posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 14th, 2018

Credo – uskon siihen, että: Taivas ja Maa on täynnä Jumalan kirkkautta. Hänen luomakuntansa avautuu kuin sateenkaaren värit kirkkaasta valosta. Rauhan liiton merkki on monivärinen. – Mekin kaikki saamme osallistua Jumalan ikuiseen liittoon. Kun syömme yhdessä, leipä ja viini tulevat meille lihaksi ja vereksi. Näin osallistumme Kristuksen seurakuntaan. Hoosianna! – Pyhä Henki liikkuu meissä, kun puhumme ja ymmärrämme toistemme kieliä. Näin osallistumme taivaan valtakuntaan.

Credo – I believe: Heaven and Earth are full of the glory of God. God’s creation opens up like the colours of the rainbow coming out of the bright light. The sign of the covenant of peace is multicoloured. – We too can participate in the eternal covenant of God. When we eat together, the bread and the wine become for us flesh and blood. This is how we become part of the fellowship of Christ. Hosanna! – Holy Spirit moves within us when we speak in tongues … when we understand each other’s languages. This is how we get to the realm of heaven.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Finland, Heresy | on December 14th, 2018 | Permanent Link to “Credo” | No Comments »

Jaana Hallamaa

posted by Kaihsu Tai on June 18th, 2017

Ei kukaan saa yksin mitään aikaan. Vain paha on yleensä nopeaa, ja silloin se vaikuttaa välittömään reagointiin, välittömään muutokseen. Hyvähän on yleensä hidasta, koska hyvä rakentaa jotakin perustaa. Hyvä on hyvää vain, jos se on toisen käytössä, jos se on sellaista, mitä toinen voi käyttää. Hyvä antaa asioita toisen käyttöön, jolloin sen toteutuminen on kiinni myös siitä, mitä se toinen tekee.

Jaana Hallamaa haastattelussa Etsijä-lehdessä 1/2017.

Loosely translated:

Nobody gets anything done just by themselves. Usually, only Evil goes quickly, and invites immediate responses – knee-jerk reactions. In contrast, the Good is often slow, because it builds something radical. The Good is only good, if it is such that the Other can use – at the service of someone else. The Good gives for someone else to use, and gets things done taking into account what the Other is doing.

Jaana Hallamaa in an interview in the journal Etsijä 1/2017.

I refer you also to the theory of the Good by Robert Merrihew Adams; and to Henri Nouwen who talked about the spectacular Death which goes “boom” (e.g. in The Road to Peace edited by John Dear).

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Finland | on June 18th, 2017 | Permanent Link to “Jaana Hallamaa” | Comments Off on Jaana Hallamaa

Bob Adams: A Theory of Virtue

posted by Kaihsu Tai on April 11th, 2013

There is no liberty that is more important to liberalism than the freedom to form, embrace, criticize, reject, and revise theories of every sort, especially political theories. For this reason it is misguided to suppose the liberal defense of civil liberties is well served by drawing a perimeter of privacy around “comprehensive moral views,” about which disagreement is expected, leaving theories of justice in the public realm, on the other side of the perimeter. It must be expected that in a liberal society political theories, like other moral, religious, and philosophical theories, not only may but will be objects of persistent disagreement. The consensus that a liberal political system certainly needs for its good order will have to be much less theoretical, and perhaps less tidy, than many have supposed. It will involve, most obviously, an agreement on a set of laws, especially constitutional laws, and a sharing of certain customs and habits of political behavior.

Fortunately, such agreement is possible and adequate. Those who have enjoyed the benefits of civil liberties, and the non-violent political participation made possible by democracy, generally recognize the advantages of the requisite agreed arrangements. And, in fact, it is at least as true of any society as it is of a human individual that its integration cannot be the integration of a theory. Even in a society ostensibly governed by an official ideology, most people are likely not to understand the ideology very well; and among those who understand it better, there will probably be implicit if not explicit differences in interpretation. There will also surely be interests and pressures within the society that are by no means in harmony with the ideology.

Robert Merrihew Adams, A Theory of Virtue, ISBN 0-19-920751-8, pages 225 to 226.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Catechism | on April 11th, 2013 | Permanent Link to “Bob Adams: A Theory of Virtue” | Comments Off on Bob Adams: A Theory of Virtue

The Grand Harmony

posted by Kaihsu Tai on September 12th, 2012

By chance, a copy of Lee Teng-hui’s The Road to Democracy: Taiwan’s Pursuit of Identity (1999; ISBN 4569606512) came into my possession. In the book, a great deal is made of the former president’s being a Christian. From the Afterword:

… I was able to embrace Christianity because it allowed me to deal with the inner contradictions I had previously struggled in vain to resolve. The moment that is addressed by Christianity is what one might call “reversal of the order of the self and the other.” The most important aspect of this teaching is embracing the God within each of us. By recognizing the inner spirit of God that forgives others through profound love, our tendency to self-centeredness dissipates, and the spirit of love and care to others flourishes.

While I can agree with him on this, I disagree with him on another point. As Lee’s 1996 electoral rival Peng Ming-min put it: Those who risked their lives to cross the Formosa Strait from the continent in earlier centuries … did not do it to extend the territory of China, but to find a new way of life.

Regardless of these disputes, this is really an excuse to post the following ancient Chinese socialist classic, with which Sun Yat-sen and the gentlemen mentioned above could perhaps all agree. It is a text which many of my schoolmates would know by heart. From the Book of Rites at the chapter on ceremonial usages, English translation by James Legge:


When the Grand course was pursued, a public and common spirit ruled all under the sky; they chose men of talents, virtue, and ability; their words were sincere, and what they cultivated was harmony. Thus men did not love their parents only, nor treat as children only their own sons. A competent provision was secured for the aged till their death, employment for the able-bodied, and the means of growing up to the young. They showed kindness and compassion to widows, orphans, childless men, and those who were disabled by disease, so that they were all sufficiently maintained. Males had their proper work, and females had their homes. (They accumulated) articles (of value), disliking that they should be thrown away upon the ground, but not wishing to keep them for their own gratification. (They laboured) with their strength, disliking that it should not be exerted, but not exerting it (only) with a view to their own advantage. In this way (selfish) schemings were repressed and found no development. Robbers, filchers, and rebellious traitors did not show themselves, and hence the outer doors remained open, and were not shut. This was (the period of) what we call the Grand Union.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Catechism, China, Hagiography | on September 12th, 2012 | Permanent Link to “The Grand Harmony” | Comments Off on The Grand Harmony

Reflection on the Accra Confession

posted by Kaihsu Tai on April 25th, 2010

For a service at Saint Columba’s Church, 2010-04-25.

Cross at NatWest, Easter

Last time I spoke from this lectern, I started by talking about a bank branch a few metres down High Street. I am going to talk about banks again. A nationalized bank at that. Seventy percent of the Royal Bank of Scotland is owned by Her Majesty’s Treasury … well, the better name is the taxpayers’ Treasury, our Treasury. In turn, RBS owns the NatWest bank in England; we have a branch down the road. Before I get too much into the banks, let me take a detour, and talk about oil. I promise to come back to banks … ’cause that seems to be where the action’s at, these days.

Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Creative Resistance, Easter, Environment, Oxford, Pentecost | on April 25th, 2010 | Permanent Link to “Reflection on the Accra Confession” | Comments Off on Reflection on the Accra Confession

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

posted by Kaihsu Tai on February 17th, 2010

Ash Wednesday sermon at the chapel of Mansfield College, Oxford, based on two earlier blog posts: ‘What keeps me awake at night’ and ‘Brecht’s Galileo, or, Against Macho Science’.

Luke 15:11–32 (Prodigal Son).

May I speak in the name of God: Creator, Christ, and Comforter. Amen.

A few years ago, I went to the National Theatre in London, to see Bertolt Brecht’s play The Life of Galileo, in a version by David Hare. With 20th-century hindsight, the German playwright Brecht retold the life-story of the 17th-century scientist Galileo Galilei. Today, on this Ash Wednesday, I want to talk about the nature and motivation of scientific pursuit: this play happens to provide some hooks for my thinking. So, at the risk of substituting a theatre review in the place of a sermon, here I go.

If you recall, Galileo championed the theory of Copernicus that the Earth orbits the Sun. The Church forced him to recant this view. The famous British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says, ‘Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science.’ Is this modern science a good thing in the round? Was the Church right to slow Galileo down after all? Galileo’s 17th-century contemporaries did not have the benefit of hindsight and retrospection: They were riding the wave of the Renaissance, pregnant with the prospect of rationalism’s triumph in the 19th and 20th centuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Religious figures address the European Parliament

posted by Kaihsu Tai on December 7th, 2008

I mentioned in these pages that the “green” Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, addressed the European Parliament earlier this year. This was as part of a series during the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The other speakers were His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Badr El Din El Hassoun, Grand Mufti of Syria; Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; and most recently His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Thanks to the intervention by the Liberals and the Greens, Dr Asma Jahangir, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, were also invited to speak. (Sophia in ’t Veld: “I would like to know why the Conference of Presidents has chosen to interpret intercultural dialogue exclusively as an interreligious monologue and whether it feels a part-session is an appropriate platform for religious messages.” and Sarah Ludford: “it seems that you [the President(s)] have made the Grand Mufti comparable to the Pope and the UK Chief Rabbi as a European representative of his particular religion.”)

Here are some highlights from each the speakers, with links to their texts for the gentle readers’ perusal over Christmastime: Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, China, Christmas, Green Party, Heresy, New Left Review, Orthodoxy, The Papacy | on December 7th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “Religious figures address the European Parliament” | Comments Off on Religious figures address the European Parliament

Homily on the parable of the talents

posted by Kaihsu Tai on November 16th, 2008

Matthew 25:14–30 (≈ Luke 19:12–27)

I walk down High Street and I see a sign: ‘Good news! Your debts paid – free of charge.’ If I see it in a bank window, I might well think of alerting the Financial Services Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority. But if it says ‘Jesus pays for my debt, and yours too! Come in for the Good News!’ in a church window like ours, I might not think twice. Well, maybe it is time to think twice! Maybe such statements need to be considered not just metaphorically, but literally. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bible, with fuzzy edges

posted by Kaihsu Tai on November 10th, 2008

The United Reformed Church has a three-year programme called Vision4Life: for this coming year, the first year, we will be looking at the Bible in the Church’s life. It made me try to articulate how I think of the Bible.

It was Mike Benedetti who got me interested in the Apocrypha. I remember that summer nearly ten years ago, sitting in a hotel room in Iqaluit, Nunavut, tired from hiking, but discussing Bel and the Dragon (and, incidentally, also Thomas Aquinas) with some enthusiasm. Read the rest of this entry »

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Catechism, Heresy | on November 10th, 2008 | Permanent Link to “The Bible, with fuzzy edges” | 3 Comments »

Kavalan proverbs

posted by Kaihsu Tai on November 16th, 2007

My grandmother’s grandmother was said to be a Kavalan. Recently, a dictionary of the Kavalan language appeared (ISBN 978-986-00-6993-8). On pages 52 and 53, there are some proverbs (narrated by Ulaw Pan, reinterpreted by Abas, and recorded by Paul Li):

kua, aimu qa-rimk =ka haw!
sikawma=pa=iku timaimu.
qnaRu zin-na sikawman-ku timaimu: assi =ka trapus haw.
snaquni zin-na 'lak si, mai =ita q<um>nut.
nia-niana zin-na -ta nani na 'lak si, mai =ita paq-sukaw tu anem.
snaquni zin-na =ita na 'lak si, qa-nngi-an -ta anem -ta haw.
m-ati =ita sni-sni, mai =ita s<m>ap-sapang haw.
mangay =imu snaquni haw.
paqa-qa-nngi =ita m-atiw ta 'lak-an haw.

Alright, you do keep quiet, please!
I shall talk to you.
Because I shall talk to you[:] do not forget about the old teachings.
No matter what other people do to us, let’s not get angry.
No matter what other people say to us, do not feel sad.
No matter how other people behave to us, we should be nice to them in our heart.
Wherever we go, we should not be mischievous but behave ourselves.
You should watch out [for] what might happen.
We should be careful when we go to other people’s place.

The Kavalan people were evangelized by Saint George Leslie Mackay.

posted by Kaihsu Tai in Books, Catechism, Hagiography | on November 16th, 2007 | Permanent Link to “Kavalan proverbs” | 3 Comments »