Saturday, June 30, 2007

Place of worship – yours or mine?

When I was a kid I used to join my Catholic friends in a church next to our school.  They asked me why I did that.  I said I wanted to learn about their religion because they gave me an impression that it's better than mine.  No, I didn’t say that actually.  I remember vaguely that was what went on in my mind, but I couldn’t articulate it that eloquently at that age.  I was in Form One.  I was thirteen.  I was just curious and I loved singing along with everybody those soothing hymns that tell about love, goodness, charity and bliss in heaven.  And that we’re all sinners hoping to get saved.

Then there were those religious lessons we had with those Brothers in their long robes.  They told good stories.  At least during those lessons we’d learned about why they stuck that guy on that cross.  We had a text book that told about his life, how he was born, and how and why he died.  We were also told where we’d go after we’d died if we’re good and that awful place we’d have to go to if we’re bad.  I wasn’t particularly worried about that though.  We’re still young and we’d a long, long way to go.  We’d be having more years through this living hell, how can we worry about the one after that.  That’s what I thought then.

Our parents never told us much about why we burn all those incense and papers.  If we wanted to learn anything about our own religion we had to go find books or join the Buddhist association.  Alas, those lessons and talks they gave were conducted mostly in Mandarin.  All the knowledge I had about Buddha was from the history books.  And the doctrines I found in those books they left out on the shelves in temples weren’t of much help to me either.  After I read the first few pages I got more confused than ever.  Maybe they didn’t translate them properly enough from the original Pali language.

Anyway, I didn't convert to Christianity, not because they're not better, but because I found that they're preaching the same basic principles and worshipping someone greater than themselves by singing songs and burning candles.  We're doing that too, only our tunes and lyrics are different.  We also burned candles.  We included incense, gold or silver-coated papers.  And I probably would have conflicts with my parents because we’d have ended up practicing different forms of worship.  Besides, we had to work seven days a week.  They can’t do any work on Sundays.  Try telling that to my Pa...

Our Rukunegara requires us to believe in God.  It doesn't say which, but I think as long as it is God it's acceptable.  Basically, we’re told, nobody can force anyone to follow any religion that he doesn't want to.  That was stated very clearly in our Federal Constitution.  But then






 I had to leave that space blank.  It’s supposed to be for my ranting about freedom of religion in this country.  But we cannot say anything about it because our Prime Minister said it’s a sensitive subject and discussing it in public can create riots and cause instability in our country.  I care a lot about this country.  But our leaders don’t seem to think the same way even though they speak like they do, day in and day out, especially in the newspapers they own. 


  1. lol, i think they do, but sometimes it's hard to explain it the way we want people to perceive our message. Although we have come a long way, racial harmony is more stabalized but in a way it's also like a time bomb.

  2. The stability's somewhat too artificial to be long lasting. Good times don't last forever. And the telltale signs of deterioration are being played down. If the economy stays down for too long, this will all blow to kingdom come. Like you said, "time bomb".

  3. I think what every religion is trying to tell us is that we should be good human beings in every way.kind, loving, peaceful clever, considerate, knowledgable,... So if we do that what difference will it be what religion we have or where we worship God. As far as I am concerend the best place to worship God is in one's heart .

  4. We have similar experience. When I was young, I would go to other religious churches out of curiosity to observe how they worship God and I found that their God can be forgiving to those who follow his laws and commands, but can be unforgiving to the sinners - the same God with my own religion. But then....everything is basically the same...