to create heterotopia simultaneously. It is built by society, but a threat to society. Heterotopia is the other spaces of society.

B. Cemetery is a heterotopia (it is cultural more than a must), for it is a space taken place after death, but it is situated in the living world. It challenges existing human activity and value.

4. Religion and death:
A. A response to the survivors’ enquiry of the meanings of death.
B. A spiritual support to the dying.
C. A critical challenge to a kind of body’s ideology without ‘window’.
D. An attempt to articulate the meanings of the embodiment of ‘life after death’

2009年9月2日 星期三

祝福



在神學院教學的日子,認識了一班緬甸同學.跟我有較深接觸的,當然是那些我要指導的同學.其中之一就是相片中的學生.可能受英國大學的影響,作為論文指導老師往往都會較照顧其指導學生.就這樣,我送她機票到馬來西亞探朋友.期間,她在彼岸結婚了.後來,我又為她安排機票到韓國探朋友,作為對她論文完全的禮物.此刻,她已以政治難民身分到了美國.為了有充足時間申請,我特意協助她申請博士課程,希望她可以在港完成辦理一切手續.在上帝恩典下,沒有動用神學院的資源,在開學前,她已踏上飛機.或許,以上所做的,就是用我可以動用的資源為一個最少的姊妹做一點事.

在美國生活不容易,但願她可以有新的生活,也記念她的同胞.

宣教的上帝與香港多元社會

今年是基督教協進會十年一次的咨詢會。我被邀請以宣教的上帝與香港多元社會為題撰寫一篇短文,作為稍後討論的基礎。短文如下:

「宣教的上帝」(Missio Dei)對宣教學有兩個重要貢獻。第一,宣教從昔日只關心靈魂救贖和建立教會轉移到三一上帝的本身。因聖父差遣聖子和聖父藉聖子差遣聖靈,所以,教會是被三一上帝所差遣。教會沒有自己的宣教,只有在差遣的三一上帝中,才是宣教。在基督論下,聖子的道成肉身與受苦為宣教的上帝提供一個非凱旋式的宣教思維。第二,宣教的上帝不是在聖子道成肉身之後才發生,反而宣教的上帝與上帝創造分不開。沒有聖靈工作的話,受造世界就不可能繼續維持。基於此,世界歷史不只是邪惡的歷史,與上帝對抗,它也是一個被上帝所愛的歷史。藉著聖靈,上帝的國度在世界已某程度彰顯了。那麼,教會不只是向世界宣告上帝的國度,更是在人類活動中,發現和遇見三一上帝在聖靈隱密的救贖,並參與在其中。這兩個重要貢獻指出教會不是宣教的核心,三一上帝才是,但因對基督論與聖靈論有不同著重,教會對宣教的上帝有不同程度的看法。本文嘗試從互補的視野探討宣教的上帝與香港多元社會的關係。

有批評者指出多元社會代表相對主義、對邪惡和罪(特別指性道德)的寬容、淡化基督信仰的真理等等。這些指控可能會出現,但不因此,多元社會就是罪惡的溫床。我認為教會需要分別從一元社會和上帝國認識多元社會。第一,多元社會是對一元社會的絕對性說不,因為生活世界不可以只由一個價值預先決定。相反,多元社會容許和尊重人可按不同價值生活。然而,因人是關係性,所以,多元社會不可能只停留保障個人自由層面,反而它要求一個合適的社會制度來探討和回應人類關係性的需要。因此,一個真正的多元社會必然是一個民主社會、一個活躍的公民社會和一個追求合作和承擔的社會。從這角度來看,多元社會絕不違反基督信仰,反而我相信從一元社會邁向多元社會是聖靈的隱密工作,因為五旬節的經歷表達出聖靈打破猶太人對上帝恩典的唯我界限。

雖是如此,但地上秩序不等於上帝國,甚至邪惡利用地上秩序對抗上帝國。不是多元社會是邪惡,而是邪惡扭曲多元社會。第一,多元淪為極端自由主義代名詞,它不再為維護弱勢者服務,反而以尊重為由淡化對缺乏者的承擔和責任。第二,多元化約為資本主義,甚至認為沒有資本主義就沒有多元。但現實上,資本主義卻以一種經濟主義殖民化生活世界,使多元社會消失。第三,多元淪為一種共存策略,但缺乏對話,並由此而來自我轉化的機會。我相信耶穌基督對這樣社會提供一個批判的典範,就是以行動對一個無情社會、一個帝國的制度和一個自以為義的群體批判。

宣帝的上帝在當下香港社會差遣教會積極推動和維護多元社會的發展;同時,也要求教會批判多元社會的虛偽性。

2009年8月24日 星期一

2010年1月的學術會議

這是一個很有趣的學術會議. 再者, 又有知名神學家出席. 不妨考慮參加. 費用約 HK$8500. 對於那些計劃歐遊的人, 這絕對超值. 我有計劃參加. 若是, 可以一齊寫論文. 我暫定的範圍是 church in cyberspace.

http://www.teo.au.dk/churchandmission

在 Aarhus 日子

23年前曾到丹麥 Aarhus 大學做交流生, 今日再有機會重臨, 在演講室聽演講和發表論文 (主題:改革宗神學-接受與轉化). 感覺有些特別. 雖然神學院已搬入新校舍, 還好, 我仍有機會在昔日的飯堂吃午飯, 在大學公園走一走. 當然, 昔日我踢球的球場已樹立一幢幢建築物了. 這種似曾相識, 但又陌生的感覺, 使人體驗不同空間重疊的反諷.

昨日, 終於完成論文發表 (題目:兩個國度教義與社會交易理論的結合). 參加者只有數人. 這是很正常, 因為我都是選擇有興趣的課題才參與. 雖然討論有點自由發揮, 但我從中也獲得不少洞見. 一位教授請我將論文寄給他, 因為他不能出席我的論文發表. 這算是一種鼓勵吧 !此外,一位在瑞士世界信義宗聯會工作的神學家邀請我今年十月中到 Geneva 延續討論. 他們負責機票和食宿. 不錯的收獲吧!雖然時間與我早前計劃出席巴哈教 (Ba' hai) 的學術會議相衝 (最後確實日期是8月31日), 但我只好棄亞洲, 選歐洲. 或許, 我會順道到 Lisbon 一趟. 坦白說, 這不應是順道, 而是專程去一去.

2009年8月18日 星期二

他者的臉容

對臨終者的關懷是關乎與奧祕的相遇,而這奧祕的來源就是臨終者的臉容,並由他的臉容而產生周遭人對他臉容的反應和感受。事實上,我們不能親身認識死亡,死亡的經驗是來自臨終者。

臨終者的臉容以一種絕對的他者向我們出現。絕對的他者不只是因為每一個人都是他者,而是一位曾可以行走自如的人如今卻卧在床上,一位曾思想靈巧的人如今卻陷於思想混亂。E.Levinas 說,「[死亡]就是存在者的表情達意運動之消失,而這些運動曾使他們呈現為活靈活現的人。這些運動一直都是回應。死亡的致命一擊,首先就落在這些運動的表情作用之上,以致覆蓋了一個人的臉容。死亡就是不再回應。」 臨終者的臉容更帶我們進入一個屬於我們,但卻陌生的死亡世界。屬於我們,因為我們不會不死;陌生,因為在生和有意識下,我們對死沒有實存的認識。死屬於死者,但生者卻要死。在他者的臉容上,死亡以一種近距離與我們接觸,但卻沒有征服我們。這種壓迫感覺使我們不安,不但因為我們沒有方法可以阻擋死亡的來臨,更因為我們不認識它,甚至不想認識它。這是Levinas 所描述的「ex' ception」,即是一種異乎尋常的關係,也是一種不能接受的關係。弔詭的是,面對無能與無助,我們不想與臨終者有太近距離接觸,因為我們接受不了自己是無能與無助。此刻,臨終者的臉容又成為另一種他者,就是被排斥和被忘記的他者。只有如此,人才可以無知地過活,並繼續相信他的能力。然而,這卻是最不人性維護自己人性的做法。

雖是如此,但臨終者的臉容卻沒有因此而被完全遺忘,因為它以一種呼召形式向我們說話。意即,當看見一位臨終者的臉容時,我們不能不被攪動。我們可以假裝聽不見他、看不見他,但這假裝本身已是一個回應了。一張沒有笑的臉容、消瘦或有呼吸困難的臉容向我們心靈說話。流淚、沉思、靜默與觸摸等等成為我們可能對這呼召的回應。只有回應,我們才體驗自己的人性或成為人。此刻,死亡的陌生透過臨終者的臉容與我們連繫,而我們對臨終者的陌生也透過他的臉容與我們連繫。這是一份奧祕,因為死亡沒有中斷關係,反而建立新關係。

他者的臉容拒絕將他者化為一個客體,給我們研究和分析。他者的臉容不是用言說來溝通,而是用臉容。這臉容不一定有很豐富表情,反而可以很痛苦(也可以很安祥)向我們展示和呼召。原來,奧祕不只是對未可知或不可知的保持一份對生命的肯定,更是一種反諷的生命體會。即陌生與屬於、中斷與連繫、距離與接近、他者與我等等的相遇與重疊。這是臨終關懷者需要有的生命體會,以致臨終者的臉容可以自由地以他者出現。

2009年8月15日 星期六

基督與文化


因日前實在太忙,趕著不同會議,撰寫和修訂論文.竟然沒有將有份參與的活動貼在Blog上,與各位分享.
因是次研討會由主持帶著討論,講者沒有自己時間發表言論.所以,我就不需要很仔細撰寫講稿.雖是如此,但我有三個重點.
1. 基督徒需要就真,善,美,樂趣(娛樂)作出神學反省.傳統來說,我們比較著重真與善,但對美與樂趣缺乏認真討論,以致基督徒不懂討論流行文化.
2. 可能受我當下撰寫論文的影響,我傾向用馬丁路德兩個國度思維去思考文化.意即,文化有它自己的規律,我們不要將它變為福音.所謂改造文化就是讓文化做回自己,不被資本主義殖民化和邪惡所佔.
3. 黑暗之子比光明之子聰明,所以,我們不應該對基督教帶領文化有過份期望.要接受自己少數身分,但有自信,並願意謙虛與其他人合作和學習.當基督徒缺乏自信時,他們就以權力來思考他們的角色.

2009年8月9日 星期日

馬其頓人需要甚麼?

昨晚深夜從韓國回港, 帶著疲勞的身體準備今日的講道. 今日要去的教會是平安福音堂 (吳主光傳統). 2-3年前曾到一趟. 那次講道完後, 長老跟我說, 我們對你所說的有點不習慣, 但仍可以明白的. 不錯的評語, 也因此, 2-3年後, 平安福音堂沒有忘記我吧!


年幼時,牧師常常提醒我們「馬其頓人」呼聲(使徒行傳十六9-10)。簡單來說,「馬其頓人」呼聲指我們要回應人對福音的呼求,但問題是:為何馬其頓人呼聲就等於對福音的呼求呢?查實,這個馬其頓人只說,「請過來幫助我」,但保羅卻以傳福音來理解他的呼求。換句話說,保羅是否因對福音某一種理解,以致他對「馬其頓人」呼聲錯誤理解?當然,我也不能否定保羅的正確,因為我沒有經歷他的異象。

雖然這異象是這個馬其頓人與保羅的事,但這異象已成為基督徒對周遭人的責任之典範。因此,我們有需要對這異象有進一步思考。第一,這個馬其頓人是否可以成為一個典範,讓我們留意其他人的呼求?若可以的話,甚麼人向我們呼求呢?第二,保羅是在異象中聽見這個馬其頓人呼求。我們是否需要訓練,以致能聽見?第三,保羅以傳福音來回應這個馬其頓人的呼求。我們如何回應不同人的呼求呢?或許,更基本的問題是:基督的福音是否只關乎救人靈魂?

誰是當下的馬其頓人?我相信不會有太多人說,就是現在的馬其頓。於我來說,他們是那些滿18歲就不被容許就讀津貼學校的智障人士。他們沒有要求終身都要就讀津貼學校。他們只要求不要將昔日20歲界限降為18歲。誰是當下的馬其當頓人?他們就是那些失業人士。當下失業率約5.3%,但青年人失業率卻是21%。誰是當下的馬其頓人?他們就是因要興建廣深港鐵路而被遷拆的石崗菜園村村民。他們以不同方式向我們呼求,「請過來幫助我們。」你們會如何幫助他們?至於我,我會帶橫額聲援智障學生,也會聯署和參加遊行。有關失業人士的呼求,我會積極推動工作共享、提倡技能工作專業化和發展農業。至於菜園村,我會參與村民抗爭行動,與政府對抗。

對於以上的看法,閱讀者可能有兩個疑問。第一,我所講的回應與福音有甚麼關係?第二,如何認識和回應那些沒有發出呼求的馬其頓人之需要呢?沒有發出呼求代表他們沒有需要還是因不懂發聲或發不出聲?就著第一個問題,耶穌基督宣講

主的靈在我身上,因為他用膏膏我,叫我傳福音給貧窮的人;差遣我報告:被擄的得釋放,瞎眼的得看見,叫那受壓制的得自由,報告上帝悅納人的禧年。(路加福音四18-19)

耶穌基督不只是宣講,更是努力將這宣講實踐。(路加福音七18-23)在耶穌基督復活後,跟隨祂的人已轉向對耶穌基督本身的宣講。結果,傳揚耶穌基督與耶穌基督本身所宣講的卻越來越遠。因此,我對智障人士、失業人士和菜園村居民等等的支援行動是福音的本身,就是實踐耶穌基督在世的實踐。

馬其頓人的呼求似乎已被假設自我說明,無需理解,以致聽見這呼求的人只有回應與不回應的選擇。現實不一定如此。第一,發出呼求的人可能不明白他呼求的內容。第二,呼求內容可能只是一個表徵,不深究問題只會治標不治本。第三,呼求可以只關乎大聲與細聲,一場權力的角力。因此,聆聽者需要學習準確地閱讀呼求者的呼求。在解放神學的傳統下,社會科學成為聆聽者的詮釋工具。然而,社會科學的分析不是最後,所以,神學(包括聖經)需要就社會科學分析的結果作出批判與回應。

例如,有文化研究者支持或同情「靚模」,說,「社會需要寬容,對差異尊重」,「反對『靚模』」反映成人世界對青年人的壓迫,因為成年人已沒有青春」。這些見解可能屬實,但將「靚模」化約為個人選擇和年齡鬥爭時,我們可能已忽略了「靚模」背後的經濟主義已滲透青少年一族。為了利潤,傳媒製造「靚模」,而「靚模」又樂於被製造。就此,神學就需要有立足點去回應「靚模」行為的回應,而不只從個人道德去看這一件事。

然而,社會分析關乎一個客觀的討論,但「馬其頓人」呼聲卻要求我們多一個視野。有人說,「就是上帝的視野。」我不否定,但我對這說法很有保留,因為上帝視野一詞只是一個概念,沒有內容。它很容易被人以此掩飾自己的關心、立場,甚至野心。基於此,我傾向說得清楚。有人以上帝形象說出上帝視野,而我傾向以一份慈悲的視野來描述上帝的視野。沒有慈悲,聽見「馬其頓人」呼聲又如何?當下問題之一不是聽不見,而是缺乏感情投入的聽見。事實上,聖子的道成肉身與被釘在十字架就是慈悲的具體化。一方面,耶穌基督的慈悲使祂行動;另一方面,慈悲要求公義,因為沒有公義的慈悲只像為傷患者包裹傷口,沒有阻止使人受傷的人、社會制度或社會意識。

按以上討論,視而不見的社會隱喻就是聽不見「馬其頓人」呼聲,不但因為他已將「馬其頓人」呼聲等同自己的呼聲,更因為「馬其頓人」已被決定如何發聲。這不是個人能力的問題,而是個人澎漲,即將個人視野取代上帝視野。

2009年8月2日 星期日

我們是說故事的人 (約伯記)

星期二,一家五口就會到韓國一行.相信,我們眾人都渴望這日子.照舊,手上還有千百樣事未處理.生活就是這樣.以下是今日講道的內容.

No matter whether you can tell good stories or not, we are storied people. On the one hand, we are shaped by different stories, such as, our family story and the Hong Kong story. To a large extent we do not have much choice among them, for we are created from them. On the other hand, we have the ability to re-interpret the stories that are shaping our lives, and from there, we write the ending. Since we are not able to choose stories for our own, my focus today is on how to re-interpret the stories, good or bad, that we are inherited.

I recall a biblical figure named Job. Job was a truly good person, who respected God and refused to do evil. (1:8) At that time, there was a general belief that God punished the wicked and rewarded the righteous. This is something like karma (the law of moral causation). However, Job's coming experience was inconsistence to this belief. He had no idea why misfortunes heavily came upon his life. He not only lost his wealth and children, but also painful sores broke out all over his body--from head to toe. (2:7) His misfortune did not gain sympathy and support from his wife, but on the contrary, his wife said to her, 'Why do you still trust God? Why don't you curse him and die?' (2:9) Job did not have the freedom to choose what kind of story he wanted, but misfortunes just came in its time. Despite this, he was not completely passive, for he was free to interpret his tragic story, and interpretation might bring release. This was exactly what Job's friends wanted to offer to him.

The hermeneutical skill that Job's friends offered was that Job's tragedy was the result of his unrighteousness and sin. Since God was righteous, he only punished those who deserved it. It was impossible that God would make the righteous suffered, for this was against God's character as well as their belief in God. However, this interpretation did not help Job, not because he did not believe in the logic of karma, but because the logic karma was not able to explain his experience. He defended by saying that 'I am desperate because God All-Powerful refuses to do what is right. As surely as God lives, and while he gives me breath, I will tell only the truth. Until the day I die, I will refuse to do wrong by saying you are right, because each day my conscience agrees that I am innocent.' (27:1-6) His defense generated further attack and criticism from his friends.

We did not know how long Job had been suffered, but God was silence for some time. Till chapter 38, God finally spoke to Job and his friends. Surprisingly, God did not explain to them why Job was suffered. Rather God showed them his mystery of creation and his providence. In Chinese, we call this 遊花園. It means hanging around, and does not address to the issue. According to chapter 1-2, Job's suffering is the result of the bet between God and Satan. But God does not tell Job and his friends. Why? Firstly, it is because if they know the truth, they would completely lose their faith in God. It is better not to mention about this. Secondly, the bet between God and Satan is not part of the original text. It is a later addition, because the readers are not able to accept God's response to Job's suffering, that is, 'no reason' for his suffering. In fact, Job no longer insists to find out the reason behind his suffering when he has listened to God's saying. Job said, 'Who am I to answer you? I did speak once or twice, but never again.' (40:4-5) Later, he repeated again, 'No one can oppose you, because you have the power to do what you want. You asked why I talk so much when I know so little. I have talked about things that are far beyond my understanding.' (42:2-3) In the midst of God's mystery of creation and providence, the importance and desire to find out the reason is suspended.

The mystery of God makes Job learn to be silence in uncertainty, suffering and frustration, but have faith in God. Besides, it makes Job learn to re-interpret his story not in a mode of karma, but in a paradoxical way, that is, the co-existence of God and suffering, righteousness and suffering. Perhaps, the great discovery of Job is to go beyond the unexplainable tragic in his life, not stuck in his past. This is especially true when you open your hearts to God's creation, you are aware of how little we are. Our problems and difficulties (relational, financial and physical)are real, but they are not as serious as we think.

How can the mystery have such transformative power? I cannot explain it fully, but I can share with you a story. A friend of mine whose child aged 16 is seriously mental handicapped. He is not able to move around, and even he may not be able to know the one who takes care of him is his parent. Till now, my friend does have a lot of questions in my mind. Why did God allow his child to be mental handicapped? Why didn't God prevent medical mistake happened? Someone come to comfort him by saying that you will know it on the resurrected day. I do not know whether he will know the reason finally, because this is Job's experience. Despite this, I share with Job's experience of that the mystery of God's creation and providence has sustained our lives till today. Tragic feeling is still there, but we are still able to live with it. More importantly, we are able to write our unfinished story. The mystery of God's creation and providence provides us a hindsight to re-interpret the past

We may have many bad experiences coming from our family, friends, church and work. And the most tragic is that we may be too occupied by them, and lose the ability to write our own stories. I am not asking you to forget the past, but I do pray that you can experience God's mystery of creation and providence so that you are able to write your stories with joy and passion.

2009年7月26日 星期日

從運用與濫用聖經說起 (以斯帖記)

甚麼是被呼召?
有朋友跟我說,她的朋友認為上帝呼召她參加香港小姐。後來,另一朋友補充說,她參加香港小姐選美時,得到牧師的祝福和全教會的支持。對於呼召一詞,我有數點反省。第一,呼召本身的神秘性。上帝不一定按我們常性出招。再者,在上帝呼召「大晒」的意識下,縱使不認同呼召的內容,我們傾向選擇沉默。第二,呼召似乎往往與一個不普通計劃有關。縱使被呼召者不需要完全清楚這計劃內容,他只要抱著一份戰競的信心參與。所以,我們很少聽見有人說,上帝呼召他今晚吃甚麼菜,因為吃飯太普通了。第三,呼召的內容總不可能太個人化和違反社會道德(這又不一定不可以),所以,聖經支持成為被呼召者一個很重要理據。所謂聖經支持,一個可能就是按所謂靈修的感動,將自己的經驗主導聖經。另一個可能就是以類比形式連繫聖經與當下遭遇,而遭遇的越相似就越容易印證上帝的呼召。

聖經的濫用
就以參加香港小姐為例,聖經的根據可能是以斯帖的經驗。那麼,以斯帖的經驗是甚麼經驗?簡單來說,她以美貌贏取王后,而她王后的位份成為拯救猶太人免被殺戮一個很重要的原因。但這故事是否說明美貌有它的價值而其價值可以帶來權力,改變不公義,造福人民呢?

若以一種經驗相類似閱讀以斯帖的經驗時,有人將參加香港小姐選美合理化。若是,我們是否也可以攪香港靚模選舉?查實,我最大的關心不是選美,而是參加者將美貌與權力拉上關係。不論以經濟或社會地位解釋美貌所牽涉的權力,這是一種對權力的迷思,而缺乏對權力背後的霸權之批判。例如,將美貌等於「三圍數字」、以某種泳裝出現和以娛樂觀眾等等時,這已是一種權力的操縱。可惜的是,在爭取權力時,參加者願意成為這種對女性界定的女性,並將它合理化。我這樣說法是否反對選美會?這不是我今日要討論的課題,而是我對於那以為透過美貌贏取的權力就可以做很多很有價值的事之論述表示懷疑。不錯,香港小姐關懷貧窮人的行動可以推動社會公益,但真正影響社會的卻是德蘭修女式的身體力行,而不是一種宣傳式的呼籲。再者,我沒有看見香港小姐站出來為居港權人士的爭取,卻看見甘神父。同樣,我也沒有看見有香港小姐參加六四晚會。原來,香港小姐的在權力下是在受她倚賴的權力控制。

我尊重人的選擇和自由,但很多選擇不需要有上帝呼召的印證。不是因為我不相信上帝呼召,而是因為成為基督徒就是上帝呼召了。

聖經的運用
說回來,以斯帖的經驗說明甚麼?要解讀以斯帖經驗時,我不認為直接類比式的應用是適合的。事實上,以斯帖怎樣以競爭方式,並成功以美貌成為王后一事與當下香港小姐選美並不等同。第一,以斯帖的經驗是在女性不公平和對王權至上的背景下發生。沒有對父權和王權意識批判下,我們肯定或重複以斯帖經驗只是將悲劇延續。縱使上帝藉以斯帖拯救,但這不等於這制度是合理。第二,美貌不一定需要透過成為王后才可以為自己的民族,甚至為上帝做「大事」。以斯帖的經驗受制於她的時代,但現代社會已經不同了,女性不需要一定以身體和樣貌贏取機會。第三,現代社會特色之一就是商品化,選美就是一個例子。女子只是被包裝,而沒有個性。例如,為何要有年齡限制,為何要未婚,為何不是游泳,也不在海邊,但要穿某種泳裝。因此,我不但會說以斯帖經驗與今日選美無閞,更指出以斯帖的經驗是選美的受害者。那麼,她的經驗向我們說明甚麼。

從故事情節,以斯帖是一個有情的人。(四4)當她知道末底改和猶太人遇上的遭遇時,她的反應是憂愁。又縱使她懷疑末底改建議的可行性(四8-11),她最後仍聽從末底改的建議。或許,我們會質疑她的聽從是由害怕被上帝懲罰而不是情,但若連上帝也不害怕時,這才是人的悲哀。因此,以斯帖不是因為害怕自己受害才去見王,遊說他改變哈曼殺戮猶太人的計劃,反而對上帝敬畏,使她有勇氣去承擔一個她很想,但卻沒有能力承擔的決定。

第二,故事的發展,以斯帖不再停留一個無知少女或只有美貌的角色,反而她主動吩咐末底改(四16-17),並有計謀請哈曼吃兩次飯,來減輕他的懷疑(五)。雖然聖經沒有交代為何王會睡不著,為何他想要讀歷史書解悶,為何他讀到末底改的事,為何哈最剛經過,為何王覺得需要在此刻立即為末底改做一些事。(六1-3)這一切偶爾實在太偶爾了。若非有上帝在背後,猶太人的遭遇不容易改變。雖是如此,但若沒有以斯帖安排哈曼入宮,安排人取歷史書,並閱讀末底改的事給王聽的話,上帝的工作也不容易成全。

以斯帖經驗說出一個女人可以改變一個民族的命運。此外,她是一個有勇氣,也有外交能力和謀略的人。但這一切只有在敬畏上帝下,人才不會只為自己利益著想。

結論
以斯帖的經驗與美貌有關嗎?這只是一個偶爾,而不是必然。再者,美貌與智慧只是一個口號,不是真實的。另一方面,以斯帖的經驗沒有支持選美的正當性,反而提出對上帝敬畏,放下自身利益。這是高委矮肥瘦,美與醜,老與幼的人皆可以。

2009年7月24日 星期五

種族與宗教-維吾爾在中國


(在明報刊登的文章)

雖然中央政府努力將7月5日的新疆騷亂中所牽涉的種族與宗教、維吾爾與漢族、中國與國際伊斯蘭等等的關係淡化,但中央政府的政治上考慮卻避不開維吾爾與宗教密切的關係。事實上,西藏 的藏族不可能與藏傳佛教分割,新疆的維吾爾也不可能與伊斯蘭教分割。透過宗教,維吾爾的身分和價值系統被鞏固。同樣,伊斯蘭教也透過種族建立其影響力。以下,我嘗試從文化政治和宗教政策探討維吾爾在中國。

新疆的出現就是一個問題
清政府要到1759年才全面控制維吾爾居住的地方,並稱這地為新疆(即新的疆土)。雖然自19世紀中葉,漢人逐步移居新疆,但於1864至77年期間,查阿古柏(Yakub Beg)曾反抗清政府管制,自組政府。於1911年期間,新疆曾被中國、英國 和俄國分割控制。此外,分別於1933和1944年,新疆曾先後嘗試獨立。這些歷史反映新疆拒絕認同它是中國一部分。為了進一步控制新疆,中央政府大量將漢人移居新疆來淡化維吾爾在新疆的獨特性,從1949年只有10個百分點的漢人到2000年已增至40個百分點。另一方面,中央政府於1955年成立維吾爾自治區,為要吸納維吾爾的順服。實際上,這距離真正的自治有很大距離,而香港(高度自治 )就是一個例子。這種軟硬政策也反映在維吾爾的文化生活上。例如,2003年《新疆歷史與發展》白皮書有這樣描述,「自西漢(公元前206年至公元後24年),新疆已是多元種族合一的中國不可分割的部分。漢族是其中最早的人民定居在新疆。於公元前101年,漢朝開始派軍開墾農地……」這是中央政府對少數民族的「文化使命」(civilising mission),目的是要證明他們屬於一個聯合的中國。同時,中央政府又向維吾爾和新疆提供優惠政策,其中包括經濟、教育、宗教和生育等等優惠。然而,中央政府亦知道對少數種?

在國際層面,自蘇聯解體後,中國政府已意識到新疆維吾爾將會是一個全球化問題,因為在中亞新成立的國家中多是伊斯蘭教。於1996年,中央政府與哈薩克斯坦、吉爾吉斯坦和塔吉克斯坦等成立上海 合作會議,其中一個重要合作是不支持分離組織。於1999年,俄羅斯 加入,並就邊界安全、打擊恐怖主義、分離主義和犯毒等議題得到共識。烏茲別克於2001年加入上海合作會議。按國務院報告(2002年),在1990至2001年期間,不同維吾爾分離分子發動200多次恐怖襲擊。911事件 給中國政府一個好機會,以打擊恐怖分子為名混淆恐怖分子、分離分子和公民權利支持者的區別。在2002年,美國 聯合國 支持中國定東突厥斯坦伊斯蘭運動為國際恐怖組織。

以上的描述是要指出新疆的出現本身就是一個問題。經過中央政府多年的努力,種族融和有一定成績。然而,在一個中國的原則下,種族融和政策總不能滿足那些爭取更多自主的維吾爾。以下,我將探討中央政府如何從宗教政策回應維吾爾。

中國宗教政策在新疆
就着宗教在新疆的角色,國家宗教事務局長葉小文2000年曾說:

  宗教有能力去連繫和動員少數種族……近年,我們看見一些教派常常利用宗教爭取權力和利
  益,激起麻煩,甚至傷害其他人……他們利用宗教狂熱分裂人民,破壞不同種族的合一。

中央政府於2001年頒布《新疆維吾爾自治區管理宗教事務的規則》取代1994年的規則。在中國,是否依法辦事本身已是一個很嚴重問題,但2001年《規則》卻進一步控制伊斯蘭教活動(留意:維吾爾是伊斯蘭教信徒)。例如,1994年《規則》中反分離活動的指控只針對宗教人士,但2001年《規則》卻適用於所有信徒。此外,2001年《規則》對正常宗教活動和宗教印刷比1994年《規則》有更多限制。事實上,中央政府針對新疆分離活動的政策已於1996年的「嚴打」措施、1997年的「改正社會秩序」、2000年的「改正宗教場所」等等已開始了。911事件後,中央政府推行「嚴打,高壓」措施對付分離分子、宗教極端者和恐怖分子(中央政府稱此為「三股惡勢力」)。如上面所說,中央政府刻意沒有將公民權利爭取者分別出來。結果,任何以宗教名義爭取權利就是宗教極端者和恐怖分子了。

於1953年成立的中國伊斯蘭教協會受中央政府控制,多於伊斯蘭教影響中央政府的宗教政策。自1994年,中央政府提出社會主義與宗教相適應政策後,中國伊斯蘭教協會舉行背誦《可蘭經 》比賽、舉辦麥加朝聖團、以維吾爾語文出版的《中國穆斯林》期刊和出版簡明版《可蘭經》等等。相適應的另一面,就是伊斯蘭宗教教育中需要加插愛國教育,維吾爾的宗教人士並需要參加由中央政府負責的宗教愛國教育。新疆維吾爾自治區黨委書記王樂泉2005年說:

  我們一定要加強對宗教公眾人物管理,並肯定他們符合政治要求。這是第一個基本要求。政
  治要求是:熱愛祖國、支持共產黨領導人和社會主義系統、反對國家分裂主義和非法宗教活
  動、維護國家統一和配合國家法律和政策。

中央政府清楚認識宗教與種族的密切關係,以致它不再選擇以消滅宗教的態度來看待宗教。但在沒有共存的意識下,宗教政策和少數民族政策(《中國的民族區域自治》(2005年))始終不能產生真正的尊重。

結論
經濟發展和中央政府的政治改革將會慢慢容許少數民族有更大的參與,甚至有真實的自治──這是很多評論者的觀點。然而,這條漫長的路是否可以抗衡受國際關係影響的維吾爾運動,我並不太樂觀。

2009年7月19日 星期日

我們宣講甚麼福音 What we proclaim

以為今日還打風(颶風),誰知它快來快去。所以,今早仍要講道,但昨晚的講座取消了。按著教會給我的三代經題,我的分享如下:

Jer 23:1-6 was a very reassuring message for the exiled, for they were promised to be given a home and shepherded. Besides, they would have a bright future. Why were they fallen into such misery, that is, exile? It was not because they were unlucky, but because the shepherds (the kings) had failed to their callings. Their failure not only led to the fall of the nation, but also made their people homeless. Hence, it was so important to have a good king. In fact, God promised them to appoint a new king. He was honest, clever, compassionate and justice. Since this message is addressed to the exiled Israelites in 5-6th century BC, what is its meaning to us? Firstly, I would have to say that the Israelites’ unique experience has provided us a glass to glimpse who God is. He is the God on the side of the victims, powerlessness and homelessness. The God who had saved the people in the 5-6th century would be the same God who saves us now. Secondly, this message has reflected that a king should rule with justice and compassion. Although we may be used to the argument that the demand of Israelites to have a king is against God (1Sam 8), the central issue is not the kingship, but who the king is. When we put these two reflections together, we can conclude that God’s salvation is both personal and structural. No salvation can be fulfilled without making structure justice, and no salvation has meaning without giving one hope. Today, my reflection is primarily based on God’s structural promise to the Israelites,

Someday I will appoint an honest king from the family of David, a king who will be wise and
rule with justice. As long as he is king, Israel will have peace, and Judah will be safe. The name
of this king will be ‘The Lord gives Justice.’

Regarding the promise, we have to ask whether it has been fulfilled in Israelites’ history. Honest to say, the Israelites are not able to identify any ruler as the king whom God has promised till now. In other words, the promise is still an unfulfilled promise. However, we Christians have a different interpretation, for we believe that Jesus Christ is the promised king. But the Israelites find difficulty to accept this, for Jesus Christ does not come with a kingdom and he is not a king in a political sense. The Israelites’ objection is valid, but it is wrong to say that Jesus’ salvation has no intention to revive Israelites’ nation. Instead God’s promise is for all peoples, not just Israelites; God’s salvation is comprehensive, not just political. Hence, the revival of Israelite’s nation is too shallow and superficial to understand God’s promise. Jesus’ life and ministry has reflected the nature of God’s salvation. In short, Jesus’ crucifixion is a result of his practice of justice and compassion. He challenged the unjust social and religious norms, and the represented interest parties. He chose to be with the poor, sinners and marginalized, not the power and the rich. He was put into death, because he refused to support the kingdom of the oppressors. The mistake of the Israelites is that they fail to understand God’s salvation in a macro, radical and comprehensive way. Likewise, we Christians make another great mistake, because we are inclined to spiritualize God’s promise, and ignore the political reality of God’s kingdom.

Both God’s promise to Israelites and God’s promise realized in Jesus Christ have given us a vantage point to reflect the political dimension of salvation. Firstly, those who hold power are always tempted to abuse power for his own benefits and the privileged. Hence, a check and balance of the power is important. During the time of Old Testament, the prophets mostly picked up this duty. They challenged the kings and spoke on behalf of God and the people. Jeremiah was an example. Due to this, they were suffered. In the 21st century, our political structure is very different, and it always has had a built in check and balance mechanism to watch the government and provide protection to the prophets and the protestors. We appreciate people like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi, and we need people like them in society. But they would not need to be suffered if there is a better political structure. I am not saying that democracy can save, but rather democracy, to a large extent, can reduce unnecessary sacrifice. God’s promise of salvation is not simply for the victims, but also to prevent the emergence of victims.

Secondly, even though we know that no earthly government can be compared with the kingdom Jesus Christ represented, it does not mean that it is better for us to wait for the coming kingdom, and do nothing. What God has promised in the Old Testament and the life of Jesus Christ have expressed the quality of a king, that is, honest, clever, just and compassionate. However, it is almost impossible to have such a king, and this is why the king of Israelites is God himself. Despite this, this does not mean that we do not need to have any expectation from a king. On the one hand, we should not mytheologize a king, or he should not mytheologize himself. On the other hand, a demand to be honest, just and compassionate is applied to him. I am not in a position to tell you whether our government has done a good job or not, for you can make your own judgement. What I can share with you is a story of the mentally retarded people. Starting from this September (2009), mentally retarded students aged over 18 would not receive any subsidy to study in schools. Previously, they can remain in the subsidised school till aged 20. Ironically, this policy does not apply to the so-called normal students. You may argue that this policy is fair, for the mentally retarded people may use the excuse of going to schools to avoid working. If this is so, many of the so-called normal students are doing this, but they are not deprived of subsidised education. Justice is not about fair distribution, but about compassion, and therefore, it is just to give preference to the less advantaged.

God’s promise of salvation is both personal and structural. Political salvation cannot be replaced by personal salvation, and vice versa. They co-exist. If missing any one of the dimensions, we are simply proclaiming an opium form of salvation.

2009年7月16日 星期四

死都吾店


在未來日子(2-3星期),真的死都唔店,因為太多講座(包括講道)和 paper.雖然小弟曾於三年前發表一篇有關新彊維吾爾族的論文,但因工作實在太繁忙了,我實在沒有時間改寫在報張發表.雖是如此,但近日與羅民威(時代論壇)談及這事時,我仍禁不住內心衝動主動地提出負責一次講座.事就這樣安排了(7月21日).明報老朋友不知道從何收到消息,立即邀請我將講座資料化為文字,實行一雞多味.本來不打算做甚麼的我,最後還是避不了.

2009年7月13日 星期一

Pepsi in Blue


I like Coca-cola more than pepsi. In Indonesia, I found Pepsi in blue, but no pepsi in black. Is this an authentic pepsi? Guess whether I have taken it or not.

2009年7月12日 星期日

總有出路

這個星期給以賽亞書 43: 14-21 深深吸引. 所以, 不論婚禮訓勉, 靈修分享和講道都環繞這主題. 早上崇拜講道後, 就會與一位 13 年前的學生及其先生一起吃午飯. 隨即, 就要出席一個由 Roundtable 主持的講座, 題目是宗教衝突對國際秩序的影響. 晚上, 就會同parents in law一起晚餐.

Text: Isa 43: 14-21 (There is always a way out)

Since we are so used to the material interpretation of the concept of creation out of nothing, the newness of that 'I (God) am about to do a new thing' (Isa 43:19) is mostly understood nothing related to the previous or the past. In fact, what creation out of nothing is concerned is about the meaningfulness instead of the origin of existence. Also with the deep influence of capitalism, the newness is more identified with replacement of the old, for the old has to go in order that the mechanism of capitalism can smoothly function. Such kind of understanding is very un-ecological.

The rise of the ecological consciousness in the last 40 years reminds us that the newness is more appropriate to be understood in the light of renewal, rebirth or regeneration of the old. The ecological interpretation tells us that the old would not be thrown away or destroyed due to the emergence of the new, but rather the new is a kind of continuity and discontinuity of the old. This is a common theme found in the Bible. The new covenant symbolized by the gospel is not to replace the old symbolized by the law, but the new regenerates the old. Likewise, circumcision practiced in the old covenant is not replaced by the baptism practiced in the new, but the old is not understood exclusively. Resurrection of the body is new, not in a sense of against the body, but in relation to the body in a sense of discontinuity and continuity.

However, you may not find the interpretation correct, for this is not what the text means (Isa 43:14-21), because the Israelites were asked not to remember the former things and consider the things of old (v.18). Ironically, it was God who reminded the Israelities the Exodus event. (v.16-17) The Exodus event was the former thing, but the Israelites who could believe in what God promised in verses 19-20 were dependent upon the remembrance of Exodus event. This ambiguity brings us to reconsider what the former things and the things of the old are in God’s request. In short, Israelites were in exile at that time, and this was why many passages of God’s promise of salvation were found in different chapters of Isaiah. In this context, the former and the old were most likely referred to the so-called glorious time, the Israel nation. In other words, the exiled people considered that the restoration of the nation was the realization of God’s salvation. This was also the belief of the Israelites during the time of Jesus. With this understanding, God’s request of not to remember the former things and the things of the old was to urge the Israelites not to have any dream of restoration of the Israelite nation. Despite this, God still saved them by making them a new people (v.21), and God’s providence was found in their lives. (v.19-20)

However, the application of this passage has to be careful. For instance, does this passage say no to Uighur Christians in Xinjiang, if any, asking for independence? Should they accept the reality? Likewise, does this message say no to Sun Yat Sen’s revolutionary movement against the Ching government? It can’t be denied that the Bible is spoken to the people at that time, but is not restricted to it. If so, how can we understand this passage in a very different context? A common practice is that Christians ignore the context and read the text from a personal sense. What I mean is that Christians just replace the Israelite concern with our own experience. An example of this is the story of the Lutheran Theological Seminary. In the mid 1980s, the old campus of the LTS was under the threat of the confiscation, for the government might have to use the land for building the Shing Mun’s Tunnel. This text (v.19) became the promise as well as the comfort for the president of LTS at that time. That is to say, God would provide a new campus for LTS. This is why the text inscribed on the cross in LTS’s campus. In order not to interpret the text as our wish, I think the key is verse 21, that is, God is going to create the people to declare God’s wondrous act. This new community is created not based on nationalism, but based on the relationship with God. In fact, the promise of a new community is not new, but rather Israelites had forgotten it, because they were absorbed to national identity. Nevertheless, the identity of being God’s people is not in contrast with one’s national identity, but they are not the same. In other words, don’t abuse the name of God for fighting one’s political aim, but there is nothing wrong to fight for political aim as a Christian. The identity of being God’s people still continues even though one has lost the national identity. In fact, one of the reasons of contemporary Israelite and Palestinian conflict is that the Israelites subject being God’s people to the land’s people.

Unlike the Israelites, we Christians are easier to understand being the worshipping community mentioned in verse 21. However, we should not turn the worshipping community into a ghetto characterized by lifestyle, but rather we are asked to declare and witness to God’s wondrous act. What is God’s wondrous act? According to the text, it is God’s promise of salvation. In Chinese, God’s promise is 總有出路 (there is always a way out). Those who are fallen in a very difficult relation always have a way out. Even though it may end up in divorce, God still makes a way in wilderness, and rivers in desert. Likewise, those who have had a very difficult financial burden always have a way out. A way out does not mean to release all financial burden, but rather bankruptcy, if happens, is not the end of the world.

When the Lord said, 'I am about to do a new thing', it is not about destruction. Neither is it a return to the previous glorious stage. Rather it is a promise of salvation. It requests us to have the courage to be separated from the ideology that we are identified with, and at the same time, to believe that we have future even though it seems impossible. The emergence of the worshipping community is a witness to it.

2009年7月11日 星期六

推薦張婉雯新書出版

認識婉雯是很偶然, 但有趣的是, 她竟與內子認識. 因著她,
我開始稍為認真思考有關動物倫理和動物神學的議題. 生命就是從相遇開始, 與人相遇, 與動物相遇 ...

有幸, 我竟然可以在婉雯新著寫了以下一篇反省文章.

情與理-動物與人的相遇

2005年8月,當颶風Katrina吹襲美國時,有當地居民選擇
不疏散,因為他們不忍心留下他們的朋友(貓與狗)獨自 生活(當時的救援行動是先救人,後救動物)。我問內子,「你會留下與貓狗一起還是選擇與我們疏散?」她亳不疑惑,便說,「我會留下。你們可以彼此照顧,但貓狗們就不可以了。」

2009年6月,一位朋友對一隻剛出世不久而被遺棄的小貓動了慈心,將她帶回家。奈何,他妻子反對。就這樣,這小貓已到了我家暫住。內子和對責任心不明白的女兒們很喜歡她,家中的大狗和小魚也沒有反對。沒有表態的我也不需就她的去留表態。

這兩件不同的事使我與動物建立一份很複雜的關係。一方面,動物可能會令我失去內子(當然,我也可能會選擇留下與動物共存);另一方面,我的家成為被遺棄動物之家。這兩件不同的事卻有一個共同的主題,就是同情。留下照顧動物是因情,讓動物留下也是因情。這份情是否只是因一時衝動?或同情是否可以成為倫理基礎?

同情在倫理學上並不佔很高地位(尤其在啟蒙運動後),因為同情太個人、太情緒和太容易改變了。雖然同情可以成為人偏見的基礎,但它也可以是一種對牢人理性的顛覆力量。可惜的是,我們社會卻傾向從科學性、思辯性和普遍原則等等看事物,不但因為這代表客觀,更因為這易於控制(傅柯的論點)。在理性主義主導下,我們的世界變得冰冷、僵硬和官僚。結果,我們失去能力,也沒有時間去接觸一個非以理性為主的世界,與他建立關係。這非以理想世界不是一個不理性世界,而是一個要求我們用心去接觸世界。在本文,這非以理性為主導的世界是一個動物世界。或許,有人質疑我對當下世界的批評,因為現代人也養寵物。但問題是,他們是寵物,而不是動物。

為了要維護一個非以理性為主世界的合理性,其中的支持者嘗試提出物種主義(speciesism)為動物伸冤。簡單來說,物種主義認為因對人這物種給予有不成比例的道德價值,人就很自然地比其他物種更有價值。這對一個以人為核心的社會絕對是一個很嚴厲的批判,但物種主義不足以建立對非人的物種之尊重,因為建議者傾向從性別歧視和種族歧視等思維來理解物種主義。結果是,物種主義是基於物種的相似性,而不是不同性。相反,我認為公義是對不同有不同對待,而不是一視同仁。只有如此,不同才不會需要同化,反而可按他們的不同繼續生活。另一方面,不同使那些弱勢的不同者可以獲得額外體恤,而這體恤是基於對差異的尊重。然而,一個不懂用情去接觸世界的人會選擇對不同者歧視和壓迫,不但因為他不明白差異,也因為他沒有空間被改變。

情不是對立於理,而是理不必然是唯一和最後。當要為動物權利找出其合法性時(例如,他們是否可以說話或是否可以理性思考),同則以動物可經驗痛與苦作為基礎。我們不排除後者理解可能仍是人的同情投射在動物身上,而非真是與動物自己的情說話。然而,當看見被遺下的貓狗而變得很孤癖和沒有安全感的樣子時,他們真的感受到苦。又當看見自由貓狗被捉拿和驅逐時,他們的慌張是真實的。情的倫理不是要求我們殺動物時要快要準,而是要求我們拒絕用動物做醫療實驗和非醫療測試,甚至考慮不吃肉。此刻,我明白,也接受內子選擇留下照顧貓狗的決定。她對貓狗的情也是貓狗對她的情,而這情可以走出理性之外。

婉雯的書就是一本有關與貓談情的書。其中,我體驗一種非以理性為基礎的情,所以,婉雯可以很輕鬆地放下步伐去接觸他們、很自然地與他們建立友誼、很投入地為他們伸冤,並很尊重地維護他們的自耕地。

2009年7月10日 星期五

離婚與再婚

明天, 將要在一個婚禮訓勉, 但今晚, 卻要在一個聚會跟人討論離婚. 這是生活的反諷.

1. 聖經對離婚者的態度
* 約翰福音第四章有關耶穌與撒瑪利亞婦人相遇的故事:
+ 節16-18,耶穌沒有評論她的婚姻狀況(她是一個曾離婚的人)。再者, 作者約翰也沒有用
離婚(或被休和再嫁)這字眼描述她。
  + 節29,這婦人的反應反映她與耶穌的對話中得到肯定,因為她被剝奪的悲哀
(disenfranchised grief) 得到平反。
* 約翰福音第八章有關被捉淫婦的故事
+ 耶穌的反應代表一種審判的懸掛。
* 馬可福音十1-12和馬太福音十九1-12
+ 肯定婚姻的不可分開性,但接受有例外的。
  + 馬可沒有就分開一事提出條件,但馬太卻提出條件。這不同的記錄反映不同處境。在馬太
處境,當時的群體面對Hillel和Shammai對休妻不同理解,以致耶穌回應他們。
* a 當時,只有男性才有休妻的權力(申命記廿四1),所以,耶穌站在弱勢女人那一方。
b 審判的懸掛之原則,即不是事事需要作道德判斷。
  c 不同處境應對離婚可以有它不同處理。

2. 離婚的神學反省
* 當婚姻關係已陷入不可復修地步時,離婚是罪抑或不離婚才是罪?當罪是關係的疏離時,離
婚可以是坦白承認關係的破裂。關係修復不等於只有再相愛,而是不仇恨。
* 按馬丁路德兩個國度理解,婚姻屬於世界的國度。這國度不是完美,反而回應人的罪。所
以,離婚是一個合乎世界國度的制度,而這世界國度是屬於上帝的。
* 為何人不可以在婚姻犯錯?為何在婚姻的犯錯只有修補關係的選擇?恩典如何可以在離婚與
再婚中體驗?

3. 離婚與牧養
* 從婚姻中釋放
+ 當無法支持婚姻關係;
  + 當婚姻已失去其目的;
  + 當有其他責任比婚姻責任更大。
* 小心運用受害者的心態看待離婚者,因為這可能會製造仇恨。
* 對被剝奪悲哀的再思:這是不道德,悲哀是人的權力。
* 離婚是否罪?我會說,這不是上帝的心意,但上帝的恩典仍舊.

2009年7月9日 星期四

上帝要為你們做一件新事

以下是我將要在一個婚姻中的訓勉

約一年前,當我答應xx為他和xy做婚前輔導時,那時xy並沒有應承與xx結婚。不知道是否xx明白不是決定結婚後才進行婚前輔導的道理還是他想藉婚前輔導這幾個字給xy一點壓力,但一次會面後,xy對我說,她有信心與xx一起。xx,你成功了。

很多人習慣用因果關係看拍拖與結婚。所以,結婚是對多年拍拖的收成,而婚禮就是對這「流淚撒種,歡呼收割」的慶祝(詩一百廿六5)。查實,從因的角度比從果的角度去理解婚姻可能更適合,因為結婚真是新的開始。當結婚是因時,結婚就絕不是戀愛的墳墓,而是新生活的開始。例如,管教xx的將是xy而不是xx的母親,照顧xy將是xx而不是xy的父母。xx,你準備好被管教這新開始嗎?xy,你對xx照顧你這新開始有信心嗎?

以上所講婚姻的新只屬於一個適應新生活的範圍,但婚姻的新更關乎是創造新生活的機會。或許,雙方父母聽見這話就很贊同,甚至微笑起來,因為創造新生活的機會跟他們抱孫的渴望可能不謀而合。我相信xx和xy沒有否定這理解,但你們也會從創造去理解婚姻的新。雖然我沒有機會拜訪你們的新居,但從你們口中知道,你們已預備一間房間作祈禱之用。這是婚姻的新創造的好例子。我相信你們會在生活中有很多新創造。

當我們集中從創造新生活去理解婚姻時,我們可能慢慢只專注自己的安樂窩。例如,家居佈置、由小屋搬大屋和旅遊計劃等等。這一切都是重要的,但婚姻的新也是上帝要在祂設立的婚姻中為你們創造一件新事。對於這一件新事時,你們可能有點緊張。例如,上帝是否要使你們的家成為無家者的家或要將你們一切賀禮變買照顧窮人?我不知道,但上帝為你們創造的一件新事是關乎一份禮物。因為這是禮物,所以,這新事是祝福,不是要求;恩典,不是責任。因此,上帝給你的禮物不是一次過的禮物,也沒有有效期。今日收完禮物後,明日會再收,下星期也會有。上帝要為你們創造一件新事就是上帝的承諾與恩典不減不退。事實上,今日婚禮的順利、親朋的祝福, 雷雨的到賀等等也是上主為你們預備的禮物。這新事沒有因著婚禮完成而結束,反而今日只是一個開始,一個對上帝要為你們創造一件新事的見證。

當生活可能使你們心靈和生活的空間變得擠迫時,不要忘記上帝要為你們做一件新事,使你們從擠迫的生活找回生命創造的空間。

祝願你們永結同心,也願你們在婚姻的新預留更新的發現。

2009年7月4日 星期六

一件新事

逗留印尼Malang已有三天多.除了開會,我沒有特別任何寫作.雖然手上還有一大堆未完成工作,但總想在晚上可以無無聊聊地過,不想太有目的生活.事實上,間中無聊卻可以為生活帶來創造性,因為它製造空間,而空間就容許有創造的可能.

開會期間,我負責一次晚禱.除了詩歌和禱文外,我有一篇3分鐘的分享.

Since Christian concept of creation out of nothing is mostly understood in a material sense, the newness of that 'I (God) am about to do a new thing' (Isa 43:19) is nothing related to the previous or the past. It is a completely new. Also with the deep influence of capitalism, the newness is more identified with replacement of the old, for the old has to go in order that the mechanism of capitalism can smoothly function. However,I am afraid of that this understanding can be very un-ecological.

The awareness of the ecological consciousness in the last 40 years reminds us that the newness is more appropriate to be understood in the light of renewal, rebirth or regeneration of the old. The ecologica linterpretation tells us that the old would not be thrown away or destroyed due to the emergence of the new, but rather the new is a kind of continuity and discontinuity of the old. In fact, this is also the biblical message. The new covenant symbolized by the gospel is not to replace the old symbolized by the law, but the new regenerates the old. Likewise, circumcision practiced in the old covenant is not replaced by the baptism practiced in the new, but the old is not understood exclusively. Resurrection of the body is new, not in a sense of against the body, but in relation to the body in a sense of discontinuity and continuity.

When the Lord said, 'I am about to do a new thing', it is not about destruction. Neither is it about the replacement. Rather the newness requests us to have the courage to allow changes, and at the same time, to believe that the old has future .

2009年6月28日 星期日

我們的七一



於七一當日沿路發售,全書厚達256頁,多達17萬字,售價HK$71,大家請多多支持!聽聞在 7Eleven 也有得買。

作者有:

馬傑偉,馮可立,龔立人 ,呂大樂,戴耀廷,陳韜文,陳健民,陸恭蕙,單仲階,黃英琦,羅永生,邵家臻,練乙錚,歐贊年,劉銳紹,馬國明 ,成名,鄭宇碩,陳士齊,張超雄,洪清田,劉慧卿,曾建成,葉蔭聰,林藹雲,梁國雄,蕭若元等等。

2009年6月26日 星期五

活得好

自擔起香港基督徒學會署理總幹事一職後,我就需要以學會身分出席不同聚會和活動。上星期六,我參加一個有關基督徒參與公共社會的研討會。明日,我會出席一個有關從菜園村看城鄉經濟的可持續發展的城鄉論壇。對於這些研討會,我沒有太大壓力,因為我很習慣 '講野'。然而,今晚,我卻出席一個爭取居港權十周年燭光晚會。除了六四外,我較少出席其他抗爭活動。雖然這不是我一直關注的事,但看見參加者的積極投入,我祈禱說,上主,聽他們多年流淚的禱告。

當晚,我說:

我們在這裡聚集,是見證家庭團聚的重要。我們懷念著我們的家人,也紀念那些已沒有時間等候團聚而離世的朋友。

我們曾因被剝奪家庭團聚權利而感到憤怒,無奈和沮喪。但因著家人和朋友的愛與支持,我們今天仍活得好。活得好不是對不公義無條件接受,而是以活得好揭露政府的謊言。就是我們的家人團聚不會連累香港人,而是對香港的祝福。

當下的風雨提醒我們曾風雨同行,現在也是,將來也會是。祝願他們各人要活得好(縱使生活艱難)。這是向家人的承諾,也是對政府謊言的抗議。