Abominations the Magistrate Must Suppress

In Western churches, and in Western-influenced churches, it is not rare that Christians are aghast at laws whose punishments, and underlying system of morality, resemble those of the Old Testament. They think such laws too harsh. Sometimes they compare them to sharia law. Would they also be aghast at the morality of the Mosaic Law? If so, are they aghast at the God ‘with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning’?

It is one thing to desire some patient tolerance for those who do not know God; it is another to judge that the God of the Old Testament was unjust, and to feel relieved that the God of the New Testament is not like that. But God is one. People must live with that truth. Perhaps they want their own commonwealths to be ruled by something other than the justice of God, another principle, someone else’s principle. If so, perhaps they desire another gospel than the one that declares that God, the one God, maker of heavan and earth, has inaugurated his kingdom on earth in the person of Jesus Christ. The gospel declares that God, the God of Abraham, both has saved and is saving the world by his own righteousness, in the person of Jesus Christ, whom he has raised from the dead and set as judge over all. In politics, some demand a different political god’s moral law over the moral law of God; in substance, by refusing the rule of Christ, they deny the gospel.

There are, then, some fundamental public principles a Christian must hold. If we turn and consider the reasons for which God destroys the nations, we see some basic things that a state must do if it is to avoid perishing like Sodom. The state must forbid and punish certain sins, or God will destroy the people.

In Leviticus 18, God forbids various sins of incest, adultery, child sacrifice to Molech, homosexuality, and bestiality, saying that for these sins he is expelling the Canaanites:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness. Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time. Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness. Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her. And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (for all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

In Deuteronomy 18, Moses declares to all Israel:

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

Thus, witchcraft and divination are also forbidden to even the nations, and for these abominations God is driving the Canaanites out as Israel advances into Canaan.

God has not changed. The sins for which he drove out the Canaanites and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah are the same sins for which he will destroy whole peoples now, and the same sins that a governor now must suppress if he cares for the lives of his people.

These are the truths Christians ought to hold, even though they cannot compel others to hold them. A key test is to have an observer compare the Mosaic Law and the kind of legal system that Christian citizens desire for their nation: in the two systems, does he see the moral principles of the same God, or does he see that Christians are hypocrites? If we say that God is one, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is about this one God who in the person of Christ reigns over heaven and earth, and that this is at the heart of the gospel, then must take care that we take this as good news indeed.

Drilling Procedures v. Thinking with Euler

Glowing Brain - Stock Motion Graphics | Motion Array

The values of classical education differ from those of conventional teaching in the West. The difference in educational philosophy shows up in methods. In teaching math, people take various approaches, some of them more successful and some of them less so.

Take the example of algebra. People often rush through concepts. They are prone to believe that concepts, once ‘covered’, are now understood. It’s important, I think, to judge accurately how ready a child’s mind is to think abstractly. Some children’s brains are physically not there yet. In that case, it would be better to do without the abstractions of letters standing for unknown quantities. Without the ability to think that abstractly, students end up frustrated and unable to learn what the teacher hoped they would learn. Instead, if they cannot yet understand the abstractions, they can do further work on concrete numbers. If they are not yet ready to understand, let them not delude themselves with the false impression that they understand.

Many Christian teachers use Saxon textbooks for math. The Saxon books take the approach of repeatedly circling back to drill procedures. Drilling mere procedures, rather than going for a clear understanding of what is actually being done, is a weakness that makes Saxon distinctly unclassical in its approach. I have some experience with children who used Saxon, and this is what I saw: Rather than sit down calmly and think about what the problem actually was, they grasped at straws to repeat some familiar procedure. Whatever had happened, their minds were dulled to actual understanding.

When we compare Saxon’s approach to teaching with Leonhard Euler’s approach to teaching his Elements of Algebra, we see a world of difference; and Euler’s, I think, is by far the more classical. Unlike newer books, which are eager to have students solve æquations of which they have no actual understanding, Euler does not begin to treat of æquations at all until section 4 of part 1, long after even logarithms:

  1. Containing the Analysis of Determinate Quantities
    1. Of the different methods of calculating simple quantities
      1. Of mathematics in general
      2. Explanation of the signs + plus and − minus
      3. Of the multiplication of simple quantities
      4. Of the nature of whole numbers, or integers with respect to their factors
      5. Of the division of simple quantities
      6. Of the properties of integers, with respect to their divisors
      7. Of fractions in general
      8. Of the properties of fractions
      9. Of the addition and subtraction of fractions
      10. Of the multiplication and division of fractions
      11. Of square numbers
      12. Of square roots, and of irrational numbers resulting from them
      13. Of impossible, or imaginary quantitites, which arise from the same source
      14. Of cubic numbers
      15. Of cube roots, and of irrational numbers resulting from them
      16. Of powers in general
      17. Of the calculation of powers
      18. Of roots in relation to the powers in general
      19. Of the method of representing irrational numbers by fractional exponents
      20. Of the different methods of calculation, and of their mutual connexion
      21. Of logarithms in general
      22. Of the logarithmic tables that are now in use
      23. Of the method of expressing logarithms
    2. Of the different methods of calculating compound quantities
      1. Of the addition of compound quantities
      2. Of the subtraction of compound quantities
      3. Of the multiplication of compound quantities
      4. Of the division of compound quantities
      5. Of the resolution of fractions into infinite series
      6. Of the squares of compound quantities
      7. Of the extraction of roots applied to compound quantities
      8. Of the calculation of irrational quantities
      9. Of cubes, and of the extraction of cube roots
      10. Of the higher powers of compound quantities
      11. Of the transposition of the letters, on which the demonstration of the preceding rule is founded
      12. Of the expression of irrational powers by infinite series
      13. Of the resolution of negative powers
    3. Of ratios and proportions
      1. Of arithmetical ratio, or the difference between two numbers
      2. Of arithmetical proportion
      3. Of arithmetical progressions
      4. Of the summation of arithmetical progressions
      5. Of figurate, or polygonal numbers
      6. Of geometrial ratio
      7. Of the greatest common divisor of two given numbers
      8. Of geometrical proportions
      9. Observations on the rules of proportion and their utility
      10. Of compound relations
      11. Of geometrical progressions
      12. Of infinite decimal fractions
      13. Of the calculation of interest
    4. Of algebraic equations, and of the resolution of those equations
      1. Of the solution of problems in general
      2. Of the resolution of simple equations, or equations of the first degree
      3. Of the solution of questions relating to the preceding chapter
      4. Of the resolution of two or more equations of the same degree
      5. Of the resolution of pure quadratic equations
      6. Of the resolution of mixed equations of the second degree
      7. Of the extraction of the roots of polygonal numbers
      8. Of the extraction of square roots of binomials
      9. Of the nature of equations of the second degree
      10. Of pure equations of the third degree
      11. Of the resolution of complete equations of the third degree
      12. Of the Rule of Cardan, or that of Scipio Ferreo
      13. Of the resolution of equations of the fourth degree
      14. Of the Rule of Bombelli, for reducing the resolution of equations of the fourth degree to that of equations of the third degree
      15. Of a new method of resolving equations of the fourth degree
      16. Of the resolution of equations by approximation
  2. Containing the Analysis of Indeterminate Quantities

For brevity, I have omitted the chapter headings of part 2, ‘Containing the Analysis of Indeterminate Quantities’.

What Euler’s way demands is attention and careful thought, not mindless following of steps to perform numerical sorcery. For that, I appreciate him greatly, even if students have often to be compelled to think hard about what they believe they already understand. A calculator is able to take an input and give an accurate output; a human mind, however, is able to understand, and that is the difference between mastery and slavery in the mind.

Aside

Imagine Wudang 武當 and Shaolin 少林, and Emei 峨眉 for the women, all being converted to the gospel and becoming Christian colleges and ascetic retreat centres where people study both the word of God and martial arts, making ready to do gospel work in China and the countries around it, whether as clerics or (on Mount Emei) as deaconesses. Perhaps, according to their long institutional histories, Wudang and Shaolin also develop distinct Christian theological schools of thought and ascetic traditions that both enliven the life of the Church. Yes, I do think Shaolin Seminary has a ring to it.

The Times Tables and the Eight Modes of Church Music

A friend of mine says,

My daughter enjoys the cutesy sing-along songs they use for memorization at school, but my son is not amused. He likes some of them ok, but there are a few that really test his (and my) patience. I feel bad for the kid. There’s a real need for masculine influences in early childhood education. Even the ‘classical’ variety.

I have a proposal.

Imagine, for multiplication, chanting the 1s to the 8s in the eight church modes, from Dorian to Hypomixolydian; the 9s can be in the tonus peregrinus (wandering tone). In this way, in a Western Christian school, you can kill two or more birds with one stone. The memorization of the multiplication tables can be aided by music; the music can also range through the varied tonalities of traditional church music, in settings masculine enough not to alienate the boys.

Of course, each line must be long enough to be chanted, and ‘one times six is six’ cannot by stretched into two hemistichs (half verses). This is what I suggest: Let the first hemistich be an odd, the second hemistich an even. Two times nine, then, is an odd, and the second half of that verse can say ‘thus multiply the twos’ or something to that effect.

That a Country ‘Stands for’ Something

An American friend said of a video of a Black girl singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, ‘I am crying. 😭 I love America and everything this country stands for. 🇺🇲 This is America. No amount of propoganda [sic] will convince me otherwise.’

Far be it from me to deprecate patriotic feeling, but I find it quite odd to say, ‘I love America and everything this country stands for.’ What other country has people saying ‘this country stands for’ this and that? It’s hard for me to imagine someone stating what China or France stands for, as an object of patriotic feeling. There are, to be sure, certain virtues that various peoples distinctively value, such as the Roman sense of virtus; but to say that the Roman republic ‘stood for’ virtus (rather than, say, Senatus Populusque Romæ) could only have drawn blank looks from the Romans themselves.

John of Damascus Affirms the Same Old Testament Canon as Protestants

John Damascene, in The Orthodox Faith 4.17, bears witness to the same canonical reckoning of the inspired Old Testament books as the Protestants:

One must know that there are twenty-two books of the Old Testament, corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, for the Hebrews have twenty-two letters, of which five are doubled so as to make twenty-seven. Thus, kaph, mem, nun, pe, and sade are double. For this reason the books, too, are numbered this way and are found to be twenty-seven, because five of them are doubled. Ruth is combined with Judges and counted as one book by the Hebrews. Kings 1 and 2 make one book; 3 and 4 Kings, one book; 1 and 2 Paralipomenon, one book; and 1 and 2 Esdras, one book. Thus, the books fall into four groups of five, as follows. There are five books of the Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This first group of five is also called the Law. Then, another group of five books called the Writings, or, by some, the Sacred Books, which are as follows: Josue, son of Nave; Judges, together with Ruth; 1 and 2 Kings [i.e., 1 and 2 Samuel for Protestants] making one book; 3 and 4 Kings [i.e., 1 and 2 Kings for Protestants] making one book; and the two Paralipomenons [i.e., 1 and 2 Chronicles] making one book. This is the second group of five books. A third group of five is made up of the poetical books, namely: Job, the Psalter, the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of the same, and the Canticle of Canticles of the same. A fourth group of five books is the prophetic, which is made up of the twelve minor Prophets, making one book, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, Daniel, and then the two books of Esdras [i.e., Ezra and Nehemiah for Protestants] combined into one, and Esther. The All-Virtuous Wisdom, however, that is to say, the Wisdom of Solomon – and the Wisdom of Jesus, which the father of Sirach composed in Hebrew but which was translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus son of Sirach – these are indeed admirable and full of virtue, but they are not counted, nor were they placed in the Ark.

Expressly does he exclude the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sirach) from his count, while he includes all the books that Protestant reckon within the Old Testament canon.

I wonder how today’s Byzantine apologists against the Protestant churches, in order to attack the catholic canon of Scripture as ‘incomplete’ – not knowing that in so doing they join in an invention of the Council of Trent with the Jesuits – explain away these words from the very Church father by whom they say their doctrine of images is established. Shall they also attack John Damascene for truncating and mutilating the canon of Scripture, or shall they acknowledge that Anglicans in excluding the Apocrypha from the canonical books have merely upheld the judgement of the Church catholic?

Poll: What Content Do You Want to See Here?

I’m curious to know what topics people like seeing here, so I’m asking for your opinions.

Obviously I reserve the right to do what I like with my own blog, but I want to see what others are actually interested in reading and interacting with. As always, I welcome your comments.

Ci Lyric as Anthem After the Third Collect

Just as the Song of Songs is in the biblical canon, there is a place in the worship of God for the sensuousness of the teahouse, a woman singing a ci 詞 lyric as she plays the pipa. This too, after all, is part of the piety of the Church: the desire for the beloved, the Lord’s Anointed.

According to the ci genre, the musical vehicle would be existing Chinese tunes suitable for songs about love. In the first stanza of a two-stanza ci, the singer could render a piece of the Song of Songs in verse; in the second stanza, her lyric could unravel that piece of silk according to what the New Testament has shown us about Christ.

Ancient Greek for Classical Christian Schools in Hong Kong

In the Abendland, or Western Christendom (including Germany), knowledge of Latin as a classical language used to be de rigueur for top students, and remains important today; in Hong Kong and the rest of China, the question remains of what classical language should be used as a vehicle of education in ancient cultural traditions.

Local students in Hong Kong should, by graduation, have decent command of 3.5 languages:

  1. Cantonese, spoken by the vast majority of Hong Kong’s population;
  2. Mandarin, written in formal communications since the early 20th century, including all standardized tests in Chinese, and important for spoken communication with the rest of the Sinosphere since the 20th century;
  3. Classical (or Literary) Chinese, a continuum of Sinitic that ranges from the writings of Confucius and Mencius to the most literary and formal registers of modern written Chinese;
  4. English, which remains one of the official languages in Hong Kong, necessary for day-to-day life and part of the basis of any particular œconomic advantage Hong Kong has in Asia.

Because of a vast increase in Hong Kong’s number of K–12 students in the postwar period, even having enough schools to support basic literacy was a huge logistical challenge. At that time, there was more than enough work teaching children to speak good Cantonese, write good Mandarin, and read some classical Chinese, as well as to read, write, and speak English.

On top of that, today, the political situation calls for decent spoken Mandarin as well, even as the South China Morning Post’s chief news editor Yonden Lhatoo has expressed his consternation at today’s ‘appalling English standards’: ‘There’s something terribly wrong with our education system when it’s churning out graduates who need serious help with their English.’ The need for good Mandarin and good English has never been greater, and few of my friends from Hong Kong have both. The situation for language proficiency in Hong Kong today is, to say the least, difficult.

Though the education system in Hong Kong as a whole is a problem too great for me to address briefly, I do want to suggest that, on the smaller scale, it would be useful to teach ancient Greek in classical Christian schools, and to require it for graduation with honours or an advanced diploma.

My suggestion is counterintuitive, I know. On top of 3.5 languages, you want local Hong Kong students to learn one more language? But the benefits of Greek would be, I believe, incalculable; it would have only to be done in earnest.

Until 1997, the uses of English in Hong Kong were utilitarian: the British empire needed a local élite whose proficiency in English would allow it to serve the British administration in civil service and in trade. In other words, British imperialism needed servants, not free men. To this end the education system was oriented, that Hong Kong might reliably provide compradors for Britain’s imperialist operations.

Today, however, such an orientation is manifestly unsuitable. Even civil servants who passed through English-medium education under the British empire often chafe at having to answer questions in English at press conferences. While Hong Kong’s place as a hub of international trade and a ‘free city’ in the Chinese empire requires that enough people be both able and willing to speak good English, it is not entirely surprising that the end of the colonial æra has changed people’s feelings about English. Rather than being about serving as a comprador in colonial society and moving up the social ladder, mastering English has to be about understanding of non-Chinese, not on the level of pidgin trade talk but on the level of civilization. Unless Hong Kong’s students go through these growing-pains, especially the city’s best students, Hong Kong cannot succeed.

For any school, an advantage of ancient Greek learnt on its own terms is a much better ability to deal with the grammar and literary style of English, as well as a deeper understanding of the ancient literary and philosophical roots of Western society. If the peoples of the world are to speak in rich cultural languages, expressing rich cultural heritages, they need more than a generic neoliberal pidgin English: they need deep culture, both in identifying with their own peoples and in speaking to other peoples. A Hongkonger able not only to parse a Greek verb but to write in the manner of Thucydides, and to read Plato in the original, could with much greater confidence find his voice in speaking to the West.

For a Christian school, the advantages are even greater. Even one cohort of secondary-school graduates who can read Greek is a number of students who can read the New Testament, the Septuagint, and many of the Church fathers, of whom the young men can already be further trained to serve as deacons in the Church, and some of those as elders able to teach people the word of God. The use of Greek rather than Latin also gives them access to a broader range of theological resources, by which the Chinese church can find its identity within the one Holy Catholic Church with reference not only to the theology of the Reformation but also to non-Western concepts that can speak to the Chinese. In this way, the Chinese churches will be independent from the West, but also catholic. One cohort may be but a few students; but cohort upon cohort, year after year, brings to the Sinosphere a growing number of students who already have the language skills that seminaries want their graduates to have, and others who with training will be able to teach ancient Greek themselves, and others who can begin to deal philosophically with both Plotinus and Zhu Xi.

This can happen. We need books in Greek that use the method that Hans Ørberg’s groundbreaking textbook Lingua latina per se illustrata (a.k.a. LLPSI) uses for Latin, with context and illustrations, and by using only the target language go farther than the ‘Italian Athenaze’ has gone; in Greek, Seumas Macdonald’s project in progress (Lingua Græca Per Se Illustrata; Patreon here) looks promising, though it does not yet have the kinds of pictures on which LLPSI relies. From experience using LLPSI with visiting students from mainland China, I know that even students with relatively weak English can learn some Latin inductively using that book in the space of a few days, because it relies on no other language than Latin. If we have something like that in Greek, we can achieve the same results with Chinese students learning Greek. We also need teachers who are able to teach Greek immersively, ideally with a good command of the pitch accent – a phonological feature to which native speakers of Cantonese, also familiar with Hong Kong English, can relate. If parents and students and teachers are commit to achieving the results, both for better command of English and better understanding of Hellenistic Christian civilization, it can be done.

To Recover Cantonese Literature in Hong Kong

I’m not a fan of purportedly Cantonese poetry littered with the particles 了 and 的. That’s Mandarin, not Cantonese. Pronouncing Mandarin as Cantonese no more makes it Cantonese than pronouncing classical Chinese in the Sinoxenic pronunciation of Japan makes it the Japanese language. So something like Dorothy Tse’s 布鳥 (‘Cloth Birds’) doesn’t feel like Cantonese to me: even though every word is read the Cantonese way, it’s not grammatically Cantonese.

The problem is not unknown. As Jennifer Feeley wrote two years ago in her essay ‘Reimagined Cities: Fabulist Tales from Hong Kong’,

There are writers, especially graphic novelists, who have incorporated Cantonese into their work, and perhaps the future will see the rise of a Cantophone literature. At present, however, Chinese-language literature in the territory is primarily composed in standard written Chinese, including the three stories in this feature. Standard written Chinese has a different grammar, and often a different vocabulary, than Cantonese, creating a gap between the written and spoken word. As Andrea Lingenfelter observes, most outsiders, and many in the mainland, regard Cantonese ‘as a dialect, a language that sinks beneath the surface of the written word (standard written Chinese) and is thereby rendered inaudible, unless a Cantonese-speaking author is reading his or her work aloud.’

But the fact is, the problem Feeley describes is virtually artificial. There is actually a rich tradition of literary writing in Cantonese, from the Cantonese operas of Tong Dik-sang 唐滌生 and Nam Hoi 13 Long 南海十三郎 to the Cantopop lyrics of James Wong Jim 黃霑. To speak of Cantonese literature as underdeveloped, or low in status, is belied by the fame and quality of these literary luminaries in Hong Kong.

That these kinds of writing fell by the wayside, and the linguistically Cantonese voice was muted, is due to Hongkongers’ own abandonment of Cantonese literary writing. In the 1980s, Hong Kong had a vital voice in the Sinosphere. The theme song of the television series The Bund 上海灘 (1980), sung by the inimitable Frances Yip, is known all over the Sinosphere. The popularity of Mandarin-speaking singer Teresa Teng in the Sinosphere existed alongside a literary space that Hong Kong writers had carved out for Cantonese in a Mandarin-dominated world, to the extent that Teresa Teng herself recorded songs in Cantonese and spoke Cantonese. Those of us who care about the literary future of Cantonese cannot afford to blame a spectre of Communist erasure of Cantonese and expect such a petty accusation to be vindicated. The plain fact is that almost everyone in Hong Kong speaks Cantonese, but Hong Kong has silenced its own Cantonese literary voice.

What we need is to rebuild whatever was lost in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, and to support the writing and singing of literature that can speak to people’s hearts as Cantonese literature from Hong Kong has done before. This is done neither by mere nostalgia nor by bitterness against Mandarin. A Cantonese muted by its own speakers must find its own voice again.

‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ Not an Argument to Establish What Is Stealing

People grow up in a capitalist system, and its sometimes quite innovative notions of ownership shape people’s impressions of what theft is; so that merely saying ‘thou shalt not steal’ seems to them sufficient to prove a case, as if this præcept were not universally held to be true by all persons of all ages. Just as easily might the same men, in a different age, have said ‘thou shalt not steal’ to any who wanted to limit what a cruel master was allowed to extract from his slaves, under colour of protecting his property, thinking by so quoting Scripture that they had fully proven their case, and commending themselves for having done good to their neighbour. For even in our own day do many protect the weights and measures of the usurers, how unbalanced soever those be, for the predations of the rich and against the refuge of the poor. They seem to forget that Satan himself was able to quote Scripture in tempting the Lord, and is able today to deceive the saints by contriving fair-sounding sentences from the words of Scripture. Let us beware of such deceptions, by reading Scripture humbly, owning that our knowledge without the word of God is but a house built upon the sand.

Chinese Archery Good for a Chinese Classical Christian School

For a Chinese classical Christian school, Chinese archery would come to be de rigueur because of the native classical tradition: the Record of Rites 禮記, part of the Five Classics 五經, has a whole chapter on the meaning of the cæremony of archery (射義). Now that traditional bowmaking is coming back, and so perhaps is instruction in Chinese archery, I hope Christian schools can be at the fore in recovering the traditional rite of archery in Chinese society.

Traditional Chinese archery: bow makers on target to resurrect ...

子曰:「射有似乎君子,失諸正鵠,反求諸其身。」
The Master said, ‘In archery we have something like (the way of) the superior man. When the archer misses the centre of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself.’

Property Rights in the Law of Moses Oppose Capitalism

It is curious that property inheritance in the Law of Moses should be seized upon by capitalists as vindicating their view of the absolute rights of that historically very contingent thing which they now call ‘private property’.

Under the Mosaic Law, land (which we call real as opposed to moveable property), once alienated by sale or seizure for debt, was to be restored to its original owner in the year of jubilee, once in 50 years. In an agrarian society, land was the most important productive property. If we transfer the jubilee’s principle to modern times, capital and other productive property is to be redistributed from those who have acquired it by sale or seizure between jubilees, and debts are to be cancelled. Thus, between jubilees, all sale of land and other productive property is actually leasehold. The Mosaic Law’s property régime renders relative, rather than absolute, any attempt to claim ownership and dominium by virtue of acquisition by sale or seizure.

While the Mosaic Law is not obligatory upon us, nor should we try to replicate it, its moral principles are abiding, and no Christian is free to call its œconomic provisions for the disadvantaged unjust. This is a truth that ostensibly those who point to Mosaic Law to justify capitalism have recognized. Alas for them, if they with their moral and œconomic principles encountered a society following Mosaic Law, they would condemn its property régime as theft. This is because the Mosaic property régime is opposed to capitalist principles.

Jeremy Taylor: Anglicans’ Sorrows Relieved, Their Persecutions Turned into Joys

A bit of encouragement from Jeremy Taylor, in Holy Living, for those who are scorned for the disarray of Anglican churches in the West:

I know, my Lord, that there are some interested persons who add scorn to the afflictions of the Church of England; and because she is afflicted by men, call her ‘forsaken of the Lord’; and because her solemn assemblies are scattered, think that the religion is lost, and the church divorced from God, supposing Christ (who was a man of sorrows) to be angry with his spouse when she is like him, (for that is the true state of the error,) and that he who promised his Spirit to assist his servants in their troubles will, because they are in trouble, take away the Comforter from them; who cannot be a comforter, but while he cures our sadnesses, and relieves our sorrows, and turns our persecutions into joys, and crowns, and sceptres.

Classical Christian Education in Hong Kong, Decolonialized, as Part of the Great Commission

In Greek pottery style, the Allegory of the Cave features the shadow of a bird cast on a cave wall while a man watches

Εἷς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης.
Only one omen is best – to defend the fatherland.
– Hector, Iliad 12.243

In the face of the spiritual and academical decline of Christian education in Hong Kong, classical Christian education is very much needed. Local Christian schools that have declined to institute patriotic education according to the Party’s programme have often opted for the International Baccalaureate. They have, in effect, become international schools of the globalist type, serving the human-resource needs of neoliberalism rather than the discipleship needs of the kingdom of God. Regardless of when the rot set in, it is clear that something is rotten in the state of Hong Kong, and it is high time that the Church did something to disciple the nations as commanded by the Lord in Matthew 28.

Now, when the Lord rose from the dead, was announced by an angel, and appeared to the women who had gone to his tomb, there were two opposite responses to two opposite commands: the chief priests having taken counsel with the elders bade the guards spread the lie that Jesus’s disciples had come by night and stolen Jesus’s body (Matthew 28.11–15); Jesus himself, however, having appeared to the Eleven on a mountain in Galilee, bade them go and disciple all nations now that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him at his resurrection (Matthew 28.16–20). In contrast to those who had been instructed to lie to the Jews, the Eleven as they went were to disciple all nations. The command is to disciple someone; the object of discipleship is all nations. We are not speaking – Matthew is not speaking – merely of persons in those nations, but rather of those nations as nations. And this was to be done by baptism of individuals into the Name of the Holy Trinity, and then teaching to observe all things commanded by the Lord. The task of Christian schooling, then, cannot be rightly understood apart from this reality of the discipling of whole nations in response to the kingship of Christ.

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If it is to be part of fulfilling the Great Commission, then, Christian education must be national. That is, wherever done, it must be as justly adapted to the national culture as possible, not only to make the gospel intelligible but also to transform the national culture – that is, national life concretely experiened – into something that actually reflects God’s image and likeness. And just as the transformation of one Christian does not make him like everyone else in personality, even ideally, so too the transformation of a heathen nation into a nation that honours Christ from the heart does not require that that nation ape the personalities of other nations: though it must learn from others, its individuality is from God. China, in other words, does not need to adopt American values to be Christian, not even the values that Americans (very parochially) believe to be universal Christian values. We are not called to be inoffensive in every way to the sensibilities of the ‘international community’ – that is to say, to Westerners. God did not make us to be Whites in yellowface. Instead, Christian education is an education into the nation’s own cultural tradition as Christ would have it become, connected to the roots of Israel’s history as completed by Christ, to the ancient fathers of the nation’s civilization as the Holy Ghost worked there before Christ, and to the bodily return of Christ and the end of the world as God has determined its days. It is thus, and not by conformity to the standards of the Anglo-liberal culture dominant in the West, that the nation is brought up from the rudiments or elements of the world to partake in the fulness of the stature of Christ.

In Anglican terms, ‘The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England.’ In order to decolonialize Christian education in non-Western countries, Christians have to reach into the native cultural traditions, and to this need Hong Kong is no exception. There is an implicit Chinese patriotism in retrieving what God has provided for us from ancient times to the present, from the Book of Documents and the Spring and Autumn Annals even to the several times when God brought the good news of Christ to the Chinese. We can find useful not only Plato’s censure of what Confucius called the ‘sounds of Zheng’ 鄭聲, but also the ways in which Zhu Xi’s conception of li 理 and qi 氣 may enrich Maximus the Confessor’s theology of the Logos. Just as the wicked Balaam was a Gentile prophet of the LORD, and the Greek seer and philosopher-poet Epimenides is quoted by St Paul as a prophet (Acts 17.28; Titus 1.12), so too it seems reasonable to consider that the voice of God was not absent from the counsels of sage-kings Yao and Shun. Was the Holy Ghost silent, was he inactive, in all the centuries until the gospel was brought by Persian travellers and English missionaries? Was he not indeed, and Christ the Word through him, sustaining the whole world and speaking through prophets and the mouths of babes? Shall we, to uphold the supremacy of Christ now, deny that at sundry times and in divers manners he spake in times past unto our fathers through the prophets?

God forbid. But the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and God has in his person crowned man with glory and honour, and made him to have dominion over the works of God’s hands, and put all things under his feet. Whatever it means that China is to become a kind of Fourth Rome under Christ, the classical Christian education needed in Hong Kong is to be oriented that way.

You must be the Yellow Peril you wish to see in the world.

Hong Kong Tramways