Kong Hee Kong Si Mi??! Towkay Jesus And The Calvin Klein Crucifixion

Wow.

Thanks to everyone who read, responded to and shared Gyrating For Jesus: A Pow-Ka-Leow Guide To Sun Ho’s Greatest Hits! A certain amount of gratitude is also due to Sun and her team for coming up with material so hallucinogenically bad that the snark just writes itself.

I’m honestly rather shellshocked by the attention this blog has received in the past week, given that it has languished in near-obscurity for the past 12 years, and it was only about a month ago that I wrote about the many times I’ve considered just closing it.

In fact, I nearly even abandoned Gyrating For Jesus halfway. Because after initially plunging into the idea with outrage-stoked zeal…

…it wasn’t long before I realized the full extent of the suffering I had let myself in for.

Yes,  I do realize it’s a bit LPPL to complain about how awful it was to watch Sun Ho videos repeatedly, and then end up having to watch them again IN SLOW MOTION in order to get screencaps for the image1 you use to illustrate the complaint. But just to give you an idea of what it was like, I also made a gif.

sunho

For those of you who came for the snark and are considering sticking around, I really hope you like it here, but I’m also quite neurotically stressed that you won’t. Apart from the Sun Ho article and a few other examples, the content on this blog isn’t generally thaaaaat bitchy (immaturely vulgar yes, punny yes, more sophisticated forms of humour not really). I also don’t tend to do the sort of topical Singaporean comedy that people like Mr Brown or Rockson are so awesome at, although you might find my kitschfest photo stories of Haw Par Villa and the Lilliputt “uniquely-Singapore” Minigolf amusing.

So, what do I do here when I’m not picking on poor helpless multimillionaire geisha pastors from China? Among other things,  I geek out about music I love, and share my attempts to improve at photography. Over the years I have also written things here which are personal and heartfelt, such as the two surgeries I have had to remove breast lumps and the love I have for my husband (when I’m not calling him a Spandex Party Boy, that is). I really don’t know how many of you who found this blog through the Sun Ho article will find any of that interesting, but if you do, I would love you to hang out around here a bit longer. :)

But on to the meat of this post. While it may not be obvious from the Sun Ho article, I am actually Christian, a lifelong Catholic. At Mass this past Sunday, it so happened that the following Bible reading was used:

2 Corinthians 8: 7,9,13-15
You always have the most of everything – of faith, of eloquence, of understanding, of keenness for any cause, and the biggest share of our affection – so we expect you to put the most into this work of mercy too. Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was: he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty. This does not mean that to give relief to others you ought to make things difficult for yourselves: it is a question of balancing what happens to be your surplus now against their present need, and one day they may have something to spare that will supply your own need. That is how we strike a balance: as scripture says: The man who gathered much had none too much, the man who gathered little did not go short.

While I had a feeling that a passage like this is the sort that would be easily exploited at City Harvest Church to shore up the twisted priorities that it promotes, it is chilling how easy it was to find support for this hunch. Watch Kong Hee’s “Was Jesus Poor” (parts 1, 2, 3 and 4) sermon on Youtube for yourself to see how he makes this passage the concluding linchpin of a shockingly simplistic hour-long crusade to convince his faithful that Jesus was rich. Because “if you believe Jesus isn’t poor…you are able to break through out of poverty and come into God’s abundance and God’s prosperity…you will always end up…the way you choose to believe.”2 One wonders whether financial records revealed in the course of Kong Hee’s trial will include royalty payments to the author of The Secret.

In the course of the sermon, he makes 9 paper-thin biblical arguments to prove Jesus was rich3. One such gem is that Jesus had a treasurer, and you don’t make someone treasurer of no money4. (Tell that to the treasurer of Project Crossover USA.) He also explains, smiling and nodding, that even with Judas Iscariot embezzling from the treasury, Jesus could still afford to continue his ministry. Comforting words indeed from a man increasingly referred to online as Kong Hee Fatt Choy!

But the crowning glory of this exercise in idiocy must be his assertion that because four soldiers fought over Jesus’s underwear, that means Jesus must have worn good clothes even on the way to being crucified5. Christianity explores many profound philosophical questions, but I had never been aware till now that it also delves into that eternal conundrum: boxers or briefs? I can only imagine that Jesus’s coveted finery must have been something like this.

I want to end with something a little more serious. The Corinthians passage I quoted above is what brought me to Kong Hee’s sermon, and I have now wasted some blog space on what a passage like that means to him. To balance things out, let me say something about what a passage like that means to me.

St Paul addressed this passage to the wealthy Christians of Corinth as part of his fund-raising efforts for the church in famine-struck Jerusalem, so it is true that to a certain extent he was talking about money. But no conventional resource out there from the simple to the scholarly treats this passage as proof that God is as fixated on having prosperous followers as Kong Hee is. Quite to the contrary, it is a call for Christians to let what Jesus gave up for us inspire what we are willing to give up to help others. It is also a reminder that the more blessed we may be – not just in terms of wealth but also in “faith”, “eloquence”, “understanding”, “keenness for any cause” – the more we are expected to put these blessings to use in the work of mercy.

The churches of Corinth and Jerusalem were not as unified as one might expect them to have been. In a time of widespread anti-Semitism, the Corinthians (non-Jews) were being asked to help needy Jews who had never really welcomed them into the faith to begin with. So while the passage may sound like no big deal to us today – what’s so amazing about Christians just helping out other Christians? – it was actually a pretty tall order back then. Today, I’m fairly sure that the average Catholic would regard the passage as a call for charity wherever it is needed, regardless of religious affiliation. (I say Catholic because that is my reference point, but it’s more than possible that other Christian denominations would think similarly.)

There’s a fair amount of wishy washy “Oh, let’s just be vague about what we disagree with and pray for CHC, because at the end of the day the body of Christ should stand united” sentiment out there among Christians. I know this is well-intentioned, and honestly wouldn’t blame anyone for finding my post about Sun Ho’s music overly bitchy. But until I had watched Kong Hee’s sermons for myself, I hadn’t grasped the true extent of how antithetical the City Harvest perspective is to what I (and I daresay many other Christians) believe. So, dear fellow Christians, I commend your forgiving and prayerful nature. But if you haven’t already watched the preaching you seek to stand united with, I would recommend you do so6 in order to understand, at the very least, just how hard you will need to pray.

  1. For anyone reading this who doesn’t already waste too much time keeping up with memes, and also simply because I would marry Allie Brosh if bisexual bigamy were legal, I have to give credit to the original source of those drawings.
  2. 6.55 of Part 1.
  3. Starts at 1.04 of Part 2.
  4. 4.29 of Part 3.
  5. 0.18 of Part 4.
  6. If “Jesus’s Crucifixion Chic” wasn’t enough for you, try “The Laws Of The Harvest” (part 1, part 2).

20 Responses to Kong Hee Kong Si Mi??! Towkay Jesus And The Calvin Klein Crucifixion

  1. Pingback: Gyrating For Jesus: A Pow-Ka-Leow Guide To Sun Ho’s Greatest “Hits” | syntaxfree

  2. TORAJA says:

    CONFUSION…

    Maybe that is what happen in little young brain of big great congregation of City Harvest Church.

    As myself, I felt EMPTY!

    First, it was an euphoria for some reason. Hate? Disgusting? Laughing at? Mocking at? SAD? Sorry? — it is indeed Mix Fruit Salads on my mind and heart.

    Following the stories on news and fortunate to stumble on this wonderful Blog including Zareth Writes At, I found amusingly that Singaporean in their fast living lifestyle, so easily engage and disengage on certain issues.

    To me, this “incident” of what really happens to the leaders at CHC is a very very serious accusation and therefore it is good that government step inside to investigate and tell us the truth…nothing but the truth.

    It reminds me after Googled it to make sure the correct tragedy; something that happened to;

    David Koresh

    http://articles.cnn.com/2011-04-14/us/waco.koresh_1_davidian-sect-vernon-wayne-howell-branch-davidian-compound?_s=PM:US

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Koresh

    and

    Jim Jones

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones

    Can we IMAGINE what will happen if these type of so called “teaching” which already Costing CHC at minimum nominal of $23 Million loss and still being ‘justified’ by some of the followers to continues the programs and teaching methodes?

    Today it is all about MONEY.

    Yet, what if in the case of without warning; and they are all inside the “church” building praising and collecting monies to project crossover …and suddenly… the ‘government’ came with their verdicts and insides, the Leaders are shocking and paranoid…suddenly PREACHING to the congregation TO DO SOMETHING that MAYBE some will follow dutifully?

    I am NOT HAPPY to see some pastors under arrest by police and it is become an commodity by the press all over the world.

    It is BAD IMAGE BRANDING indeed for Christianity.

    Some will tell his or her associate… “I TOLD YOU SO!!!” — not to follow that what they are saying about JESUS…

    On the other hand, to cheer up my doomed feelings and try to being positives to whatever the outcomes are; “this must be one of GOD’s Act to Reminds the People DO NOT Playing Around with THY NAME” — especially corrupting it by any other means.

    It is a hard lesson for human kind especially for HIGH PRIEST, HIGH END PASTORS, HIGH END Cell Group Leaders, HIGH END TV Evangelism…that there are “Some High Ranking Being” Watching ALL of Us from Above and from Every Aspects of our daily lives.

    SCARY and EERIE if we deeply think about it.

    Michelle – please do not give up preaching on your Blog. it is a good medicine to let out something out from your chest and mind. You will be surprise that someone reading some of your materials… giving is not necessary receiving…I myself receive a lot from your gifts that are so gifted ;-)

    CHEERS

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks for letting me know you get something from reading this blog. :) To be fair I’m not sure if CHC would ever get as crazy as the cults you mentioned. But on the other hand, I’m completely unable to understand how any of these literate, educated people can possibly think his sermons make sense, so I can’t make any predictions I guess…

  3. KONG HEE says:

    Your block kicks arse!
    Keep up the good work!
    -KONG HEE

  4. wei neng says:

    Hey Mich, thanks for putting together a good set of sources and examples through which people can learn more about CHC sermons and form their own informed opinions.

    Frankly I was disturbed by the sheer absurdity of the arguments set out in “Was Jesus Poor?” and the fervent note-taking of the congregation as he spoke. It would be easy to conclude that these are private matters of religious interpretation but that doesn’t solve the obvious problem that these arguments are self interested i.e. they are a means to another end.

    I’d be interested to hear your reflections on what the role (if any) of (1) other believers; (2) society at large; (3) the state should have in addressing such practices, whilst respecting and strengthening religious freedom here. Maybe something for a future blog post :)

    • Michelle says:

      All interesting things to ponder, and I too was baffled by the note-taking, which often seemed to happen after he had said something especially absurd.

      (1) I assume that by “other believers” you mean other Christians who are not CHC members? As may be apparent from the ending of the post, I do not believe those Christians should give people like Kong Hee a free pass in the name of Christian solidarity. There seem to be plenty of conservative Singapore Christians who are perfectly willing to be vocal on their views regarding gay rights, presumably because they believe in standing up for what they think is right, or denouncing what they think is wrong. Regardless of whether Kong Hee and his gang have committed actual crimes, there is no doubt that their preachings pervert the gospel. Christians should not mince their words on this. However, I also think that the best outcome here would be to help CHC members understand the errors in what they have been taught, and help them find a new place to continue their journey as Christians. Despite the forceful tone of my writing here, if I came into real-life contact with a CHC member I would try to adopt whatever method of interaction seemed the most likely to achieve that best outcome. And pray for God to grant me the necessary patience, grace and wisdom!

      (2) I think society at large has less of a beef with CHC than other Christians do, actually – there is no reason in general why non-Christians should be concerned about perversion of the gospel. However, when megachurches decide to focus their efforts on something that does affect society at large – again, the issue of gay rights comes easily to mind – then society needs to be aware of how much this can distort the democratic conversation, like in a Proposition 8 situation. On a more local level, this definitely plays its part in creating what appears to be the current perception of our government – that most Singaporeans support the status quo re: gay rights. Civil society groups should target their efforts and strategies accordingly. If they don’t change the mindsets of that middle ground of “no real problems with gay rights, but just apathetic” people, they’ll never make real headway against the loud, passionate conservatives.

      (3) If we’re just talking “prosperity gospel” levels of wrong, I’m not sure what more the state can do, apart from making sure its regulatory mechanisms do what they should re: charities, tax avoidance etc. Anything more would appear to encroach upon religious freedom with no convincing policy reason to override it. The only room I can see for state control of individual decisions to tithe is maybe in extreme situations such as bankruptcy administration.

  5. EpS says:

    A riot n a 1/2! :)

  6. thundie says:

    Instant goose bumps when I saw the familiar drawings. I still check Hyperbole and a Half several times a week hoping for a new post.

    Anyways… yesterday (which marks my one-week anniversary discovering syntaxfree) I finished reading your blog. Your entire blog. Now what do I do with my time? *wails* Write more, Michelle!

    • Michelle says:

      Coincidentally, when I first discovered Hyperbole And A Half (through that very post that inspired the meme), I read her entire blog within less than a week! So the thought that someone could have reacted to my blog the same way I reacted to the superfreakingawesomeness of Hyperbole is a huge, huge compliment to me. THANK YOU THANK YOU! :)

      While you’ll already have seen from the history of this blog that I’m not really the best at following through with promises to blog more often, readers like you are the best possible motivation I could have on those “INTERNETTTTTT!” nights (I know you know the picture I’m referring to here!) to stop wasting time and just bloody write something.

  7. Fox says:

    I’ll admit I only came over cos I wanted to rage about the images being from Hyperbole. I then noted the judicious footnotes and then stayed for Calvary King (and had a very, very close look). Love your writing style, and the pertinent points that many of the woolly-headed dare not question. By the by, I’m pretty sure Mary hand-sewed that undergarment for Jesus. Well versed in needlepoint and tailoring yes, but didn’t the rich buy their clothes?

    As a fellow Catholic I’m proud for your voice and for pointing out the… inconsistencies in KH’s sermon on Jesus being baller = you can be baller too (since this is the lingo they seem to favour). It’s crazy just how many *need* to believe that. I’d like to see bits in the bible where Jesus was rollin’.: yea verily, Jesus in the house wearing Limited Edition Mary on his pimped up donkey with his crew, yo.

    I agree that the message to all Christians is simply, to whom much has been given, much is expected. In that sense, Jesus was uber “rich” with grace, love and wisdom.

    In the interest of fairness, I did look at the CHC site someone had thoughtfully left on your previous post as well as your helpful links to KH’s sermon – I really take my hat off to whoever who wrote both the sermon and the write up on the genesis and “guidance from above” for the Crossover Project. They’ve all got BALLS OF STEEL (and are completely deaf to boot) – that is their REAL SUPERPOWER. The sheer audacity and creativity needed to pitch that type of drivel at a crowd who lap it up! is both mind boggling and slightly unnerving.

    Mostly though, I’m more shocked how many *still* put their faith in a man and his wife who… advocate their version of God’s word (however they think they’re doing it) instead of in God.

    • Michelle says:

      I will admit to having taken rather more time than necessary over my Google Image Search for an appropriate Calvary King source image.

      I also find it as difficult as you do to understand why people put their faith in Kong Hee & Co. I have actually tried to understand by watching that sermon and a few more in their entirety rather than just snippets of the worst bits. Let me make this clear to anyone who encounters CHC supporters saying those bits are just taken out of context – they are just as bad when heard in context. In fact, the cumulative logical fail and biblical twisting of the sermons taken as a whole are exponentially WORSE than just the worst bits watched on their own.

      Your third para sums it all up so well.

  8. TORAJA says:

    One of The Reason(s) many CHC Members so attracted to the congregation because it was stage in Hollywood Style.

    Doesn’t matter what the context, as long Good Color Visual, Good Sound Systems, Good Air Con, Good “performance” that is waht you get for 2 hours up lifting Praise…

    And… you may be the Chosen One to be the “actor” participant of the whole concept.

    MAYBE!

  9. sharon says:

    I wish I could write like you. Will just settle for reading for now…

    Also, footnotes, and the Hyperbole and a Half reference. Please write more. Thank you. <3

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  11. Tien Judson says:

    I’ll right away grasp your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please allow me recognise so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

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