on behaviour modification

I heard a recent prayer for people willing to accept Jesus into their hearts. One thing that irked me about it though was its handling of sin. The prayer talked of sin as doing bad things, and asked of Jesus’ help as more behaviour changing than the radical change and metanoia described in the Bible.

What does behaviour modification look like?

Thirty years ago it was commonly held that outside stimulus shaped a person’s character: hence the kerfluffle about rock music, violent tv shows, etc. These days it is increasingly held that though violent and disturbing media does corrupt those who are exposed to it, it’s more about those people wanting these things in the first place. Someone who loves horror and violent films is probably just a disturbed person whose attraction to these things is a manifestation of inner troubledness. Continue reading “on behaviour modification”

on realistic gods

Why is the Bible compelling? Many reasons: it’s a message of love, hope, the correct way.

How about a message of realism? One thing that strikes me is how well God knows us. Better often than we know ourselves. If all gods are figments of our imagination, what does one call a god who is in many ways quite un-godly? What kind of a god says things no human priest would ever dream up? Continue reading “on realistic gods”

on language and national stereotypes

Like culture (and according to Matthew 15 various other output), language is often an interesting reflection on the people who speak it. Some observations:

The Japanese have a reputation for being introverted and closed, at least to non-Japanese. Having learned Japanese I think this characteristic is reflected in the frankly un-intuitive way the language is structured and taught, a labyrinth of rules, archaisms and barriers – no matter how beautiful it sounds. The Japanese practically invented a separate character system to differentiate between outside and inside. Japanese history is similarly written in a very user-unfriendly way. As an aside, Japanese gameshows and humour are often quite sadistic. Continue reading “on language and national stereotypes”

some thoughts on christ

Having read M Mikalatos’ excellent Imaginary Jesus I realise that it is true, the Christian must make sure he is following the real Jesus.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of the Father of Jesus Christ. Jesus the Word, Jesus of the Bible.

A warrior king, but whose most breathtaking act of valour was to willingly and obediently die on the cross. His obedience was what made him great.

Antithesis to the ‘macho Jesus’ ideal. Continue reading “some thoughts on christ”

on shyness

I am what you’d describe as a shy guy, scared of talking to pretty girls.

Sounds innocuous, even charming. But here’s what’s wrong with that:

Shyness means I don’t want to talk to a pretty girl for fear of looking bad in front of her – I think I speak for nine out of ten guys who suffer from shyness (and in fact the Cantonese/Mandarin words for ‘shy’ are rendered 怕羞 and 害羞 respectively, both of which approximately mean ‘afraid of shame’) – but is this not simply pride and self-importance? Continue reading “on shyness”

on the failure of inter-war collective security

If the aftermath of WW1 were the re-arrangement of the European power balance with Germany purposely spared, then we still live with a very tangible consequence of WW1. The existence of Yugoslavia, the Czech Republic and Hungary among others is a result more or less of the post-war measures taken to dismantle the Habsburg Empire; the preservation of Germany was just as much a conscious decision by the Allied victors. Could you imagine how different our political landscape (not to mention 20th century world history) would be had the Allies decided to liquidate the German Reich in 1918? Continue reading “on the failure of inter-war collective security”

on sonship

A gut reaction to be humble and service is not necessarily good. In my experience always insisting on being the first to serve inflames the ego. On the contrary allowing yourself to be served (receiving without giving anything in return) takes humility – provided you see the service as meeting your weakness/need and not something to be exploited! Witness Peter’s cry of ‘you shall never wash my feet, Lord’, and Christ’s reply. (John 13:6-8)

A son is served out of his father’s riches. Learn to enjoy these as the fruits of sonship. Continue reading “on sonship”

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