I am Chinese, Chineseness 2

Last Post I mention: “I also took UEC and graduated from Sabah Chinese High School in 1983 and went Taiwan in 1984 where I found my affiliation to Chinese culture is deepened."

In that period of time, many who graduated from these high schools would make Taiwan a major choice for getting a tertiary education. In my case, two reasons were prominent: it was a lot more cheaper compared than Euro-American universities or even those of Australia and New Zealand and it was in Chinese.

Not only the choice of education our family would have their children accept, also there are other aspects, for example we are proud of being able to write good calligraphy and grasp chopstick in a proper way. There was even an unhealthy way we learnt from our village boys, that was to laugh each other for speaking English, i.e. those who spoke English would be ridiculed as a “running dog" or traitor.

Although in the beginning ICHS implies the kind of schools for those who were not good enough to enter government run schools and their family were poorer, it has not been the case since 1980s. Now many ICHSs have become prestigious or even schools for richer and more able. Nevertheless, if the statistic that show 54003 students studying in ICHS does mean something, how many more students would there be over the years who were exposed to richer Chinese history and classic literatures. I would assume these students inherit a deeper tradition to its motherland–China even if not every one of them had the chance to study in either China or Taiwan.

I myself, like I said, had gone to Taiwan to have my university education. However, I was also born into a Christian family in the village, Pantai Remis, which I mentioned earlier where children ridiculed others for speaking English. We were the only Christian family. I was one among the third generation Christian. My grandfather and father became a Christian at the time of John Song who was preaching at Fujian province. Back in Pantai Remis where they finally settled, I grew up many years living at the back of the church assembly hall. It was called Gospel Hall. Later I know that there were many “Gospel Halls" throughout Malaysia and they all belong to a denomination inheriting a Brethern background. We did not have any pastor, which had been a tradition of “Gospel Hall." When I was young, I used to see either several of my uncles and my eldest brother call out the numbers of hymns we were to sing, or they would stand up and say a prayer. And the climax, which did not seem so much so, was the breaking of unleaven biscuit and the blessing of the grape juice in a cup shared by everyone passing around. Of course, my uncles and eldest brother would normally perform this part of the ritual.

It was in that gospel hall I attended evangelistic meetings and revival meetings, always with guest speaker from other places, the further could be Singapore. I even attended at least two funeral services, one for my grandfather and other my own mother, during those years. As children, my brother and sisters and I also heard grandma said how God had healed one of my uncles who were very ill when he was four years old. A pious old lady, she offered a coin for each of her children and grandchildren so that they would walk in the way of the Lord. I also heard my father said that how the ghosts ran for their lives when they sang hymns, in another village where they used to live. And how he prayed and was delivered by God especially he jumped into the sea to save a worker and almost got drown being himself not able to swim. In short, even as young as before I graduated from primary school, the root of Christian belief was already running in my vein.

Later, with my parent most of my siblings and I moved to Tawau, a town in Sabah, in East Malaysia across South Indian Ocean at the tip of Borneo Island. It was used to be called North Borneo in the colonial period. We attend a Baptist church there until I went to Taichung, Taiwan where I attend another Baptist church. It was a Baptist theological seminary I went for my first theological degree and a Baptist church in Hong Kong where I first served as a church minister. Intervally, I went to a church established by a member whose Christian background was related to Watchman Nee, and also a Charismatic church. These all form my theological perspective, which I would say tend to be generally a Evangelical background with Baptist-Brethren components that is critically open to charismatic teachings. Therefore, I would say although I will try to be objective as possible in my theological argument in this thesis, I admit that it is inevitable that I would sometimes show my bias, and I will also expose my limitation in terms of my Christian experience. And as far as my integration of Christian and Confucian doctrines is concerned, there will be traces of my limited experience in Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Above when I say I am from a Brethren and Baptist background, or even a little bit of charismatics, on one hand I provide a lens for others to find an angle to anchor one’s understanding (and unavoidably interpretation) of my experience and interpretation, on the other it becomes an obstacle one remove to avoid a too subjective presupposition or an immature self-considered understanding of the subject matter–which is the nuance difference found in who I really am




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