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Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Theology Through My Ages

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm

In the ’80s while a student at Trinity Theological College, I enjoyed the study of Asian Theology. While not as “beefed up” as now, I enjoyed the stirrings that came from looking at Christianity through Asian eyes and thinking about what I could, myself, birth in terms of a Singaporean Christian woman’s expression of “theology”. We didn’t have that many books to read (that’s why my earlier comment about “not as beefed up as now”). Rev Dr David Wu was the lecturer who taught my class “Asian Theology.” There was also Rev Dr John Tilak, an Indian Lutheran Theology lecturer.

In the ’90s, I took a class with Dr Theodore Walker at Perkins School of Theology, SMU. There I was introduced to Liberation Theology. Sure I knew of the “other” theologies e.g. Feminist, etc, but Liberation Theology was so engaging and so soul-stirring for someone from very controlled-Singapore. Archbishop Oscar Romero became my hero. Dr Walker also opened my eyes to Process Theology. I heard about Whitehead for the very first time. Perkins was also the place I became aware of Contextual(ized) Theology under the tutelage of Rev Dr Edward Poitras. It was also at Perkins that I read more of H. Richard Niebuhr and some Reinhold Niebuhr. It was also where I read more women theologians like Catherine Keller who would later become one of my professors at Drew Theological School, Drew University.

Then in 2000, my husband embarked on his PhD studies in Liturgical Studies (Liturgical Theology). So I was exposed to the theologies taught at Drew. But what really captured me in the 2000s was the Constructive and Process Theology of Catherine Keller and the Liturgical Theology of Heather M Elkins. Feminist Theology yes but also Womanist/Latina and Queer Theology thanks to Leticia Guardiola-Sáenz in NT Exegesis class. Wesley Ariarajah helped me engage Ecumenical Theologies. These teachers at Drew helped me in their unique ways to push my own boundaries I had placed in my own mind and also in my own soul.

Now in the 2010s, there is only me. No teachers except through the written word. No classroom, no classmates to discuss and stretch our thinking. What is the theology that engages me now? What is the love I have nurtured over the years, the love of the study of Christian theologies? Or has “theology” become my god/idol and the God of my studies become nothing but a mere subject of observation and study?

Today as I sat and listened to the Houston Brass Band and the music aroused the hibernating soul within, I realised that for too long I had made my identity too closely linked to the theologies I supposedly knew and enjoyed. I sat there and the music reminded me that I am more than the theologies I have studied and sought to have a handle on.

I am to be engaged by the God the theologians talked about after having had some revelation of some aspect of Him/Her/It, and not try to engage someone else’s engagement of God.

My theology shall be the one that God constructs in my life, it will be feminist/womanist because I am, it will be liberative because God is, it will be Singaporean-Foochow-Peranakan because I am, it will be the revelation of God encountering me and me responding humanly.

I am what I am and am becoming and will be and have been…My theology will be my study of the nature of God in my life and the religious belief that arises from that.

Yeah!

Loving God … for all the wrong reasons

In Uncategorized on June 9, 2011 at 11:27 pm

There are many reasons to love God.  But it seems for me, they’ve all been for the wrong reasons.

  1. Lord Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
    For Thee all the pleasures of sin I resign;
    My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou,
    If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ’tis now.
  2. I love Thee, because Thou hast first loved me,
    And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
    I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
    If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ’tis now.
  3. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
    And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
    And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
    If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ’tis now.
  4. In ages eternal of endless delight
    I’ll ever adore Thee in glory so bright;
    I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
    If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ’tis now.

Wrong for me because somewhere deep down inside of me I believed and still believe (wrongly) that I was pleasing God by doing these things.  That all these things were what would make me more acceptable to God, more lovable, more perfect, more than others…I had to win…even at having God love me back.

  1. The love of God is greater far
    Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
    It goes beyond the highest star,
    And reaches to the lowest hell;
    The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
    God gave His Son to win;
    His erring child He reconciled,
    And pardoned from his sin.

    • Refrain:
      Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
      How measureless and strong!
      It shall forevermore endure—
      The saints’ and angels’ song.
  2. When hoary time shall pass away,
    And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
    When men who here refuse to pray,
    On rocks and hills and mountains call,
    God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
    All measureless and strong;
    Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.
  3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade;
    To write the love of God above
    Would drain the ocean dry;
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.

(Verse 3 was penciled on the wall of a narrow room in an insane asylum by a man said to have been demented. The profound lines were discovered when they laid him in his coffin.)
Frederick M. Lehman, 1917
v. 3 by Rabbi Mayer, 1096
v. 3 alt. by Anonymous/Unknown

There is nothing I can do except be still in the presence of God.  It is in being loved by God that I am filled up to go out and do for  my neighbours as I do for myself – love me.
God does not require me to do or be anything or anyone.
Just receive and lay hold of that which God has already given to me.
Why then this propensity towards having to do or be in order to be more lovable or acceptable to God?
A deep lack of self-acceptance for who I am in God’s eyes I think; because I keep getting my cues from what I see and saw in the eyes of those significant people in my life.
Everything I am is a gift from God.  Accept this truth and I will be free.
(The “How-to” is the journey to embark on)