Truths All Good Christians Must Know (and its many myths that should be addressed)

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( FOR CHRISTIANS ONLY )

It is almost two decades now I have distanced myself from church. And I have my reasons. I don’t easily fall in line, I can’t conform to rites and rituals, and I have always been an individualist. I am in direct contrast to what others regard as a faithful follower. And I did not know God through the church. Thus, with or without church, my faith did not wane. And my ember did not diminish like an isolated coal they told me it would. But one thing did happen though. After I have turned away from church , not even a single soul from church has ever called me, nor say hello. And it’s been twenty years since. I won’t second guess their erratic behaviour not that I am bothered. But I was given the impression that there’s a line that segregates believers who goes to church, and those who don’t, or have left. They use a term for out-standing characters like me. I’m known as a ‘lapsed Catholic’. For whatever that means. And I think they feel better to be able to classify me so as to tell me that I am not one of them. Also, don’t go to them if I needed any favours. If it is a science lab, they would have placed me inside a jar and labelled ‘heretic specimen.’
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…” (Romans 14:1-23)

Personally, I believe that faith is a journey. And to each, our own. This journey of mine had me hover over and under the pews- where once I was inside the church looking out, now, I’m on aerial view, looking in. I am particularly appalled by those who easily succumb to authority and be led by the nose, and others who tacitly sandwiched fear in-between the bread of life. These are the majority which makes up the congregation- an adulterated version of the ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’ and of the ‘Temple of Solomon’, also known as the ‘Order of Solomon’s Temple’, or the ‘Knights Templar’ – defenders of faith who would fight tooth and grit with anyone who doubts that their God is the greatest. How ironical. But if their God is the greatest, why then do they fear?
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)

For out-standing souls like me, please be enlightened. It’s a privilege to recce God’s garden and circumambulate one full circle while others are still caught up inside. Without being given the ladder to scale over, one may not understand what the opposing scenery looks like, to make informed opinions. Unlike me who have a full macro view uninterrupted. I’d rather enjoy the fresh air and be caught trespassing, than paying blind obeisance to what the church wanted us to believe in.

The Words of God are simple and straightforward. Yet many lack depth to scour its grace and wisdom. And true discipleship calls for individuals to give up everything and follow him. Yet I wonder how many denominations still observe this faithfully?
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24)
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple”. (Luke 14:33)
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”(Mark 10:21).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” (1 John 2:15)

Throughout those years in church, I have encountered the most obstinate of believers. Those in true hypocrisy who worships the strangest, those who pray to prey, and those who gossips the fiercest. And to those lost sheeps forever looking for signs and wonders to affirm their faith, I now have the unfortunate unpleasant chore to respond to, their myopic perception of God. I am no biblical scholar, a behavioural scientist nor a theologian. But if everyone were to take a step backwards tying everything we know to the basics of love, we could be seeing happier days ahead, than feeling somber, anticipating the final hours of God’s arrival any sooner. Like everybody else, I dread to be misled. Because one day, those misled may be preaching on the pulpit.
“I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I do not have love, I will sound like noisy brass. If I have the gift of speaking God’s Word and if I understand all secrets, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I know all things and if I have the gift of faith so I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give everything I have to feed poor people and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, it will not help me.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
“Love does not give up. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Love does not put itself up as being important. Love has no pride. Love does not do the wrong thing. Love never thinks of itself. Love does not get angry. Love does not remember the suffering that comes from being hurt by someone. Love is not happy with sin. Love is happy with the truth. Love takes everything that comes without giving up. Love believes all things. Love hopes for all things. Love keeps on in all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Inside every church are always some delusional Jim Jones in the making. Hallucinators who beckoned they have earned wings- believing themselves to be God’s chosen gate-keeper or messenger of some kind. All because they have managed to garner some followers. Indeed they have. Retirees, pensioners, the golden age club and sinners whom resorted to the church hoping for some form of redemption or free entertainment to kill time. And so these hallucinators seek God inside the pages of the Old Testament without knowing it’s relevance, reviving worship and dance like David did without knowing its significance, arrived at the gates of the New Testament without mastering the Beatitudes, and back they went again to the drama of the Old Testament, preferring the authoritarian and punitive God than the forgiving one. And that is how, like a warrant officer, they stick their noses into every cadets butt, faulting everyone else’s conduct and private business thus giving unconditional love a brand new meaning by inserting them with multitudes of decree. Didn’t they know any better? That the veil had been broken?
“And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38)
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God…” (Hebrews 10:19-22)

The most unfortunate amongst these characters may I emphasise again, are these ‘fault finders’- backdoor Warrant Officers who could uncover sin everywhere, under every stone and carpet, except for their own backyard. These characters could see no wrong in themselves, and shows no contrite- comfortably forgetting the speck in their own eyes and forgetting that the Lord is first and foremost, “an all forgiving God”.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew 6:4)
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“But if you do not forgive others their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6: 15)

Next are the ‘fence builders’ – those who thought that God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit belongs exclusively to believers only and no one else, thus disassociating themselves from the marginalised, the destitute, the underprivileged and the non-believers. They too tasked themselves to build wedges between believers and their loved ones of different faiths, urging them to stay away from customs, traditions, conjugal and funeral rites because they believe it is better not offend their jealous God than to embrace love for their own family. Doesn’t these individuals understand that “the greatest is love”? (1 Corinthians 13:13). How then are they “to go forth and multiply” (Genesis 9:1) and “make disciples of all generations” (Matthew 28:18-20), having decided that building boundaries, fences, wedges, and cages is amiable?
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

Then, there are the ‘fear mongers’. Individuals whom instead of believing and emphasising the glory and majesty of the almighty God whom created the world, believed more in abominations and the harsh punishment meted by God, thus allowing evil to manifest. These individuals spread fear and are scared of everything under the sun, maybe their own shadows even. Imagine the damage they could cause up on the pulpit, spinning confusion in the minds of catechumens at a time when they were taught forgiveness, more so when their faith journey is still at it’s infancy? The fear of the darkness, death, other gods, mythological creatures, traditions and customs, is unnecessary because they are but little elements that makes up the colourful world, if you believe in the all powerful God that is.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18)
One should thus, not shift one’s focus from the God of kindness and compassion, towards darkness, garbage and filth, thereby reducing God’s brilliance, radiance, magnificence and significance whom they will ironically fight tooth and nail to claim that He is the most coveted of all Gods when ridiculed. The Crusaders did severe damage to the Christian world. They went on to wage war using Jesus’s mighty name not knowing our God is all for peace? And whatever happened to the God “whom created the world and everything inside it?” (Genesis 1 & 2) which means everything good or bad belongs to the kingdom of God?

And then, there are in our midst the ‘divine hallucinators’- preachers whose madness grew in tandem with their hallucination. These are the individuals who claim to have seen god, raised the dead and boasts of converting tens of thousands of people into the faith within a few years. Oh really?!
“Some could not resist “letting their right hand know what their left hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3-4)
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
It is obvious error if these divine preachers doesn’t realise that those who stood inside rallies are in some ways or another, have been touched by the Holy Spirit? And if these hallucinators could raise the dead, they would have made headlines by now and kidnapped by the intelligence to do just that. Raise the dead!
In the bible, except for Moses and Isaiah, no one could have claimed to have seen God.
“No man hath seen God” (John 1:18) (1 John 4:12)
“God is spirit, a form of life which is invisible to the naked eye” (1 John 1:17), (John 4:24).
“God can be seen directly by angels because they are spirit creatures” (Matthew 18:10)
“No one can see me and stay alive” (Exodus 33:20)
And it was written that Moses had once saw the “angel of God as a flame” (Exodus 3:1-10), and besides this, God’s back, because God allows him to.
“Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back but not my face” (Exodus 33:23). Isaiah on the other hand, has physically seen God.
“I saw the Lord. He was sitting on his throne, high and exalted, and his robe filled the whole temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)
“And yet with my own eyes, I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty“ (Isaiah 6:5).
In the Book of 2 Enoch (rejected by the Jewish and withdrawn from the Christian bible), Enoch at age 365, was taken to heaven, and managed to see God in the seventh and tenth heaven. The seventh, was from a distance, the tenth, face to face.
In (1 Kings 19:11-23), Elijah who was transported to heaven in a flaming chariot has not seen God but has spoken with God. Many prophets like Elijah has also had visions of God including Ezekiel, and many have engaged in conversations with Him.
One may argue that everyone who had seen Jesus during his thirty-three years on earth hath seen God, since the bible has surmised that God, the Son and Holy Spirit are infinitely one, while we as mortals are also “made in his own image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27), but then again, no one has ever seen God “in all His divine glory and holiness except in his human condition”, where he veils himself to be amongst us, appearing in the form of Jesus. The question is, do we really need to see God to believe he existed?
“Blessed are those who has not seen me, and yet had believed’”? (John 20:29)

There is clearly a distinction between God’s kingdom and the kingdom we lived in as Jesus himself clearly stated in front of Pontius Pilate. And because his kingdom is not of this world, so are his blessings and gifts of the spiritual kind.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
But with these seven gifts- wisdom, understanding, right judgement, courage, knowledge, reverence, wonder in awe of God’s presence (Isaiah 11:2-3), doth every believer, some with more gifts than others, were giventh unwarranted blessings which serves as a springboard for discipleship. Inside the scriptures, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are the roots of the tree, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit are, the fruits of that tree. And if we are led by the Spirit and open to God’s gifts, the fruits of the Holy Spirit will be evident in our lives- the virtues of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) And the harvest would be aplenty.
Where blessings are concern, God has generously reminded believers to
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and it’s righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33)
“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” (Psalm 20:4)
“The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
The reason why I broach this subject is because of the numerous request for intercession of the greedy kind. Healing from certain sicknesses, illnesses or diseases is understandable but praying for bigger houses? reveals a lack of understanding of the kind of blessings God has in store for us because God has never specifically mentioned wealth as a guarantee for our unceasing faith except to Solomon. And God too specifically asked of us to bless those who persecute us. Can you?
So, it is indeed a misnomer to assume that when a person is endowed with good looks, power, fame or fortune, or born with it, that means God is well pleased with him- therefore blessing him with direct tangible advantage, greatness, influence, and wealth over others. And those who don’t is not in God’s favour. From the scriptures, it is very clear that God shows no impartiality. Moreover, Jesus himself was born poor. Rather, there are many instances where God expresses his concerns about material gain particularly the means in which wealth is gained, and how the love for money could easily distract the rich from entering the kingdom of god. That is one of the mortal sins which could not be pardoned . Mortal sins identified by the church includes homicide, abortion, infanticide, fratricide, patricide, and matricide, sodomy, oppression of the poor and injustice to the wage earner.
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to give to God what belongs to God”(Mark 12:17).
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12)

The perception of Idolatry also needs to be addressed. It is one of the primary divides between the Protestants and Catholics. Idolatry in primeval times has everything to do with animism and pagan worshipping. Animism encompasses the beliefs that all material phenomena have agency, that there exists no categorical distinction between the spiritual and physical world, and that soul, spirit exists not only in humans, but also in animals, plants, rocks, geographic features or other entities of the natural environment- water sprites, vegetation deities, tree spirits etc. In the early days, pointing to the empty sky is not enough. Understanding the concept of God requires objectification and thus, megaliths, trees as gods and statues were commonplace. Even in the medieval era, objectification was needed to completely understand the concept of God, hence the many icons, statues and frescoes in temple and home surrounds created for adoration, as commemoration or plain hero worshipping the almighty, just like the many coins minted in Byzantium (395CE -1453AD) which depicts the image of Jesus.
In biblical days, idolatry arises from a personal disdain of the jealous god, Yahweh who was worshipped alongside a female deity, Mother Goddess known as Asherah. Asherah was hypothetically Yahweh’s wife (and the wife of other Gods as well). But Asherah’s shrines were everywhere, more popular than Yahweh’s. And they were also found besides Yahweh’s shrines. Yahweh found that upsetting, calls every child who worships him and her together, a whore, and called for its destruction.
“You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God that you shall make.” (Deuteronomy 16:21)
“When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built.” (Judges 6:28)
“And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.” (2Kings 17:16)
“And I will root out your Asherah images from among you and destroy your cities.” (Micah 5:14)
In today’s context, idolatry is something one indulges in, does excessively out of habit or an obsession which affects one’s duty and obligation towards God and family. And for as long as the fetishism, obsession and habit does not interfere with one’s duty and belief, it is not considered abomination. Therefore, the display and collection of statues, figurines, religious paraphernalia, relics, including prayer verses hung at home. How so ?
Because reverence or piety happens to be one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. And piety brings one back to one’s own origin. Piety has everything to do with obedience, respect and paying homage to one’s ascendant, with ‘God as head of the family’, therefore, not unless one prays to a different God, or neglects his own God, is his actions considered idolatry.

There exists a great disparity of opinions concerning other matters. And I for one do not succumb to makeshift authority, with each fraternity forming their own doctrine and preference, especially those who curtail our good sense and empathy towards others in need. As God’s children, good sense must always prevail. The gift of wisdom is imbued within us to discern and surmise each opinion, not forgetting the gift of courage to correct the wrong, no matter how little or many followers the other party has. We should be glad indeed for the gift of knowledge and the larger brains we, as earthlings, are endowed with. For if not, we could not have reigned dominion over all the other creatures on the earth. Each of us should be bright enough to discern between right from wrong, good from bad, godly from evil, shallow from deep, clean from dirty, and healthy from the sickly. And to process every bit of information thrown at us- whether they are relevant and applicable in today’s context, measured against the values of love, forgiveness and kindness.
But humans are born sinners and our fallibility began with the ‘Original Sin’ as was committed by Adam, and because by that one incident, as expressed by St Augustine, no one is spared from falling into the abyss of doom.
The church has clearly defined three types of sin- Mortal sins, Venial sins and Cardinal sins. But sin is what you do which inconvenience or causes harm to others. One can arrive at what kind of sin was committed, by asking the following three questions:
1. Did the act involve a grave matter?
2. Was the act committed with full knowledge of the wrongdoing that had been done in the act?
3. Was the act done with full consent of the will?
If all three questions are answered in the affirmative, the criteria for a mortal sin have been met. If any one of the three questions is answered in the negative, only the criteria for a venial sin have been met. And Venial Sins is easily forgivable unlike mortal sins. Mortal sins are unforgivable and may I repeat that which includes homicide, abortion, infanticide, fratricide, patricide, and matricide, sodomy, oppression of the poor and injustice to the wage earner. In the Catholic context, forgiveness would entail:
1. Acts of Contrition – feeling sorrowful
2. Disclosure – confide to God
3. Penance – doing something eg. reciting of prayers to make amends for it.
St Paul mentions that when we sin, we need not fear that we are condemned by God and that there is no more justification and grace we deserve. God’s relationship with us is not broken unless or until we deliberately and irrevocably sever it by ‘moving away’ from God. There is also no such thing as flipping between grace and penalty. Believers ‘have and always been’ in the state of grace.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
“And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21)
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5)
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
“But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7)
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
There are seven types of cardinal sin. Lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Most of these sins with the sole exception of sloth, are perverse or corrupt versions of love for something or another: lust, gluttony, and greed are all excessive or disordered love of good things; sloth is a deficiency of love; wrath, envy, and pride are perverted love directed toward other’s harm. Sins from lust to envy are generally associated with pride, which has been labeled as the ‘Father of all sins.’
I will not dwell in detail all the cardinal sins except for one which is lust, which in general, is the least understood but the one believers are most interested in which explains the increase in popularity of porn sites. This deserves some attention because most preachers direct them to sexual innuendos. However, it is not so. Lust, or ‘lechery’ is intense longing, and is ‘usually’ thought of as intense or unbridled sexual desire which ‘may’ lead to fortification including adultery, rape, bestiality and other sinful sexual acts. However, lust also means unbridled desire in general; the lust for money, power, and other things are equally as sinful.
Lust is also thought to be of the least serious of cardinal sins as it is an abuse of a faculty that humans share with animals, and sins of the flesh are ‘less grievous’ than spiritual sins eg. turning away from God.
*But do not despair for there exists restitution for sins. For no sin is unpardonable, except for mortal sins and that is the promise of God.
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)
“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31)

So spare me! But prohibitions from drinking, smoking, cohabiting and generously offering lifts to members of the opposite sex are but menial and should not be amplified if they happen in moderation, is consensual, and done with pure intentions. Again, sin is what you do which inconveniences or cause harm to others. Believers always like to stress that our body is the temple of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Yes, I don’t disagree nor doubt that a temple is not a sacred place. Therefore for health reasons, we need to safeguard it from abuse. And a healthy body broods a healthy mindset. This has everything to do with the boundaries we set for ourselves but not an ultimatum or imposition which comes with disparaging penalty only the jealous heart that lobbies for punitive sentencing hopes for.
“I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Remember, Jesus himself turned water into wine, the first of his first miracle.
“The Wedding at Cana” (John 2:1-11)
Thus I am certain the entire community or country need not be penalised- putting the brakes on taxi services, school-buses and co-ed schooling since every good person is assumed to have the tendency to let their throbbing manhood rule over faith, decency, integrity and good judgement.
And who are we to deprive singles or separated couples no longer in love the probity of happiness in cohabiting?
As Christians, we must believe that everything comes from God who made the day as well as nights, and rain as well as sunshine (Genesis 1 & 2). And as Christians, we should not be paranoid and prohibit everything, frightening ourselves and disassociating ourselves from unpleasant situations, when caring for our community is part of our social responsibility.

So, do not simply believe in what others say or do blindly, for fear of being chastised, worse, made unpopular because we happened to be more inquisitive than others. The gift of courage, one of the seven gifts of the holy spirit, encourages us to be bold and stand our ground.
“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely; for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8)
Likewise, it is not about how many times we have read the bible from beginning till end, but about our contrite heart and how much we understand about charity and learnt from it. And to all the ‘doubting Thomases’ whose glory rests on tangible proofs and miracles they witness during faith healing, my concern is what if one day God decided to take away everything and there is no longer any miracles to perform that you can see with your own eyes, would they be as faithful to God, or would they moved on to other faiths? Seriously, I want to know.
“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe… “ (John 20:24-29)

Maybe God doesn’t deserve me or I don’t deserve God so likewise I can’t blame the congregation for being self-absorbed. For they are the fruits of what the church teaches.
My desert experience wasn’t only forty days as Jesus had experience, but more like years cowering in fear of being stalked by the evil one whom I was told hides under the cloak of Jesus. Fact is it is just a figment of an over imaginative mind given the opportunity to lead catechumens such as me. The implications was severe and I suffered because of misinformation. No one deserves to walk that road I did long ago. And it could be prevented by addressing the misconceptions I am doing now. Thus I felt it timely to say something. Of course I can’t address all. Except those within my ability to grasp.
My concern is this . What good can a brilliant God do, armed with an army of blind, paranoid, conceited, uninformed followers whom were all assigned to stand up and fight against demons and wrongdoings?
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45)

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

Game of Kalituay

  • Kalituay is a home grown game, fun and lively, played between two opposing teams. It’s origin can be disputed, but it has been played both in the kampongs as well as the city.

It demands the players to be agile with their eyes, swift with their reach, yet nimble on their legs and to win, and the running team should not be caught by the catching team.

The running team must compromise through each of the compartments from line 1 till line 4 and back to line 1 without being caught, hit, touched or slapped by anyone from the catching team.

A perfect run through scores 4 points for the running team. And deducted accordingly if one or more members are caught.

There are three sets for each opposing team, taking turns to be the runner as well as the catcher, and the team that scores highest in the run through without being caught wins the game.

Usually the court size will determine the number of people needed on one team and on a normal scale, a badminton court is ideal with each player from the catching side standing on lines 1,2,3 and 4 as guards. Only the player standing on line 1 is allowed to run up and down the spine and catch, touch, hit or slap any unsuspecting runner that lingers on its spine.

The game begins with both sides getting ready and one runner and the first catcher slapping their palms.

A referee can be appointed to dispute a hit.

(Image outsourced without permission)

We Didn’t Have It Good Then.

 

Part 1.

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We didn’t have it good then. I mean there’s a high degree of separation between our childhood formative years and our adolescence period. We had it sweet in the beginning but after those years transcending till teenage and adulthood, it gets more bitter as time passes. Then came the plunge.

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My sister was the more brilliant of us two so she had the privilege to go UK for her further studies whilst I was, at my usual naughty self chasing skirts. I was brilliant in my primary but I guess after a few cracks on the head (one of which I can still remember the blood streaming down my face in Wellesley Primary), I think it took a toll on certain cognitive areas which affected my studies. My strength lies in creativity, I’m highly imaginative, expressive, organised, and a little obsessed with details. I am a sucker for system and to design and arrange things. Other than that, I have poor learning skills and I was always caught crying everyday when it comes to homework.

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My parents weren’t highly educated because they were the caught-in-between the Japanese Occupation and most of the time, they were busy thus, mom always relied on my 2nd Ee( mom’s sis) for the planning part. Mom has two sisters , the last (3rd Ee) was younger.

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Then, we were rich. In 1966, dad struck lottery. 2nd prize in the social welfare and for a reward of $60K at that time, he saw his goal changed thus he became a businessman. We moved from Jockey Road to Jones Road after my paternal grandpa passed away.

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Both mom and dad thence became instant celebrities, well at least to the Chinese fraternity. Mom was a socialite and so was dad. Dad’s was more of an obligation and duty. We had everything we wanted as a child. Dad bought us games and sports equipments. And taught us all he knew. He even had a basketball net installed at our balcony so we could have fun. Compared to my brother, I was the skilful one either in aiming, in roller skates, or in cycling. He dropped out from Kungfu classes. I did not. And I earned the privilege to demonstrate my skills at Han Chiang indoor stadium at a tender age of 13. And I learnt to net balls jumping on skates by myself. We had lived in amahs, drivers, gardeners, car wash boys. And though they were both Chinese educated, they sent my sis and I to English schools whilst my brother went to a Chinese one. I guess they did not have the luxury of time to even think nor worry about our future because things were going alright. Three cousins were staying with us and sort of help to guide us when my parents weren’t around. We also have our paternal grandmother around most of the time. And most evenings, we’d be tagging along to their numerous involvement in Chinese associations, clan, societies, temples that both my parents were involved in or one of their numerous dinners . My dad had a hall named after him in Presgrave Street, being the largest donor, and he was also Chairman of his alumni for years. They also organised regular getaways for their friends – picnics, bungalow stays, travels etc and as children, I must say we were made to feel wholesome. Dad was great with children and I’m proud to say that unlike his friends who usually attends functions alone, we are always there where he was. As for my mom, she can never get attached to kids.

Dad bought a 7 acre farm in Jalan Tengah where Sunshine Square now sits, and there he reared pigs for sale. We were then the second largest pig farmers in Penang, if not the biggest. And the returns was good. (He gave that up eventually because everyone was caught in the factory bug and he found it hard to find workers to clean the pig sties. Eventually the government acquired it for a pittance claiming they wanted to develop it for low cost housing. My dad counter offered to have it developed and share the earnings with the government but was declined. It went to court. We lost. That land never got developed. It was sold to Suiwah Group instead 40 years later with Chong Eu being made the Group chairman. The government bought ours for Rm1.38/sq foot but sold it at RM44/sq ft.

That farm was the place we spent most of our Sundays at, playing, catching fishes, perching on rambutan trees etc. We had our fun whilst dad took care of his itenary and stuffs. We also owned a land in Telok Kumbar, a house in Jalan Bunga Pudak, Tj Bungah. At that time, we were living in Jones Road. The home is still there after we sold it and the owner till today, did not change the facade.

Mom never need to cook for us because we have amahs so all she does was to order them around. She enjoys that Tai Tai lifestyle. Mom hardly stayed home. She chooses to eat outside everyday and every meal if possible. So between both of them, there’s so much going on. And of course her duty of fetching us home from school which left me stranded a few times. It never happened to my sister nor my brother. I was the unlucky one I guess. We owned a Gas Shop in Hutton Lane where dad’s trading company was also based, a motorcycle dealer shop in Jln Sungei Ujong, a petrol kiosk in Chain Ferry , Butterworth, and a beauty perm parlour at Kinta Lane. Dad even had his name on his own shampoo brand called ‘Lebon’ and we were then, sole distributors for Misasa Cosmetics. Each of these companies were helmed by their trusted friends. But little did it occur to them that fate would take a down turn. How? I don’t know. We were too naive to understand but as children, we were caught in the plethora of the storm.

In between their numerous fights, I could roughly gather that dad was promiscuous. But news in later years as gathered from cousins also claim that my mom also had her fair share of flings. During one fight, my grandma was also ploughed with a flower pot meant for my dad’s head when she tried to mediate. And we cried and cried. Mom also dragged us to follow her at times because she received tips of my dad’s whereabouts but it turned out to be false news. I guess she spent a lot of her money hiring investigators to trail him. One day, mom decided to leave, taking my sis and younger brother along with her. But left me with my dad. That wasn’t the time when they officially moved. When they officially moved out from Jones Road, I was in Singapore.

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Back to when chao truly happened, my sister was forced to return and so was my 2nd auntie’s daughter, both of them in UK. This eldest cousin of mine from my 2nd aunt, my parents help support them for awhile because my 2nd aunties husband, my 2nd Tniau, suffered a misfortune in his own investments. Then, he was GM of a big Singapore company. In fact he was caught first and my dad had to sell off the Jalan Bunga Pudak house to help him. (As how my dad puts it to me in later years, he succumbed to my mom’s pressure and my 2nd auntie kneeling and begging him for help) He also blames my mom for foiling his bid to get Honda motorcycle dealership direct from Japan when they came over because our sales outclass Boon Siews.) That enrages my granduncle very much because my grand uncle trusted my dad alot. My 2nd Tniau was brilliant, but succumbed to ambition and he was later sued for criminal breach of trust, which landed him in Changi Prison for 3 1/2 years. But this 2nd aunty of mine was quite enterprising in a small way even as a ‘Tai Tai’, like my mom is. Before her husband’s fate, she herself had a thriving event planning company and also serves as a ‘pop-band manager’. She organizes live appearances and performances for the rising stars of Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan music and film industries to perform in Penang. That was in the heydays and we as kids get to see these shows for free and had dinners and lunches with them. One of the stars wanted to bring me to Hong Kong but my parents thought I was too young to follow. I guess you could say my aunt’s family and ours was quite close at that time. And so, she ended up having to feed her three daughters in a rented apartment in Singapore and her eldest daughter has to start working to help feed their family. They lost their Green Lane house (Singapore). Eventually her two daughters grew up and flew with SIA till today, as senior flight stewardesses and the last, once Janice, now Dennis, had her sex changed, legally in Singapore. And so it was like this, ever since young, it was party, party and party for us.

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And I was a dandy. After my MCE, I was asked to help in the petrol station. I rode my brother’s bike there everyday (for two years? or so) and everyday without fail, I fooled around after coming back home. Because then, I only have eyes for women and I was dead bored at the petrol kiosk. The petrol business and gas shop was in my mom’s name. And there I was, in the midst, growing fond of a woman a year older than me, who came from a gloriously rich background from Kangar. At that time, as I found out, they were the second richest family after the Kuoks in Kangar. In between, I made trips to her hometown in Perlis, stayed in her home, and she also bunked in with me once, in Penang. Before that, there were other attachments but not like this one. The next minute I knew, her parents were visiting our place. Mom didn’t like that thought I think because both of us were very young. And so I thought in later years, she arranged with my 2nd auntie to have me sent over to Singapore, to get me away from this girl, got me a job in an architectural firm and also a place in Poly. So there I landed. I was worried for myself and asked my dad if I really need to go Singapore? He said “you better go” I guess being influenced by my mom about my attachment with that girl from Kangar. Years later when I was back, this girl I was subtly stopped from seeing passed away at 22. If I could remember clearly, from brain tumour. Those days when there was no internet, we literally corresponded and anticipate the slow mails. At one time it stopped. But little did I suspect anything amiss. I did go back to her parents holiday home at Ooi Thiam Siew Rd when my days in Singapore was over, but it was all totally dark. Neither did I suspect anything because people do move. It was only one fine day at the office as I was flipping the days newspaper did I come across her obituary which was already a year old.

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Eventually, after my parents separated (but not legally, because my dad didn’t sign the papers), dad moved to Hutton Lane in the gas shop we owned, with my 3rd Kor’s entire family, whose son worked for us. Dad paid for their bills even whilst his son gets his salary. My dad was always kind to his own poor siblings. whilst my mom moved to my grandma’s home in Barrack Road. I wasn’t with them when they moved and thus I didn’t have the privilege to take what was mine. At first my dad moved there too but was chased out by my mom after my Tua Ku allegedly claims my dad brought home a woman. Our family home in Jones Road was already sold then. And so are the rest of his properties except for the petrol kiosk and gas shop which was registered under mom’s name. My mom went to manage my grandma’s tyre shop in Prangin Road, after my grandma died. Unfortunately, my mom’s siblings were all vultures to a fault. No one wants to get involved in the running, but everybody wanted their share. Mom was named to manage the business because my grandma doesn’t trust her second daughter, my 2nd Ee. My mom was a kind soul and she never refuses anyone in need. And so her siblings depleted my grandmas savings and my mom, in need of cash, siphoned it from the petrol station which eventually made us lose the license. Dad was enraged. But she allowed my dad to operate the gas shop in her name. That was also the very last business we ever had. And moved my brother to work with him because he failed in his studies. Eventually they had my name and my brothers name inside the company but that was because my 3rd Kor’s son and his wife made a proposal to invest and dad agreed. After some years when they decided to venture on their own, my sis told my dad to relook at the accounts and that was when discrepancies were found. My cousin’s wife begged for mercy and eventually my 3rd Kor’s entire family moved out , so the company was again transferred back and remained with us. When dad passed away, my mom gave the key to the safe and running of the business to my brother because he was already working there with him and knew the ins and outs. I was caught in my own problems and gave my share in the company to my sis in law. That company was a disaster and day by day, I saw my dad continuously ran short of funds that he needed to borrow. Not like there wasn’t business and his overheads was low. I suspected something amiss and not until a year and a half later did I manage to convince him to look into his accounts and discovered that the company was actually making money! But that he spent it all on his gambling! He spends roughly RM6K per week on four digits alone. So before I left the company, I updated his accounts till the day I left. I liase with his accountant and they were all amused at my hurried effort. Apparently, dad did not update his income taxes for more than 15 years. The rest, I thought, was for my brother to worry about. I devised a plan for him to settle the sum owed and the loans he borrowed from. In three years, he’d be doing well and so I hoped. He agreed. The money came, his debts settled and as fate takes its toll, a few months later, he passed away. Somehow when his loan was settled as I sat there talking to the lenders, I could see a relive in him like a heavy burden came off his shoulder. But he didn’t live the day to see a better future before him.

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And so there I was, living with my 2nd auntie in Singapore whilst shuffling day and night working in an architectural firm, and nighttime, Poly. After some disagreements with her, a year or to later, I moved in with my 3rd Ee. I guess mom had a little arrangement with my aunties then but as for my own expenses, sometimes it didn’t come on time and I had to borrow money from my classmates, for my daily living. Mom ran grandma’s business and when coffers depleted, she borrowed alot to keep us going and trying her luck at the one-armed bandits at the Chinese Merchants Club. She struck twice but being greedy, she gave everything back. On her first strike, she let me keep her money. We convinced her to buy a home. But only two days after, what went into my account came out and returned to the one arm bandit. On her second strike, she let my sis kept her money. My sis didn’t return her. And so I thought it better to fend for myself when mom was in her darkest of days. What I got from the architectural firm was mere pittance, as I was only an apprentice then. So I went into modelling for some extra cash. Not that I wanted it, but I needed it. Also, I thought I was young, energetic and able and thus, I can exploit my looks to good use and that helps keep me alive so that I do not need to further burden my mom. Four years I stayed in Singapore, and came back to Penang in 84.

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(To be continued)