Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Visit to Malaysia - Melecca, Tai Ping, Penang, and Ipoh

I just came back from another trip to Malaysia. This time, I travelled with my parents by car on our own to various destinations. We visited Melacca, Tai Ping, Penang, and Ipoh. I think I got to have myself time away from the computer, and from reading. Most of the time, I was in the car, and simply just relaxing my mind. I think the trip has helped alleviate my tension headache somewhat, although it still remains there. But this is the best I have felt so far since the tension headache started. I am hoping that it would completely go away before I resume school next semester in august.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Visit to Malaysia - Genting Highlands and Pulau Ketam

I just came back from a 3 days trip to Malaysia over the weekend, during which, my parents and I went with a tour group to Genting Highlands and Pulau Ketam. Despite having visited Malaysia quite a number of times, this was my first time to the two places. I like the food in Malaysia. It is definitely better and cheaper than what can be had in Singapore. There are many Chinese restaurants around Malaysia which you can visit for decent food at affordable pricing. It is more difficult to find good restaurants in the heartlands of Singapore, and they do come at a high price. I had plenty of seafood during my trip.

There is something about travelling in Malaysia that is quite stress-relieving. There are plenty of land, and the landscape is much less developed than what you have in Singapore, although I wish that Malaysia was a little more developed, somewhere along the standard of Japan or Taiwan where there are plenty of goods and services, and places of attraction. Malaysia certainly feels more spacious than Singapore. You can drive for miles seeing only forest and mountains on your peripherals. A Malaysian friend of mine who came to work in Singapore complains that Singapore is too congested for her liking, and that she intends to go live in Australia in the future. I am relatively comfortable with the way Singapore is, and don’t find myself being as stressed up about living in Singapore as my friend does. I like the area in Singapore where I live, which is relatively sub-urban in nature, and less populated than the more heavily resided areas. I just wish that there was better food around because I think that the food fares at the shopping malls or at the hawker centres can be pretty sub-standard. My complain is that food prices seem to be going up, while food quality seem to going down. I wish that there were more quality western and Japanese food stalls around, and at affordable pricing. I also wish that stalls serving Chinese mixed dishes served healthier and more palatable varieties. I usually find the Chinese stalls serving mixed dishes in Singapore too salty and oily for my liking.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Thoughts on the Christian comment - "Do not worry. Trust in God"

A oft-said remark by fellow Christians with regard to one’s sharing about problems in life is to trust God and not to worry. If there is any passage that is quoted, it would be Matthew 6:25-34.  Some Christians might even press on the point that it is a command by Jesus not to worry (eg: see this relevant magazine article). Just at church this morning, the pastor was giving a sermon in which he said that lack of trust in God is in part due to one’s sinful nature.

I have several thoughts about this Christian rhetoric. For one, I am not sure what it means to trust in God. Trust in God for what? For his providence? That things will be smooth-sailing? That ultimately, everything works towards good? But how does a Christian concile this trust in God for his goodness with the bad things that happens in the world, whether it is to people around them, or to themselves? Should he go away consoling himself that things could be worse? And if bad things can happen to one who trust in God, then what is the subject matter to which one should trust God in? Surely it can’t be then that one should trust in God to prevent bad things from happening to him or her, because there are fair well too many examples where such bad things indeed happen to good people.

I have settled with the answer that trust in God simply means trust in his will for ultimate goodness, no matter how ambiguous or enigmatic such notion of good may seem. However, does this mean that one should suspend his or her reasoning faculties, or capacity for evaluation when it comes to determining whether good or bad is indeed resulting in his or her life? I have always found it inconsistent that some Christians would say that one should suspend one’s evaluation of God’s goodness, but give thanks for perceived goods that they have received from God. How can you give thanks for something good if you are suspending your evaluation of whether it is good or not? A half-way house approach to this would be to not dismiss the use of such rational faculties in evaluating God, but to acknowledge that there are limits to how such faculties can be used to appraise God. After all, evaluations are subjective, and may be incorrect.

Secondly, what does trust in God entail? A fellow Christian I know would go so far as to suggest that making decisions or personal planning is contradictory to putting one’s trust in God. For him, as far as possible, one should rely on the promptings or direct revelation of God. A moderate like me would try to concile the function of personal planning and decision making as the responsible use of the intellectual faculties that we have been endowed with as human beings. But I have been countered before with the reply that if one makes his or her own decision, one has only oneself to blame if things go wrong for him or her. The mantra is that it is either God’s way, or your wrong way.

One problem I have with such an approach is that I don’t think most Christians actually receive instruction from God in managing their personal affairs. And even if God is speaking, it is usually very subtle, and might be difficult for the individual to discern correctly what is being said, or that it comes from him. I have learnt to keep this reservation of mine more discreet when talking to a “hyper-spiritual” Christian, because I know that saying out this reservation would only invite the sort of condescending perception that I must be some lower-spiritual Christian or even not a Christian at all, thereby not being able to discern God’s instructions.

I am not sure whether it is possible to still adhere by the instruction not to worry, yet deal with the pressure of problems and decision making. I am not sure how to circumvent this problem in trying not to worry as much as I do. There is always the lingering worry that I can be remiss or wrong in my decision making, and face more troubles. And I don’t think being told that I should trust God and not worry sound sensitive or understanding in any manner.

Search This Blog