Saturday, August 31, 2013

How I view Christian life?

I have learned so much from being Christian. However, I must admit that not every Christian that I have met has learned the same lessons that I have.

First of all, I have learned that Christianity is very diverse (theologically, doctrinally and even culturally). Being Christian is belonging to a globally diverse group of people who trace their traditions, practices and beliefs to the same source, but yet practice and implement their faith differently. In some instances, we believe different things and come to different conclusions about the same historical text, our same common heritage, history and traditions.

Seeing that we come from such diversity, as a Christian I have been forced to learn to cope with uncertainty and such diversity. This includes learning that it is wrong to force your convictions on others within the faith. You cannot believe that everyone must believe as you do and that everyone ought to see and know what you see and know. Even within the same denominations, I have observed and learned that there are differences of opinions on even the same denominational heritage. As such, in order to maintain unity, a Christian must operate within this diversity and learn to respect the convictions of others, even if one personally disagrees.

In essence, I have learned that I can't force anyone to believe what I do. I can only present my personal convictions to others and let the Holy Spirit do the rest of the work of either reproving me for error or correcting my brethren (or sistren).

Hence much of the work of evangelism is personal. We need to study, pray and meditate upon the scriptures, events and even nature to arrive at convictions about what is right and wrong. Then we need to share our convictions, revelations and justifications (or proofs) with others and let them personally decide for themselves whether or not they are also convicted and persuaded as we are.

Hence, I believe Christians must have the freedom to arrive at our own conclusions and share those conclusions with others. However, we must also give others the freedom to disagree without judging dissenters as being hell-bound.

Today, I find myself at the crossroad of being skeptic of dogma, traditions and doctrines, especially if I perceive these as being modern inventions with little historical roots in 1st century Christianity. I am further suspicious of denominational leaders as I know that many have received their theology degrees under the study and supervision of unbelieving Bible scholars. [This is one of the reasons why I do not want to be a pastor, though I feel the calling.]

I consider myself as an explorer within the Christian ideological landscape. I have a map, (a centuries old text written about historical events, peoples and lands). I also have tour guides (translators, pastors and spiritual leaders), who provide annotation and commentary to guide my understanding of the map (unto salvation). However, even with the map and the guides, one still has to uncover for oneself the meaning and understanding of the Christian frontier and find the way that leads to eternal life.

Today, more than ever, I find that Christianity is more about dialogue and conversation than it is about sermons (at least the non-interactive ones). I must have my own personal convictions about Bible "truths", but must also be willing to listen to others and understand how they may see those "truths" differently from me. I must have my own spiritual priorities, but still be willing to accept that other Christians order their spiritual priorities differently. At the end, it about our own convictions and on how God sees our work and faith that matters. Did he give you a particular light that you have refused or rejected? Did he give you a personal instruction or calling that you have not obeyed?

This reminds me of a sermon I once heard from a Seventh-day Adventist evangelist, Pastor Glen Samuels. According to Samuels, Terah, Abraham's father, got God's call to leave Ur for Canaan. On the way, Terah settled in Haran and apparently no longer obeyed the call of God. Eventually, Terah died in the land of Haran and never made it into Canaan. After his death, God then passed on the calling to his son, Abram (Abraham) (See the story in Genesis 11:31-2)

The big questions to ask are:
  • Is there a call on your life that you are rejecting?
  • Are you going to be like Terah and die before you fulfill what God has called you to do?

Sheltered until now

For much of my life, I have been raised in a nurturing environment where I felt that everyone loved me or was looking out for me (except my bully-type peers and childhood nemeses). From my nuclear family unit to my extended family; my church family to the teachers in my Anglican preparatory and high school. (For more on the warm fuzzy feelings I have towards my spiritual background see my previous post on Christian milieu and why people believe? and How I became 7th-day Adventist? Part 1: The Context).

Even when I began my first summer, part-time and full-time jobs, I felt blessed to have bosses and co-workers that seemed supportive of me. I have never felt what it was like to work in an environment hostile towards me, where I have to be watching out for my own interests and insuring myself against the possibility that I may make a mistake that will be catastrophic for my career or future opportunities.

It is only since I have been here in Canada, that I realise that my current reality and future reality is the not the same as before. My eyes are no open to a reality that I had never seen before. I now recognise how sheltered I have been. I now see a global climate (political, social and economic) that is potentially hostile towards me, in which I now must tread with caution. This brings these words of Jesus to mind:

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10: 16, New International Version)

Friday, August 16, 2013

The quest for quality video games with a Biblical narrative

I am not a serious gamer. The only two games that I really play are Scrabble and Chess. These are the only two games that I play online (sometimes). Due to a very busy life and schedule, I have little time for games.

Nonetheless, I was recently reading about video games and education from Prensky (2006), the author of Don't bother me mom-I'm learning! I have also been reading a number of other arguments for children playing video games (Franceschin et al., 2013; Olson, 2010; Shaffer, Squire, Halverson & Gee, 2004). This reading got me thinking that video games are the new media for thinking and working. Many video games are based on narratives and stories (Laurel, 2001). In fact, I agree with the readings that it is possible that a child could learn complex concepts from engaging with the media and in particular the rich narrative that the media can tell.

So I thought that I would take the challenge of looking up video games based on Biblical-narrative to see if per chance I could discover any such game that I would not feel guilty as a parent letting my children play. After all, a video game based on a Biblical narrative would help them think about God's word in a new way and a new medium.

My first search lead to not so encouraging results. The first article I discovered made it clear that Bible narrative based video games have been critiqued for being of poor quality. Brown (2007) in an article critiquing Bible-themed video games states that "devout fundamentalists often make incredibly bad game designers".

I was further discouraged by the video games that I did retrieve, which seemed to have the potential to teach my children erroneous doctrine, like the example of the Left behind game, which is based on the distorted doctrine of the secret rapture (I really need to blog about that another time). Another such Bible narrative-based video game is the game El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, which unfortunately makes Lucifer into a good guy (Flagged by me for deception. Lucifer is not virtuous guy, or at least he's not a virtuous character today).

Later on, while reading Prensky (2006), I discovered that there is a Christian Game Developers Conference. But from the look of their website, I don't think I want to see their games: I do appreciate though their motivation to use the medium for God's glory.

Eventually, I decided to enlarge my search to finding a Jewish Bible game. (Jews seem to be the masters at tell good stories and narratives). I came across this guy, Alex, who suggests that Bible narrative could make good games, especially seeing that there are a lot of wars in the Bible (Alex, 2010). I totally agreed with Alex on his last point that doing a David versus Goliath game would really be cool: "Give the player a slingshot and have him go to town. It’d be awesome."

On making better games with a Biblical narrative, I just want to suggest that the problem with Bible games is that we cannot make just Bible quiz games that drill in people facts, but we need to use Bible narrative to get players to negotiate and experience the conflicts of the Bible and Bible characters. So in all seriousness, we need more Biblical narrative role-playing games. Too bad my drawing and programming skills aren't so good for me to participate in bringing such games into being.


Alex (2010, Jan 3). The quest for the Jewish videogame. Hipster Jew [blog post]. Retrieved from

Brown, S. (2007, Nov 18). PrayStation: The 6 most misguided Christian video games. CRACKED. Retrieved from

Franceschini S., Gori S., Ruffino, M., Viola S., Massimo M, Facoetti A. (2013). Action video games make dyslexic children read better. Current Biology, 23(6): 462 - 466.

Laurel, B. (2001). Utopian entrepreneur. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Olson, C. (2010). Children's motivations for video game play in the context of normal development. Review of General Psychology, 14 (2): 180-187.

Shaffer D.W., Squire K.R., Halverson R. & Gee J.P. (2004). Video games and the future of learning. Phi Delta Kappan 87, (2): 105-111. Retrieved from

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Interpreting Habakkuk chapter 2

Being troubled about events in the world (especially concerns about the future of freedom of conscience and the safety of myself and family), I turned to God and the Bible for answers. The Spirit told me to read Habakkuk chapter 2. And so I did. In fact, I read twice. In the morning and again at night.

The opening stanzas where Habakkuk states that he would stand on his watch and watch to see what the LORD would say to him (verse 1).  Further, Habakkuk was "watching" to learn from God what to answer people if he was reproved. His situation feel so much like what I feel that I am undergoing now in a world that is becoming increasingly anti-Bible (and anti-Biblical Judeo-Christianity). I wonder what I will say if people ask me about my beliefs which might be labelled as "Biblical fundamentalism". And I am beginning to seek how to live in the new world that I find myself in.

However, in verses 2 and 3, the LORD answers Habakkuk saying he must:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry."
New King James Version (NKJV)

What way to better write the vision so that it can be read on tablets than on a blog (mark you, my King James version uses tables instead of tablets). And such, I write to you my inspired interpretation of Habakkuk 2, based on what the LORD has impressed upon me.

I know that there are Biblical scholars that argue that the Old Testament was never written to us in the future. There are those voices that suggest that the Bible was written about the past, but not for our present or our future. However, to those views. I disagree. I believe God gave the prophets including Daniel and Habakkuk visions of the future, which they try to express in their own language and symbolism (which does not communicate the full force of what they saw). Further, the myriad of translations into languages that the common man can understand have further made the visions seem alien to the modern man.  So I am of the view that the Bible is never wrong, but it is only man's interpretation and translation that is way off.

As such, going back to Habakkuk, I believe his message is speaking directly to a future reality that is currently being designed and created. In essence, all of chapter 2 speaks of this man or being that:

  • transgresses by wine
  • is a proud, but not upright
  • is not content to stay in his home, but wanders out to make trouble
  • has this thirst for power
  • gathers nations and peoples unto himself
  • increases what is not his

Habakkuk however warns that people will eventually revolt and rebel against the being/man. Habakkuk speaks specifically that a remnant or remainder of the people that survive some calamity will turn against the being, because of the violence, blood shed and death of many.

Habakkuk mentions also that this being desires to secure his life from destruction (man-made or natural). Habakkuk states in verses 9-10:
“Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house,
That he may set his nest on high,
That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

You give shameful counsel to your house,
Cutting off many peoples,
And sin against your soul.

I am not sure if this being seeks to create a secret hideout on a mountain or a skyscraper (considering 9-11, the being may not want to build a skyscraper for protection against disaster). But what is clear, is that whatever the being/man creates for his own and his family's security involves the destruction of the lives of many others. The being is further accused of building a city and town through depopulating the earth.

Habakkuk also mentions two more faults of this being/man:

  1. that the being gives neighbours wine to drink to make them drunk that he can get sexual satisfaction by watching them naked (and perhaps performing gross sexual misdeeds or voyeurism)
  2. that the being makes a grave image and appoints it as a spiritual teacher or rabbi. As King James Version puts it:

18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

For the latter point, I put it to you, what if the graven image is not just a dolly made of metal, stone and wood? What if the graven, molten image with wood and stone was a robot? Afterall, computers are made of plastic (mould/molten image), metal, stone (minerals like silicon) and a mother/circuit board (made of wood). This robot, the work of man's hands is then considered to be wise, and full of wisdom, yet it has no soul. Yet this being/man proclaims this robot to be a spiritual guru to provide moral instruction for humanity and be a faultless and wise spiritual leader or rabbi?

As such, I take not this word lightly, but write it as plain on this blog, that someone with a tablet or even an electronic table computing device, may read this in the future and run in shock as they see the very same thing being coming to pass in their lifetime. Could it be that you might be a witness to these words coming to pass?

This is the end of the interpretation of Habakkuk 2, that I have written under inspiration. May you take heed and make you soul secure by faith in the LORD, for as the word of the LORD says: "the just shall live by faith".