Wednesday, May 25, 2005

our heart

Now playing in my head...

Our heart, our desire,
Is to see the nations worship.
Our cry, our prayer,
Is to sing Your praise
To the ends of the earth;
That with one mighty voice
Every tribe and tongue rejoices.
Our heart, our desire,
Is to see the nations worship You.

Heavenly Father, Your mercy showers
Down upon Your people,
Every race upon this earth;
May Your Spirit pierce the darkness,
Break the chains of death upon us.
Let us rise in honest worship,
To declare Your matchless worth!

- "Our Heart", John Chisum & George Searcy

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

kingdom of heaven

Our faith was strong in th' Orient,
It ruled in all of Asia,
In Moorish lands and Africa.
But now for us these lands are gone
'Twould even grieve the hardest stone...
Four sisters of our Church you find,
They're of the patriarchic kind:
Constantinople, Alexandria,
Jerusalem, Antiochia.
But they've been forfeited and sacked
And soon the head will be attacked.

- taken from "The Ship of Fools", written by Sebastian Brant

I thought King Baldwin IV (picture above) was rather cool behind that silver mask. I was trying to spot one particular scene that I had come across in the trailer where he faces Saladin in a showdown, and he sort of cocks his head to one side knowingly. Didn't see it in the movie...rats =p

Oh yeah...I'm of course talking about
Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven ("KoH"), certainly one of the movies that I had been anticipating this year. I wasn't expecting it to pass the scissors of our parochial censorship board, so it was quite a pleasant surprise when I found out that the movie was on its way to our Malaysian silver screens.

Anyway, I had the privilege of catching KoH last night, with a pretty big rombongan too...16 of us in total! Surprisingly, everyone was early for the
(I had to think awhile to verify this) VERY FIRST TIME!

KoH is reminiscent of a typical Ridley Scott epic. Felt it didn't quite live up to the standards of Gladiator but I still thought the movie was special in its own way. The sets were pretty impressive and Saladin's assault on Kerak did bring back memories of the seige of Minas Tirith back in LOTR: Return of the King =)

Still, watching KoH inevitably brings out the skeletons from the closets of Christian-Muslim relations. There will always be questions hanging over the validity of the reasons behind the Crusades, whether or not they were seen to be unnecessary aggression in the name of extending God's kingdom and converting nations to Christianity, or whether they were a necessary defence against the advancing Muslim armies in the Middle East and Eastern Europe regions.

One of the more provocative questions raised by the KoH is the relationship between God's will and human agency, and whether the former can be discerned in the latter. In the movie, both Christian and Muslim sides claimed to be fighting for God. Calls for bloodshed were attributed to fulfilling "God's will". The phrase "God wants it!!" still rings in my head. Bearing their respective crosses and crescent moons were people fighting alike; in the service of something they held dear, a purpose much greater than themselves that even warranted the giving of their lives in martyrdom.

But were their actions all within God's will?

Christianity Today ran quite an extensive coverage on KoH two weeks back. Pretty good stuff, I should add. One of the articles [1] depicted a frank conversation between a Christian and a Muslim about the possible impact of KoH on Christian-Muslim relations. In one part, the Christian writer asked his Muslim friend, Haq, whether he thought KoH would actually aggravate relationships between Christians and Muslims. I like Haq's response. He said,

"No, I don't. The movie shows how complex people's motives are, that that may express their conviction in religious terms, but they're doing so with base political and economic motives. You say you're doing something for God when you're really doing it for yourself. I think this movie will force people to see that what they thought was an act of religious faith on their part was not really religious at all."

A scene from the movie also comes to mind where Guy de Lusignan insists that God wants the Christians to massacre the Muslim legions. King Baldwin IV refuses to comply in light of the delicate truce hanging between the Christians and Muslims, and goes to the extent of hanging Templar Knights who have disobeyed his orders to restrain from conflict. Balian (the Orlando Bloom character) thinks the harsh punishment to be odd since "they are dying for doing what the pope would tell them to do." He gets a reply from one of his acquaintances, "Yes, but not Christ, I think."

It was the lines like these that endeared me to the movie for its promotion of some of the values that we as Christians treasure. They certainly provided the saving grace to a beautifully crafted movie otherwise distracted by religious and political idealogies.


[1] Steven Gertz, "Whose Side Is God On?", Christianity Today, posted 10 May 2005.

(Note: The article has since been removed from the Christianity Today site, but I've got a hardcopy if anyone's interested)

Monday, May 16, 2005


Receiving the BAD NEWS...

The screening's on the 3rd of June and that's in the thick of my CFA study leave. Exams are on the 6th too...boohoo.


Receiving the GOOD NEWS...

I just got a corporate invite to watch EpIII...woohoo!!

Friday, May 13, 2005

third time lucky?

I hear tickets are already on sale for shows on the 18th to the 20th.

Go! Go! Go! =)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

giving an account

What was supposed to be a casual Mothers' Day conversation with mum on Sunday turned into something I totally did not expect. To cut a long story short, we actually had quite a long conversation about comparative religions, more specifically Buddhism and Christianity. I knew mum was fairly open, but I had NO IDEA that she was THIS open to hearing about what I believe in as a Christian.

Through our messy conversation, I sort of managed to present the Gospel to mum, although I know her thoughts were probably so cluttered with what other people have been teaching her about Buddhism etc. While mum might have been confused then, what struck me was her response.

She asked, "How come you've never told me this before?"

I was stunned for a moment. I had shared the Gospel with mum...once...maybe vaguely twice. But those occasions happened so long ago. She had been pretty closed up to the Christian message then, but I had no idea that she had become more open over the years.

Pondering over Sunday's telephone conversation made me realise that we are sometimes too quick to assume a particular reaction from people even before we share the Gospel of Christ to them. It is so often that we refrain from saying the things that we ought to say, in the fear that our family members or friends would either react in a certain way, perceive us in a certain light, or maybe even wonder how we could even believe in something so shallow. "I don't do religion, thank you very much."

In stifling our voices, I wonder how many people have missed out on the opportunity to hear the good news? How many people have we rubbed shoulders with today? Last week? Last month? Last year? I guess the numbers can be pretty astounding.

What if we happened to be the last opportunity for that particular person to hear about Christ? In such a situation, I really don't know how I would be able to give an account to God when I see Him face to face.

Monday, May 09, 2005