Thursday, December 30, 2010


STORY OF 2010!

The Bolivian under 15 soccer team won a gold medal at the youth olympic games in Singapore!

I've always dreamed of Bolivia catching the eye of Singaporeans, a noteworthy feat worthy of accolades. And the YOG provided the platform to make concrete a personal dream. The Bolivians were awesome. They steamrolled over their opponents, including the Haitian team in the final. A Bolivian vs Singapore final was a mouth watering possibility that never materialized.

The sight of the Bolivian team singing the national anthem as the Bolivian flag was slowly raised in Singapore, was especially moving. Bolivia, my adopted homeland was triumphant in Singapore, land of my birth.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is It Worth It?

Do national security concerns justify injury and death during national service? 

Last year a young Singaporean died during national service. He wasn't the first, nor will he be the last. As a parent whose son also did his national service, the death of this 19-year old made me sit up and think about the cost of  NS. 

My son survived his NS obligations but he also could have lost his life in an accident. He didn't. But other parents go through the pain of losing their sons during National Service. Our sons benefit from NS. This is true, but do the benefits outweigh the dangers posed by the training and the loss of 2 years in the life of a young man? Perhaps not. And shame on us, if we shrug our shoulders and heave a sigh of relief that it wasn't our son who died. 

NS poses some tough questions. I don't know if I have all the answers but I see no harm in scaling down the training to one year. This reduction minimizes the risk of fatalities, provide our sons with more time to get ahead in education, and improve their career prospects. No, I am not against NS but there are benefits to reducing the present 2-year commitment.    

The death of a national serviceman last year forced me to put my thoughts in a post last year. I chose however keep it as a draft and to not post it. A year has passed. There's a greater sense of urgency to post it on this blog, now. So here it is. Better late than never:    

Another NS man dies after training!

Sad. And no, 19 - year olds aren't men. NS helps to discipline teenagers and instill a sense of patriotism and helps to put them on the path to manhood. Those doing NS are teenagers, still kids in some families. They don't deserve to die.

Deaths like these make one reflect and think about the meaning and cost of  NS.
The arguments for NS sound patriotic and right. None of them however justify the death of a 19-year old boy. We should work toward a zero casualty rate in training. Parents entrust their sons to the SAF for two years with the hope that no harm will befall their sons. 

Deaths during NS should shake us up. Is there a silver lining for those who grieve the loss of their loved ones?

The boy's name is Liam Kai Zheng. And yes, he was a boy - only 19 years old! His parents will not celebrate his 21st birthday nor will they attend his wedding. Forget about the grandchildren. The nation mourns the loss of Kai Zheng - a member of the wider Singapore family. He died for the sake of our security needs. Do our security needs require our sons to face the dangers and demands of military training for 2 years? 

Do they give their lives in order for us to feel secure? It might seem obvious for those whose sons either escaped unscathed during NS or whose call up for NS is still due. It's different however for those who've lost their sons during NS. It's easy to shrug our shoulders and get on with our life until we lose one of our own. 

My condolences to his family.

Here is an excerpt from the Straits Times May 23 2009,

After Mr Liam Kai Zheng, 19, got off the boat at the Singapore Armed Forces' ferry terminal in Changi, he was taken in an ambulance to the Changi General Hospital, where he died nine hours later on Friday morning.

Mr Liam had recently completed a four-day field camp before checking out of the Basic Military Training Centre in Pulau Tekong on Thursday night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bp NT Wright: NPP Protagonist
This post was inspiried after an exchange between blogpastor and myself over the merits and the demerits of the New Perspective of Paul on facebook. I refer to NT Wright because I am familiar with his writings and Wright represents the New Perspective of Paul (NPP).

Wright's view of Justification is covenantal, forensic and eschatological. "Faith" for Wright, not unlike circumcision, functions like a boundary marker which identifies gentiles as part of God's people. In Paul's historical context, a highly influential group believed that one had to be circumcised if one wanted to become a Christian. Paul opposed this view because he saw it as an intrusion which highlighted jewish ethnic nationalism at the expense of one's belief in Christ. Parts of Paul's letter to Romans and the letter to the Galatians gives creedence to Wright's emphasis.   

I sometimes think ... however that Wright unnecessarily gives emphasis to the the larger context of justification at the cost of the personal dimension of the justificiation which includes a person being declared righteous before a Holy God. Cant we have both? Paul was referring to a personal faith as a well as a faith which functioned as a boundary marker for God's people. A new believer's personal faith made him part of God's people without having to exhibit redundant Jewish religious beliefs  

I am all for a wider context of justification. My own understanding of justification has been enriched by the NPP but not at the expense of seeing faith as a personal belief. Wright is correct in saying that faith is a boundary marker but his view is deficient when he gives no space for faith as a personal belief. He tries to clarify himself elsewhere but you get the feeling he is trying to go beyond the old perspective. Hence the criticism that's levelled against him.

Here is an example of trying to integrate the old and new perspectives of Paul:

Romans 3:21-26 speaks of Christ's righteousness coming through faith. The faith described here refers to persona belief and a trusting relationship v. 22, 26. This is the old perspective. The NPP however go on to read Romans 3:27-31 as grounds for identifying faith as a new boundary marker for God's people which includes the gentiles v 28-30. The law/circumcision is viewed as a redundant boundary marker which only propagates a Jewish ethnicism which tries to make gentiles into Jewish proselytes. Romans 4 makes a lots of sense when read with the NPP lens. But the point is that the old perspective and the NPP is integrated when we marry Romans 3:21-26 with the Romans 3: 27-31.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Praise the Lord! I graduated 2 weeks ago with a Masters in Theology from a Florida based Seminary in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I finished my course work some time ago but did not find the time to complete my thesis and graduate. The bolivian based rector of the university gave me a non-negotiable deadline. 

I put everything on hold, slept a few hours a day, and worked hard at the thesis, "The Eschatological Character of the Anglican Eucharist". Working through the hypothesis wasnt easy and putting it all together was mind boggling at times.

By God's grace (which included large amounts of cups of black coffee) I finished the thesis a few days before the deadline. Presenting the thesis and defending it was a novel experience. I didnt quite know what to expect. Apparently the panel had never dealt with subject matters related to the anglican church! I was pleased with the grade given. Bishop Frank Lyons was very supportive of me doing post graduate studies and visited us on the weekend of the defense and the graduation.

Oh yeah I forgot...all my course work was in Spanish and so was the thesis.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Temperatures have dropped to 4% centigrade. We've never had to cope with this sort of climate before in Santa Cruz for such a prolonged period. Freezing cold weather only lasts for a day or two. We've had to put up with this icy temperature for about a week. Its really cold! Both us, Michelle and I use nearly 3 to 4 layers of warm clothing. 

6 sick people, vulnerable to death, succumbed to the cold. 

The municipality have opened large enclosures for the homeless. A place to sleep and some hot soup keep them warm.Home made bonfires keep the poor families warm. Schools are closed till the weather improves.It gets dark by about 6 pm. Only few cars ply the roads. The few brave souls who walk the streets are heavily clad in winter clothing. 


The Spaniards were at their best against Germany in the semis.

They controlled play with incisive passing and moved in a pack around the ball, both in attack and in defense. The physical conditioning was mind boggling. Germany were outplayed and not having Mueller didnt help. Spain's forwards however cant seem to stick the knife in! Torres and Ramos seemed lost. And it took a header from Puyol to setttle the game.

Spain kept their cool in the final game and deservedly scored in extra time to win the World Cup for the first time. They were prevented from playing their usual game by their opponents, whose game plan was to have none except to maim their opponents and score on the break. The dutch team were a sham!

The dutch destroyed the world cup final with a cynical approach. Aggression is part of football but they entered the game determined to break the Spanish rythmn with the sort of football you'd normally associate with thuggery. Was the dutch coach behind this strategy? He probably was because the rough play was consistent and unrelenting. They showed no respect for the occasion and seemed oblivious to the fact that millions were watching. Human decency would assume some decorum when one's performance is on display before the whole world. I hope we never see the likes of this dutch team in the final, of any competition!

Where was the team which beat Brazil in the quarter finals? The dutch were brimming with enthusiasm and confidence then. What happened between the quarters and semis? It was as if Dr Jekyll had turned to Mr Hyde. The kind of soccer we associated with the dutch was absent. The dirt they dished out was unlike the sort of soccer one would expect from the dutch! De Jong's foot on Hernandez's chest was awful. He claimed it was unintentional but the replays seemed to indicate otherwise. He should have been sent off.

Who knows? they may have played better with 10 men on the field.

This dutch team of 2010 were nothing like the legendary teams of '74 and '78. Hence the great disappointment. Cruyff was scathing in his cristicism of the dutch team. He was fully justified. I was hoping for a dutch triumph in this final as a tribute to dutch football in the 70's. Maybe they will learn their lesson from this final and give us better performace 4 years from now in Brazil.

So, Spain rule! They have a great coach and might win the European Nations cup in 2012, as well.

Well done Spain..till Brazil 2014. Bien hecho EspaƱa... Nos vemos...Brazil 2014!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I've been away for too long from my blog! Time really flies. Getting back into the swing of things in Bolivia has not been easy. Lots of adjustments. Hope to post more stuff on this blog.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Yesterday I met someone from church in Santa Cruz who is keeping tabs on the situation in Malaysia where 8 churches have been burned and/or vandalized. Its nice to chat with folk who are interested in South East Asia.  I´m up to my ears in reading assignments as part of work on a thesis; there is no time for anything  else. Elijah attended a 5 day youth camp in the city of Tarija. He came back tired. The bus journey was loooonggg - 15 hours!. We took a family fotograph and then went to a local restaurant where I ate the the best Philadelphia sandwich in my life. This is an important time for us; Elijah´s impending departure for Singapore (he leaves in 20 days) will leave a void in our lives. Pray for grace to cope.   

Michelle is getting into some of her projects. A couple of weeks ago I attended a very long diocesan standing committee meeting. Everyone was glad to see us back. Bishop Lyons is busy as ever. We've been here for a month and are settling down. The cost of living in Santa Cruz has sky rocketed; everything is very expensive. The growth of the churches in Santa Cruz although encouraging is uneven and vulnerable. Some basic building blocks need to be in place for the work to grow substantially - sounds like 1st world Singaporean talk - ha! ha! ha!

Bolivia go to the polls again to elect governors and mayors in April 2010. The president and a new legislative assembly was elected last month. The feature of  Evo Morales's inauguration as president next week will be his participation in ancient pagan rites. Pray for Bolivia, friends!   

Christ is the Head of the church and Lord of the nations!