我聲大故我在

自星期日早上起來,喉嚨已不舒服。到了星期三,不單說話走音,連想大聲一點都有困難。有人在電話留言找我(sorry, 我不是想說〈愛我請留言〉,但公司電話真的有人留了言給我:P) 我只能用電郵、短訊回覆。今早起來,經過數次服用抗生素,聲音大了很多,接近正常水平,也沒有走音情況。雖然仍不時咳嗽,但出乎意料之外,聲音回復了八成,令我整天心情好了很多。今天晚上參與聖週四的禮儀,很自然的想跟著唱,才發現雖然說話沒問題,但是完全唱不到。於是禮儀裡的歌只能動口,在心裡唱。我喜歡唱歌,雖然沒有很大表演慾,但在彌撒中、在車廂中、洗澡時、在k房唱歌都是我很喜歡的。

原來講(唱)得大聲真的是恩賜。

不知從何時開始,我正常說話的聲線是很遠以外的人都會聽到。我經常要面對的「煩惱」是如何不要不自覺地說得太大聲,我要很刻意才能把聲線壓低。很多人跟我說我這種聲線是最適合教書的,不用咪高峰,山頂的朋友也聽到,多好! 而有趣的是,明明在小學期間,經常有老師說我答問題不清楚,聲音太小,究竟是什麼時候,發生過什麼事,令我無需用丹田說話都聲如洪鐘,只會被人嫌大聲呢? 真的記不起。

我時常在想為什麼給我起中文名的爺爺會給我選「鳴」作為名字? 由於他身在遠方,我出生時他有否看過我也成問題,他為何會覺得「鳴」跟我相配? 難道真的人如其名? 世事真有趣。

返回正題,本來我寫這篇是要分析為何聲線對我這麼重要。聲線是一個表達的渠道,是最唾手可得,最能自然表達自己想法、感覺的一個方式。我們常常聽到「要為xyz發聲」,為什麼? 因為很多人、很多團體/族群原來很用力都發不了聲。我們有能力發聲的一群,有否察覺自己有義務為這些人說話,除了說自己想說的話,會否借出自己的聲線助他們一把呢?

在這個年代,要發聲除了靠把口,還有9000+個渠道。這些渠道載著什麼訊息,要發揮怎樣的作用,全視乎能發聲的人投放些什麼進去。

不論你愛用什麼方式發聲,當我們有自由、有能力去表達的時候,善用你的聲音吧!

 

 

Thanks to my guardian angel

When I was driving home after work, after getting past Kennedy, the road was slippery. My car slipped, good that I could control it. Just after I got control of my car, I saw that the car in front of me slipped and spun. And when I looked at my rear view mirror, I saw the car behind me also slipped and hit the curb. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a scene from TV. I looked at the cross hung from my rear view mirror. After a long and tiring day, with my mediocre driving skills, thank God my car didn’t slip crazy. Lord, thanks for keeping me safe.

生命中的 CS 341

上星期和幾位朋友回到大學,緬懷一下那幾年的大學生活,看看校園各處有什麼改變。回到Notre Dame Chapel,那是當年每星期WCCC聚會的地點,亦是我讀書考試最徬徨無助時會回去的地方。在那幾年大學生涯中,最叫我徬徨無助的是CS 341。

CS 341 (algorithms)是我大學生涯上最難忘、最難頂的一科。(為非CS讀者解說一下,在Computer Science裡,algorithms就是計算的部驟。如果要寫一個program,譬如這program要搜尋database裡一項資料,要寫這個program,你就要去想清楚要怎樣做才搜尋得到,而且要用最有效率的方法去做。)對我來說,這一科的所有功課和考試題目,都是無厘頭的IQ題,是我不能理解的。我大學生涯中唯一一次mid-term不合格的污點,就是這一科造成的。

我一直不覺得自己聰明,我能在大學得到不錯的成績全因為勤力。當董建華說自己7-11時,我考試期間的schedule亦是7-11在library渡過。CS 341令我最感無助的是這科完全不能讀,我感到束手無策。這科甚至令我重新質疑自己是否真的選錯了科(大鑊的是那時已經是第三年了)。我記得在那次mid-term派卷後,我大受打擊。我步行到chapel,在聖體櫃前跪下,便哭起來。

完成大學以後,CS 341以不同方式再次在我的生命出現。它的特徵是不論我多努力,都沒有成果(或當初自以為還不錯,之後才驚覺自己已闖了一次又一次禍。)

感謝天主在大學時讓我第一次學習倚賴祂,沒有什麼比在耶穌前哭更能使我平靜下來。CS 341讓我認清誰是我的救星,使我明白人不能只靠自己。

The Prayer of Examen

When I went for a silent retreat at Manresa two years ago, I came across the Prayer of Examen. I found it to be a good way of concluding a day. I even bought 2 books, one in English and one in Chinese. But I never really put it into practice. I’m glad that this time in retreat I finally got to try it under the guidance of a Jesuit brother. I will try to do it once a day. I want to keep it up!

The Prayer of Examen

  1. Place yourself before the Lord – Be still, and know that I am God (Ps 46:10).
    Take as much time as you need to calm yourself interiorly and become aware that you are in God’s presence.
  2. Give thanks – look back at your day (or week, month, year) and give thanks to God for the blessings that you have received. Do not rush. Take your time to give thanks. Be thankful for all things, not simply those that you think you should be thankful for (the taste of that cake that you enjoyed, etc)
  3. Prayer for the Light of the Holy Spirit to guide you through the Examen so that you may see the day through God’s ‘eyes’.
  4. Finding God in All Things – God indeed is very active in our lives, though we often fail to recognize it. Go through your day chronologically, looking at your day through God’s ‘eyes’:
    • when did I recognize God’s presence and accept the invitation to follow Him in a situation?
    • how was my prayer today? Consolations/Desolations in prayer?
    • how were my interactions with others? Was I generous? Peaceful? Kind? Good?
    • try to remember the interior movements in those moments: joy, hesitation, frustration, peace, etc. How did you respond to them? Are there any trends that you are noticing?
    • did I turn my back on the Lord at some point during the day?
    • have I indulged in a particular weakness/sin/habit today that I am trying to overcome?
    • did I lack in generosity, goodness, kindness, etc. towards others today?
    • pay attention to interior movements – what ‘sets off the bomb’?
  5. Respond to God in Dialogue – talk with the Lord about your day. What bothered you the most? What did you find most consoling? Bring all your concerns, doubts, joys, etc. to God in a conversation.
  6. Prayer for Help for the next day – Give thanks to the Lord for showing you these things and ask pardon of God for your failings. Make a resolve for the next day – what will you try to improve (make a commitment)? Finish with an Our Father.

Behind the scenes of a mid-life crisis

This article has been super inspiring:
http://www.conversiondiary.com/2013/03/behind-the-scenes-of-a-mid-life-crisis.html

She just has the ability to put into words feelings that others can’t articulate (just look at the comments).

And I find this comment inspiring:

The living God is the great I AM, not the great I MIGHT BE. One reality is better than a million possibilities.

時間

時間從來都是我最感到奧妙的東西之一。人自出生開始便活在時間這個空間之中,我們的存在跟時間緊扣在一起。小時候最關注的是何時會到我的生日、聖誕等。二十歲以後,開始感到時光飛逝的速度實在驚人,有點惱恨怎麼時間要過得那麼快,總是要跟人過不去。受到坊間各式資訊的感染,我們傾向討厭時間的流逝,相機生產商呼籲我們要「留住這一刻」,護膚品生產商慫恿我們「不要讓歲月留下痕跡」。時間真是人的敵人嗎?

看《舌尖上的中國》,其中一輯的主題是《轉化的靈感》,一些食物(如黃豆)本來乏味單調,人體也不太喜愛(吃後釋放大量boot boot),但經發酵後,變得完全不一樣,連本質也徹底改變了。在發酵的過程中,食材經過時間的洗禮,像被施了魔法一樣。黃豆被磨成漿,混入石膏粉,加入酸水,過了一段時間,竟長出毛來?! 我本身對想得出把石膏粉和酸水加入豆漿中的人深感敬佩,但在毛豆腐的製作過程中,時間的魔法才令我感到最神奇不已。沒有了時間,一切都無法成事。

在日常生活中,我們未必時刻能體驗到天主的臨在,尤其當我們心中有一列祈求已久而仍未應允的訴求,除了間中對祂表示不滿、多加幾錢肉緊祈禱外,只要稍為搜尋一下記憶,不難發現時間除了令我們留下皺紋和白髮外,也治癒了大大小小的創傷,讓我們的智慧增長。天主藉著時間,讓我們漸漸明白一些過去摸不著頭腦的事。

時間是魔術師,不是敵人。

Extended listening/reading/watching:
Crooked Lines
God keeps all our lost memories
CCTV-纪录片【舌尖上的中国】~第3集 转化的灵感

The Making of DHL: Totally Out of Control

This post documents what I went through during the production of the FLL episode 生命不對秤 Live and Let Live, as well as the website life.fll.cc

There are pictures throughout the post, if you want to view it all at once, you can click here.

NOTE: I also link to different timestamps of the episode throughout the post to pinpoint the specific shots. This way you get an idea the work involved for getting individual shots :P.

How It Began

It all began with an email I got on Apr 26, 2012.

That’s when the first hour of debate on Motion 312 was going to be held in Parliament. Even though I’ve always considered myself pro-life ever since 2001, I wasn’t really aware of this Motion 312 initiative until the day before, when I heard from the news on radio. I didn’t fully understand what it’s all about, but it’s good to have debates being held in Parliament regarding abortion – a controversial issue that so many people are not willing to talk about.

The email asked if FLL is going to cover March for Life this year. For 2 or 3 years in the past, I brought my own camera to March for Life, to film whatever I could (in however amateur way), so that I could post on YouTube to show people how many young people are there each year, because the mainstream media would only show a picture of an old man sitting in a corner instead of the 10K+ crowd. I couldn’t think of any reason to say no to this request, to cover an event that I consider worthwhile, with a proper production crew. So I just said yes.

It turns out I am going to “lead” a campaign on the dignity of human life (code name: DHL). When I agreed to do this, I have to say, I didn’t even know what “dignity”  really means. Killing humans is wrong. That’s a no-brainer. But what is all this “dignity” stuff about?

The Preparation

I started doing research to prepare for the March for Life filming on May 10. I read up on Motion 312, what it proposes, what is going to happen when it passes, what is a motion (vs. a bill), how do the pro-choice people argue against it etc. I started reading up on the past bills that were proposed related to abortion. Little did I know so much effort was put in by pro-life MPs at the Parliament, to introduce legislation that attempts to fill the complete void regarding abortion in Canadian law. I started digging LifeSiteNews: which MPs are pro-life and are still in service (some have retired or lost), what trends do pro-life activists observed etc.

Then I drafted the rundown for the filming. In my plan, it would be *nice* to film some interviews with the pro-life MPs, my candidates are Stephen Woodworth, who introduced Motion 312, as well as Rod Bruinooge who introduced Bill C-510 (against coerced abortions) in 2010. I also wanted to interview top pro-life leaders like Jim Hughes (president of Campaign Life Coalition), Dr. Alveda King from the States (not even sure if she would attend this year), and Angelina Steenstra (from Silent No More Awareness Campaign). I had no idea how it might work out though. They would just get on stage for a brief time, and then they would be gone.

We had a conference call a few days prior to the filming with everyone involved. We discussed the plan: who would operate which camera? what shots would we need?  who would partner up with whom etc. We all knew it’s going to be adhoc (as with filming any events, or in general, any filming) and we were all ready to 執生.

As I studied the March for Life program schedule more closely (which is a multi-day event, not just “the march”), I found that there was going to be a candlelight vigil the night before, which I had never attended. What caught my attention was that it would be held at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights Monument. I looked up more details in Wikipedia, and I found that the monument has the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written on it: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Whoa! Do I still have to think about it? Go go go, let’s film it!

The Trip: Totally Not My Plan

I got off work at 3pm on May 9. And the traffic was sooo bad. I was late when I got home. And when Patrick (the primary camera operator for this episode, a TV production team member) and I finally left my home for Ottawa, the highway was jammed soooo badly. When we arrived, we saw that people already started walking from the church to the site of the vigil, their hands holding candles.  When we were finally ready to film, it was already 20+ min into the 1-hour vigil. It was dark but we filmed whatever we could.

On the next day, we arrived way before the program began. After filming miscellaneous shots, we occupied a good spot in front of the stage (all other big cameras were already there). The rest of the FLL team from Toronto finally arrived when the program was about to begin. Everything on stage was filmed, speeches by MPs and bishops etc. The MPs were introduced one by one and they each gave a brief speech. When they were done speaking, they just left. It was very clear that we wouldn’t be able to film interviews for any MPs, because the main camera occupied the good spot, it was not possible to chase with the camera, and once we left we wouldn’t be able to be back at the spot again.

And then the march began. I partnered up with Patrick who operated the main camera. Daniel (FLL staff who works for TV production) and Paul (aka FLL director) each operated a camera. They would follow the march at different spots so that we could all capture different things.  Patrick and I filmed an interview with Kevin (a friend of mine, who wrote the lyrics for the pro-life song 胎中的呼聲) first, before we joined the huge crowd for the march. When Patrick, Kevin and I left to join the march, we were at the end of the crowd. We decided to find a shortcut so that we could be ahead of the 龍頭, this way we could film the most. So we just cut through the streets, we rushed and we weren’t even sure where we were. But eventually we saw the 龍頭 again, we got ahead of them and could film as the Silent No More people walking toward us as the 龍頭, followed by Knights of Columbus, followed by people holding the giant March for Life banner walking toward us and past us. It’s the first time I could catch that in all my years of attending March for Life. Hohohohoho! I didn’t expect we could catch that at all.

After filming the crowd walking toward us for some time, I tried to look for people from the crowd for some streeters (i.e. 街頭訪問). I was specifically looking for young girls, because for a topic like abortion, it is very important to include voices from women (that’s what I learned after posting my amateur videos on YouTube, commenters would think I must be male, and would accuse me of not including any women speaking on stage in my video). With little effort, I got two young girls to agree to do a quick interview. All went well. Patrick told me after the interview that a pro-choice protester deliberately tried to ruin some shots by holding a sign in the background, but most of it should still be ok. We filmed one other short interview of Kevin’s friend. And then we met Paul. Paul helped us grab Peter Sinn’s son for interview. I love his direct, no-nonsense answer. And I am really impressed that this year is his 4th time of joining March for Life, consider how young he is!

After the march, we went back to Parliament Hill, where members of Silent No More Awareness Campaign went on stage to talk about their healing journey from abortion. We filmed some speeches. And then the main camera went to film interviews of the Chinese participants. Many people were willing to be interviewed, it was quite a line-up. What caught my interest was when Jeannie (from the pro-life group in CMC parish) told me one lady in the group was assigned to do Family Planning stuff when she was in China. I went to talk to her at once. She had seen and performed abortions herself when she was in China. When she came to Canada, she became a Catholic. And she said she learned a lot from Theology of the Body. What a witness! A first-person witness for one-child policy, what more could I ask for?!

After the interviews, Paul suggested Patrick and I to warm up a bit. It was a pretty cold day. So we went to a place nearby to get some hot drinks. What surprised me was that… when we got back to Parliament Hill, the crew was setting up, ready to interview Angelina Steenstra!  I couldn’t help but thank God at once. I thanked Him for how things happened without my presence. I totally got my interviewee for free! Even though it was raining a little (Paul had to hold the umbrella for Angelina the whole time), Angelina gave a complete account of her journey, after I asked one single question (see, it didn’t even matter what I asked! :P). It was a very moving account. I am not a hugger, but I gave her a hug first thing when she finished talking.

We went to eat at Tim Hortons after Angelina’s interview. And before heading back to TO, Paul, Patrick and I went to film shots of the Human Rights Monument. What a fruitful filming trip 🙂

The Website

A big part of the campaign was to put together a website. Paul got in touch with Kwan Ho (also from the pro-life group in CMC parish) to help with that. (He was the originator who asked about covering March for Life.) He was very resourceful and looked up a whole pile of articles, many of them from academic journals which I had no access to. He put together a summary of information. We planned for the website to launch in mid-July, assuming the vote of Motion 312 would take place in Fall. And then on May 16, I found out from Twitter that the second hour of debate would most likely be held on Jun 7, and the vote would take place the week after.

The news made me all 方寸大亂. Would there still be enough time to launch a website before June? On May 17, I got an email from upper management saying that all teams were required to work on the Victoria Day long weekend. Perfect timing eh? Our manager then said our team would have to come in to work in the office for one day, to honor that company-wide commitment. When my team lead discussed with me which day I preferred to come in to work, I said Saturday (coz I still wanted to go to church on Sunday). Then my team lead just told me the majority of the team preferred to come in to work on Sunday, knowing I am a Catholic (and not knowing there is evening mass that I could go to on Saturday :P), he said that I could work from home (since there wouldn’t be anyone in office even if I got there) on Saturday. Bingo! This is how I got on VPN all day Saturday and worked on the website the entire long weekend 🙂

The original plan was to do a bilingual website. But due to the lack of time, the site was only in Chinese.

On Jun 2 6:14am, a mass email was sent out by FLL core team to announce the launch of life.fll.cc

(The vote ended up happened in September because Stephen Woodworth postponed it due to his mother’s illness. His mother ended up passed away in August.)

My Jaws Dropped

After the website was launched, I had to get back to the big question. What should the TV episode cover?

Even though we filmed a pile of stuff from March for Life, most of it were b-rolls (non-interview shots that could be used for inserts). I dug out other footage that were filmed last year. There were short interviews filmed at Life Chain (prayerful, silent protest at an intersection). We filmed the entire Pro-Life Dinner at CMC last year. But for sure all these combined wouldn’t make one 24-min episode.

On Jun 24, I received an email which says that Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, would deliver a talk at CMCC for the cancer support group on Jul 28. A light bulb came up in my head, should he be an interviewee? I looked up some of the interviews he did in the past. He is certainly articulate and he answered straight to the point. The only thing left was that I wouldn’t be available to do the interview on Jul 28. I contacted Jeannie (who is also part of the cancer support group) and Alex accepted the invitation very quickly. And Amy (a good friend of mine, also a staff with FLL TV production currently on mat leave) was available to do the interview for me.

Having an interviewee to talk about euthanasia now, I thought I could really start thinking about the content of the episode.

I started researching more on Alex to prepare for drafting the interview questions. In one of his articles, he wrote about a disturbing TV program that Global TV aired in March. The program interviewed a mother of two severely disabled adult children. They currently live in a long-term care facility. The mother indicated that she would rather have them euthanized, because she was sure that her children wouldn’t want to live like that. The program also interviewed Robert Latimer, who went to jail for killing his sick daughter with carbon monoxide. Alex mentioned in his article that the Nazis opened the door to euthanasia by first euthanizing disabled, mentally challenged people. One of the very first euthanasia was conducted after the father of a severely disabled child wrote to Hitler to request to have his son euthanized.

My mind was still blank, how should I tie unrelated things (March for Life, abortion and euthanasia) together?

In my prayer during morning drive one day, I got an idea, I should go ahead to read Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life) in its entirety – the encyclical written by JPII on the dignity of human life. I think this is the first time for me to really read an encyclical with effort. And I love JPII all the more after reading it.

When I had written half of the outline, I said to Paul one day: it would be nice if we could have a lawyer as an interviewee, since we would talk about abortion laws. Paul said there might be a (Chinese) lawyer that he could ask.

On Jul 21, Paul sent out an email saying Peter Chen (who coordinated the Motion 312 effort for Chinese Catholics) could connect to Stephen Woodworth, he would meet up with some people in TO on Jul 28. That would be a good opportunity to interview him.

My jaws dropped when I read that email. Oh my goodness, what more could I ask for? Stephen Woodworth is the lawyer I need! And he is the one who introduced Motion 312. All the pieces of the episode were now in place. Once again, without ANY effort from my part, another interviewee fell from the heaven for me 😀 And guess what, some of the prep work that I did before March for Life filming and for the website would now come in handy. I’ve already done my homework!

Interestingly, both Alex’s and Stephen’s interviews would have to take place on Jul 28. I couldn’t physically be there to conduct the interviews myself. How nice it would be if I could interview Stephen in-person. But that’s ok.

Let the Post-Production Begin

After getting all footage at the end of July, I worked non-stop. By now, I’ve read so much on the subject. I could throw out fact after fact to make my points. The interviewees all gave really good answers. I just need to pick out the best. It’s just the voiceovers that need to be written. Due to the heavy historical content that I would like to include, it means the voiceovers would get really long. It would mean a whole lot of fun during editing. But that’s ok.

On Aug 14 at around midnight, both Bonny (FLL core team & TV team member, Paul’s wife) and Paul have reviewed my first draft. Paul sat down with me to go through his thoughts. He told me a number of things that need to be addressed. One big problem was the tone throughout the entire episode. My voiceovers sounded so strong. Since the interviewees already gave strong answers, if the voiceovers also used such a strong tone, some viewers might be turned off and stopped watching the program altogether. And then there were passages that I copied straight from the encyclical into voiceovers. Those sounded all odd because they were translated, and the viewers wouldn’t understand the content (because it’s originally meant for Catholics). There were many changes to be made. It wouldn’t be a quick fix. It was clear the air date needs to push back for one week in order for me to fix it to an acceptable quality. I was a bit caught by surprise when I heard this feedback. I was so confident with my work. I was a bit mad at first but I could see the issues when I worked on it again the next day. I spent another few days to fix the script. On Aug 21 midnight, the script was finally approved.

The next thing was to get voiceovers recorded. I already had a VO talent in mind: Charles. He has a 雄厚 voice which makes things sound convincing. On the day of VO recording, I worked from home in the morning. Before heading to FLL office, I went to borrow some books. You might wonder why I wanted to borrow books when the script was already written. To a TV producer, books are lifesavers. I ended up borrowing 9 books from 3 libraries. With the books, I could get shots of book covers and inside pages. These shots were super useful.

After the VOs were recorded, the last stage of the post-production began: fill in all the visuals. This episode is heavy on voiceovers. Approx 13 mins of the episode are voiceovers, I had to find things to fill up all this time. What made things more difficult was the kind of pictures that I need were NOT pleasant at all. I had to look for pictures of the holocaust and the Nazis. I had to look for pictures related to abortion. When you search for abortion in Google Images, many pictures that show up are dismembered fetus. So I had to sort through many scary pictures in order to find pictures that could convey the right message but not too bloody/scary. At some point of the editing process, I told Bonny and Paul that I felt like I was working on a 900-page PowerPoint. I believe the episode used over 100 images. On Sep 7 midnight, the visuals were all filled in. I could finally hand it over for final audio mixing/touch-up before broadcast.

Afterthoughts

  1. Divine Help: This is the first project that made me really aware of divine help. I said yes to agree to take on this project. The more I worked on it, the more I became aware that I was actually fighting a battle. When I asked for help and inspirations, God provided the weapons for me to continue with the fight. When things went out of my control, He is in control. Without His help, nothing could be done.
  2. God’s Time: Many years ago, Maria (a good friend of mine) and I tried to put together a pro-life website for CMC’s pro-life group. We tried to cover many topics all at once. We did research. We were halfway into implementation. And then the project 爛尾 because we ran into issues with customizing the content management system. I felt pretty bad about it. I certainly let people down. This time around, the resources were all there for me. Web-hosting is free. I had someone who helped me with research. And it’s so much easier to put together a website with WordPress in 2012. I feel like this is God giving me a chance to complete a project that was abandoned. And this time around, the website got to serve in the Motion 312 campaign. God’s timing is the best.
  3. Putting My Fire to Good Use: People who know me probably know of my 火爆 character. Ever since I became aware of the evil of abortion, I had tried to commit myself to help in the cause. As I was doing research for the episode, I came across so much evil things: how the Nazis lured midwives and doctors to register disabled infants with monetary reward, how Dr. Henry Morgentaler performed abortion for a TV program to air on Mother’s Day etc etc. My entire self was burning as I read pages after pages of horrendous crimes committed against humanity, and I told myself that I must expose this evil for the world to see. I found the channel for my fire to serve constructive purposes.
  4. Putting My Loud Voice to Good Use: During the summer, ever since I came across the Motion 312 postcards, I kept thinking how I could utilize them. And then I realized maybe I could talk about Motion 312 in GT (ECCCLC, Eastern Canada Chinese Catholic Living Camp), and then I could give out postcards to engage the youths to contact their MPs. I contacted the GT committee and they accepted my offer. Even though it was tough to prepare for the GT presentation and work on the episode at the same time, I was so glad to be able to share with the youth. I am really thankful for this opportunity because my own “pro-life conversion” was a result of me attending a talk in 2001.  After I gave my presentation, Paul Tam (FLL core team member & radio team coordinator) came telling me that my voice is really suitable for “lobbying” and it’s full of passion. (Finally I can consider my loud voice a gift – usually people would complain I talk too loud.)
  5. God is Kind: After all the hard work, on the Sept 15 weekend (when the episode went on air), I got a little reward in the form of a fortune cookie message. 😛

All Pictures

Free Will

Lately, the theme of “free will” occurred to me quite a bit.

I went to Treasures of the Church relics exposition twice. The priest gave the exact same talk, but I still had tears in my eyes the second time I listened to him telling the story of St. Maria Goretti. The priest emphasized that she did not have to forgive the man who tried to violate her. No one would blame her if she chose not to forgive. Her choice to forgive her offender gave the story a surprising happy ending that nobody could have predicted. All that was made possible only because she CHOSE to be a saint.

We don’t tend to think much about our gift of free will. Study indicates that only 43% of all that we do are the result of conscious choices, the rest we just do out of habits. What a waste?! We would worry about what if one day we lose our intellectual ability (say if we get Alzeimer’s). But when we actually have the ability to make conscious decisions, we just let our habits (or impulse) dominate.

When atheists talk about how Christianity doesn’t make sense, one common point they tend to bring up is how unreasonable it is for God to have Adam and Eve decide whether to be obedient or not. God told them that they were free to consume fruits from any tree in the Garden of Eden, except those from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why would an omnipotent God subject ignorant humans to this kind of choice? If it’s such big a deal, why didn’t God prevent “the fall” altogether?

The answer is that nothing else matters unless we have free will. God could have created us without free will, and we would just roam around and “do good” because we wouldn’t be able to choose anything else. A “yes” is only meaningful when we are presented with the opportunity to choose “no”. If all these make sense, it just follows that we have to be responsible for what we’ve chosen?

The one thing that triggered me to write this post is actually this man’s story. When one is homosexual and Christian at the same time, what is “the sane thing” to do? In case you are not clear about it, Christianity DOES NOT regard homosexuals as sinners. Having a same-sex attraction is NOT a sin, it’s the homosexual act that the faith regards as problematic. A homosexual can be a Christian in good standing so long as he/she does not engage in the act. This obviously sounds crazy to mainstream homosexuals. How could one be healthy and genuinely happy this way? Please read Josh Weed and Lolly Shea’s story, it’s the most beautiful love story I’ve encountered.

We will always face with choices, big or small. Some choices will lead to more blessings than others, will we sacrifice the apparent benefits to pursue the path that would ultimately lead to a better good?

「義」字新解

「義」字新解           關傑棠神父

去元朗堂區講避靜,午飯時跟一位叔父閒談,他說:「神父,你知道嗎?中國人講的『義』字跟天主教的道理很配合。『義』字由羊由我組成,意即我是羊。羊一向給人的印象是與世無爭,隨時肯犧牲自己。我們教會指出耶穌乃『除免世罪的天主羔羊』,箇中道理簡直不謀而合。」北方俚語說容易給人家佔便宜的是「羊牯」,與廣東話說「老襯」同義。我們教友通常做事不會斤斤計較,吃虧也不在乎,只希望大家能夠和平共處,快快樂樂。這無他,我們跟隨的師傅穌哥是全人類中最大的「羊牯」,真正「除免世罪的天主羔羊」,祂用自己的血和生命去成全別人。

福音有個大家熟識的故事,披露了主耶穌的終極身份,證明了祂是最有義氣的人。

耶穌出道,三年傳教,可算威風八面,好事做盡。祂用五餅二魚奇蹟飽飫五千群眾;祂一作聲,大自然臣服,風浪平息;祂獨具惠眼,人未提出要求,已經主動關愛,救急扶危,令病人痊癒,死人復活;祂洞悉人心,沙地寫字,嚇跑指控群眾,解罪婦免陷殺身之禍;祂不畏強權,直斥當時教會領導人的不是;祂更為了天父聖殿的神聖莊嚴,激發義怒,揮鞭驅散商販……

以上種種行為模式,都給人一個非常正面的印象。祂既擁有超人神力,又具慈悲心腸,更加是正義之士,根本沒有人可以傷害祂,連動祂一根毛髮也不能。就在這個常理邏輯思維下,貪錢的猶達斯想出一條賺錢「絕橋」。既然猶太人的司祭長、經師和長老有意謀害耶穌,何不將計就計,做個「二五仔」,把師傅交出,換取豐厚酬報——三十塊銀錢。反正耶穌定有能力自行脫身,比今天偉大的魔術師——大衛高柏飛更「勁」!可惜這個如意算盤打錯了,耶穌拒做人民英雄,反而演活了「除免世罪的天主羔羊」角色!

這是我們信仰生活的挑戰和考驗,信一個強而有力、有求必應的神容易;追隨那個死在苦架,雖則有時頗關社,又有正義感,但到頭來仍是要我們無條件寬恕仇人的基督,那難度就太大了。真不明白祂為何有強人不做,倒要做隻「除免世罪的天主羔羊」?喜歡與否,這是信仰現實。你要跟隨基督,唯有與祂一起走那條不歸路、吃虧路,明明給人「搵笨」的「老襯」路。事實上基督清楚告訴我們,要剷除世間的罪惡與仇恨,除了愛和寬恕,別無他途,因為戰爭和暴力只會給人類帶來更大的痛苦。黑道朋友標榜義氣,原來耶穌比他們更前衛。義者,我是羊也!祂改變了我們的思維和命運。

愛什麼?

《盛女愛作戰》成了熱門話題,引來很多批評。我本來對這種用標籤來命名的節目十分反感,但為了加入討論及了解時下男女的思想,我滿懷戒心的看完了十集。

愈來愈多想戀愛、結婚的女性,面對香港男多女少的現實,在不情願的情況下持續單身。節目的原意是誠邀這種女士,希望她們能在專業人士的協助下,成功覓得戀人。

那些女士把自己隱密的心事搬上螢幕,讓全香港(及海外所有懂中文)的觀眾都能加入批評,本來在你情我願的情況下,沒有什麼必要替她們不值,但看到她們為了找尋戀愛對象,肉隨砧板上,任由「專家」多番尖酸狠評,才獲贈幾項「忠告」,實在令我氣憤。

專家不斷向女士「進諫」,要得男士垂青,必要作出改變。在他們眼中,改變圍繞著外貌、儀態。改變是把她們變得迎合擇偶市場中,普遍男性所接受的類型。

我有跟朋友就此點討論過,很多女性不屑為討好異性而改變自己,但在一段認真而長久的感情中,為了遷就對方,或多或少要作出犧牲,這正正就是婚姻為何是一種聖召。人不再只為自己而活,藉著婚姻,人學會死於自我,而成就一個家庭。

在我眼中,那些專家不是錯在叫女士們改變,而是錯在要她們改些什麼。

天主創造人,不是在工廠流水式作業,全部倒模一樣。祂給予不同人獨特的個性和特質,讓我們為這世界添上不同姿采。但我們除了這獨特性之外,亦有缺點。我們傾向把缺點和任性跟天主賜的特質混淆,加上人都對自己較為寬容,很容易把屬於自己的所有,不論好的壞的,全盤視為個性的一部分。若我們要成長(繼而成聖),我們便要跨越,儘量把缺點丟掉。

早前我讀過一篇《那些年》的影評,我非常認同作者的看法,他形容那是「一套關於拒絕成長和不用成長的電影。… 沈佳宜受不了柯騰的幼稚與他分手,但在婚宴上卻情深款款地勉勵柯騰要「一路幼稚下去」。… 柯騰之所以是柯騰,全因為他的幼稚;幼稚根本就是他的「defining quality」。沈佳宜要柯騰「一路幼稚下去」,代表對他整個人全盤、無條件的接受,這成為了女方對男方的(某種)愛的宣言,以及男方對自己的終生承諾。德籍猶太裔心理學家佛洛姆(Erich Fromm)在《愛的藝術》(The Art of Loving)中指出,愛是唯一的成長之路,因為只有愛上其他人,我們才會走出自戀的迷宮。《那些年》提供的是另類的愛的教育,它告訴我們,真正懂得愛,就是要讓你真正愛的人一路幼稚下去。」

婚姻是聖召,最終希望對方和自己都能成聖。即使為非基督徒來說,兩個人走在一起的理想結果,應該是兩人都比之前成熟、懂得包容、學會忍耐等等。純為追求自我的滿足而談戀愛,只是兩人一起各有各自戀,若最終走到結婚這一步,婚姻肯定不會幸福。

《盛女愛作戰》的另一個問題是把愈來愈多女性單身的現象全歸咎於女性身上。節目中的專家和男性多數處於上風,手指指訴說參加者為何「唔掂」。專家亦多次勸女士不要天真,因為他們比任何人都清楚男女交往的現實。現實是男士有權選擇任何年紀的女性,年紀小一倍也不成問題,而女的就要有自知之明,三十九歲就不要再妄想能跟自己同齡的男性一起。現實是女性都是少說話好,話太多男性就覺得難應付。我承認他們說的大概都是事實,但這現實是否一定要繼續下去?這是應該持續下去的嗎?

我沒資格說些什麼,我不過跟很多天真的「盛女」一樣,不設實際。我不知最終會怎樣,不管愛情有沒有著落,我只信我天上的父親會照顧我。

Extended reading:

How I Fell Out of My Minivan and into My Identity

林沛理:性‧純情‧青春(談電影《那些年》)