Two months ago, I had the opportunity of visiting Xi’an and climbing the famous Huashan (华山) or Hua Mountains. Not withstanding the children’s continuous refrain: “ Why does it take so long to reach the peak?,” it was simply wonderful to be able to reach the peak (alas, we conquered only two of the five!) and to take in the breathtaking sights of God’s creation. For those of us who are fans of martial arts dramas or novels, there is yet another reason for visiting Huashan: it is the famous ‘site’ where the top martial arts pugilists in the Return of the Condor Heroes (射雕英雄传) vied for the title of kungfu master – the so-called Hua Shan Duel (华山论剑).
To commemorate this fictitious event, a stele was even placed on top of the north peak (you cannot imagine how long it took for us to queue for a photo!) Looking at this long queue winding precariously close to the cliff edge, I wonder: “what is it about Louis Cha’s martial arts novels, or Huashan, in particular, that attracted so many fans to this mountain? Perhaps, it was the fantastic kungfu that we see throughout the novels? No, it cannot be. For no matter how much we admire these ‘Chinese Jedi’ powers, we still wouldn’t respect the villains who have similar prowess. Perhaps then, our admiration of the novels’ heroes is essentially our respect of the values that the heroes embody – the notion of filial piety to one’s parents and loyalty to the country (as in the case of Guo Jing of the Condor Heroes) or the refusal to stereotype and condemn anyone to be either entirely good or evil (as it is so for Zhang Wuji in the Heavenly Sword & Dragon Sabre). Values we hope to inculcate also in ourselves and our children.
Quite coincidentally, I had to fly off to Jerusalem for an International Patristics conference at Jerusalem just a week later. There, I stayed at a hotel perched on yet another mountain. This one, however, is less majestic than Huashan and certainly far shorter! Nonetheless, for the 2 billion Christians worldwide, Mount of Olives is a much holier mountain – the reason why so many Catholic and Orthodox monasteries have sprouted on its hills. But why all this fuss about Mount of Olives? Well, it is not because Jesus had taken a stroll there previously. It is also not because the hills’ olives are sweeter and the favourite of Jesus. Rather, at the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in particular, we encounter yet another virtue at work: the virtue of humility. For in Gethsemane, Jesus, in his capacity as a human being and our representative before God, submitted his human will to God and embraced His Father’s salvation plan, so that everyone of us, you and me, may be saved through his Passion and Resurrection.
So there. Two mountains, two value systems. Not that the one is wrong and the other is correct. Things are not as simple as that. Rather, in our esteem for our cultural values, such as filial piety and loyalty, let us not forget, or indeed, let us revere more that virtue which the world often disdains: humility. For by humility, Christ opened the gates of heaven to us, so that in Him we may be restored, transformed and renewed into the image of God. More than that, let us imitate Christ in His humility, so that through us and by His Holy Spirit, our humility may yet bear fruit for God, drawing men and women to Him even as they see us becoming Christ’s fragrance in their lives.
BGST Wednesday noon chapel service will be revamped into a BGST Staff Devotion time where both BGST staff and faculty members will gather together in a prayerful time of sharing , devotion, and discernment.
This change will be effective from 14 August 2013. Mr Chong Ser Choon will be leading Staff Devotional Time on 14 August 2013, 12 noon. There will be no chapel till the 14 August 2013.
Friends and visitors are still welcome to join us for fellowship and devotion together in our Staff Devotional Time.
The venue will still remain at 50 Kallang Pudding Drive #07-01 Golden Wheel Industrial Building, Singapore 349326
Professor Alan Millard is Emeritus Rankin Professor and Honorary Senior Fellow of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic Languages.
His area of expertise lies in the Semitic languages, history and culture of the ancient Near East. He is involved in the publication of Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform texts and of documents in Old Aramaic. The uses of writing in the area and in relation to the Bible, together with the ancient context of the Hebrew Bible, are topics of his continuing research. He has written numerous papers and several books on these subjects, including studies of Babylonian flood narratives, Assyrian statuary and bilingual inscriptions, and eponyms of the Assyrian empire. His recent work on Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus investigates the role of the written word in creating and perpetuating stories about Jesus.
Prof Alan Millard will be offering 2 courses at BGST:
1. The Bible and Archaeology: Friends or Foes? Fancy, Facts and Faith (OT/NT194, 3 credits)
- Define what is the Bible & Archaeology
- Explain how materials of human activities remain related to the Bible
- Examine various accounts and Gospels in the Bible
- Determine the signs of the First Christians
Weekday: Sep 16,17,19,23,24,26 (7:15pm - 10:15 pm)
Saturday: Sep 21, 28 (9:30am - 4:30 pm)
To view course description, visit webpage: http://bgst.edu.sg/media/files/courses/OT-NT194-13-14.pdf, to register visit webpage: : http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events/registration-forms
2. The Bible and Other Ancient Books: Reality, Recording and Writing (OT/NT252, 1.5 credits)
- Examine the early writing systems in the biblical world
- Discuss the problems of Archaeology in relation with biblical text
- Examine the historical writings and their accuracy
- Discuss reading and writing of Christian documents in the time of Jesus
Weekday: Sep 30, Oct 1, 3 (7:15pm - 10:15 pm)
Saturday: Oct 5 (9:30am - 4:30 pm)
To view course description, visit webpage: http://bgst.edu.sg/media/files/courses/OT-NT252-13-14.pdf, to register visit webpage: : http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events/registration-forms