Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Christian church is called to be faithful embodiment of the gospel and its courageous agent of proclamation in a fast-changing world. Her missionary task can be nothing less than the restoration of God’s reign over all of life. Unfortunately, the church may become more influenced by the spirit of the age than living victoriously in the redemptive age of the Spirit.
In their book “Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong?” James F. Engel and William A. Dyrness sound the alarm that the modern missionary movement is in crisis. The signs of crisis can be detected in the church’s captivity in modern worldview, steady decline of financial support and withdrawal into monastic ghettos that disengages from the world. There is also widespread skepticism about whether Christian lifestyles are any different from others, prompting what Ron Sider dubbed as ‘the scandal of the evangelical conscience’. Instead of purveying pessimism, the authors see it as an opportunity for rethinking missions with a Kingdom perspective today.
They identify several weaknesses that beset the mission movement today due to the infections of modernity. In particular, the Church has fallen into two errors of omissions in relation to the Great Commission. Firstly, the rhetoric of fundamentalist-liberal conflict in America has resulted in either a “privately engaging, socially irrelevant” faith or a social transformation project that neglects evangelism . Even closer to home in Malaysia, it is far more common to hear sermons on ‘quiet time’, personal piety or ‘the end of the world’ than sermons on social justice, racial integration and the church’s role in Vision 2020.
The second indictment relates to the church making converts who did not graduate to become disciples. As a result of identifying success in terms of quantifiable conversions, pragmatic techniques to disseminate facts and elicit a ‘decision’ reduced disciple-making to ‘managerial missiology’ . Time-consuming, intangible process of spiritual formation like character and holiness took a backseat. While the Scripture does provide summaries like “Believe in Jesus and you shall be saved!” we need to be aware that such statements occur within the context of a sizeable narrative. Not surprisingly, mission objectives are still spelt out in terms of number of tracts distributed and the completion of world evangelization by certain measurable dateline . Fundraising strategies geared accordingly towards highlighting numerical superiority and ‘marketable concerns’ compete for ministry revenues to the extent that legitimate, less popular causes, such as leadership development, suffer.
Engel and Dyrness also propose to revise the missionary model which has as its starting point centers of power and wealth before moving to the periphery of those who were impoverished spiritually and physically . At the beginning of the modern missionary movement, missionaries from North America and Europe were sent to various parts of the world. Their legacy in education, churches and healthcare institution endures till this day. However, the Christian faith is also seen as inextricably linked to dominance and control of the colonial powers. My leftist uncle in China could easily recite how new frontiers were opened to missionaries by the barrel of the gun. Military defeats and humiliating concessions left an indelible mark on the Chinese psyche that Christianity is a ‘Western religion’. Well-meaning missionaries often find themselves caught in the position of “reluctant imperialists” .
Diagnosis without recommending a cure makes for light work. To their credit, Engel and Dyrness prescribe several directions for decisive transformation. They contend that Scriptures make a parody of the ‘center-periphery’ model. The book of Acts recorded how the gospel made its way from Jerusalem, an insignificant backwater of the Roman Empire to the very household of Caesar. Today, churches in the so-called Two-Thirds World have emerged as significant missionary-sending contributors. They are demanding a Paul-Barnabas type of partnership with Western mission agencies rather than a Paul-Timothy partnership . Expertise, resources and knowledge to develop indigenous leaders should be imparted without using them as leverage for control. Vinoth Ramachandran described a cross-cultural, mutual-listening relationship today as indispensable for faithful witness to Jesus Christ.
Part of the ‘Gracious Revolution’ would also involve the abandonment of modernity’s individualistic autonomy and “creation of communities of common people performing uncommon deeds”. Membership in a faith community is not an optional add-on to conversion. Rather than an institution, the church should be characterized more as a community, which Leslie Newbigin called “the hermeneutic of the gospel, its very message and medium” . The full potential of a local church is not realized when its role is seen only in terms of providing resources and sending missionaries. The authors propose a paradigm in which the church takes proactive ownership of specific tasks in mission in partnership with other agencies. As Emil Brunner put it, the church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.
With regards to the ‘public facts versus private values’ assumption of modernity, Engel and Dyrness call for a recovery of the Puritan’s combination of personal piety and an all-encompassing worldview which subjects all aspects of life to God. They argue that social transformation should not be reduced as a consequence of evangelism or merely a component of evangelistic strategy. Social involvement and evangelism should be ‘inseparable elements in Christ’s kingdom that embraces all of creation’. To echo Abraham Kuyper, there is no sphere of life that is not subject to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.
I think the authors’ critique of market-driven approaches to mission is timely. Surely, evangelism should go beyond presenting 4-point propositional facts to elicit decisions that secure a ticket to heaven. The gospel must be “modeled, and then proclaimed”. Our message would be more authentic and appealing if it is incarnate in our communities of faith, foreshadowing the eschatological Kingdom. Genuine fellowship involves mutual self-emptying, servant leadership and deep sharing of lives, not just a feel-good huddle. The authors illustrated these issues through a case study of the fictional mission agency called Global Harvest Mission. I feel that the illustrative effects are not especially necessary in contributing any substantial weight to their case.
True motivation for missions is not just “about selling some spectacular product, eternal life or forgiveness of sins, however wonderful these realities are”. The nature of gospel proclamation as heralding the kingship of Christ has solid historical basis in New Testament studies. I greet the authors’ call for a more holistic approach to mission that encompass the entire creation with a hearty amen. At the same time, I wished that they could have interacted with ‘passion for God’s glory’ as the primary motivation that has driven missionaries of earlier generations.
But it seems that Engel and Dyrness failed to discuss the pitfalls of postmodernism while lauding it as a “decided pendulum swing in a more healthy direction” . They are probably on target when discussing the emerging trend of people inundated by absolute, universalistic claims of rationality and a desire for the spiritual in the context of an authentic community. However, is the openness to experiment with various religions symptomatic of a hunger to discover what Schaeffer called ‘true truth’? Or is it simply the desire to choose any ‘truth’ that fits one’s own personal tastes? After all, if there is no objective truth, why not shop for the latest flavor in the supermarket of religions? Perhaps the authors could have recognized the challenge of mission in a postmodern culture includes affirming unique claims of Christ in the face of relativism.
Personally, I’m less sanguine about postmodernism being “one of the greatest opportunities of history for the Christian faith” . Michael Horton has an interesting analysis that what we call postmodern may in fact be ‘most-modern’ or a more radical form of the same old thing . Such modern features like autonomous individualism, specialized consumerism and suspicion of the past are becoming more rampant. Even if a new epoch is emerging, we should be cautious of its challenges as well.
I never cease to be amazed at how God could work out His redemptive plans in the world despite our faltering and sometimes, counter-productive efforts. The modern missionary movement, despite obvious weaknesses, has made significant strides to overcome geographical and linguistic barriers in bringing the good news of salvation to new frontiers. At its best, the emphasis on fundamental doctrines has always accompanied gospel presentation like personal relationship with Jesus, atonement for sins and justification through faith alone.
At the same time, we need to reexamine and align our approach to missions closer to the biblical model. Engel and Dyrness have rightly identified important areas that need to be urgently addressed. The church’s proclamation, kerygma, must be carried out in the context of authentic community (koinonia) and service to the world (diakonia). However, the antithesis should not be framed as “modernism versus postmodernism” because there is no unmixed blessing this side of heaven. The transforming power of the gospel should be allowed to speak to every culture, especially our own.
It is also crucial that we do not fall for false dichotomy in choosing between relationship over against propositions, story over against propositional doctrines, social action over against evangelism or humility over against convictions. The evangelical content of our message needs to be recovered and unleashed to renew the world, modeling a foretaste of the future Eschaton. If we do not put asunder what God has joined together, the missionary enterprise would have enduring relevance and render better service to God and men.
1. Engel, J.F. and Dyrness, W. A. Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong? Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
2. Sweet, L. (ed.) The Church In Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
3. Wright, T. What Saint Paul really said: Was Paul of Tarsus the real founder of Christianity? Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1997.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Issues that plaguing the contemporary church such as sexual immorality, divisions, divorce, women leadership, food offered to idols, etc, were dealt by Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians. One could argue that 1 Corinthians is a timeless epistle to the Christian church in all ages. Dr. Newton, in his capacity as a pastor, missionary and Pauline Scholar, will bring us fresh insight into Paul’s teaching and dealing with the various issues confronting the church today. This course is intended for laity and Christian leaders to think through theologically and gain insights to deal with their church problems. For more information please contact Anne Lim (03-33427482)
Dates & Duration: February 12 - 16; 26 – 28; March 1 – 9, 2007.
Monday – Tuesday ; Thursday - Friday: 7pm - 10pm
Saturday: 9am -12pm
Venue: Malaysia Bible Seminari
This course presents a theological and missiological introduction to the defense of the Christian faith in the global and multi-religious context of the 21st century. The subject of apologetics will be discussed from the following six aspects which provide complementary perspectives on the defense of the Christian faith. These are logical, biblical and historical aspects as well as aspects of philosophy of religion, systematic theology and theology of religions. The understanding of these dimensions will enable the students to communicate God’s truth in an evangelistic dialogue as part of fulfilling God’s mission.
In this age of moral and religious relativism, this course provides a biblical and theological framework for the defense and preaching of the Christian Faith. It is intended not only for the theological students, but also for the laity and church leaders. For more information please contact Anne Lim (03-33427482)
Dates & Duration: January 11 - 20, 2007
Monday-Friday: 7pm - 10pm
Saturday: 9am -5 pm
Cost: RM 240 – 3 Units (Graduate)
RM 120 – Audit (Graduate)
Venue: MALAYSIA BIBLE SEMINARI
1-11, Jalan Dendang 1, Kaw. 16,
Berkeley Town Centre,
41300 Klang, Selangor
Sunday, December 17, 2006
"This generation of Malaysian youth seems to chorus with John Mayer’s song Waiting On The World To Change. Inaction apparently permeates this generation - labelled by some as Generation Y - whose presence dominates our education system.
To our dismay, our education system is not in sync with Generation Y and way too often finds itself singing in a different key. While I believe much institutional change is needed to revitalise our schools and universities, I will be for the most part looking at actions that can be undertaken on an individual level in this essay.
Thus, my primary concern is on educating the Generation Y of Malaysian youth. How can educators sing in-tune with Generation-Y students and play a more pivotal role in shaping the minds of tomorrow?
Now, John Mayer’s song on the one hand seems to cry apathy, but on the other hand suggests that this apathy is actually very much misunderstood:
“Me and all my friends, we’re all misunderstood,
They say we can stand for nothing and there’s no way we ever could.
Now we see everything that’s going wrong with the world and those who lead it,
We just feel like we don’t have the means to rise above and beat it.”
My contention is that the apparent inaction of Generation Y is very much misconstrued as a form of apathy, when really it is a despairing sense of powerlessness and disillusionment with the clarion call for change of the good old days. To begin our battle against inaction is to first understand that this inaction is enveloped in powerlessness and not apathy.
Therefore, my role as an educator is chiefly one of empowerment – empowering a generation jaded with political process and public participation which seemed to offer nothing but empty promises.
Generation Y is now shaped by the new digital era, which is characterised by a saturation of information. In the Malaysian context and more precisely within our education system, information is too often imported and not contextualised.
Consequently, the first empowerment strategy is to contextualise information for a generation that longs to make sense of things. Malaysian educators must begin writing their own textbooks, localising the different forms of assessment and adapting pedagogical practices to our immediate context. In other words, we must “Malaysianise” our syllabus and classroom to bring relevance to Generation Y.
Generation Y also has the attributes of being an instant generation that wants everything fast and has an affinity for visual rather than text. In some sense, we can say that Generation Y owns a different language and hence requires a different medium of instruction.
So the next empowerment strategy is to contextualise our medium of instruction by speaking a language that Generation Y can relate with. This may mean a more visual and participative learning environment for a generation that is easily dulled. Malaysian youths are not apathetic – they need educators to help them connect to the issues surrounding them and locate their niche in affecting change. The boomer’s mentality of a grander vision of change just doesn’t work anymore.
In order to connect with Generation-Y students, our education system definitely needs more Generation-Y educators, or at least educators that attempt to understand Generation Y.
Of course, the unattractiveness of the academia to young people and the issue of brain-drain both have a lot of institutional implications. Nonetheless, there is much we can do on the ground level to inculcate a more pleasant environment for Generation-Y educators.
Having to work with boomers, Generation-Y educators may easily be misunderstood and discriminated against for their idiosyncrasies and fragmented approach to teaching, due to their disregard for a one-size-fits-all approach.
My personal experience is one which tells of being exhausted by trivialities such as dressing, hairstyle, physical appearance and unnecessary rules and regulations.
What Generation-Y educators need is a meaningful sense of vocation that perhaps can be sustained through peer support. In this regard, I have been able to initiate such informal support groups which provide a platform for the sharing of struggles and ideas for young educators. In a world where so much is misunderstood, a tad bit of understanding can push this new breed of educators a lot further.
Having said all this, do we now stand at a distance and wait for the world to change or do we rise above the system and beat it where we can? As a Generation-Y educator teaching Generation-Y students, my choice is to learn the tune of our Malaysian youth and change the one of our education system.
Do you hear the Gen Y sing? I do. I even hear their cry.
READ ON AND CLICK TO VOTE
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Perhaps the positive reception of the book is an indication of a growing concern in the mind of the public sparked off by recent trends in legislation that have led to the erosion of religious freedom, and by a series of disputes involving Shariah and Civil law which has generated some tension. These events confirm our conviction that all Malaysians should be well-informed about matters pertaining to law and religion in our society.
Kairos has therefore decided to make available online—with free access—the full text of our legal handbook, Doing the Right Thing. Our hope is that the book will help readers to gain confidence to defend their right to profess, practice and propagate their religion and to remain vigilant in defending their religious rights.
We are aware that laws do go out of date and as such, it may be necessary at some point to undertake a revision of the book to ensure that it remains up-to-date and relevant to our society. We welcome suggestions that will help improve the book. Suggestions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The revision will be supervised by an Editorial and Revision Committee, members of which will be announced later.
Ng Kam Weng
7 Dec 2006
Excerpt taken from Doing the Right Thing (Kairos Research Centre, 2004)
"Churches in Malaysia operate under a set of laws that imposes restrictions on their freedom to practise their faith. The Christian community has often experienced anxieties about matters pertaining to the law, which can appear complex and intimidating.
Christians feel paralysed since they are unsure if they are doing the right thing. Arising from this, there is an obvious need for Christians to be equipped with a basic knowledge of the law so that they can exercise their Constitutional right to profess, practise and propagate the Christian faith with wisdom and courage that comes from knowing that they have done the right thing in the eyes of the law. It is with this in mind that Kairos Research Centre offers this handbook to the wider Christian public.
This handbook was put together with the help of several Christian lawyers. It represents an initial step in a long-term project to help Christians keep up with laws that change over time. Conceivably, other issues will arise in the future that will need to be addressed. Hence, the handbook will need to be updated from time to time. We welcome suggestions from our readers as to how the book may be improved so that it will become an invaluable resource for the Christian community"
What is Headstart?
It is a small group that meets together to discuss transition from a student life to the working world. Topics includes dealing with work pressure, office politics, work culture and lifestyle changes, relating to parents, adopting back to church life, true Christian community, being salt and light in the marketplace and finding true friends…
Besides this, probably the most important part of headstart ministry lies in the friendship that is built among the group members. Prayer and accountability are integral part of the group.
Who organizes this group?
This Headstart program is organized by iBridge (www.TakeTheLeap.org), a ministry of Graduates Christian Fellowship (GCF), a sister organization of FES and SU. We are a Inter Denominational ministry.
How often does the group meet?
Once a month for 12 times (1 year). Some groups have a spiritual retreat half way through the program. After 1 year, the group ends… but the friendship definitely carries on. Please note that once the group starts, no new members are allowed into the group.
Who should join?
Those who have graduated less than 4 years ago. So if you have graduated this year or last year or up to 4 years ago, then you should join.
Where does the group meet?
The group meets in a house setting. We start groups all over Malaysia depending if there are any request.
Who will lead the group?
Each group will be led by 2 leaders (facilitators) who are matured and capable to handle the group. Usually, the leaders themselves have been through headstart or some senior people who have been very involved with young graduates ministry.
In the past 5 years, we have started more than 28 groups in Klang Valley, Ipoh, Penang and Melaka. More than 200 members have attended this headstart groups and nearly 60% attended the whole program. If you are planning to join Headstart, please make this a priority.
Do I have to pay to join the group?
No, it is free.
How do I join?
Contact James Daniel at email@example.com
Archaeology is the study of antiquity by examining material remains of past human life and activities. It uses modern scientific methods to recover these material remains and infer the meaning of the past, of ancient humans, and his environment. But archaeology is not an exact science – in fact, no science is an exact science. The only exact field of inquiry is mathematics, and that is not strictly speaking, a science.
Biblical archaeology operates at the intersection of theology and history with the tools of science expressed in technology. It shows vividly the importance of science for religion. This interaction is an important element of ‘iron sharpening iron.’ The art and science of biblical archaeology exposes both the science of religion and the religion of science. No religion exists without an appeal to the scientific explanation of reality. By the same token, no science can thrive without faith in even though scientific progress demands the demise of previous achievements.
Old Testament archaeology is the selection of evidence for these regions and periods in which the peoples of the times lived. Why is archaeology important to Old Testament studies? They provide extra-biblical confirmation of many details of biblical history and acts as correctives to many erroneous interpretations. This means that the art and science of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics relies a great deal on inferences we draw from archaeology. Hence, our understanding of the sciences as well as the artistic imagination of the human mind shapes the way we interpret archaeological evidence. This in turn shapes our interpretation of the Bible itself.
Archaeology has rediscovered whole nations, resurrected important peoples, and in a most astonishing manner filled in historical gaps, adding immeasurably to the knowledge of biblical backgrounds.
In Palestine, of the 6000+ archaeological sites that have been surveyed only about 200 have been excavated to some extent, with around 30 sites excavated to any major extent. Of the estimated 1 million documents recovered from OT times, less than 10% have been published. The typical time between recovery and publication is 10 years since almost all archaeologists work only during the summer months, when they are not teaching. The precise locations of many OT places remain in dispute because of uncertainty and changing local names.
3 Points to remember:
1. Archaeology is essential to properly understand the historical context of the Bible. The Bible relates a literary, elitist version of the religion of Israel, whereas archaeology reveals the social context of Israelite religion, including folk religion and counterculture.
2. The Bible, while not a book of history, should be considered a book with elements of history. Despite the ideological slant of the biblical authors, the Bible contains verifiable historical data.
3. Archaeology cannot either prove or disprove the Bible.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
How do we respond in the face of these adversities at work? Does God have a purpose in the midst of our troubled day? Is there really good news for a bad day at the office?
If you find yourself in such a situation, here are a couple of ways, I believe we can view our circumstances and respond biblically -
The first and best thing we can do is to preach the gospel to ourselves relentlessly. However, there are two temptations that may hinder us in this regard.
The first is to think of the gospel as a message for unbelievers that we "graduate" out of when we come to faith in Christ. This kind of thinking in wholly incorrect. The good news of Jesus Christ is a life giving message for all - for those yet to respond in repentance as well as those who have come to faith but continue to live in this fallen world.
Another temptation is to think of the gospel as impractical to matters of our vocation. Many Christians, myself included, may unwittingly treat our work life in the "marketplace" as a gospel free zone. Sure, the gospel may be applicable on in church or even at home...but at work? Yet, these are the very moments that the gospel is most applicable. We need to be reminded that no matter how pressing the problems may be at work, they cannot compare to our greatest problem - the problem of our sin. For this predicament, God has provided a remedy at great cost to Himself. We need to infuse our hearts with gospel centered scriptures that lead us to meditation. Passages like 1 Peter 3:18, 2nd Cor 5:21 are dripping with gospel truth.
The second way to respond in face of a bad day is to consider our adversities with godly purpose in view. I find that adversity is often a way that God reveals His eternal worth to us. It is not the experience of trials that lead to maturity but how we encounter and engage those trials. Trials are designed to remind us of the temporal nature of this life and the eternal worth of knowing Christ. On a recent bad day, I found myself fraught with anxiety yet I sensed the Holy Spirit reminding me of 2 Cor 4:17-18
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
I was also encouraged to desire God and hope in Him from Psalm 73:25 where David writes
"Whom have I in heaven but you. There is nothing on earth that I desire beside you. My heart and my flesh may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
This is good news indeed!
If you want more good news for a bad day, check this out.
Friday, December 08, 2006
On the 22-25th of November, I had the privilege of joining a group of great young people making an impact in the Klang Valley, worshipping Jesus through serving the underprivileged and homeless. At the end of it all, I managed to interview the man, Ps. Raj Singh, the big guy behind Soul Survivor Malaysia who also happen to be the Senior Pastor of Christian Life Gospel Centre. Here I include the transcript of our conversation (Note : It is a recollection of the interview. The accuracy of the words and information may be disputed, but the content is almost similar to our conversation).
The goal of this one day seminar is to introduce participants to all the key facets of preaching from the bible in the 21st century.
As a result of taking this seminar, participants will know both the theology of biblical preaching and a methodology for doing it. A practical worksheet will also be introduced that will give a suggested template for sermon preparation.
1. A Theology of Preaching.
2. Preaching in a “media” age.
3. The Need for Sermon Organization.
4. The Structure of the Sermon.
5. Interpreting the Bible.
6. Preparing the Sermon
7. Delivering the Sermon
Tan Soo Inn (BDS Singapore, ThM Regent, DMIn Fuller), Founder and Director of Grace@Work (www.graceatwork.org), a ministry committed to seeing lives transformed through friendship and Scripture.
Date: Saturday, January 20th 2007 (Ahwal Muharram)
Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Venue: Antioch Center (Home of Bandar Utama Chapel)
28, Jln PJU 3/41,
47810 Petaling Jaya
We need to know if you are coming so that we can prepare enough materials. (A freewill collection may be taken to help defray costs.)
Bandar Utama Chapel members and friends please inform Lai Nai Kyn, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, if you plan to come. Agora folks and everybody else please inform Dave Chong, Email: email@example.com if you plan to come.
We thank God for those among us whom God has gifted to do expository preaching. But the responsibility for speaking God’s truth lies with all of God’s people. Our goal should be the same as Paul in Romans 15:14 which is addressed to the whole church:
“I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”
This seminar is a serious attempt to help us grow in the competence needed for us to instruct one another.
As we enter the 21st century we need many saints to be able to teach God’s Word. Therefore we encourage as many as possible to take advantage of this learning opportunity.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Welcome to Our Reason For Being. It hosts a series of reflections that addresses the question of the meaning of life.
It is undeniable that we all have a deep-seated desire to make sense of life. Existential psychotherapies seek to help us find a meaning in life, a purpose to live for. But we do not seem to be satisfied with having just any reason for living. What is the whole point of being born only to die some time later? Human beings seem to have an innate need for the (not just a) meaning of life. Our heart seems to cry out for the purpose of our transitory existence in this world.
This series of reflections is written in response to this cry for meaning. It is an exposition of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. You would be amazed how relevant this ancient piece of wisdom literature is to contemporary thinking and living. Ecclesiastes addresses our need for the meaning of life in a rather comprehensive, coherent and compelling manner. I invite you to take the journey to explore with me what this book has to say to us.
I hold a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles. I have been teaching a course on Ecclesiastes for more than ten years. I offer this exposition to you as a fellow pilgrim in search of our reason for being.
At the moment the reflections are offered in installments. The expected date for the upcoming installment is indicated.
The beginning of the journey is just this CLICK away.
Leong Tien Fock
Here is a nice review of the book:
“Since neither a newborn human infant nor a fish is a person, the wrongness of killing such beings is not as great as the wrongness of killing a person.”Read on for the rest of the review
“…regarding a newborn infant as not having the same right to life as a person, the cultures that practiced infanticide were on solid ground.”
These are two of four quotes from philosopher Peter Singer that were featured in a quarter-page ad in the Australian newspaper during the 1996 federal election. The Australian Family Association took out the ad because Peter Singer was running as a Green Senate candidate. Fortunately for the unborn, the newborn, the elderly and many other “non-persons”, Singer received only a tiny fraction of the vote.
He now teaches at Princeton University, after a long career at Melbourne’s Monash University. He has written over twenty books, and is regarded as a leading contemporary philosopher and bioethicist. He is famous for his advocacy of animal liberation, as well as for his callous view of human life.
This new book, edited by an ethicist at Melbourne’s Ridley College, contains five important articles offering a critical assessment of Singer’s philosophy and writings.
After an incisive introduction, Preece offers a close look at the man and his work in chapter one. While recognising the relative consistency throughout his writings, he points out the well-known inconsistency of his regard for his mother has she wrestled with Alzheimer’s disease. He rightly notes that on the basis of Singer’s utilitarian and consequentialist outlook, he should have bumped off his own mother. But fortunately for his mother, “Singer is a better son and person than ethicist”.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
KUALA LUMPUR: She was born with brittle bone disease, and doctors warned her parents she would not live long. But even as a baby, Carol Rasiah was a fighter.
Now 35 years old and confined to a wheelchair, she radiates joy for living and gutsy determination.
A part-time writer and small businesswoman, she says the most painful experience in her life was missing out on a formal education. There were not many schools for the disabled in her youth.
"Even when I had the opportunity to go to school, the teachers were afraid to deal with my physical condition," says Rasiah.
She has the rare bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder which causes weakened bones that fracture and break easily. In its more severe form it can prevent growth and lead to malformed bones and breathing difficulties.
Rasiah earns a living running a small sweets shop, and she contributes articles on her perspective on life to international magazines. She’s a part-time volunteer with the Beautiful Gate Foundation for the Disabled in SS2, a training centre and residence. She dreams of taking computer and journalism classes.
Despite the many challenges she faces on a daily basis, pity is not a word in her lexicon.
"I don’t believe in sympathy. I believe the disabled and the able should live together as one community. I understand that sometimes able-bodied people feel uncomfortable, and also that not all disabled people can communicate well, but that can be changed," she said.
She was attending Petaling Jaya City Hall’s International Disabled Persons’ Day celebrations.