A Parable for the children but not intended to be read by the children

Sorry for not posting for so long. I was working on a “major” work, and here it is –

(I am posting the Chinese version first, English translation to come probably next week)

在田野裡住了一群田鼠,牠們住在地洞裡,喫的是野草的種子和草根。生活是不愁温飽,自由自在。但在附近的樹林裡住了一只老鷹。這老鷹常常虎視眈眈,希望可以抓到田鼠喫。

田鼠村子裡,每只田鼠都有自己的特長和工作。大強力氣最大,他負責挖地道。

肥仔味覺靈敏,他是厨師。

小明眼力最好,他是放哨的。每次田鼠們跑到地面收集食物的時候,小明站在地洞門口,鷹在老遠他就會警告大家,叫大家躲回地洞。田鼠們一般都不會離開地洞太遠,所以老鷹雖然利害,但對田鼠們卻是束手無策。

田鼠村長是年紀最大的一只田鼠,他年青時四處遊歴,見多識廣。

村長的兒子叫較腳,全村他跑得最快,他的職業?抱歉,他是小偷。因為他非常狡滑,所以偷東西很少失手。偶然被抓,大家都會看在村長的臉上,小惩大戒了事。

有一天,較腳在肥仔的厨房偷食物,被肥仔發現了。較腳在前逃跑,肥仔在後追。較腳慌不擇路,跑出了地洞外邊,向樹林跑去。

肥仔正想追他,剛剛跑出洞口不遠,忽然放哨的小明大叫:“老鷹來了!”

肥仔嚇得躲回地洞。臨進洞口的時候回頭一看,看見老鷹正飛向較腳。他想:“較腳他死定了!”

事實上老鷹真的把較腳抓住了,帶着他飛回了老巢。當老鷹正要喫掉較腳的時候,較腳大聲求饒,説:“老鷹大哥饒命,您看我又小又瘦,就算您把我喫了也喫不飽。不如放了我,我答應您以後每隔幾天就有田鼠自投羅網,給您享用。”

老鷹給他説得心動,問:“此話當真?”

較腳回答説:“我以性命擔保!只要您放我回家,以後自然會有田鼠定時奉上。我還有一個小小的要求,請您搖動樹枝,讓樹上的松果掉到地上。”

老鷹説:“這事易辦!” 他拍拍翅膀,樹枝就大力的搖動,很快就有好幾個松果掉到地上。

較腳見老鷹放過他,就速速的跑到地上,挑了兩個又大又香的松果,帶回地洞。

在地洞裡,田鼠們正為較腳的命運傷心。肥仔親自到村長家求饒。他向村長説:“較腳的死,我的責任最大。不錯是他偷我的食物,但偷食物也罪不至死。我不應追他,弄到他逃出洞外,給老鷹喫掉。” 説罷放聲大哭。

大家正傷心的時候,較腳從外面回來大聲喊道:“大家不用傷心,我沒事平安回來。”

大家都十分驚奇,連忙圍住較腳,七嘴八舌的問他怎樣在老鷹的爪下逃生。

較腳驕傲的説:“因為我跑得快!老鷹追我不上。我一直的跑,跑進了樹林。發現樹林地上有很多的松果,我獨自一田鼠力氣不夠,只能帶兩個回來。肥仔!我偷了你的食物是我不對,現在送你一個松果賠罪。另外一個松果送給我最敬愛的村長爸爸!”

田鼠們生長在地洞裡,很多都不知道松果是什麼味道。村長見多識廣,向大家解釋松果的營養和益處。看見較腳平安無事,肥仔當然十分高興,把他的那一個松果烹調得色香味俱全,給大家嘗嘗新。村長也把他的那一個松果拿出來分享。可惜田鼠太多,每人只分到一小口,但已令大家回味無窮。

飯後較腳站起來,向大家説:“各位!今天我平安無事的回來,證明了老鷹其實不是十分可怕。只要我們跑得快,我們就可以到樹林收集松果。從明天開始,我會做大家的賽跑教練,讓我們天天都有松果喫!”

田鼠們聽見有美味的松果喫,都心動不已。加上村長推波助瀾,把松果的好處讚美得像仙丹一般。第二天清早,就有一大群田鼠跟着較腳,努力的訓練,以求可以比老鷹更快,奪得松果。

三天之後,較腳見時機成熟,就向練跑的田鼠們説:“經過三天的訓練,大家的速度都有明顯的進步。我相信我們有足夠的實力,跑贏老鷹,把松果奪回來。今天中午,我們一起出發,到樹林收集松果!”

中午的時候,一群三十多只田鼠一起衝出地洞口,由較腳帶領,直奔樹林,蔚為奇觀。老鷹見到也很識趣,不立刻攻擊。等田鼠快要跑到樹林才飛出來。

大強是三十多只田鼠中的一只,他雖然是力氣大,但速度卻不是他的專長。况且他日常還要挖地道,實在沒有時間練跑。結果他跑得最慢,成為了這一天老鷹的午餐。

餘下的田鼠成功的到了樹林,看見遍地都是松果,真是樂透了。每只田鼠都滿載而歸。回程的時候,老鷹已喫飽了,也沒有攻擊他們。

回到地洞,村裡的田鼠都高興得沸騰騰的,其中最高興的就是大厨師肥仔。他已經想好了一味味以松果為材料的食譜:松果批,清炒松果,松果茸濃湯,只等松果收集回來,他就可以煮出美味的松果宴。現在大批的松果回來了,當晚他們就舉辦了盛大的松果宴。

在松果宴上,大家都開懷的大快朵頤。但也有少數的田鼠為大強的犧牲而傷心。席中村長站起來,對大家説:“我們田鼠村今天進入了新的紀元!我們有了新的更有營養的食物來源,從今以後我們將會更健康,更有活力,也跑得更快。外邊的世界有一句名言,叫作 ‘物競天擇,適者生存’。今天有田鼠犧牲了,是因為他跑的不夠快。正好証明了這一條真理。為了田鼠的未來,為了我們的生存,以後我們要愈跑愈快!”

這一天以後,田鼠村出現了快跑熱,較腳自然成為了村中的大英雄。只有放哨的小明不願意參加練跑。為此他跟他老婆吵架了。小明説:“村裡沒有人比我更清楚老鷹的速度和攻擊力。田鼠無論如何是不會比老鷹更快的!較腳説他跑贏了老鷹,一定是騙人的。”

他老婆説:“較腳他真的把松果帶回來了!這是不爭的事實!現在每家田鼠都在喫松果,我們還是在喫草根。村長説松果很有營養,有豐富的蛋白質。你自已膽子小不要緊,可是我們的孩子不可以沒有營養,將來長大比別人瘦弱。你不把松果帶回來,我就跟你離婚!”

小明見老婆提到孩子,心就軟了。跟老婆説:“罷了!為了孩子,危險也要博一博!死就死吧!”

一星期之後松果喫光了。田鼠們又一次出發去收集松果,小明也參與其中。老鷹看見小明,認出他是放哨的。心想:“把他解決掉,以後抓田鼠就方便多了。” 老鷹認定了小明,集中攻擊,小明連喊救命的機會也沒有,就成了老鷹爪下的亡魂。

從此以後,田鼠們定時的跑進樹林收集松果。沒有小明的哨站,較腳就可以悄悄的和老鷹聯絡,把田鼠的消息告訢老鷹。田鼠們沒有懷疑較腳在背後弄鬼,依然把他當成大英雄。有些田鼠,看見較腳的成功,也學他開辦跑步學校。在較腳和老鷹合作之下,這些競爭者都一一成為了 “物競天擇,適者生存” 的實證。

有一天,當較腳和老鷹秘密會面的時候,老鷹對較腳説:“老弟!我們的合作真是完美!多得你的安排,我現在喫得太好了。上次為你解決了那隻肥仔田鼠,真的把我喫胖了,現在我的膽固醇高的不得了,再下去我快飛不動了。老實説,我現在看見肥大的田鼠就會倒胃口。”

較腳識趣的回答説:“那隻肥仔在我背後向别的田鼠買黑市松果,實在該死!至於老兄您怕肥,這事容易解決!包在我身上!我保證從下星期起,閣下的田鼠將會是又甜又嫩又健康的上等貨!”

老鷹説:“那太好了!我們合作愉快!” 之後較腳便悄悄的回到田鼠洞中。

第二天早上,田鼠洞中出現了一張巨型的海報:

不要讓孩子輸在起跑線上!!!

False sense of freedom

It happened again last night. There were no Celtics or Bruins games and the Red Sox had an afternoon game. So in the evening, I could find nothing interesting to watch on TV. I have hundreds of channels on cable but nothing to watch.

Obviously cable has not given me entertainment freedom. If none of the hundreds of channels is interesting, the freedom to choose among them is a false sense of freedom. If I had the energy, I could serve myself better by reading a book, or better yet write something or shoot the next viral video. But I did not have the energy, so I just vegetated on the couch staring at a meaningless screen as a faithful member of the Society of Overweight Americans.

What I just experienced yesterday evening probably is representative of a large segment of our lives: choices pretending to be freedom. In a world driven by monolithic giants, consumers are not really free, they just have the illusion of freedom.

True freedom is not measure by the number of choices presented, but by the diversity of capability generated those choices. Choosing between McDonald’s and Burger King does not generate a high degree of freedom. Choosing between a larger variety of food (e.g. Italian vs. Chinese) entails more freedom. Having the ability to purchase healthy food and cook dishes according to one’s particular taste provide significantly more freedom. Freedom is not measured by number of choices or quantity of products but by their diversities and capabilities. Freedom is not enhance by consumption, but by creativity.

Consider China. With the economics boom, the average Chinese have much higher purchasing power than she had a few years ago. However many of them have to flock to Hong Kong and even overseas to buy baby formula. They breathe polluted air, drink polluted water, eat untrustworthy food. Money does not buy freedom – trustworthiness and truthfulness do.

Here in America, we value democracy. However we are continually being taught a “democracy of consumers” instead of “democracy of citizens”. We superstitiously believe that democracy equal voting. So we believe we are free because we can go to the voting booth and select between a politician with an “D” and a politician with an “R”. When both parties are equally untrustworthy, are our choices truly free?

True freedom is not choosing between “D” and “R” the way we choose between McDonald’s and Burger King. True freedom is to be a citizen instead of a consumer. True freedom is to running for office yourself if your have the ambition or to love your neighbor when your ambition is not as grand.

Let us not be deceived by the false sense of freedom promised us by consumerism. Instead, let us truly exercise our freedom by being active agents of God in this land.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

No trees to be found

Beijing Olympic Square

Most people remember the glorious 2008 Beijing Olympics. The majestic event demonstrated the rising power of this nation. But upon what principle is this earthly glory and power built?

I recently toured the Olympic Square in Beijing. Look at this panoramic picture, what is missing?

(That is my family in the foreground, the Water Cube in the far left and the Bird Nest in the middle.I am missing because I am the one taking the picture).

Have you notice the color green is missing? There is not a single tree, nor there is any patches of grass in this super-sized  square. I checked on Google Maps with their aerial pictures – there are trees around the artificial lake, and trees lining the highways surrounding the Olympic Square – but inside the square not a single tree.

I once was given a lesson on architecture by the famous Chinese evangelist Stephen Tong. He asked us why there are many ancient architectural sites in the Western world (e.g. Acropolis of Athens, Colosseum of Rome – both of them around 2000 years old) while relatively few survived in China. (The Imperial palace in Beijing is only a few hundred years old). His answer was, “Chinese believe that living people should live in buildings that are built from living materials, i.e. wood. Therefore even the palace for the emperor were always built with wood. Chinese do build large stone structures – we use stone to build tomes.”

The creation of God is full of life. The creation of industry is devoid of life.

I am also reminded that as Christians we are called to be builders. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 1 Peter 2:4-10) We are called to build God’s house with the most precious material – with our own lives.

So what is your house made of? What is our churches made of?

屬靈操練 – 第三課:資訊時代的屬靈操練

安息的意義

新約的信徒是否要守安息?

  • 是:守安息是十誡其中的第四誡
  • 否:歌羅西書 2:16-17

基督徒應守安息

  • 不用守猶太人的禮法。但安息的意義超乎禮法
  • 每人可按自己的方法守安息,但不要陷入律法主義

聖經對安息的教導

  • 出埃及記 20:8 -11
  • 申命記 5:12 -15
  • 利未記 25
  • 利未記 26:33

如何鼓勵現代人守安息?

  • 現代生活愈趨複雜
  • 日常的生產會有「副作用」和「負債」。
  • 安息是讓自然恢復消除「副作用」。

資訊時代的挑戰

身體的需要 – 睡眠 –運動 –感官過勞
資訊超載 (Information Overload)
工作入侵私人空間

iSabbath

  • 指定的時間內,不接收有關工作的資訊
  • 須要有妥善的安排
  • 對個人及工作都有裨益

Media Fast

  • 在一段時間內,全家不以電子媒介作娛樂
  • 最好有教會的支持

總結

  • 個人、家庭、公司、教會都是有生命的体系。(Living Systems)
  • 生命系統自然多產,但亦需要休息
  • 守安息是必須的誡命
  • 活躍的安息是:
    • 主動回饋「生產的負債」
    • 主動聆聽
    • 全然的依賴

屬靈操練

This is part of my Sunday school class notes.

什麼是屬靈操練?

  • 屬靈操練 Spiritual Discipline
    • 習慣而刻意的屬靈活動。Intentional habitual practice of spiritual activity.
  • 傅士德 Richard Foster 把屬靈操練分成三方面:
    • 內在操練:默想、禱告、禁食、讀經
    • 外在操練:簡樸、獨處、順服、事奉
    • 團體操練:彼此認罪、同心敬拜、門徒訓練、與眾同樂

錯誤的屬靈操練

  • 把屬靈操練當成律法
  • 不明白屬靈操練的社會影響力
  • 以為屬靈操練是德行
  • 注重屬靈操練,不見耶穌
  • 只注重一種的屬靈操練,不明白整全屬靈操練
  • 以為屬靈操練的專家可以明白所有屬靈操練的途徑
  • 只學習屬靈操練,不認真實踐

 

聖經對屬靈操練的教導

  • 申命記 5:12-15 (安息日)
  • 申命記 6:4-9
  • 哥林多前書 9:24-27
  • 提摩太前書 4:8
  • 歌羅西書 2:20-23

Class notes for 12/2 Sunday School

啟蒙運動

  • 時間:17 至 18 世紀
  • 主要人物:
    • 巴魯赫·斯賓諾莎 (Baruch Spinoza)
    • 約翰·洛克 (John Locke)
    • 牛頓 (Isaac Newton)
    • 伏爾泰 (Voltaire)
  • 先承:笛卡兒
  • 後傳:康德

啟蒙運動的歷史背景

  • 因:
    • 教會長期專權
    • 東方(儒家)思想打開了非宗教的道德思想範例。
  • 果:
    • 法國大革命、美國獨立革命
    • 科學革命、工業革命

啟蒙運動對基督教的影響

  • 自然神論 (Deism)
  • 聖經批判 (Biblical Criticism)
  • 宗教寬容 (Religious Tolerance)

基督教之回應
基督教對啟蒙運動所引發的理性主義有四類的回應:

  • 接受理性主義
  • 拒絕理性主義
  • 回應理性主義
  • 反對理性主義

接受理性主義的神學思想

  • 自然神學 Deism
    • 接受神創造並掌管天地
    • 神賦予人理性思維
    • 否定神跡的可能性
    • 否定啟示的可能性 (包括聖經無誤)
    • 否定宗教的教條
    • 上帝是偉大的鐘表匠」
    • 例:Jefferson Bible
  • 基督教去神話化 Demythologized Christianity
    • 聖經中的「神話」是用來教化愚昧的民眾。
    • 現代理性的教導是應把基督教去神話化。
    • 這學派最出名的是二十世紀的德國神學家魯道夫·布爾特曼 Rudolf Bultmann
    • 例:基督的復活是神話。神話背後的真像是門徒從新振作,勇敢地跟隨和宣揚基督。所以基督是在「門徒的心裡復活」。
  • •道德基督教 Moral Christianity
    • 著重耶穌道德的教導。
    • 此觀點和回教對基督的教導相近。
  • 總結:
    • 保羅對希臘文化的回應。
    • 林前15

拒絕理性主義的神學思想

  • 基要主義(Fundamentalism)
    • 教會並不應力求現代化,亦不應受世俗的思潮影響。
    • 先是天主教,後是更正教,都有基要主義的興起。
    • 天主教看重傳統,更正教看重聖經。

回應理性主義的神學思想

  • 接受信仰應經過理性的驗証。
  • 基督教的信仰是可以驗証,並全然合理的。
  • 上帝不受自然規律的限制,所以神跡是可能並可信的。
  • 現代多有護教的著作是回應理性主義的作品。(例:鐵証待判)

反對理性主義的神學思想

  • 否定理性主義。
  • 「後現代」基督教
    • 人不是以理性生活為人生的目標。
    • 人生在世,每人都在編織自己的故事。
    • 信仰並不是科學的理論,而是一個偉大的故事,可以將世上每人的故事連結起來,讓人可以找到生命的意義。

Excess capacity

Lev 25:3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.

One of the first questions people ask when I talk about Sabbath is “what should we do on Sabbath?” For those of us who are so used to being busy all the time, finding something to do is a genuine challenge. Surely we cannot sleep through the entire day. After we minus the 8 hours of sleep and 3 hours of church, we still have 13 hours of not knowing what to do.

If we have a problem staying still for one day, imagine how we can survive for a Sabbath year. Even when we think we are secured in finance and career, we just cannot image having nothing to do for a year.

When we read Leviticus 25, we can see that even without sowing and pruning, the land will produce something. Living systems are constantly productive. Somebody who is truly alive will always be creative. We are so used to being crowded by “sowing and pruning” that we have forgotten to be naturally creative. It is when we intentionally cease “artificial production” that we can discover our natural productivity.

What do you want to do on Sabbath? Do things that naturally come to you. Painting, poetry, make music, hanging out with friends. You will be amazed how productive you are when you are not trying.