Saturday, May 20, 2006


Blessed Bread of life
Broken and crucified.
You who bear
The bloody lash and wear
A crown of thorns above a shattered
Son of God and Son of Man,
You share in your sinful brother's load,
And walk close to your broken people.

For You are one with us in our suffering
You are one with us in our death.
You turn our pain into healing,
Our failures into greater

Broken and ever living
Lamb of God,
Jesus, Wheat divine
You died to bring us life
For you are Love,
The good Shepherd who leads those
who hate you
and kill you,
to peaceful waters and pastures green.
You bring us to your house,
Anointing us with Life.

Bring us ever deeper into
your Heart divine,
O Lord.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Anyone vaguely familiar with the Bible will know about the miraculous phenomena associated with the long line of Jewish prophets and with Jesus and his disciples. To give some examples: Moses struck Egypt with ten plagues and split the red sea. Elijah called down fire from heaven and raised the dead. His disciple Elisha raised the dead, cleansed a leper, split the river Jordan and multiplied food. Joseph, Samuel and Daniel predicted the future with pinpoint accuracy. And of course, Jesus displayed unprecedented mastery over death, disease, demons and the elements. He also died and rose from the dead.

Fascinatingly, Jesus promised that “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). In the book of Acts, we certainly see his disciples performing miracles as a matter of routine.

In modern times, people have of course grown more skeptical about the miracles of the Bible. David Hume the empiricist philosopher famously condemned miracles as impossible acts that ‘violated the laws of nature’. But blanket denial is hard to justify when 2000 years of Christian history have produced records of countless individuals who were able to do what the early disciples of Jesus were able to do. In the Catholic Church for instance, canonization of saints is dependent on whether the saint can produce authentic miracles after death. Many of these saints were also routine miracle workers during their lifetime.

The best-known example is St Padre Pio, who died in 1968 and was canonized in 2002. During his fifty-year long ministry, he worked thousands of miracles that are exceptionally well documented. These include reading the inner thoughts and sins of others, bilocation (being in various places simultaneously), prophecy and healing. And even the most scrupulous skeptic cannot deny one of the miraculous phenomena associated with him: the stigmata. He, like St Francis of Assisi 800 years ago, was marked with the five wounds of the crucified Christ for 50 years. Every Friday, these wounds would bleed copiously and yet he managed to live without ill effects to a ripe old age of 81.

In the Pentecostal and charismatic Churches, miracles of healing, prophecy, tongues and even the raising of the dead are widely reported. A prominent figure in these denominations is Smith Wigglesworth, who had a long list of miracles attributed to him over his 30 years ministry (1907-1936).

So how are we to view all this? I think our attitude towards miracles will largely depend on the circumstances and situation of our lives (or God’s plan for the person—depending on how you look at it). People from charismatic backgrounds will no doubt be much more open to miracles than many Protestant mainstream Christians. After all the gift of tongues is asserted to be practically universal in these churches (or at least among those who have received the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’). Also many in those churches will claim to have witnessed even more dramatic miracles (fire falling from heaven, healing, prophecy etc.). Thus charismatic Christians will typically see the miracles in the Bible and the miracles of later Christians as being perfectly possible.

Catholic Christians are also very much open to the possibility of miracles--though for different reasons. No one (at least I have never witnessed it before) speaks in tongues during a Catholic mass. But a central tenet of faith in the Catholic Church concerns the transformation of the communion bread and wine into the actual Body and Blood of Christ during every mass. This is obviously a miraculous act and can only happen with the direct intervention of the Spirit of God.

In addition, for 2000 years, the Catholic Church has witnessed and recorded saints of all sorts who have worked numerous miracles during their lives and afterwards. Padre Pio is only the most recent (though he is one of the mightiest and certainly the best documented). Also bodies of many saints (like St Catherine of Laboure) are ‘incorrupt’; meaning they do not decay even centuries after their death—a powerful testimony to the Spirit of the resurrection that had touched their lives.

For myself, I have no doubt about the possibility of miracles either in the Bible or for Christians in general. The main reason for this is that by God’s grace, I have witnessed my share of miracles. As testimony, I will share two incidents here, though I emphasize that they are only the tip of the iceberg. As always, the identities of the people concerned are kept anonymous:

On September 10, 2001, I was talking with this friend who had the gift of vision and prophecy. While talking, she saw the angels Michael and Gabriel. They told us that there’s a new breed of ‘flying devils’ (exact words). I was of course quite puzzled and even amused—after all devils are always depicted in art as having bat-like wings; so why are flying devils anything spectacular?

On my questioning, the angels repeated what they have just said (or something like that, I cannot remember exactly) and added that they were in battle against the flying devils. In this spiritual warfare, they have managed to pull down a number--but they said that some have gotten through and escaped.

Both my friend and I were of course thoroughly perplexed by this vision.

The next day, on September 11, 2001, I happened to meet the person again at around 1740 (Singapore time—I remembered the clock exactly) for dinner. While eating, the Virgin Mary appeared to her. There happened to be a wilting rose somewhere near the dinner table and in the vision, Mary was holding a burnt and dead rose in her hands. She told us that the rose had been burnt-- ‘burnt to the very roots’. I was again confused: I mean the rose on the table was wilting but surely it was not turned into ashes! But Mary looked extremely sad and after a while she disappeared (I think we also talked about some other thing—but I cannot remember now).

Of course just three hours later at around 2100 (Singapore time), terrorists crashed two jet airliners into the World Trade Center towers and another into the Pentagon (incidentally I visited these places just 3 months ago). As I saw the towers crashing down to their foundations, the rose that is ‘burnt to its roots’ and the earlier vision on ‘flying devils’ came to my mind. Indeed the time when I was talking to my prophetic friend was probably when the hijackers had just boarded their doomed vessels.

And initially Osama Bin Laden planned 8 attacks. And yet mercifully only 3 planes hit their targets. The others never took off, and one of them, United 93, was literally brought down to the ground by the heroic passengers—recalling what the 2 angels had said about their victory over some of the ‘flying devils’.

In addition to predicting the catastrophe in such striking fashion, both visions hint at the deeper spiritual realities underlying the events of the world. For instance, it appears that events like September 11 are shaped not just by external physical realities, but also by the conflict of spiritual forces behind the background. The war between Gabriel and Michael and the flying devils seem to precede and shape the outcome of the day’s catastrophe. As such, human actions (like prayer and sin) that aid or hinder the forces of God play definite roles in shaping the destiny of the world.

The other rather chilling truth concerns the burnt rose. My intuition is that the rose did not refer only to the doomed WTC towers. The rose is an archetypal symbol of love and God’s grace. Specifically, I think it links back to the 1917 Fatima prophecies (Catholics believe that in 1917, Mary appeared to three Spanish children and gave a series of prophecies and performed certain spectacular miracles). One of the prophecies stated that there will be a ‘period of peace granted to the world’ after Russian communism has collapsed. I think the burnt rose could well symbolize the fact that the period of peace has ended—murdered by the sins of men.

Indeed, since that day, anyone following the evening news can see how the world has been plunged into greater and greater bloodshed. The sacrifices of Moloch have set the world aflame once more.

The second miracle concerned a person I know who went with his family to the island resort of Langkawi a week before the Christmas of 2004. In fact they were originally due to go on Christmas day (and stay there through Boxing day), but the person wanted to go for Christmas service and managed to persuade everyone to go earlier.

During the trip (or sometime after it—I cannot remember exactly) he had a dream where he was standing on the shore of a beach and there was a huge black cloud floating offshore. Ferocious blasts of lightning were hitting the sea and the storm was rapidly approaching. The person was somehow rooted to the ground and watched as the furious storm swept in, blasting the earth with lightning. Somehow, miraculously, the person was left untouched and the storm moved on. Then he woke up.

On Christmas Eve, the person had another dream. Two angels (more precisely one angel in two forms) appeared to him. These angels were science angels. They showed him on a computer screen (or OHP screen or whatever) a large lump of earth hitting the sea floor. Huge waves were rushing in all directions from the impact zone. The angel[s] said only one thing, ‘This disaster could only be prevented by science.’

Of course, a day after Christmas, there was a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean and killer tsunamis devastated the nations of South East Asia—including the island resort of Langkawi where the person and his family had been only a few days ago. Indeed, if they had followed their original plans, they would probably have witnessed (or be swept away) by the tsunami. As in the first dream, he had narrowly escaped from a massive disaster.

Also sometime later, newspaper articles report that a tsunami warning system like that used in the Pacific could have greatly reduced the monstrous death toll of 200,000 people. As the science angels have said, science could have prevented (or more accurately, ameliorated) the disaster.

It appears that the guardian angels of science are quite concerned that their gifts are used well by their protégés (presumably the scientists of the world) and the people of the world.

So are there such things as miracles? My personal answer is a resounding yes.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Machine shall Inherit the Earth?

It is a strong consensus among many scientists today that man is but a biological machine; different in substance but not in essence from the computer that is in front of you. Thus when faced with the primordial war with death, disease, ignorance and immense human misery, it is logical to many members of the technological elite to advocate a ‘transhumanist’ final solution: where the root of all human misery is traced to the limitations and problems of our randomly evolved biological hardware, and where the prospective nirvana concerns a systemic ‘upgrading’ to achieve a vastly superior and ever-improving post-human body.

For those who firmly believe in some form of materialistic monism, and who stridently equates the human being with the human body—the transhumanist impulse surely represents the final triumph of our (merely) human rationality and redeeming technologies. Death, where is your sting indeed, in the face of genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, cybernetics and nanotechnology. Even if mere homo sapiens fail or refuse their transfiguration, there is always the transhumanist Singularity, the true Apocalypse when the mighty machine matches and then exponentially exceeds the prowess of the puny human brain. Thus will the true Gods be born, the incredible and superhuman intelligences that will establish a true and invincible dominion over the forces of Nature.

And the post-human, freed from all biological imperfections, will emerge victorious over death and all suffering. After this, these new Gods must naturally purge the earth of the unworthy ones who have refused to partake of the Tree of Life, or at least put them in their proper place as the failed relics of evolution. Thus the Machine will inherit the Earth. And woe to those who dare to think otherwise.

Thus says the transhumanist gospel.

Some transhumanists may claim that the above represents an extreme version of their creed. Indeed, most transhumanists do not advocate a cleansing of the earth. But many do recognize it as a pretty inevitable consequence of the emergence of a superior species. We need not look beyond the extinction of homo erectus and Neanderthal man after the appearance of homo sapiens.

Indeed, evolution is anything but a sweet process; yes there is collaboration and altruism within social species and sometimes there is mutualism between species. But war underlies the process of evolution. Those who are best able to use the scarce resources of the universe inevitably crowd out or relegate to irrelevance any competing species in similar ecological niches. Of course post-humans might eventually become energy beings that fly off to live on the sun, but in the short term, competition, war and even genocide are probably inevitable. And in such a conflict, transhumanists have little doubt about the outcome.

Some transhumanists may also argue that the post-human could well be a kinder and sweeter version of the human being. Perhaps. But who’s to stop other transhumanists from creating demonic versions of the human being? Since when have we NOT misused our technologies? And the sweetest post-human have to defend their fledging communities in order to survive. And self-defense could easily take on a pre-emptive spin.

Thus utopian visions of a fuss-free emergence of new post-human species and civilizations alongside our own is quite simply that—utopian and practically impossible.

More importantly, what if transhumanism itself is based on a terrible delusion? The great world religions are surprisingly unified in their analysis of suffering. Buddhism, Hinduism and the 3 monotheistic religions attribute human misery—so pervasive, deep and terrible to even a cursory observer—to one simple thing: human evil. Buddhism and Hinduism may call it bad karma, and Christians, Muslims and Jews might call it sin, but we intuitively understand what they are talking about. And they are similarly agreed that the way to true joy consist of putting an end to the perversity of sin.

Some might quickly point out how these religions appear to have quite different definitions of sin. Christians kill cows without qualms while Hindus see it as a mortal sin. Similarly Hindus horrify Christians and Muslims with their caste system and supposed polytheism. Jews and Buddhists do not believe in Jesus as the Son of God and the sole savior of the world, while many Christians see such disbelief as a sure road to eternal hell. So what is evil? What is good?

There is obviously no simple answer to this age-old question. Christianity shapes my personal answer, and I believe that we should define evil not by legalistic ‘Thou-shalt-nots’, but by whether certain actions or thoughts take us spiritually closer to God: that which brings us to closer communion with the Fount of all life, goodness and joy is good. That which brings us further away is evil and sin. But there might not be clear-cut rules for all men in all circumstances. The best guide in an immensely complex world might not be a code of good behavior but the Spirit of God in a pure heart and mind.

This may sound to some like a post-modernistic denial of absolute truth and right. But that will be nonsense. Obviously I do believe in absolute truth, but that truth is God himself and it is also divine Love. And I see no reason why the expression of divine love and truth can ever be cast into a dead mould. I think the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God’ should consist in the unpredictable and yet perfectly regulated action that result when we manage to connect with the Spirit of God and obey him.

And I also believe the closer we are to God, the clearer our vision becomes and the more perfect our actions become. And this perfection, or holiness, as Christians put it, will in turn facilitate an even deeper journey into the heart of God. ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’ says the Psalm. It is through spiritual journey that we appreciate the resounding truth of the Biblical teaching that human beings are made for God and can never rest till we enter deeply into the joy of God. It is also when we have developed the taste for God that we are able to understand why being cut off from God is truly the essence and foundation of all suffering.

From a spiritual and Christian perspective, the transhumanist vision is aptly described by a verse from the prophet Jeremiah: “They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:12-14). If the true cause of suffering is man’s isolation from the living God, the transhumanist ‘solution’ is utter folly. Indeed in its presumptuous hubris of seeking to become ‘like gods’ without God, it perfectly re-enacts the primordial fall of Adam and Eve. Perhaps the just consequence will be humanity’s exile from its technological Eden. Thus instead of ascending to the heights of immortality, man may well descend through catastrophe to the level of beasts.