Friday, October 27, 2017

Qualifying for the Singapore Bar; Christian and church life; and Life in general

This year, I have been caught up with doing my pupillage at a law firm for the earlier half of the year, and then taking the bar exam in the latter half of the year. I did my pupillage, first at a firm dealing with corporate litigation, and then moved to another firm that dealt with criminal and family law matters. I am still quite undecided as to which area of legal practice I should delve into. My good sense tells me that if I should decide to practice law, I should practice in a community-related legal discipline like criminal, torts, and family, but a part of me wish to be able to do corporate-related legal work like merger and acquisition, and insolvency. I find those contents very much harder to grasp though. Perhaps I should be doing something else other than law for a career, but I am not sure what that should be.

My long-standing illness with tension headache still gets the better of me at times. I have been suffering from this illness for more than 5 years now. I feel that it makes me more easily addled than what I would otherwise be, though it may very well be that the content by which I am trying to grasp may very well be beyond my mental ken. I have begun trying out certain therapies like acupuncture and tuina. There are quite many traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinics near my previous workplace providing for such alternative medicine treatment. Acupuncture doesn’t seem effective in my opinion. Tuina, a form of traditional Chinese massage, has some alleviating effect, but it is no panacea.

It is quite an experience doing my stint in the legal industry, and I truly enjoyed interacting with the various clients and working upon their various legal problems. It allows me to witness a snippet of society. I got to see some of the social ills from doing criminal and family related legal work. I think I have more of a fondness for litigation rather than simply corporate work. The former involves going to court and presenting a case before a judge. The latter is more sedentary in nature, and the daily routine is mostly being in the office working upon some corporate document. If there was anything that inspired me to study law, it were the legal dramas like Boston Legal,  games like Ace Attorney, and books like How to Kill a Mockingbird where the lawyer characters appear most charming and eloquent when they passionately argue their case on behalf of their clients in court with great panache. In that regard, litigation would be more in line with that initial conception of what legal work is all about.

I have been trying to brush up on my mother tongue throughout this year, which is the Chinese language. One reason for doing so is because I feel it would be useful for me in dealing with Chinese-speaking clients. Another reason is that I wish to be able to communicate more effectively with chinese-speaking Singaporeans. I try improving my Chinese by watching Chinese dramas. Some of the Chinese dramas I have watched are The Three Kingdoms and Battle of Changsha. The Three Kingdoms is a period of tripartite division of China between the states of Wei, Shu, and Wu in the 14th century. Battle of Changsha is a drama revolving around the lives of a family in China during the Japanese invasion in World War 2. 

I make it a point to attend church on Sundays. It would be nice if I could find the discipline to write on my blog about what goes on in my weekly church service. Indeed, there are plenty interesting things for which to write about, but for some reason, I find it difficult to go about writing about them despite wishing to.

I watch sermons by various pastors and priests on youtube, and read blogs by various Christian writers. Some of the pastors of whose sermons I watch are Timothy Keller, Jon Piper, and John F. MacArthur. I also watch monologue videos by Catholic priest Fr Mike Scmitz. I also find guidance in the secular wisdom of Alain De Botton, a british popular philosopher, in his narrated animated videos on the youtube channel School of Life

I also meet up with friends I know from law school, especially those whom I know from the batch prayer group. It’s my way of keeping in touch with people from the fraternity, and to fellowship with fellow believers in Christ. It also helps to strengthen my faith, and keep me from my proneness to excessive doubts and disgruntlement with God. Recently, I have been attending a cell group at my church. It is made up of church members a little younger than I am. The cell group that I was formerly in composing of guys around my age has pretty much become defunct because the other cell group members have stopped coming to church, or left for other churches. I guess there’s a homeliness to attending the church I am a regular at. It is also one in which I feel there is more of a sense of authenticity of what being a Christian means, compared to what may be talked or emphasized about at other churches. The church which I attend is a Lutheran church. From time to time, my pastor would meet me up for lunch, and I would talk to him about my struggles in life, and discuss with him what I think about his sermons, and what could be done to make things better at church.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Church Sermon about wisdom

I went to church today, and I went to church last week as well. But I went to a different church that I usually go to from the one I went today as I had to pass something to a friend there. The church which I had went to last week was a Bible-Presbyterian (BP) church. I have been to that church a few times now, and my impression of it is that there is quite some difference in the stuff that they bring up there from the church that I usually go to. For example, in a previous service which I had gone to in the BP church, the Pastor gave a sermon about how the congregants there should bring the church to the world at large. He had a catchy jingo to capture the essence of his sermon. “Bring them in, see the change, send them out.” The church was a place for people to be reformed, and then to bring that change to the world outside the church. I don’t hear as much about bringing change from within my church to the outside world as much in the usual Lutheran church which I have been attending since young. It would seem to me that my church is more focused on the redemption part of the gospel than encouraging people to bring their reformed self beyond the church so that they can change the world positively in their likeness as well. There is a good I suppose to not being too assertive about the need for congregants to go out and make disciples of all nations and messages of such nature. Sometimes, what a church goer needs to hear is how the church or God is administering to his or her need, and not about how he or she should fulfill his or her obligation to God to minister to the world or society or large. Given my own stage in life right now where I find myself struggling with my religious faith and belief in God, I find myself being more drawn towards my own church than towards the BP church where the emphasis seems to be about how we as Christians can bring positive change to the world.

I shall write about what went on in service at the BP church last week, and then on what went on in my church today. At the BP church last week, the preacher there was giving a sermon on the passage of Daniel 2 where the biblical character Daniel had to give an interpretation to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. The message of the sermon was about how Daniel, in contrast to the other wise men in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court, recognize that his wisdom came from God, while those other wise men relied upon their own wisdom. The preacher made the point that true wisdom is not about knowledge or intelligence, but about a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have a question about the point made by the Pastor though. “Is that really what wisdom means in the bible?” I mean, a relationship with Christ is nice and good and all, but is that what the bible means by having wisdom? From my own reading of the bible, it seems that wisdom has a certain quality and merit of its own altogether apart from simply a relationship with God. Like there are certain characters who are called wise, and this wisdom seems to entail something along the lines of them having certainly qualities of mind or capabilities apart from their moral rectitude or devotion to God. Why, even a character like Ahitophel who went against King David by siding with Absalom in his uprising was esteemed for his great wisdom. On the other hand, there may have been other exemplary biblical characters like Moses or David, but they were not as much esteemed for wisdom. In terms of relationship with God, David is called “A Man after God’s own heart”, but this is not the case for wisest man who ever lived, Solomon who is described in 1 King 11 as having turned away from God. I would prefer to keep the term wisdom and the notion of relationship with God as separate categories.

The thing is, is that I don’t think that it is God’s will to grant high amount of wisdom to everyone. Sometimes, I feel that Christians make the mistake of thinking that wisdom or intelligence is a sign of a person’s close relationship with God, or vice versa, that a close relationship with God would grant one wisdom or intelligence. I myself am probably guilty of such thinking. Fact of the matter is, there are Christians who are smart, and there are Christians who are not so smart; And there are non-believers who are smart, and non-believers who are not so smart as well. Whether a person is smart or wise does not necessarily mean that he or she have a greater standing with God than someone who is less smart or wise. Someone might have a more prominent standing in church ministry, but he or she is still very much human nonetheless, and liable to err.

For service at my usual Lutheran church today, the sermon passage was on Matthew 4:12-23, where Jesus first began his public ministry. The Pastor’s message was about how Jesus ministered to a darkened world, and how we continue to live in a darkened world where many people in Singapore society are still non-believers and idol worshippers. The Pastor shares about how, for exercise, he would run up the stairs of a flat, across the corridor to the stairs on the opposite end, and repeat that until he gets to the top. As he goes about his exercise, he would observe the outside of the apartments he passes by, and notice that many households in Singapore display various paraphernalia indicating their adherence to various folk religions. According to the Pastor, these are still signs that we are trapped in the darkness of an unbelieving world.

What do I think of this characterization of unbelief as that of a dark world? Well, it’s pretty much conventional Christian paradigm of framing things. It’s kind of like a lingo actually which may or may not have as much negative connotation as one would intuitively associate with such a term "darkness". For myself, I am not so keen on characterizing mere unbelief as darkness. It is kind of hyperbolic in my opinion. But I do recognize that there are quite some disturbing or concerning social phenomena that take place in society or in the world, part of which may stem from lack of religious belief, whether Christian or others, and of which Christianity and other religions can serve as a guiding light.

Search This Blog