Dec 9, 2014

"No, you know what? Let's talk about Kong Hee."

They say that the thing you see when you look into the mirror is your insecurity. Your fat thighs, maybe, or your acne, or your eyes that will never be pretty no matter how hard you try, or your race or sexuality. On a typical day I look in the mirror and see a City Harvest Christian. I have good reason to feel socially insecure as a Christian, and especially as a CHC-goer. Everyone judges you for being a CHC-goer, including other Christians; or at least that's how I felt for the longest time. "Oh my god, the china wine church" "Oh your pastor pocketed the money?" "Everyone's queueing up to give money to your pastor" "You all got the Greece trip? Your church bribed the school ah?" "All these biblically-shallow, feel-good worshippers" "Prosperity gospel" etc. I thought it was miraculous that people accepted me as the CF leader. This must be somewhat similar to how a homosexual pastor might feel.

I don't see the need to justify myself, or my church, or anyone. The church's been publicly shamed for longer than I've been in it. I do take the stand that my church is as sound in its main theological beliefs as any other church, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with its mode of worship, etc. But my membership does not mean that I fully adopt the complete City Harvest identity as my own identity, just as how my passionate and steady commitment to Yale-NUS doesn't mean I fully take its identity as my own. City Harvest is a place where I feel free to worship and learn to develop my relationship with God; beyond than the immediate institution, I am first a Christian.

Besides, I also don't think it should be necessary for me to completely reject the ways and beliefs of my church - "I go there, but I don't agree with any of it" - in order to feel socially accepted. This church guided me in my journey with Jesus; without it, I wouldn't have known God like I now do. Yes, I don't drink it all in; not all of what I believe is from the church; I disagree with the ways in which they present certain things, and - well - unlike many Christians (enough to get me extremely frustrated and worried), I am very much for evolution, as much as the average non-Christian. But I owe a great deal to this place.

Also I have come to be very frustrated at the self-righteousness of many demeaningly cynical non- or anti-Christians. Oh, look at those opiate-addicted religious people, naive, unquestioning, just buying these lies. Look at this City Harvest, the thousands of stupid sheep just buying it all in. Maybe it is my insecurity, but I often feel like people try hard to continue being nice to me upon finding out which church I belong to. Oh, this sad girl. I hope she doesn't give money to the church.

I'm not giving anything, any devotion or defence or money, to a human being. And this is why I will neither defend nor demean my pastor and his wife, but I ask that, like I do, like Jesus does, you do not judge. I ask that you do not mock him, because are you more righteous than a God who will never deride a sinner? More righteous than a God who will cry for our sins, cry for the heartbreak that we inflict upon ourselves? I am a human being, and I too try not to judge. I think the basic thing we can do is practice respect and acceptance, instead of laughing at a person. Today I was invited to watch a series of videos of supposedly deranged people doing embarrassing things in public, like stripping naked in a station or wailing uncontrollably at losing a flight or picking a fight in a bus. Was I supposed to laugh? What if the person in the video, or a deranged person I encountered in the streets one day, was someone I knew, someone who had a pleasant demeanour in secondary school but who possibly got very stressed out when she started working at a law firm, and lost it all one day? Would I find it funny then?

I find it uncomfortable to be around people who practice derision, or a self-righteous sort of compassion, or arrogance that assumes a higher ground, that assumes we can save ourselves because our hearts are so good, or that those who believe in anything beyond are too naive, not enlightened like you are. Right now, halfway around the world from Singapore, I miss the gentle, all-loving respect and humility that I could easily find in those around me, in Christians and non-Christians alike. Humility is something rare and precious, something we all need to be whacked in the head to remember from time to time.

I don't think this post makes much sense. I'm just typing.

No comments: