Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sodagreen 苏打绿 Sing With Me 陪我歌唱 Concert, Futsal Tournament, Romans 13

Sodagreen 苏打绿 Sing With Me 陪我歌唱Concert, Singapore Expo Max Pavillion
Not a Sith was found amongst the fans

At the Sodagreen 苏打绿 Sing With Me 陪我歌唱 Concert at Singapore Expo's Max Pavilion, the front rows were filled with sponsors whose bottoms had politely declined to leave the comfort of their chairs and were consequently the subject of endless ribbing by Qing Feng 青峰 who asked if they were especially bothered by something that night.

Was particularly taken by the wide-ranging timbre of Qing Feng 青峰's voice, his indie use of the megaphone and the theremin, sometimes simultaneously, and his getai diva, cheeky teenager, chatty, slightly angsty persona. Exhibit 1 : 小情歌 - Qing Feng 青峰sounding like a recently pubescent boy, looking like a girl dressed as a boy. Exhibit 2: 小宇宙 - Qing Feng 青峰 sounding like a later-adolescent boy, looking slightly less like a girl dressed as a boy. So that there is no doubt on the matter, the man is 26 years old this year.

Many thanks to J and A for this very interesting experience and the third evah Chinese concert of my entire life.

Futsal Tournament at Sports Planet, East Coast Parkway
A few hours later, at the futsal tournament, fuelled by a carton of Del Monte bananas, we swept through the semi-finals, then proceeded to clinch the champions' trophy on sudden death saves. There was great cheering, vigorous hand-shaking and the spraying of bottled water (no champagne lah). Hooray the goalie with both presence of mind as well as body!

C. Nai Hong Kong Cafe 师奶茶餐厅
After, non-banana nourishment took the form of lunch at C. Nai Hong Kong Cafe 师奶茶餐厅 and a quick run through of the first chapter of Vaughan Robert's God's Big Picture with the group. Then staggered back to the car and promptly konked off for an hour in the afternoon heat before dinner.

Thinking through the implications of the glib phrases that Christians so often profess unthinkingly made for an amusing afternoon. Eg: God the Creator (Genesis 1 - 2).
"So what did God make?"
Chorus: "Everything!"
"What didn't God make?"
Chorus: "Nothing. He made everything!"
A small voice: "But he cannot have made the serpent, what."
"What did God make?"
Same small voice: "Everything. But he couldn't have made the serpent..."
In a similar fashion, finally happened upon a glimpse of how the latter part of Paul's letter to the Romans, living as erm living sacrifices, is essentially a logical outworking of what we profess of God in the first place:

God is sovereign over all things
It is fashionable to be disgruntled with authority, to bitch about bosses, to gripe against governments. But God's word, unsurprisingly, is remarkably and refreshingly clear on the matter.

If God is sovereign over all things, then no authority exists on earth except that which comes from God and has been instituted by him (Romans 13:1). Therefore, every authority (including every Saul-like kingship and unpopular government) has been given authority and instituted by God. Therefore, to rebel against such an authority would be to rebel against God's appointed authority, which would be to rebel against God himself. And rebellion against God = sin = judgement (Romans 13:2).

Naturally, Paul was not talking about blind submission nor about being socially or politically apathetic. Yet he did not make like a Pharisee and dictate thick scrolls of subsidiary regulations to legislate when and to what extent one should be subject to the authorities. Our renewed minds must do the hard work of working this out in our circumstances in full dependence on God. While the old mind would find this an absolute burden and therefore delight in naming all the situations in which Paul's teaching would not apply, the new mind applies this teaching in all situations unless such obedience to authority causes us to disobey our ultimate authority, God.

For a bit of direction, Dick Lucas expands on Romans 13:1 - 7 here:
God is Creator
If we are to pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed, then what do we owe people who are not in positions of authority over us?

Why, love, says Paul and does not proceed to sing Andrew Lloyd Weber's Love Changes Everything. In popular thought, love and human rights ride away into the sunset together. But not so in the mind of God.

As a pagan, I'd actually written up most of my final year thesis on human rights and had been offered internships in the United Nations and the International Labour Foundation when I realised sadly that the theory of human rights was itself baseless and could not, in integrity, submit the work nor proceed with the internships. A few years later after a bit of an overhaul of the mind, someone approached me for help on her final year thesis on human rights. She claimed to find basis for the general theory from the Bible and could not accept that the Bible did not in fact speak of rights but only of obligations.

Romans 13:8 - 10 seems pretty clear on this. And throughout the Bible the language is always skewed so that we view ourselves as debtors and obligors, rather than people to whom debts are owed and who have the right to sue for payment. Obligations do not necessarily engender rights. And God calls these human obligations "love" - the way he'd designed humans to relate to one another. Pretty far out from the you-complete-me, you-turn-me-on, you-light-up-my-life, self-centred self-gratification the world terms "love".

Even more crushing to the red rose and candlelight industry, Paul links love intimately with the Law given to the Israelites by God and says that love is infact the fulfilment of that Law. For if love is about the other and seeking the good of the other, and all good is defined by God alone (as revealed in the Law), then everything done under the auspices of love must obviously be in obedience to the Law. Therefore, to claim that it is alright to lie or commit sexual sin as long as it is done "lovingly" is a perversion of God's words and our design. (Which is why, for example, the seemingly pleasurable habit of flattery is so abhorrent to God.)

Too much to think about now? Will put it aside to sort out another day?

Paul bookends the entire section (Romans 12-13) with a reminder that we are both compelled and enabled by God's mercies to live as he made us to, in true worship of him, then with a warning to look to the time:
you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:11 - 14)
Cepat jalan.

C. Nai Hong Kong Cafe 师奶茶餐厅
1000 East Coast Parkway
Singapore 449876


Working through current series on Romans:
First Thai, Jay Chou's Birthday Concert and Romans 1
Feasting and Larval Thoughts on Faith and Romans 4
Privé, Cilantro and the Marvellous Comfort of Romans 8:1 - 16
Basil Alcove and the Pre-destination-based Comfort of Romans 8:17 - 39
Kapok at Newton and Romans 9 - 11
Tin Hill Wine Bar & Bistro, The White Rabbit at Dempsey, Dim Joy, True Worship and Romans 12:1 - 2
Sodagreen 苏打绿 Sing With Me 陪我歌唱 Concert, Futsal Tournament, Romans 13

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