- No Conversions
- Focus on promoting Christian values, not propagation / marketing of religion
- Shorter church services
I am no fanatical Christian. In fact, I often sound like an agnostic, if not an atheist!
Born a Christian, I had all my education in Christian institutions. But my parents were very broadminded in their religious outlook, so I did not get to see myself as a mere Christian. Many of my best friends are even today non-Christian.
Machiavellian glory: This does not mean, though, that I am a lesser Christian than those who openly profess their faith in all their self-seeking, Machiavellian glory where the end seems to justify the means, where the real spirit of Christmas (reaching out to the needy in the season of giving, spreading love and cheer) is often forsaken or faked amid “spirited” partying and where flirtation is mistaken for fellowship.
- A Christian must be open to criticism and be ready to help fix flaws within the religion.
While this Christmas is not a time for celebration for me and my family, because of the loss of my mother this September, I have some expectations from the church. These are nothing new as since the time I can remember I have wished to see that being embraced by the church. Here they are:
- No Numbers Game: The church must stop caring about boosting its numbers by bringing in people from other religions. Numbers should have no relevance as Christianity is not a business entity.
I have always not taken kindly to conversions just as I have regularly opposed mindless immigration, filling a nation with imported mediocrity in the name of talent, be it in Singapore or anywhere else!
- The same logic will apply to Christianity as well — it does not need people who are best left to where they belong.
- That said, Western democracies where Christianity is dominant have openly embraced religious and racial diversity through immigration. It is quite another matter that there are instances where some sections have plotted to undermine nations and religions that were their hosts.
- Any propagation must only be to spread the message of love, peace and harmony, not with motives that can harm the religion. Why should a religion rely on marketing, just as businesses do?
- The religion was in the past evangelised by meeting the needs of a society — building educational institutions / hospitals and caring for people in need. Those noble goals alone must drive Christianity.
Thought-Provoking Message: Incidentally, I attended the Christmas-eve midnight service at the St Andrew’s Cathedral with family. It was well conducted by Bishop Renish Ponniah with a thought-provoking message to usher in Christmas Day.
He started the sermon by saying “We all like to celebrate the season without seeking to understand the reason”. He also touched on some interesting facts — such as the one that “Christmas was once banned in China but it is all the rage there now, thanks to commercialization.”
The crux of the message was, perhaps, that some soul searching is needed. I have always found the Bishop delivering powerful messages. The last time was on All-Souls Day in November. He did not disappoint me this time as well.
Merry Christmas, may humanity survive and prosper without any religious upmanship!!
G Joslin Vethakumar