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.
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.
- 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. ↩
- 6.55 of Part 1. ↩
- Starts at 1.04 of Part 2. ↩
- 4.29 of Part 3. ↩
- 0.18 of Part 4. ↩
- If “Jesus’s Crucifixion Chic” wasn’t enough for you, try “The Laws Of The Harvest” (part 1, part 2). ↩