Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ultimate loneliness

For many people, Christmas is festive.  There are family gatherings, parties, meetings with friends, church services attended together - happy events. 

Some people - particularly single adults - however, may crave long-term, stable companionship - a husband or wife, or at least a stable boyfriend or girlfriend - more than anything else.  For them, festive days such as Christmas or New Year may be unbearably lonely.  They want to have someone to share life with, but can’t. 

There is another kind of loneliness which is even worse - the loneliness of facing a completely materialistic, unfeeling, meaningless world.  All by ourselves, without a personal God to keep us company and to give us hope.  If what we can see is all that there is, then when a person dies, one just disappears and there is nothing left.   That is the worst kind of loneliness. 

That makes this life unbearable in so many ways.  On the one hand, there is ultimately no one to share the struggles facing the harsh, capricious, and unjust realities of life with.   On the other hand, all the efforts, achievements, companionship, and relationships of my life amount to nothing.   My parents, wife, daughters, and friends disappear when I, or anyone of them, dies - never to be seen again.   That is unbearable to even contemplate. 

With faith, we don’t feel so lonely facing life.  It even makes the other kinds of loneliness bearable.  Because there is hope, not just in this miserable world, but in eternity. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Party at Hong Chi Special School

On Christmas Eve, as is our tradition, a bunch students and staff from our department went to the Hong Chi PineHill Special School in Taipo to organize a Christmas Party for the kids there.  There are two groups of special-need students invited to the party this year. 

One group is at the primary school age, with severe handicaps.  Most cannot walk, and have to sit in specially-designed wheelchairs.  Many have to wear special helmets to protect their heads from banging, because they are prone to get unpredictable epileptic spasms.  Many of them cannot talk, and have little control of their bodies.  Many of them have hands that curl up into tight fists.  Sometimes, if you massage their hands for a while, their hands start to relax.  And they would look at you, trying to tell you that it feels good, that they appreciate it.  

One boy loves to put everything in his mouth, particularly balloons.  A girl does not communicate much, but loves to tap her fingers on a balloon unceasingly.  Another girl also does not say much, but has a very sweet smile.  She loves to just go limp on her helper, and make her helper pick her up, which her helper - my student - is too happy to comply.  They were having a good time! 

The other group is at the secondary school age, with milder handicaps.  For some of them, their mental development are a little behind regular kids.  Some have Down’s Syndrome.

This year we have a special group of helpers - several refugee children and their parents sponsored by Christian Action.  They are accustomed to feeling helpless, dependent on others for food, a place to live, resettlement, dealing with governments.  This time, they have a chance to help others in need, and to have some fun. 

We sang with the kids there, played balloon games with them, gave them gifts, made Christmas cards with them, made them laugh, and tried to them make them feel wanted.

It is really quite a good way to enjoy Christmas.  And something God would like us to do.    

Thursday, December 23, 2010


On my way to a book shop in Mongkok last Sunday, I passed by a crowd that caught my attention.  Somehow, it looked different from the gawking-at-scantily-clad-young-girls-promoting-mobile-phones crowds.  So I took another look.  It turned out they were watching this young man without hands busily at work.  He grabbed a piece of brightly-pink clay, flattened it with a piece of acrylic, and turned it into a petal for a pink rose.  All by himself.  It is not extremely difficult, but still a pretty neat trick.  Several people gave him money.  He won’t get rich this way, but he may yet earn a living.  He is severely handicapped, but he is working hard to make himself useful. 

He reminded me of Nick Vujicic, the young man from Australia born without limbs - who turned himself into a hugely successful motivational speaker.  He certainly more than overcame his handicaps. 

Jesus once told a parable of servants who were given different amounts of money.  Those who went on to earn money equal in amount to what they were originally given were praised.  Those who simply kept the money without making good use of the money were reprimanded.  What is important is not what and how much we are given - but what we do with the talents we are given.

The more that one is given, the more will be asked from him.  It is both a warning to the rich, smart, pretty, healthy, and powerful; and a reassurance to those who are poor, dumb, ugly, sick, and weak. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blissfully miserable

We Hong Kong people like to think we are rich.  We do have one of the highest GDPs.  We have the highest concentration of luxury cars.  We drink a lot of red wine, even though most of us cannot tell whether the wine we drink is any good.  We certainly have some of the most expensive apartments, and some of the richest people in the world.   But we do not realize that the obscenely rich are skewing the statistics.  When those outliers are taken out of the picture, we are much less well-off, even on paper.  

We do not seem to be aware that Americans live in 2000+ square feet houses with front and back yards while we live in puny little apartments.  Even mainlanders find our apartments small.  We have to measure our tiny apartments in terms of “construction area” to make them sound bigger.  Even our Filipino maids have houses back home that are larger than ours here.

Europeans work 30+ hours a week while we work 50+ and even 60+ hours.  Europeans take month-long vacations each year while we have perhaps 10 days.  We have more money, on paper, than people in many other places.  Yet we have no time to enjoy spending that money.  We take pride in being able to flying away to Thailand for the weekend.   As if spending half of the time travelling back and forth is enjoyable. 

While people elsewhere enjoy green trees and open spaces in their parks, we languish in karaokes and ice-cold, sterile shopping malls.  Or rub shoulders with smelly people in Mongkok. 

Canadians never have to worry about their food. While we have to be constantly on alert for fake eggs and soya source, poisoned vegetables, and bad meat from China.  But cannot afford to buy safer American or Australian beef.

We are miserable, yet we do not even realize it.  How pathetic we are. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

It is hard not to get upset seeing how people like Liu Xiaobo and Zhao Linhai were treated.  They are seeking justice rationally, peacefully, and lawfully.  They should be lauded as heros.  Instead, they are put into prison.  Yet we feel so helpless in front of the overwhelming power that is oppressing them. 

Jesus Christ said that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they shall be filled.  Will this promise truly be fulfilled?

It seems that we do hunger and thirst for righteousness, and yet there is no fulfillment.  But do we really?  Normally, when we are hungry and thirsty, we try to find food to eat, and water to drink.  The hungrier and thirstier we are, the harder we try.  So what have we been doing to try to satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Does our action match our words?

Indeed we may not be able to do much about injustice far away from where we are, and against overwhelming power.  But there are injustices much closer to home, and against lesser obstacles.  Have we been trying to help those nearer us?  Those who are poor?  Weak?  Sick?  Handicapped?  Deprived?  Oppressed?

Are we at least righteous ourselves?  Can we at least say we do not sin, or hate, or envy, or lust, or maltreat? Are not jealous, nor selfish, nor rebellious?  If we cannot be righteous ourselves, what right do we have to demand justice from others?  What hope is there for us, for the world?  If we know what is right and do not do it?  If we know what is wrong but keep on doing it?

Our hopes lie not in ourselves, not in our own wisdom, nor goodness, nor power.  Our hopes lie in the One who is bigger than us, in Jesus Christ, in God.  He is the One who will fill the real hunger for righteousness that is in us, for ourselves, for the world.  But we have to truly know and feel how miserable we all are, and how great our need is.  


Friday, December 10, 2010

In Good Company

Boris Pasternak was named the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958.  He is best known for the novel Doctor Zhivago, an epic which spanned the last days of the Russian Empire and the early days of the Soviet Union.  The novel was made into a movie in 1965, one of the greatest movies ever made.  With a touching story, grand scenery, and moving music.  He was pressured by the then Soviet authorities to decline the award.  He died in 1960.  In 1988, Doctor Zhivago was finally published in Russia.   

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was the author of Gulag Archipelago, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The First Circle, The Cancer Ward, ...  Books that helped the world learn about the oppression, and particularly the forced labour camps in the Soviet Union.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970.  He was prevented from accepting the  award, and expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974.   He returned to Russia in 1994, and died in 2008.

Andrey Sakharov was a Soviet nuclear physicist who became an outspoken advocate of human rights, civil liberties and reform in the Soviet Union.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1975.  The Soviet government prevented him from leaving the country to attend the Nobel Ceremony in Oslo.  In 1980 he was exiled to the closed city of Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod).  In 1986 Mikhail Gorbachev released him from exile.  He died in 1989.  The Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989, and Sarkharov was remembered.

Liu Xiaobo is in good company. 


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Fa Yuen Street fire

Walking past Fa Yuen Street (花園街) near the Mongkok train station today, I was intrigued by a police cordon at the junction of Fa Yuen Street and Bute Street (弼街).  What could it be?  Was there a crime?

Suddenly, I remember hearing about a fire that burned down some hawker stalls in Mongkok yesterday.  Indeed it was right there, no more than 100 meters away from where I stood.  It appeared at least 20 stalls were burned down.  Some firemen were still inspecting the scene.

Most dramatic was the blackened outside walls of one of the buildings on the side.  One can imagine how bad the fire was.  It was said that the hawkers did not purchase insurance for their merchandize stored in those stalls.   It must have been a terrible loss for them. 

The police is looking for a man who was believed to have started the fire.  How does he feel now?  Did he anticipate this when he started the fire?  Does he regret causing so much damage?    

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Fantastic Noodle Shop (沙田瀝源村盛記麵家)

Hidden behind the car park in Lek Yuen Estate (瀝源村) in Shatin is a great noodle shop.  There is no need for words.  Just look at the photographs. 

You may have to hurry, however.  Because Lek Yuen Estate can be demolished soon. 

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Greed and philanthropy

L is a very shrewd businessman.  He pays his staff as little as possible.  He charges as much as possible for his products and services.  He pays his suppliers as little as possible, taking full advantage of the large size of his orders to squeeze out discounts.  He also pays his suppliers as late as possible, often months after the goods have been received.  But if you ever owe him anything, he is ruthless and swift in collecting his debts.  He is careful in cultivating his relationships with the rich and powerful, because it is good for business. But he gives no consideration to the old, the young, the poor, the handicapped.  If you cannot pay, he wants no contact with you. He abides by the law, but he is without mercy.  Business is business.

On the other hand, L makes quite a number of donations to prominent charities and causes.  He also makes sure that he gets maximal credit from it.  Often in the form of buildings and institutions named after him.  He likes to be known as a caring person. 

I am not trying to describe any real person.  But Mr. L seems to be the role model of a lot of us Hong Kong people. 

Does philanthropy make up for naked greed in business?  Can I squeeze someone dry for my enrichment, and then turn around to give the same person some small change - and feel smug in my generosity?

I don’t think so.  I think God is going to say, “Wipe that smug look off your face,” and worse.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A father and son story - Chinese style

Y did not attend college.  Perhaps because her father’s fortune went downhill after she was adopted.  Perhaps because her mother blamed her for bringing bad fortune.  Perhaps because she was adopted and she is a girl.  Perhaps because of all of that.  This is Y’s greatest regret - her lack of education.  But she is not bitter.  She knows that her father loves her, and her mother appreciates her, although grudgingly. 

Y’s elder brother did get sent to the best university in Shanghai, bearing the hope of the family.  That first winter the son was in university, the father went to Shanghai to deliver some winter clothing, himself dressed in those bulky, padded cotton Chinese jackets.  The son was not too pleased - embarrassed by his father dressing like a country bumpkin.  

When the son graduated from university, he wanted to get married.  He asked his father to give him 200,000 (RMB) for the wedding.  He knew his father did not have that kind of money, but he wanted his father to find a way to borrow the money.  When his father could not come up with the money, the son got really upset.  They are not on speaking terms now. 

I heard that such relationships are not atypical in China these days. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Young and old

It is easy to look and feel good when we are young.  In Hong Kong, as in elsewhere, we worship youthfulness.  Young people are eager to flaunt their youth.  The not-so-young, even those positively old, try to look, and pretend that they are still, young.  We refuse to acknowledge that we are getting old.  We seem to wish that the old would conveniently fade away. 

Rarely do we find young people lovingly looking after their seniors. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Maid and Girl

They must have a good relationship.  The little girl being comfortable with her care-giver. And the Indonesian maid loving that little girl.  The girl’s parents should be happy, that their maid is taking good care of their precious child.  Do they know it though?

Friday, November 26, 2010


我從Y 那裡知道 著名的水鄉古鎮甪直 離開 我上課的會議中心只有約 30分鐘車程。星期六晚上,下課後,我和我的一些學生開車去那邊看。

相比同理,周莊等已經頗負盛名的水鄉古鎮,甪直沒有那麽出名。也沒有那麽商業化。但是也有幾百年的水道,橋樑和老房子。白天有大量的遊客。晚上,它很安靜,平和。唯一顯著的響聲是由一個家庭的喪禮傳出來。我們大約晚上8點經過時,幾個僧侶在念經。 晚上10時左右, 當我們再次經過他們的門口時,念經的僧侶不見了。只有幾個人在打麻將。按照習俗,家人要整夜做法事。也許,打麻將是保持清醒的好方法。

通過一些半閉的窗戶和門口,可以看到一些沿河的房子是有人住的。有衣服掛在裡面,有人在做飯,... 。但大多數的房子似乎已被改造成餐廳,紀念品商店等。多數人都搬出老城區。白天,他們回來古鎮經營商店。

我們找到了 沈萬三 的一個老房子。他是明代最富有的人,也是寓言故事聚寶盆的主角。後來明太祖嫉妒他,沒收他一半的財富,把他流放到雲南。 沈萬三 早已過去,儘管他的房子依然存在。

我們沿著河邊的老房子散步, 突然發現狹窄的水道對面有一排明亮的燈光照亮了一個高大的牌樓。牌樓內是一個巨大的公園,有許多獨特蘇州風格的白的牆壁和黑的傾斜瓦頂的建築物。這顯然是新建的。甪直像同理,周莊一樣。也慢慢成為一個商業化的旅遊景點。


根據我的字典,“甪”字是來自“角”字,廣東話發音像“鹿”。 甪直 擁有傳奇的過去,氣氛很好。儘管它慢慢變得沒那麽有趣了。

Luzhi (甪直) produce

Walking through Luzhi, we found a vendor selling goose eggs.  They looked like dinosaur eggs when placed next to chicken eggs.  We were not in the mood for such large eggs.

We did buy some water caltrop (菱角).  They look sinister, and - with those sharp “horns” - they can really be used as weapons.

When cooked, the “meat” is powder-ly white.  It tasted plain, but recalled childhood memories.  I ended up eating a lot of them at the hotel later that evening.

With society getting more and more sophisticated, people lose interest in simple foods such as these - they are considered plain and boring.  Instead, people look for, and create processed foods with "new" flavor.  I am not sure it is such a good development.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Luzhi (水鄉古鎮甪直) at night

I found out from Y that Luzhi (甪直) is only about 30 minutes by car from the Xian Jiaotung University - University of Liverpool Conference Center in Suzhou, where I was teaching over the weekend.  On Saturday evening, after class, I went over there with some of my students.

Luzhi is one of those old water towns, such as 同里, 周庄, that have become quite famous, for their waterways, bridges, and old houses.  During the day, I was told, there are lots of tourists.  At night, it was quiet and peaceful.  The only significant noise was made by a family having a funeral.  Monks were praying there when we passed them on the way in, around 8PM.  When we passed them again on the way out, around 10PM, the monks were replaced by people playing mahjong.  According to the custom, the family have to stay up through the night.  Perhaps playing mahjong is a good way to stay awake. 

Through some of the half-closed windows and doors, we could see some people were living in those houses along the river.  There were clothes hanging inside, some people were cooking, ...   But most of the houses seem to have been converted into restaurants, souvenirs shops, etc.   Most people have moved out of the old town.  During the day, they come back to the old town to man the shops.  The few people that we saw in those houses were likely to be house-keepers.

We found an old house belonging to the richest man in the Ming Dynasty, 沈萬三.  He was the rich man in the fable 聚寶盆.  He was so rich that the Ming Emperor (朱元璋) became jealous.  Half of 沈萬三 ‘s wealth was confiscated, and he was exiled to Yunan (雲南).  The man is long gone, even though his houses remain. 

While we were strolling along the river, we were suddenly dazzled by the bright lights illuminating a grand entrance, just across the narrow waterway from the row of humble old houses.  Inside the gate is a huge park, with numerous buildings in the distinctive Suzhou style of white walls and black sloped roofs.  It was obviously newly built.   So there is no escape for 甪直. It is also turning into a commercialized tourist attraction like 同里, 周庄.

Later I found that 甪直 is also the hometown of 蕭芳芳.

According to my dictionary, 甪 was derived from 角, and is pronounced like 鹿 in Cantonese.   It is still an interesting place, with a storied past, and great atmosphere, even though it is fast becoming less and less interesting. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lady driver’s story

Y was left at the backdoor of an orphanage in Shanghai 30 years ago. She was adopted by a family but got lost in Hefei, Anhui.  She was very small when all these happened, so  she had very little re- collection of her first foster family.  When she was seven, she was adopted by a family who lived in Suzhou. 

Her father was an educated man with a respectable job and 3 children.  Later he lost his job and the family went back to farming.  Y’s mother blamed Y for this poor turn of fortune.  The family put the eldest son through the top university in Shanghai.  But Y never went to university.  The lack of an education is Y’s greatest regret.

Y went through many jobs, including cleaning the toilet.  She got a break when she went to work for an electronics firm.  Despite her lack of education, she was actually quite smart and worked very hard.  She soon got promoted to foreman.  She was, in her words, not afraid to “eat bitterness”.  Unfortunately, she was also not afraid to speak up when she saw injustice.  She ran afoul of a supervisor who wanted to raise production rates by taking short-cuts.  She lost her job. 

She became a street hawker.  She made some money.  And with some additional money from her father,  she bought a car and started taking driving jobs, illegally, like many other drivers in China. 

A man made a deal with her to rent her car for a good sum, so she agreed.  But he refused to pay her the promised rent, and would not return the car.  So Y went to the police.  It turned out the man had connections with the police, and the complaint went nowhere.  She protested at the police station, and was driven away.  She protested on the main street with placards, and was arrested.  In desperation, she went to the mayor’s office during the Chinese New Year’s holidays.  She waited for days - until she saw a stream of expensive cars coming to the office.  She jumped in front of the cars and protested.  It turned out the mayor was in the second car, and took pity on her. 

Y got her money back.  But the kind mayor also advised her: that she should not continue to take driving jobs illegally.  So she bought another car, and is now taking legal jobs only.  That’s how she ended up being my driver when I went to Suzhou to teach this weekend. 

When I got in the car at the Shanghai airport, I was fully intending to take a nap on the 2.5 hour ride to Suzhou.  It was past 9 PM and I had had a long day.  My plane was changed and delayed, and since we could not get in touch, she had to wait at the airport amidst much confusion.  She was apologetic and I was apologetic.  Added to that, it was the first time I had a lady driver, so we started talking, and didn’t stop until we got to Suzhou. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Paper export

Hong Kong exports a lot of paper.  Unfortunately, these are not elegant, sophisticated products made of paper.  Not even mass market paper products.  Or no-name low grade paper products.  But simply bales and bales of used paper - presumably to be re-cycled, most likely on the mainland. 

Re-cycling them is marginally better than throwing them away as garbage.  But why can’t we do the re-cycling in Hong Kong?   Products made of re-cycled paper are more valuable than waste paper.  Even re-cycled paper as raw material is more valuable than just waste paper.  We certainly have the technology to re-cycle paper, and to turn them into sophisticated products.  Space may be an issue, but it is not such a big issue any more.  Since all the factories have already moved to the mainland, we have no shortage of industrial buildings and space. 

We keep saying we have to transform our industries into high technology, high valued-added industries.   Certainly turning recycled paper into high grade products is more high technology, higher value-adding than packing bales and bales of waste paper to be shipped away?

Perhaps we have simply turned lazy?   Both in body and mind?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Whose side are we on?

What is the Church so fearful of the Rich and Powerful?

In the case of rich Mr. L versus priest L, most people feel that priest’s offense, if any, is relative minor.  It is essentially the personal opinion of one priest at one light-hearted moment.  So why is the Catholic Church so apologetic? 

Many people have brought up - in fact, Mr. L’s associates themselves have alluded to - the fact that Mr. L is a big contributor to the church’s very large charity organization.   If the fear of losing a big donor is really a major factor, then it is really sad and disappointing.   The Catholic Church has a well-earned reputation of taking care of and standing on the side of the poor and oppressed.  In South America, in Eastern Europe, ... and even in Hong Kong. 

Now, if the Church leadership is trying to appease the rich, it is really pitiable.  First of all, God Himself is most definitely on the side of the poor and the oppressed.  It is stated numerous times in the Bible, and numerous times by Jesus Christ.  Secondly, is God so poor that His followers have to depend on the largess of the world’s rich?  I don’t think God is that small. 

It turns out this is really a test of where do we actually put our faith.  On the visible but ephemeral power of money?  Or the unseen, but just, loving and eternal God? 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Might is right?

On the mainland, Mr. Z found that the milk he fed his baby was tainted by harmful substances.  So he complained and protested, and tried to fight for justice for himself and his fellow suffers.  He was never violent.  Yet he was put into prison for a long period because of this.  Outrageous! Abuse of justice! - we all say. 

In Hong Kong, priest L complained, at a seemingly light-hearted moment at Halloween, that an extremely rich Mr. L was like the devil because he built apartments with inflated floor areas.  The words priest L chose was perhaps a bit harsh, but no more than many people were saying privately.  However, Mr. L was quite upset.  The church was then pressured into saying they were sorry.

The mainland case is, of course, much more serious than the Hong Kong case.  But the messages behind the two cases are the same: Don’t criticize us the powerful.  If we don’t like what you are saying, we can hurt you.  So, don’t!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lady Samaritan

On a Saturday morning, S was running along the TsimShaTsui East waterfront.  He was an hour and 15 minutes into his run, and was feeling so good he felt may be he could run for 2 hours.  After rounding the old clock tower he was right in front of the Culture Centre, returning towards Hung Hom, when his right foot caught something on the ground.  He stumbled, leaned to his right and tried to stay on his feet.  In a split second, he knew he could not maintain his balance, and was going to fall.  He let himself fall to his right, and rolled over, hoping to reduce the impact. 

S found himself sprawled on the ground.  He sat up, and took stock.  Skin was peeled off and hanging from knuckles on two fingers on his right hand, and the knuckles were bloodied.   Skin was scraped off his right knee but there was no blood - yet.  His palms and wrist felt the impact but he was able to move them freely, without much pain.  For a minute he sat there examining himself.  Nobody paid him any attention, even though there were a lot of people around.  Locals waiting to get on leisure boats from the pier, and lots of tourists just looking around and taking photographs.

A lady came over and pulled S to his feet.  In Putonghua, she told S that he should get up and asked if he was OK.   S was thankful that the lady jolted him into action, him having been stunted into a half daze, and for a moment, not knowing what to do. 

S thought of walking home.  But he was a bit annoyed that his plan to run 2 hours, having been running well so far, was interrupted by a silly fall.  He knew he was not seriously hurt.  He was more annoyed at himself for being careless, and for not being able to remain in balance when he stumbled.  However, it was nobody’s fault but his own.  He decided to try to run a few steps, even though his knuckles and one knee were now quite bloodied.  He was surprised to find that he could run without much pain.  So he continued, and eventually finished his 2 hour run.  While he was running, he did notice bruises starting to form around his wrists. 

It was only later, after buying a 10 pound melon, that he realized his wrists were hurting so bad be could not lift the melon.

It was 12 days ago when it all happened.   S has almost completely recovered by now.  He is still thankful to God that he was not hurt more badly - such as banging his head on the ground.   And thankful to the lady who came to his aid.  He never found out who she was.  Although he is quite certain she was a tourist from mainland China.  Among all the people outside the Culture Centre on that Saturday morning, many must have seen him stumbled and fell.  At least one person cared enough to try to help.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Heavenly wealth

Lots of news about the rich and the famous (or infamous) these days in Hong Kong.  A Catholic priest called an extremely rich real estate developer the devil, which provoked some angry responses.  Another extremely rich man’s unmarried son suddenly came up with three sons, after his younger brother produced two daughters.  A merely rich man’s company gave his employees a raise, but made previously-paid lunch hours unpaid; then changed his mind after noisy protests.   These shows to what extent the rich will go, to make another dollar. 

But it is not just the rich who are keen on making money.  Those of us who have little, are also very keen on securing our own apartment, building up investments in stocks, gold, foreign currency and such.  We all know the value of money.

Do we?

In The Gospel According to Mark, Jesus told a rich young man who had kept all the commandments: “One thing you lack.  Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Jesus is saying that, instead of investing in treasure on earth, we should invest in treasure in heaven - things that have truly long-lasting value.  What exactly is treasure in heaven?  It is to love God, and to love our fellow men (and women, and children, and old people, ..., and particularly the poor and the oppressed).  It really is better than the love of money. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Animal-friendly Chile

We encountered numerous animals in the few days we were there.   There was this fierce-looking caged dog at the Central Market in Santiago.   Cats resting under the statue of some famous person near the Central Market.  A dog sleeping under the statue of another famous person near our hotel.  Another dog sleeping peacefully under the feet of a bunch of noisy primary school kids visiting the Cathedral in Plaza de Armas.  A pigeon perched on the head of some saint outside another church near the Plaza de Armas.  A horse standing patiently hitched to a cart laden with vegetables at the market in Valparaiso.  A dog named Miguel sleeping in his own doghouse in Valparaiso.  A cat that climbed onto the shoulder of one of us at the market in Valparaiso.  A sand mother rhino with young on the beach at Vina de Mar.   A friendly St. Bernard at the hotel at the ski resort Laguna del Inca up in the Andes Mountains. ...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Chile - more people

... The young couple playing on the beach of Vina del Mar.  The man riding (pushing) a bicycle up the Andes Mountains towards the border with Argentina.  The electrician hanging in mid-air above the traffic on a busy street in Vina del Mar.  The whole family riding a horse together in San Jose de Maipo.  The young lady sitting across from The Lady in Los the city of Andes.  The man carrying a baby on the streets of Valparaiso.  The street performers.  The hand-holding young couple with their dog.  The lady who sold us pungent-smelling piure.  The young couple who taught us to drink beer with salt while we were eating piure.  The old lady who warned us of shoulder-bag-snatchers. ...  I love the Chileans.