Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cooking up imaginary language rules.

I have always wondered if it’s a peculiarity found only in Singaporeans or whether I am the only one who seems to attract their attention but I'm sure you too have been told by someone in a serious tone that your sentence is ungrammatical or you have used a wrong word. Yes, this is a strange State that tells its citizens to speak the Queen’s English and holds official campaigns organised by a Government-backed committee to stamp out Singlish, a distinctive and colourful variant of English, and to promote the sort of language that Fowler would have approved.

But are the campaigns successful and are the people of Singapore more correct in their use of English? I’m afraid all they have done is to make the people less imaginative and what is worse, they come up with imaginary rules that hamper normal speech. And all the hype about the importance of speaking good English has made the average Singaporean watch like a hawk for “incorrect” and “ungrammatical” use of English but alas, they usually get it wrong.

Years ago, I accompanied my wife to a dinner hosted by her superior and during conversation, I mentioned how a friend of mine was “talked into having surgery” by a surgeon in private practice. “You can’t talk a person into having surgery”, said my wife’s colleague. I readily agreed. Naturally, that would not be ethical, particularly if the surgery was not essential but purely cosmetic. “No,” he insisted, “you cannot SAY that. You PERSUADE a person to have surgery. You don’t TALK HIM INTO having surgery.” I was confused. What’s the difference? Seeing my confusion, his wife clarified, “It’s just my husband. He’s very particular about the proper use of language.” I still didn’t get it – was he objecting to my use of a colloquial phrasal verb but then, I was speaking and you can’t get more colloquial than that! A lot of witty retorts came to my head but I let it pass.

That was a long time ago but it was by no means an isolated incident. My memory isn’t good and I can’t recall many similar incidents but something happened quite recently – just a week ago, in fact – which I shall now recount. I was in church to play my clarinet in an ensemble at an ordination service – that’s the service that turns a few lay persons into clergymen. I happened to see the Senior Pastor of my church walking by as I was tuning my instrument and I casually asked him if the bishop was “giving the sermon”. I remarked further that I found the bishop a little long-winded. He looked at me disapprovingly and I thought he was going to give me a piece of his mind because of my indiscreet remarks about the bishop’s sermon but he had weightier matters on his mind. “You don’t say GIVE a sermon”, he said solemnly.

“You prefer DELIVER a sermon?” I asked, thinking that he wanted something more than a monosyllabic verb for something as important as a sermon.

“No, you don’t say that either. You PREACH a sermon.” Despite my many experiences with Singaporeans, I still didn’t get it, so obtuse was I. He had to clarify further that I had used the “wrong” verb.

I have just done a simple google search and even the BBC talks about the Archbishop of Canterbury “giving a sermon”. See:

My policy is to allow everyone to express himself in whatever way he pleases without telling him he is wrong even when I am absolutely certain that all grammarians today will say he is grammatically wrong. Should I have told my wife's colleague and the pastor that they were wrong in attempting to correct me? Let me tell you another story of what happened to me when I was a student in the National University of Singapore and you can decide for yourself if it’s all right to tell them that they are wrong to make up imaginary rules for the English language.

I was queuing up for dinner one evening at the university hostel and I was talking to a friend. Apparently, I had used the word “perceptiveness” in my conversation and a student who was ahead of us in the queue turned to me and said that the noun was “perception” and not “perceptiveness”. I knew her slightly and she majored in what was then called “Double English”, ie she read both English Language and English Literature. Thinking that she had not been listening to the context of my conversation, I clarified that the noun of “perceive” was “perception” but the noun of “perceptive” was “perceptiveness” and my sentence could only allow for “perceptiveness” and not “perception”.

You would have thought mine was a harmless reply. After all, she interrupted my conversation with a friend and all I did was to tell her the context of my conversation. But no, her reaction was one of outrage. She stormed out of the dining hall and she avoided me like the plague throughout my stay in the hostel. Why such a small and insignificant matter should affect her so badly is something I really cannot understand. After all, English isn’t our native language and I can think of a string of expletives for her attitude that I can only express in Hokkien, my native tongue. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have thanked her and continued talking to my friend.

It doesn’t surprise me that Singapore isn’t featured in the international literary scene. Two writers from Malaysia have been long-listed for the Booker but in spite of all the good-English campaigns, Singaporean novelists have only won awards from the Singaporean Government and they seem unable to do any better.

The beauty of the English language lies in the diversity of its vocabulary. It’s got more words in its entire vocabulary than any other languages in the world. And it does not outstrip French (that’s the second language in the world with the most number of words) by just a small margin. English has more than twice the number of words found in French.

It makes good sense if Singaporeans could learn to use a wider range of words and not stick to merely PERSUADE, PREACH and PERCEPTION and mind you, I’m only confining myself to words beginning with the letter P.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dying for one's faith?!?!?

Really, we should all be honest with ourselves. Can any of us really say we believe in something that cannot be shown to be false?  And yet I see perfectly sane men and women who are absolutely confident in their belief in God.

We all know that nobody can prove or disprove God just as nobody can prove or disprove that there is an invisible flying celestial teacup circling the planet Jupiter, if I may borrow Bertrand Russell's analogy. No sane person believes in this celestial teacup.  But there are perfectly sane people who believe in God.  And I don't mean the sort of belief that you and I probably have. I'm talking about an honest-to-goodness, heaven-strike-me-dead-if-it-ain't-true kind of belief.  I've read of people who are willing to be killed rather than renounce this unfalsifiable God.

It has never ceased to amaze me that in 16th century England people were willing to die rather than confess that there are two or seven sacraments, depending on whether a Protestant or a Roman Catholic was in power at the time.  Many Christians seem to set much store on the willingness of someone to die as proof of the veracity of the cause.  Since the early Christians were willing to die for the faith, it must necessarily follow that Jesus did rise from the dead, so they argue.

Martyrdom does not at all show that God or the resurrection or the celestial teacup is real. It only shows how illogical, unthinking and anti-intellectual the human brain can be.  We see a lot of such examples in nature - the picture of beached whales come to mind immediately.  These are whales that head for the beach and certain death for no apparent reason.  The instinct of every living thing is to preserve its life.  Beached whales and martyrs have overcome that instinct as a result of some faulty brain wiring.  It does not do one jot of good to the credibility of the cause for which martyrs have laid down their lives.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's my blood test tomorrow!

It has just dawned on me that my blood test is tomorrow. It's been earlier arranged between my wife and the maid that we'd be eating deep-fried chicken liver as one of the dishes for dinner tonight. I just vetoed everything and got my maid to cook beef in Chinese rice wine and fried rice with Chinese sausages (lup cheong), all cooked in extra-virgin olive oil. That should lower my cholesterol somewhat. Chicken liver would have pushed my cholesterol sky high.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Oh, no! Not again!

It's happening again. Whenever the Board of ACS meets and it gets reported in the papers, the general feeling is there is trouble of the sexual kind. This is the third time in recent times that an accusation is made against principals (yes, it's in the plural) and a teacher for "inappropriate behaviour".  Although the two earlier cases ended in an acquittal (on appeal) in one case and a dismissal of the accusation by the Board of Governors in the other, one cannot help wondering why ACS is attracting such negative media attention.  It is shameful for all of us pious Methodists to hear the more unruly segments of our society calling this Methodist school "AC-DC S" or worse, "AC-DC ass" and the motto, "THE BEST IS - GET INTO ME".

What solution is there for us?  We who are heterosexual Christians should get off our high horses and recognise that there are some of us who are homosexuals and it's not a matter of choice.  We should stop demonizing gays.  Many gay Christians repress their sexuality because the church tells them homosexual acts are sinful. In later life, they seek sexual expression in a way that may appear anti-social and in some cases, downright criminal.

I'm assuming for the sake of argument that all 3 accusations are groundless and false. Why then are there these accusations?  Why do we not have such accusations in any of the other boys' schools in Singapore?

Here is my theory.  The accusers know that the church is dead opposed to homosexual activities.  They also know that as long as we continue to demonise homosexuality, there will be those who repress their sexual urges for a time.  They know that an accusation against some authority figure in such a school will carry more weight because there is a greater reason for such a person to conceal his sexuality because of the church.  It will be so much more believable. 

The solution: the church should immediately change its homophobic stand.  For those of us who find homosexual unions repulsive, we have to remind ourselves that we have to deal with our own inner demons - our bigotry and prejudices.  I remember standing in a queue and a lesbian couple behind me were making out openly. I remember having to tell myself to be tolerant of those who were different from me. The prejudices I had against the couple behind me are no different from the racist prejudices mankind had a long time ago.

Once our society can accept this minority group, there will be no more false accusations.  A gay principal can tell the school that he will reside in the boarding house with his male partner and all will be well.  A hundred years ago, the same principal would have been in trouble if he had walked into the school and introduced his wife who was of a different skin colour.  Our human race has finally got rid of racism.  Let's now get rid of homophobia.

PS. It has just occurred to me that the other boys' schools run by the Anglicans, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics do not seem to have this problem even though these churches presumably take a homophobic stand.  In any event, one can't go wrong if one gets rid of homophobia completely.

PPS.  I have just read my post again and I want to make one point clear.  I'm by no means saying that the accusations are in fact false.  I'm not interested in the actual cases.  I only want to explore the general problems that I see within the church.  Like I have said earlier, for the purpose of examining the issues affecting the church, I am ASSUMING that the accusations are false.  I am turning real events into hypothetical cases in order to look at the issues more clearly.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yoopsies doodles! Look at what I'm reading

My statistics counter shows that my readership is usually at its lowest ebbs when I'm talking about the books I'm reading.  Most people I know just aren't interested in books. I've blogged about books that ruined my faith in God, etc but my counter clocks a low readership. It's not earth-shattering enough. But this book is surely different? I suppose some will sit up now and listen?  It took me two days to get this book. I'll tell my story in detail soon and it will appear in this entry. But here's a pic of the book I'm reading now.  I hear it's the coolest book in town. If you don't agree, well, let's see if you are able to get a copy!  So there!

Here's the story I promised:
It's really quite simple. I have no interest in executions and how the State punishes criminals.  In normal circumstances, I would not touch this book even if it were served to me on a silver platter.  But the Singaporean police has sprung into action and with surprising speed, they arrested the author and warned the book shops to withdraw the book from their shelves.  It was reported in all the newspapers that the government had not banned the book but the book shops had been "advised" not to sell it.

What's not banned is not illegal. A book shop may simply thank the police for their advice but refuse to heed it.  Why should it? After all, it's perfectly legal to sell the book. If the book is indeed all that harmful, surely it behoves the government to ban it?

I went to JB on 27 July but I was told at MPH that the book was sold out. I placed a reservation for the book and made my payment. The next day, I got a call from MPH informing me that the book was available. I rushed down immediately and got my book.

And I am not the least bit disappointed. The book is earth-shatteringly gripping. I would have gone to JB ten times if that was what was necessary for me to get hold of the book.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There's prata and there's prata.

No prata, absolutely no prata in the entire length and breadth of Singapore can taste quite like this prata:

It's indisputably the best prata I've ever eaten. The lighter curry is dahl and it's cooked better than any Singaporean dahl. The darker curry is mutton curry and it's simply out of this world. But the teh tarik is not special. It's good but I've tasted better in Singapore.

Here's a closer pic of the heavenly prata:

I had this in JB. Why can't Singaporean prata sellers pull up their socks and cook us comparable pratas? After having eaten this, I won't ever touch Jalan Kayu pratas ever again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Torsay breakfast

There's nothing more pleasant than an onion rawa torsay for breakfast washed down with aromatic masala tea.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why I could not be in church today

I would have gone to church and played in the Wind Ensemble (so inviting is the company of the wonderful people in it) if not for some urgent errand I had to run.  Since today was Youth Ministry day and the letter to church musicians made it clear that we did not have to play for the first half of the service (the youths would be performing), I figured that today was the day of least disruption.

My errand brought me to a residential estate and I was surprised to see trees decked with bright decorations. But Christmas is half a year away. What can be the reason for this?

Here's a clearer pic of the lights:

Delicious Korean cuisine.

We'll be doing this often.

Now, this is the real specialty. The fried chicken is really out of this world. There are several different kinds and we intend to try all of them over the next few weeks. It's not greasy and yet the meat is succulent and fresh.

The sushi is pretty good. For those of us who value our health and do not wish to have liver flukes in us which we need not have since our ancestors first discovered fire to cook our meat, this sushi is just right. Nothing in it is raw.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Delicious Indian cuisine

This is what I had for dinner

Sambal chicken

 Sambal aubergine

 Masala chicken

Sambal fish

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Wrath of God

One act of God after another. It sure looks as if God is upset with us!

Click here for Yahoo news 
Photo from Yahoo Singapore News:

Freak weather claims first fatality

Do be careful when you're out in the storm.

Click here for the news 

Photos from Channel News Asia:

A typical breakfast in Singapore

This is what most Singaporeans eat.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My flat tyre

Earlier, I mentioned the flat tyre I had on Friday night.  That's been fixed.  I must have run onto a nail.  There was a hole in the inner tube.  Here's a pic of my tyre in the workshop, attended to by professionals.  
 It's a simple job of replacing the inner tube.

The state of my faith

Someone recently asked me how I would sum up the state of my current faith.  I don't think I've mentioned much about my faith in this blog of mine.  I did talk about my early beliefs as a child and some of the books I've read on religion (see for example, this blog entry) but I haven't really written about my current faith.

This was what I told (or sang to) my friend facetiously, "My head is saying, 'Fool, forget Him (He doesn't exist!)'.  My heart is saying, 'Don't let go'. Hold on to the end, that's what I intend to do."

That about sums up everything.

Monday, July 19, 2010

7th Sunday after Trinity

It was a dark and dreary afternoon and the rain came down fast and furious.  Enough of cliches!  Naturally, I was reluctant to go to church. But I did so and I was early too!  I've got to be early if I managed to park in the VIP car park.  Peter gave a demonstration of his iPad and it was really impressive.  He and Sarah read their part from the music score in his iPad but since my score was different, I had to stick to hard cold paper made from timbre hewn in the dwindling rainforests!

Lunch in Toa Payoh

It's very hard to find a seat here but we managed to nudge and elbow half a dozen other diners away to secure a table.  And this was what I had.  Just look at the succulent char siew.  Before I forget, this eatery is below the multi-storeyed car park in Toa Payoh Central.

A word of caution: you might want to get your Coke ready for the food here, particularly if you are susceptible to the Chinese restaurant syndrome.  They don't go easy on the msg here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reporter was handcuffed for his own "personal safety".

This is what I gathered from the Temasek Review which is an amazing online news source.  See

Here's what it says:

Singapore Police: Wanbao photographer “handcuffed” for his own “personal safety”

According to a press statement from the Singapore police, Lianhe Wanbao reported Mr Wu Qing Shun was handcuffed and detained by the police for his own “personal safety.”
Mr Wu was handcuffed by a police officer when taking photos of flooding at Upper Bukit Timah Road yesterday morning. He was later led to outside a condominium where he was detained for one hour.
The police claimed that Mr Wu was handcuffed as he was posing a “danger” to himself and others. He was released after “assessment” which confirmed that he would not “hinder” the police’s “rescue operations.”
The fracas sparked a massive outcry in cyberspace with many netizens lampooning the Singapore police for gross “misuse” of power. Public confidence in the Singapore Police Force has also sunk to a new low.
Lianhe Wanbao did not buy the police’s explanation as well and reserved its right to pursue further legal action against the Singapore police.
However, the Singapore police is adamant that it did nothing wrong and sent a threatening message that anybody convicted of ”interfering” with the police carrying out its “public duty” will be sentenced to a jail term no less than three years or fined up to $2,500 or both.
The Singapore police is overwhelming powerful in Singapore with no independent bodies such as a commission on police misconduct to check on it.

Is it an offence to take pics of the flood in Singapore?

Just read the link below. Shocking!  If the policeman is not severely punished for his improper and abusive behaviour, it's natural for the public to think that he was merely following orders that came from above and ultimately, a link will be made to the political leaders.  This is highly damaging. The policeman must be severely punished. Or if he was merely following orders, some confession is in order.

I'll just reproduce the article below. It's taken entirely from the website above:

Mr Wu, a senior photographer with LianHeWanBao who went to the scene of flooding at Upper Bukit Timah Road to take pictures of the flood ended up being handcuffed by a Policeman and detained without reasonable cause for over an hour.
Singapore experienced a heavy downpour early saturday morning which caused flooding in Braddell Road, Changi Road, Joo Chiat, Telok Kurau,  Geylang and Bukit Timah.
According to Mr Wu, he was at Upper Bukit Timah Road around 7am taking pictures of a car that had been swept onto the road kerb. When he wanted to venture further for more pictures of other cars that were stranded in the knee deep water, a Policeman who was seated in a Police Car nearby put on his rain coat and approached him.
The Policeman asked Mr Wu to leave the scene but Mr Wu politely requested that he be allowed to take a few more pictures. Without any warning, the Policeman took out his handcuff and cuffed Mr Wu’s right hand and pulled him to the side of the road by the handcuff. The Policeman also threatened to bring him back to the Police Station.
Mr Wu then asked the Policeman why he is being handcuffed since he is not a criminal nor did he commit any offence but got no response. He subsequently reach for his handphone wanting to record this incident but the Policeman immediately removed his handcuff and led him to a nearby condominium, forbidding him from leaving claiming an Investigating Officer will be attending to him. He was subsequently allowed to leave after an hour without any further action.
Mr Wu claims that the marks left by the handcuff are still visible after 5 hours, a result of the Policeman pulling on the handcuff while forcing him to leave the scene.
A senior photographer with over 30 years of experience, Mr Wu felt insulted, humiliated and is very angry.

Chinese Version Below

 By Wu Shao Jun

Char kway teow

Dropped my daughter off in her school and had breakfast with my son in Ghim Moh. The famous char kway teow stall was open and for the first time in my life, I saw only four or five people queuing up.  I immediately joined the queue.

One mouthful is all it takes for anyone to understand the reason for the long queue of customers. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Story of the Beetle Collector

I had signed up for a talk in NUS but I was in no mood to drive there.  Neither was I in the mood to take a cab there.  Public transport was out of the question; it would be far too inconvenient.  The only attractive means of transport for me was... 


But it was raining (and had been raining the whole day) and I thought I would give the talk a miss, so averse I was to driving.  But I soon noticed that the rain had stopped even though the clouds were still dark.  I took the bike out.

And it was such a pleasant ride. It took me only 30 minutes to get to NUS. Locked my bike at the bike shelter which was just in front of the lecture theatre and took a pic.

There was time enough for me to change into a fresh t-shirt and place my sweat-soaked t-shirt into my bag.

I then listened to the one-hour talk by a man who is truly in love with the subject of his talk, having spent 30 years researching it and who has even contracted malaria in the Amazon where he retraced the steps of his beloved Alfred Wallace.

I took a quick pic (so I could post it in this photo blog of mine) just before the talk.  

At the end of the talk, during the Question-and-Answer session, I felt I had to put in a good word for Darwin.  Didn't Darwin urge the scientific community to give Wallace a pension even though they were reluctant because Wallace was an irrational spiritualist who attended seances?  But the diehard Wallace fan replied that Darwin could very well have done that because he felt bad about having stolen the idea of evolution from Wallace.  Interestingly, there were others who came to Darwin's defence.

Ultimately, it's never safe to accept apocryphal anecdotes.  That the theory of evolution by natural selection is the brainchild of Darwin's is indisputable.  Darwin was brilliant to have come up with this wonderful theory that has been validated by a preponderance of evidence that continues to emerge right up to our time.  

I am also heartened by the fact that in all the academic talks that I have attended in Singapore, I have yet to encounter a single flat-earther who insists that evolution is false or that an intelligent Designer (notice the capital "D") created it all.  I would blush crimson if that should happen.

The evening would have been perfect but for a puncture in my rear tyre on my way home. My wife picked me up in the vehicle I had been trying to avoid.  I was a little upset with the puncture because the carbon emission would have been almost the same if I had driven there and back home.  But the comfort is it's not every day that I have a puncture and I think I'm doing my best to be as green as I can be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"I still have my right hand"

When I first read the headlines, I said to myself, "Sure, they call it robbery but it's probably a street fight and the victim is most likely a secret society member who was attacked by a rival gang."

But something else caught my eye.  This boy is no ordinary boy.  He was the Captain of the canoe team of Raffles Institution, the nation's top school.  This was a definite case of robbery and all doubt in my mind vaporised instantly.  He was set upon by a large group of knife-wielding men and he was hacked and left bleeding to die.  But he was saved by a passer-by some 6 hours or so later.

Re-attachment surgery was done on his palm that was severed in the attack. But four of his fingers on his left hand became gangrenous and had to be amputated.  This picture is taken from the Straits Times (12 July 2010):

What the boy says in the Straits Times on 12 July 2010 surprised me somewhat.  I had expected him to be bitter about what had happened.  There did not appear to be the slightest trace of defeatism or negativity in his speech.

The time will come in my life when some misfortune strikes.  That's inevitable in this vale of tears.  I may be knocked down by a car and be crippled for life or I may be taken ill with a terminal cancer.

When that happens, I will remember what this boy says and I hope to be able to repeat his words, "After all, I still have my right hand."

Here's the story from the Straits Times (click on it for a larger picture):

Monday, July 12, 2010

Portuguese Playboy features Jesus in it!

You wouldn't have thought that this would happen in Portugal with its Fatima shrine and large Roman Catholic population.  But here it is, the Portuguese Playboy has Jesus making a star appearance.  You may think it's all blasphemous smut but Playboy has a more noble intention.  It is a tribute to mark the death of Nobel laureate Jose Saramago whose novel, The Gospel According to Jesus portrays Jesus as a flawed human being.

But I think Playboy has gone a step too far. It's offensive to Christians.  A novel may talk about Jesus as a mere man but to print a pornographic magazine with images of Jesus is quite unacceptable.  Just look at the rest of the photos (links below) and I'm sure you will agree with me that the publishers have really offended all of us who hold our Lord dear.

Below are links to a few more photos from the magazine but please note that the contents are inappropriate for those below 18.  Please do not click on the link unless you are above 18.

Sorry, I have deactivated the links for the sake of propriety and good taste.  I'm happy to say that Playboy Inc has also distanced itself from its Portuguese counterpart and has terminated all links with them.  This is the statement issued by Playboy Inc:

We did not see or approve the cover and pictorial in the July issue of Playboy Portugal. It is a shocking breach of our standards, and we would not have allowed it to be published if we had seen it in advance. As a result of this and other issues with the Portuguese publisher, we are in the process of terminating our agreement.

Briyani dinner

I was in a bit of a quandary - to go for a briyani dinner with my family or to go to church to play in the wind ensemble. There was the usual pressure from my family - I've played at every single service without exception since I joined the ensemble last year and missing a single service was surely no big deal? At the same time, I had not slept well the previous night and I was very drowsy this afternoon and the thought of driving to church was rather prohibitive.

And what a delightful dinner it was:

Chicken briyani

Mutton curry

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Why Paul picks Spain for World Cup.

It's so obvious why Paul picked Spain.  Spain's box was closer to it when both boxes were lowered into the tank.

Here are stills from the video taken from the BBC.

Notice that Paul is in the right bottom corner of the tank. The box on our right is Spain:

And of course it's no surprise that Paul ends up in Spain's box:

You may wish to see the entire video.  Here is the link to BBC's video:

Click here for the BBC video 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

5th Sunday after Trinity

Sorry I had to leave immediately after Communion to pick my wife up from the airport.  This pic was taken by my daughter before the service began. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Religious leaders and money

Lately, there have been many reports of cases of police investigations into the financial affairs of religious leaders in Singapore.  This has set me thinking.  What's the difference between a scam and my religion?

A scam promises me huge rewards after.................. many many months.  I'm sure it's a scam because after many months or even years, I don't see the rewards.

Religion promises me huge rewards after.................. I'm dead.

Isn't religion simply ingenious?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lunch with my best friend

This is what I had

My friend whom I see quite regularly has problems with eating because his taste buds have been very adversely affected by the cancer treatment and for lunch today, he only had chee cheong fun with sweet sauce and nothing else.  He's also lost a great deal of weight.  He used to be fat.

Two days ago, he told me over lunch that he had just gone to the oncologist and tests showed that his current treatment has been effective in holding the cancerous tumours at bay.  But he said that he was only buying time.  The tumours will mutate in 6 months and they'll start to grow again.  He's got about twenty malignant tumours in his lungs.  These were spread from his liver.  He had a liver transplant in 2008.

Happily, nobody can tell that he has terminal cancer.  He looks perfectly healthy and cheerful.  He has two very young children.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Books that Changed My Outlook

I first believed the Bible to be the word of God in my early childhood.  Why?  That was what I was told, of course.  That was what I heard in church after the readings.  But as I grew older, I began to ask myself what my basis was for believing the Bible to be the word of God.  I believed in inerrancy only with respect to the doctrines of the Bible and its teachings.  Sure, there were scribal errors but those didn't affect the doctrines.  Sure, there were passages that shouldn't have been in the Bible because "earlier and more reliable manuscripts" did not have those passages (as the footnotes in my Bible tell me) but the passages were minor and few and they didn't touch on doctrine at all.

But what was my basis for believing the Bible to be the word of God?  How could I say that the Bible was "God-breathed" or "inspired by the Holy Spirit" if I had no basis for believing it?

I looked into books by apologists.  Josh McDowell is pretty confident in his defence of the Bible but all apologists tend to be confident.  His scholarship appeared shoddy to me.  To be fair to Josh, he has never pretended to be a scholar.  His job is to defend the faith and he does it admirably well.

I decided to look to the scholars.  And my suspicion was right - Josh McDowell got it all wrong and the truth is far more complex than what I've always been told in church about the Bible.

I've spoken to many Christians about the basis for their belief in the Bible and WITHOUT EXCEPTION, almost all Christians are blissfully ignorant of the Canon and the history of the Bible.  And the funniest thing is they ARE NOT INTERESTED to find out.  What?  A book that is supposed to govern their lives and they're not interested?

Anyway, these are the books I read and boy, did they turn my beliefs upside down! 

The first book I read is Bruce Metzger's book.  Now, Bruce Metzger was the chap who translated the RSV.  He's one of the world's most respected scholars.  The next book was by FF Bruce.  FF Bruce is the greatest name in the evangelical world when it comes to scholarship.  The third book is by Lee MacDonald.  It's a fascinating book and it gives a lot of references and details.

But basically, all the books give roughly the same view.  These books led me to read other books too and I must say I've become quite learned in this field.

So, what is my final answer?  What is my basis for accepting the Bible as the inerrant word of God?  Absolutely no basis.  There is in fact basis not to accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God and to say that the Holy Spirit did not inspire the writing of scriptures.  I have come to the conclusion that it would be an insult to God to attribute authorship or inspiration of the Bible to him.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2010 Australian International Music Festival

Here's wishing the boys luck as they perform this afternoon at the 2010 Australian International Music Festival at the Sydney Opera House.


I just bought more than 10 books for slightly more than .......

.........$20.00.  Yes, that's in Singapore Dollars and I did write TWENTY, not two hundred. 5 of the books are hard cover.  They range from literary works and literary criticism to religion and mythology.  All these books for $20!!! 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fin to limb evolution clue found

Here's an article on research into the evolution of limbs for our fishy ancestor.

Click here

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hungry Ghosts Festival

Is this the preparation to the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts?

 But isn't the Hungry Ghosts' Month in August?