Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Honour my teacher Mr. Unger

Dear Mr. Unger,

I have finally resolved my Prairie experience, with a
small insignificant website.  I have replaced the
older materials with new contents that reflected what
I see as my experience, a satirical ironic experience.
Yet I find it necessary to honour your presence, so
allow me to do so with a humble attempt, a poem.

The following is found at the website

"I find it a humbling experience to stand and describe
the man who taught me life and biology.  In the
picture above, he is the teacher as depicted.  He is
the reason why and where I am, a biology major, and
has given me fatherly advice many time during the
difficult years especially on the Board at Prairie,
2003-2004.  I wish to commemorate him in this way, and
I am sure I fall short of words to describe his
greatness.  See this as a humble try.

Teacher, Father, and a Prince
Sits among the men his unequal
For his mind far superior to many of his colleagues
Yet he sits, waits and attends to his children

His children come from sea to sea
They seek his teachings, his fatherly advice
Many confused, and lost in Bio-Thirty
Yet with his clear guiding light they see

A man of faith, patience, and excellence
His germanic make up, his firm strength
He medical mind a great asset
To the children he shepherds

A gentle shepherd, and a strong warrior
Guards his lambs from modern faults
His spirit, a pure grace, alights
Many in their own dark moments

He retires, his seeming un-remembrance
Yet his life, his teaching thrives
In the hearts of all his children
They honour him with each life moments

God bless thee, Mr. Unger!
May He grant thee peace and joy
In the years that He has blessed thee with
For in His presence thou shalt stand

In the Almighty's fold thou shalt be
One day, he favors thy presence amongst His saints
Yet for a little while we beg
Tarry here for our sake!"

The death of my god

I wrote this to Mr Unger my high school biology teacher, thought you might appreciate it as well, Michael.

title:  Resolve(d):

Hi Mr. Unger:

It has taken me a long time to come to this painful conclusion of my life, but I think I am able to face it now. As when I was getting married and my folks have been the biggest obstacle to my own personhood, this involvement with Prairie in a way, help me to break from my image of God as it was given me here in the West. I am not an atheist, nor am I lack of the love and appreciation of Bible. But following my board experience, I was quite upset and sort of lost without a recourse.........what to do. I struggled, watched the old faithful struggled, and the kids who were there struggled. I watched this and left. I felt the knots tighten in my stomach for quite a long time. Prayers failed to help me, my past of god talk failed to give significance to this event. My faith was not strengthen at all, if any, it made me come to terms with this new definition of God. That God failed to come, to come through even after his faithful pleaded and struggled before him. That the old Prairie God has been washed out and that spirit of firm resolve, of firm trust in a personal deity that cares, listens, does miracles, none of that came to our help in the periods of 2003-2004. That God was dying, and part of me died with it, and dying was very difficult, painful. I have in my upbringing of 1980-2004, a deity, who was so familiar to me, and daily I walked with Him, even to the darker part of my personal struggle to marry during the period of 1995-1997. But this deity had to die, when I watch how his faithfuls who retired and became forgotten. Many of my former high school teachers, volunteers, and staff were forgotten during the the tenure of Jon Ohlhauser. Jon being an extraordinary man who prides himself in his powerful fascistic (strong, bundle like grip of power)way, he for me, help me to laid the stone on the death and dying of my God. My God was outdated, and he out grew the generation, so he had to die. He did not come to our aid, and he did not do much other than what I saw, everything was to be swept away, so the new school could be born, and yet as many praise this new deity that was born under the leadership of Jon Ohlhauser, I saw this as a perversion of my childhood God of Prairie. I am not sure taking government funding, 100%, and in a sense, using money that polluted the environment, money that comes sin-tax of cigarettes, and alcohol, and money that comes from mass gambling, much of this type of money other than regular tax payers in Alberta (I do not think regular Albertans have this type pf money to give away themselves), and yet God's people lose out in this struggle to Jon. I would not hail the new school PCA as God's will, I will not accept that simply of what we have created an image of God with old Prairie, but this new image Jon brought is not my God, but in the process, my God died, and this new God Jon brought with him, is dying as soon as he is publicly hailed as success, a marriage of our faith mingled with an unbridled American capitalism, the Jerry Falwell brand. Jon's God has no role to play, except to follow Jon's directives.
So as Lloyd Geering so ably helped me with the definition of superstition, that a belief or practice that has outlived its time. Our Prairian God ,we believe, could intervene in the lives of so many, has died with this 2003-2004 for me. He is no longer real, simply he failed to intervene or to stop this man who vows to remove any elements of faith that was left in this school whose foundation was laid with this belief. Jon was there in full control, reduced the school to a regular college, the miraculous element, the faith element died with him.
So I had to come to terms with this new reality, my God has died, but that my definition of a personal God who listens to all prayers, who acts in decisive ways to ensure our faith survives, has not come to pass. Perhaps this image of God no longer has meaning for me, this concept of theism died during this 2003-2004. In the wake of this thought, I began to appreciate that perhaps God is not all powerful, for perhaps that is our own definition of Him, because of our own human needs, we propped up this God image. I think he is beyond all powerful, I think perhaps the image and definition of him being all powerful fails to capture a God whose being is beyond all we can think or pray to. This newer image of God is this Tillich's the ground of being, this impersonal deity is beyond human comprehension, and his impersonality peeked for me around 2003-2004. I rejoice at this fact, at this God behind God, a Tillich's simple image, trying to capture this impersonal deity whose dwelling as St Paul reminds us, that he dwells in the splendor of light whom no one sees nor can anyone sees him.
So in a way, my God died, but in a way, I appreciate a God beyond all our desires. That he is impersonal, beyond all means, fails to intervene as he wills, and fails to helped the needy when they called. That is the beginning of my new resolve, of a God beyond God, a being that bears the weigh of the world, in this being we move, breath and live, yet how many times, humans failed to capture this God by their own limited means or simplisitc personification of this deity, hoping for something, May be Maxwell says it best, hoping for nothing. In that struggle, what we share is our own humanity, our sense of community, and how we each helped each other to be, may be God is in that. When this sense of Prairie community died with Jon, it died with me as well. In a way, Jon is a teacher to me, that my own simple God no longer lives, he has been killed by Jon. Praise to God who lives, who is in the highest places, and may Glory to be brought to this mystery, and as mine died, so the new has born. I no longer look to the mountains that the psalmist wrote, I look to each other to place ourselves firmly in the community we are at, in the earth that we have been provided with, and the animals and creatures we shared so much. These I see the works of this unknown God, these shown him forth .

Hope this helps to illustrate my path these few years. Please take care and I will send info about my children/family soon. This email had to come first, to help you appreciate what went on in the years of silence 2005-2010.

Working on an impersonal god

Benjamin Chung January 14 at 8:05pm
Hi Bernice, I sent this note to only a few people. One of which is Michael Pahl who was teaching at Prairie until 2008, when Jon Ohlhauser forced him to resign, and similar to my situation, his image of God was shattered. It has been three years, although his wife Clarissa is the daughter of former Prairie President Rick Down, Michael was not spared with Jon. He wrote me that he went through a similar path, with a noted exception that he is still embracing a personal God, whereas I embrace this impersonal God.
I think my image of God has something to do with my experience, while getting married, and getting hampered by my own Dad, who is next to god in my upbringing, as well as Jon Ohlhauser who works for God in this PBI. He is also next to the right hand of God. God did not come to my aid, in the sense that I had to throw out this immanent presence of God who is always in the affairs of men. I married irregardless to God/or my folks. From that time, instead of fear of being strike dead by God/god because of this irreverence of god's fifth commandment, I simply ignore this type of God/god. So I moved further and further from this God/god. I did not die (yet), nor did he sent someone after me.
I simply did not find this notion of personal god given to us by the evangelicals helpful or real. So I no longer look to this god. Similarly, Prairie was my last try to see whether I can live with this definition of personal God/god, and as you know, none of his people felt his presence during this great purge. Many people were fired, and God/god did nothing, until the community of Prairie and Three Hills came up to get rid of Jon. It is not God/god who was present in human affairs, according to what I see, it is the human community that came to Prairie's aid. Here is the choice I make (choice in Greek means heresy in our translation), I choose to put my faith in the human relations and human community. I see the hand of God/god in it. I no longer look to a being inthe sky to solve my problems. That one has died for me. As you can tell, this is no longer real or significant for me. Could this god/God still be real to others? Definitely, but I think there is a lot of self delusion involved in this. I think a lot of people are deniers of truths, or they come up with this personal notion, even to the point they claim that God/god speaks to them every my sister Christine. God/god is very real and personal to her, and perhaps she walks with this personal deity every day. But I seriously doubt that He is there, a lot of what they told me is personal and circumstantial; private and not subject to verification or proof. So I choose (another heresy here) to believe that my God is in the impersonal realm, away from human passions and lives. He elects to ignore almost all his creation, in the sense that he is there but he is silent, and disabled. It is precisely that he is not active in human affairs nor if he wanted to, that sets him apart as a God above all, what Jesus taught that the sun shines upon the good and the evil one. He does not favor a particular race or person, that he is beyond humans and human passions. He is not sad when you are, not is he happy if you rejoice. He is beyond all that, one simple being, behind all our human words or concept.
I choose to believe in the earth, and the human relations. These are real to me, the way God made us to be, and in it, I see that God could be like, at the same time, I see no hand of God in human affairs, as many claimed he did. I don't think so, he was not there when Jon fired a bunch of his faithfuls, nor was he there during the earthquakes, or many died during the black death of Medieval Europe. My impersonal God transcends all that, human affairs or human want. So I do not believe in calling out to him to get a car, money or things. He is not there. Don't bother. If you believe strongly it is his will, or simply put, it is the right thing to do, so do it with all your might. If it be his will so be it, but I put no faith in asking him to help as if it is his personal wish that we see that. If I failed, or if I died, I die proud of what I have done, using the gifts and tools he gave me, I did not neglect my duty.

My question is, what is your image of God/god and how did you derive this image? Is this something you loath or something that has given you tremendous freedom?


I've asked a friend to respond to this idea of 'heotheism'

Benjamin Chung May 15 at 7:52am
Hi Becky:

You have a fabulous mind, so please comment on this concept about the one God: henotheism.
(henos, Gk for one, but not in an exclusive term, it may refer to the worship or devotion of one god, but not to the exclusion of others).

I have begun to explore the possibility of devotion of one god but not to the exclusion of others. Here what I see, the OT esp. touching the oneness of God is not mutually exclusive to the existence of other gods. "Thou shalt no other gods before me" and yet the term God - elohim is plural. The Genesis term is plural "let us make men after our image." It seems to me this irrational jealousy of Hebraic God points to the possibility of so many others, and this exclusion of these is either by migration (ie. Abram had to move out of his home town Ur), or by war (total destruction of Chemosh, Ashdod, or El in the act of genocide by invading Israelites, assuming the biblical record is accurate). The henotheistic Israelites were accredited to their demise and exile. It was suggested that after that post-exilic Jews were strict on monotheism (one god, but totally excludes others).
This is what I term as my way or the high way approach.
I think this monotheism creates a tremendous problem with early Christians since the founder Jesus also affirms this doctrine, but he hints his divinity , even quotes Psalms where God is seen in saying to the assembly of Gods, "ye are gods." God is seeing here to acknowledge other gods, and this was used to justify possibility of other gods.
I do believe that it is even much emphasized in the Christianized Roman empire, assuming the imperial cult to Emperor worship to the one Christian god, and his son Jesus. In the Imperial edict of Nicene-Constantinopleton Creed, AD 325-341, the language of exclusion has applied to the worship of strictly one God, maker of all visible and invisible realms. Anyone who went against such is dead, or would be dead.
I am not sure applying Roman laws to justify a theological speculation is "Christian." Calvin had a play in the hanging of Severtus In Geneva. What a Christian act, simply because he denied trinity.
If one shifts carefully through the Jewish text, I do believe, that earlier concept of god, is that he isnot the only one, . He shares his glory with others, with those "the sons of gods" in Genesis (or sons of God-elohim), and that Elohim is often mixed with El such as in Jacob's ladder, "El, elohi-Israel", singular term of a unknown God to him, but he tried to define this one God (henos), from others, so he could worship this one, in that context, if this god saves him, leads him safe back to the land he is leaving, this is his God and the place shalt be called Beth-El. He is not a strict monotheistic person as theologians would have painted him as one. His god is El, which is the Canaanite god El.
You can explain this by using progressive revelation, but it makes little sense to me, that God Elohim is incapable of explaining the most basic tenants that became the unshakable foundation of all three monotheistic religions.

Maybe this deity is not exclusive as we painted him to be. Perhaps this cult of devotion on to Jesus and his personalistic salvation may have to be examined, in this light,. God has reveal his nature and being to so many other cultures, and that Christian missionaries cannot and should not take away their understanding of God or gods,. but merely add to that,. This is in the light that we can better help the people to come to understanding of Jesus not this cumbersome evangelical theological exclusionism,. And by doing so, not to annihilate the others culture or faith, but adds to theirs.
As it was taught by the Saviour, "he who is not against us, is for us." His teaching is universal in the golden rule, love others as yourself. The practice of that, would definitely be Christian.

So this would be my henotheistic missiology .

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dialogue with Garfield Cat lady

Hi Garfield Catlady:

I will respond to this part first (I have trouble posting this on your blog)

這信徒的觀念並非傳統基督教教義所講的﹐ 而是近100年北美福音派教會為了籠絡更多人信耶穌﹐ 於是D人一信就話他們得救﹐ 有新生命﹐ 必定得救﹐ 必定上天堂﹐ 一次得救永遠得救等﹐ 但宗教改革時代﹐ 不論馬丁路德或者加爾文講的概念都不是如此的﹐ 前者不會這樣說﹐ 後者更加說神揀選的得救﹐ 但沒有人知道自己是屬於神揀選行列﹐ 後來北美教會希望更多人加入教會﹐ 就會在有人舉手決志信耶穌就會宣佈他得救﹐ 這種做法是十分新近﹐ 而且古老基督教信仰從來﹑沒有說“信耶穌有新生命”絕對不會離開基督教/離開耶穌的。

I do believe the Book of James was written for such people. There were probably this type who may have take Pauline message of faith to the extreme. Something that neglected action other than simply faith.

I would make a distinction between American Evangelicalism and ancient Christianity. I would propose here that Ancient Christianity was more about living a life worthy of the calling and to love others as self. I do believe ancient Christianity expects the world to end suddenly and in their life time, which did not happen. And that Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings were unique in his time, about loving their enemies and occupiers, since the world would have ended in their life time. They would not have thought that their religion would have became the Imperial Roman religion ( and that is not what this religion was about), and after being codified as Romans, and quite legal about eliminating the traits of ancient Christianity. Having Greeks to help them to build a more sophisticated Platonic-metaphysical framework, and having the Roman to legalize this form. Christianity became 'universalized' within the Roman Empire. And wherever they went, they conquered others and forced them to accept this form of faith, on the pains of death.
Jesus became so elevated, that he lost his humanity, he looked more like Roman sun god Sol Invictuis and Caesar himself. Arius was trying to defend his humanity, then he was forced to give up this teaching, on the pains of death. This arch enemy of Arius was St Athanasius who taught the co-eternity of Jesus with the Father, until then it was a new teaching, much like your concept here about American evangelicalism and the eternal security teaching. Cyril of Alexandria (in this first part about publicly stripping a pagan woman and murder her) was also doing to same about St Nestorius, where the argument about the completed humanity of Jesus that it was distinct and unique in such a way, that it was not mixed up into this new definition of 'mia physite' and not to condone the elevation of Mary the mother into the mother of God. Marian worship in the Ephysus was big and the worship was about the Queen of Heavens, which was nicely transferred to Mary.

Maybe ancient Christianity was about love and tolerance. Jesus the founder comes from a questionable paternity. He has no earthly father figure, so he projects to a God in the heavens. He teaches that love is from God and to love is how we experience God. He hates death and senseless killing. He loves the prostitutes and sinners. He hates those who used God to oppressed others.

I am sure this "Garfield lay" does not object, nor would she blames Jesus for American Evangelicalism, neither will I.

So I make a distinction between ancient Christianity and modern Christianity. First I do propose to remove its Roman characters, and the enforced universalization. (scaring folks that with believing in Christ we will all perish), that is not true. we certainly need to come to know his teaching, but it is not for all people. It is not something every should be doing. God is not one, but many, and we each a god and find one to worship. Some worships safety, some money, some beautiful partners, others children. They want whatever their god can supply them.
And second we should each live a life worthy to the teachings of the available Gospels. I tend to ignore Pauline letters. He being a Pharisee (Parish - to separate from others for the sake of purity). His teachings sometimes damages the teachings of Christ, esp about equality of women and gays. Some of these are cultural bias. We ought to try to focus on the primary source first, and leave out Revelation, it is too bloody and ectastatic.
The third is to remove capitalism from my religion, that is why Jesus broken ranks with priests of his days, challenged them and ultimately got himself killed. This removal is to reduce religious taxation on the vulnerable. No religious tax on money, time and resources. There is not need to excessively do outreach and calculate which methods get most results.

Yours truly,