Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Songkran festival and others

Songkran is finally over. Mae Sai celebrated the water festival longer than Bangkok or Chiang Mai. It was an ingenious way to beat the oppressive summer heat. It was a lot of fun indeed. My family really enjoyed this Thai New Year celebration every year. However, Songkran is not only about having fun. Although I guess, most of the younger generations think that this is what it all about. Nonetheless, the sense of community is stronger during the festival. The religious significance had been obscured.
Songkran Festival is the traditional Thai New Year. This is the time for Thais to pay homage to Buddha images, clean their houses, and sprinkle water on their elders in a show of respect. Anyone who ventures out on the streets is likely to get a thorough dousing of water, all in good fun, but also quite welcome at the peak of the hot season.
And the others:

It has been tough to be left alone to take care of four children, one dog. In addition, I have to look after three houses and lately a duplex.

A team from Chiang Mai consists of four people (Indonesian, Korean and Danish couple) arrived last Monday. They are in Thailand for three-month training with Vineyard. They went to Burma for ministry exposure. Moreover, they decided to help us in improving the children’s home. They had been cleaning and painting the house. I supervised them with the project. And since they are leaving tomorrow, I will continue the job tomorrow with my children. It will be fun.

Furthermore, our Pastor asked me (on a short notice) to teach in our summer Bible camp for two days for three hours. Because of the Songkran Festival, most of our members found themselves with nothing to do for the more than a week. Thus our Pastor decided to go on with the summer Bible camp for church members. This camp is a tradition that we started last year and I hope it will continue.

I find it strange that some people enjoy teaching or talking for long hours. I find long talk exhausting. One hour of teaching is good enough for me. I am very tired and my throat is painful. I am glad that it is over and I am going to have a break tomorrow (at least from talking).

My younger sister is coming this Saturday with two short-term missionaries. She is the coordinator for the Asia Vision Short Term Mission in the Philippines. And we are part of the ministry that will host missionaries every year. They will work with us for a month in the nursery and will help us teach English in the community.

Narlin is coming back soon on April 25. It is just a few days of waiting but it seems forever. Life is doubly difficult when your other half is missing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Theological Word of the Day: Monophysitism

Reclaiming the Mind Ministries has started a blog called Theological Word of the Day. And for me whose understanding of big theological words is (still) very limited, I find this very helpful. I appreciate the effort people put in this project. I put the widget on the sidebar, however, for my own benefit I am reposting the words here as well.

noun (Greek mono-, one- + Greek phusis, nature)
The heretical belief that the two natures of Christ came together in the incarnation to make one new nature. Condemned in 451 at the council of Chalcedon. Chalcedon held that the two nature of Christ, human and divine, remain completely in tact in one person.

Temperature theology

Summer heat come in full force this year. The weather is oppressive and the humidity is punishing. And those are understatements.

To beat the hot season, the people here in Mae Sai begin the water festival earlier. Children and young people are starting to pour cold water towards the people passing by. And in spite of inconvenience of getting wet in your best clothes, I guess it is a good way to beat the oppressive heat.

Anyway around the blogosphere, many discussions are going on about the greatness and influence of modern theologians from different traditions. However, I think theologians are great only to those who find their writings meaningful and that is to those who share their basic presuppositions. For Asian Christians, western theology is extremely theoretical —lot of speculations but no spiritual implications. I cannot blame them though; they write theology primarily for the analytical mindset of the West.

Thus relating temperature with theology, Klaus Klostermaeir says,

Theology at 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade seems after all, different from theology at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Theology accompanied by tough chapattis and smoky tea seems different from theology with roast chicken and a glass of wine. Now, what is different, theos or theologian? The theologian at 70 degrees Fahrenheit is in a good position presumes God to be happy and contended, well-fed and rested, without needs of any kind. The theologian at 120 degrees Fahrenheit tries to imagine a God who is hungry and thirsty, who suffers and is sad, who sheds perspiration and knows despair.
Klaus Klostermaier, Hindu and Christian in Vrindahan (London: SCM, 1970), p. 40

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cool change

If you are a regular reader, perhaps you notice the change in the design of this blog. My son helped me in changing it (and I am impressed). The content has been changing a lot as well. My intent, at first, was to blog primarily about my personal theological reflections related to mission works. But as I find myself most of the time away from the computer, I thought I could not sustain it.

I actually created another blog about our family’s personal updates, stories and testimonies for our family and friends back home. However, the longer I do it the more I realized that it is pointless and cumbersome to run two blogs. I closed the other one a few months ago and decided to do the personal and family blogging also in here, which I have been doing a lot anyway lately.

It is also a joy to know that many of my “real” (as opposed to virtual) friends and co-workers are now finding their way here. A couple of my readers came to Thailand and I had the chance to meet them personally and in that case, virtual friends became real. I am praying that what you read here will be a blessing. I know we will have disagreements but I hope that it will be an opportunity to learn from one another, just leave your comments in the comment section and I will wrestle with the answers.

Missional basis of the Bible

For some time, I have been meaning to pick up and read Chris Wright’s The Mission of God. However, I had been cramming a lot lately (I still am) that I have to set aside reading for a while. Last night, the children went to bed early and Narlin being away, I surprisingly found time to read myself to sleep.

The book is about interpreting the Bible from a missional perspective. Wright argues that although the Scripture provides the biblical basis for mission it is more correct to think on the idea of a missional basis of the Bible. “The entire Bible is generated by and is all about God’s mission."

However, that concept is not new to me. I heard about this in one of the mission courses I attended, I believe though that many of the ideas taught in that course came from this book.

I like what I have been reading. Since I do not have the time to do any book reviews (had not done many in the past and not in the near future). I point you to an excellent review over at εν εφέσω.

Here are some interesting thoughts:
Slowly but inexorably the world of Western academic theology is becoming aware of the rest of the world. The impact of missiology has brought to the attention of the theological community in the West the wealth of theological and hermeneutical perspectives that are, in some cases at least, the product of the success of mission over the past centuries.. Mission has transformed the map of global Christianity. From situation at the beginning of the twentieth century when approximately 90 percent of all the world’s Christians lived in the West or North (i.e. predominantly Europe and North America), the beginning of the twenty-first century finds at least 75 percent of the world’s Christians in the continents of the South and East—Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia and the Pacific. The whole center of gravity of world Christianity has moved south—a phenomenon described, not entirely felicitously, as “the next Christendom.” Others prefer terms such as the “The Global South” or “The Majority World.” (p. 38)
Wright believes that Western Academic theology if it wants to be relevant in contemporary and more so in the future Christianity should be engaged in doing theology with “The Majority World.” Failure to do so will mean that Western academic theology would find itself in the margins.

He also believes that Western Protestant could no longer assert that their method of interpretation of the Scripture is the only valid method. We should accept the fact that different culture read and understand the Bible differently from us (although I am Asian, the methods I learned are western). As Wright says,
We live in a world of a multinational church and multidirectional mission. And appropriately we now live with multicultural hermeneutics. People will insist on reading the Bible for themselves, you see. There is a great irony that the Western Protestant theological academy, which has its roots precisely in a hermeneutical revolution (the Reformation), led by people who claimed the right to read Scripture independently from prevailing hegemony of medieval Catholic scholasticism, has been slow to give ear to those of other cultures who choose to read the Scriptures through their own eyes, though the situation is undoubtedly improving. (p. 39)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Last week before Narlin left, I did a lot of cramming. I prepared brochures, newsletter update and a presentation movie. Just in time, I finished checking Jared’s home schooling test papers, thirty minutes before Narlin took the bus to Chiang Mai. She needs to bring those to the school in Manila. I did those for most of the days of last week, until three o’clock in the morning and now I feel sick.

Now, I am alone here taking care of the four children and three houses. We are moving but not yet, so as of now we still have two houses. Our friend will leave for Burma and she asked us to look after her house and her dog. Let me think again... 4 children, three houses and a dog. (sigh)

Thin Yannat had a little fever last night. Perhaps it was because she “helped” us out washing and hanging the clothes and missed her afternoon nap. Today I forced her to take her regular nap. Jillian (my 12-year old daughter) woke up this morning not feeling well. Why is it that every one gets sick when the wife is not at home?

Monday was a holiday here in Thailand; however, I did not realize it until I went to the electric company to pay our bill. Why the hell, it is close? I just understand that my job as a bus driver does not follow the holiday. I woke in the morning and did what I usually do, pick up the kids from their homes and bring them to the church’s primary school. Why oh why, the church’s school is not taking on a holiday?

Now I thought I could relax… until Pastor told Sunday night that he wants me to teach the whole week on our Songkran Bible Camp next week. Now I have to go and prepare my lessons. I am cramming again.

*We are moving to the house in May.