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Happy Birthday, Jesus CHRIST!
Complete Gospel of John
Dr. Rob Norris
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[Author Philip Yancey, Facebook post, 23 Dec. 2012]
As an expression of compassion for a nation in grief, Zondervan has made the Kindle edition available for free download for two weeks only!
If there is a loving God, then why is it that ... ?
You've heard that question, perhaps asked it yourself. No matter how you complete it, at its root lies the issue of pain.
Does God order our suffering? Does he decree an abusive childhood, orchestrate a jet crash, steer a tornado through a community? Or did he simply wind up the world's mainspring and now is watching from a distance?
In this Gold Medallion Award--winning book, Philip Yancey reveals a God who is neither capricious nor unconcerned. Using examples from the Bible and from his own experiences, Yancey looks at pain---physical, emotional, and spiritual---and helps us understand why we suffer. Where Is God When It Hurts? will speak to those for whom life sometimes just doesn't make sense. And it will help equip anyone who wants to reach out to someone in pain but just doesn't know what to say.
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[ Disturbingly beautiful piece by Yale theologian Miroslav Volf, gleaned from his Facebook post, 18 Dec. 2012 ]
Here is what I wrote when the Tsunami struck a few years ago with such devastating force in Indonesia. It is published in *Against the Tide* (Eerdmans)
TSUNAMIS AND GOD
At a dinner in honor of a prominent guest who shall remain here nameless I was seated next to a very bright woman who works for CBS. Tsunami had just struck off the coast of Sumatra with all its destructive force, and we were tal king about the magnitude of desolation, the plight of victims, and the insanity of the event. She knew I was a theologian, so she broached the question of God, not gingerly at all as it might be expected at the social occasion. “Where was God?” “How can one believe in a good God in the face of such suffering?” And that’s when I made my mistake.
The good thing is, I suppose, that the mistake was not as bad as it could have been. I could have attempted to justify God. After all, God was under attack, and I was a theologian, and a theologian who finds God immensely attractive even if sometimes totally baffling and very disturbing. But I remembered the earthquake which destroyed Lisbon in 1755 and Voltaire’s Candide, a devastatingly witty attack on philosophical and theological optimism written partly in response. Two thirds of Lisbon were destroyed, and close to 30.000 people died, mostly from a tidal-wave and fire that followed the earthquake. It was All Saints Day, and “churches, with tapers burning, crumbled upon the crowds of worshipers.” Brothels remained mostly spared, as Voltaire was quick to note.
Ever since I read Candide I could not bring myself to try to defend God against the charge of impotence or lack of care with regard to horrendous evils. I certainly couldn’t make it plausible to myself that “whatever is, is right” or that “partial ill, is universal good.” It’s not so much that I’ve come to believe that such arguments must be wrong. Maybe I’ll be persuaded by them once the history has run its course and God has brought about redemption and consummation, and I am able to think with a clear head from within a world made whole. That’s what Martin Luther suggested would happen in his treatise On the Bondage of the Will. But here and now, enmeshed as I am in the world in which suffering piles upon suffering in the course of unfolding history, I find such arguments implausible, lame, even a bit irritating. The good of the whole seems terribly abstract and without meaning or consolation to a human being plagued by suffering. “When death crowns the ills of suffering man, what a fine consolation to be eaten by worms!” wrote Voltaire with characteristic sarcasm.
I did not make the mistake of trying to justify God—in 2 minutes or less. But I did try something almost equally complex, though more plausible. I suggested to my partner that the very protest against God in the face of evil in fact presupposes the existence of God. Why are we disturbed about the brute and blind force of tsunamis which snuff out lives of people, including children who were lured, as if by some sinister design, onto the beaches by fish left exposed in the shallows because waters have retreated just before the tidal wave came? If the world is all there is, and the world with moving tectonic plates is a world in which we happen to live, what’s there to complain about? We can mourn; we’ve lost something terribly dear. But we can’t really complain, and we certainly can’t legitimately protest. The expectation that the world should be a hospitable place, with no devastating mishaps, is tied to the belief that the world ought to be constituted in a certain way. And that belief—as distinct from the belief that world just is what it is) is itself tied to the notion of a creator. And that brings us to God. It is God makes possible protest that there is evil in the world. And it is God against whom we protest. God is both the ground of the protest and its target. Paradoxically almost, we protest with God against God. How can I believe in God when tsunamis strike? I protest, and therefore I believe.
It was a mistake, however, to try to make this argument at that dinner. It’s not that in the meantime I’ve come to believe that the argument isn’t good. It’s a fine argument, even though it leaves one with a faith that seems at odds with itself, with a God whom it is hard to abandon and yet difficult to embrace. It’s also not that my interlocutor was unable to follow the argument, even in such condensed form and delivered between the salad and the main course. She was smart enough for that. Yet, I shouldn’t have offered it, not then and there, and not as the first thing to be said about God and tsunamis.
“How can one believe in a good God in the face of such suffering?” The answer to this question depends in part on the other question my interlocutor asked me that evening, “Where was God?” My mistake was that I tried to answer the first question without answering the second. Just as God was in some mysterious way in the Crucified One, God was in the midst of the tsunami carnage, listening to every sigh, collecting every tear, resonating with trembling of each fear-stricken heart. And just as God was in the Resurrected One, so God was in each helping hand, in each decision to sacrifice one’s own life so that another can live. God suffered and God helped.
I know that, at the same time, God was also seated on God’s heavenly throne. Why did the omnipotent and loving One not do something about the tsunami before it struck? I don’t know. If I knew, I could justify God. But I can’t. That’s why I am disturbed, still, by the God to whom I am so immensely attracted and who won’t let go of me.
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The Nativity Story
Hollywood (New Line Cinema) did a great job in making the birth of Jesus come alive on screen.
CHRISTmas is the birthday celebration of Jesus CHRIST.
Christmas marks 2012 years since Christ's birth,
the source of our universal CALENDAR.
The birth of Jesus as found in historical documents, known as the "gospel" (or "good news"), written by His disciples, eyewitnesses to His life:
Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Luke
It was also prophesied by prophets living 700 years before Jesus entered humanity as flesh and blood (700 B.C., or "before Christ"). Believe in Him or not believe in Him, love Him or hate Him, we cannot escape the impact He has on our life, as His life has shaped and continues to shape the world.
Do you know the story?
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Season of Advent
Advent is a season observed in Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming" and is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression of 400 years. It is the cry of Cambodians and those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of the oppressed and brought deliverance in the person of Jesus. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, which this year falls on Sunday, December 2. (Gleaned from Wikipedia and Dennis Bratcher).
(My favorite Advent song)
Recently, I re-discovered the deep wisdom of Dr. Rob Norris and have been listening to his sermons online. Like a sponge, I've been soaking in the fascinating series on the spiritual development of Simon Peter ("Grace at Work: the Making of a Disciple"), "Knowing Jesus", and the profound exposition of the four "colorful" women named in the genealogy of Jesus Christ--extraordinarily rare given the fact that they're women and their checkered backgrounds--found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Dr. Norris looks at each woman in a sermon for each Advent Sunday leading up the birth of Jesus.
(who committed incest with her father-in-law Judah)
(a Moabite widow of the then-most-despised-race of the Jews)
(2nd Advent Sunday, 9 Dec. 2012)
GLEANING is a Jewish tradition of providing for the poor - whom Yale theologian Nick Wolterstorff called "the Quartet of the Vulnerable" -- the orphans, the widows, the oppressed, the alien. The Hebrew word for "kinsman-redeemer" (or "guardian-redeemer") is a legal term for one who has the obligation to redeem a relative in serious difficulty (see Leviticus 25: 25-55). I have translated "kinsman-redeemer" as «សាច់ញាតិ-អ្នកសង្គ្រោះ» as currently in the KSV 2005 it goes by varying descriptive phrases.
(King David committed adultery with her; she became pregnant, and thus, he had her husband killed)
(3rd Advent Sunday, 16 Dec. 2012)
Besides great oratory which only Dr. Norris can give, there's a good laugh for you in the sermon, I promise ; ) .
Fourth Presbyterian Church near Washington, D.C. was my home during the four years at Georgetown University, where every Sunday, a group of 20-30 of us from Georgetown would be picked up early in the morning for the 15-20 min drive to Bethesda, MD for Dr. Norris' sermons and for Chuck Jacob's Bible study, followed by group lunch and fellowship till late into the afternoon.
The Khmer church, New Life Fellowship, I attend now (near the Olympic Market), which I love, could not be more different than 4th Presbyterian -- young people with guestimated average age at 20-25, new believers and the energy and excitement of what that entails (overt joy, overt fervor, with rock-concert-style dancing and singing -- not unlike our experience of first love, which by its nature cannot yet be tempered by the steady, deep knowledge and comfort of a long-term relationship -- good and bad), versus a more settled joy of a more somber people, that of a traditional nuclear, wealthy family setting of a neighborhood near the US capital, where the Conservative political elites attend (then Vice-president Dan Quayle and my Georgetown professor/former UN ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick attended when I attended).
During the amazing worship service at New Life Fellowship, this past Sunday (Nov. 25), I was deeply moved to pray for each of the security guards whose faces I could remember. I've had enough encounters with the security forces here over the years since the mid-1990s to know of their personality and spiritual poverty, but I could never bring myself to pray for them. The conviction really hit me hard this Sunday (Nov. 25), where I could not do otherwise, where I genuinely prayed blessings for them, wanted the best for them, as I remember the look in their eyes of pain, of confusion, of meanness -- their imprisonment.
- Theary, Phnom Penh, 1 Dec. 2012
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Other great sermons by Dr. Rob Norris during this Advent season look at the different characters at the birth of Jesus / of the Nativity story:
(the teenage virgin mother of Jesus and the Magnificat)
of Dr. Norris that he gave on 2 Dec. 2012
A brilliant SERMON on ANGELS
by Dr. Rob Norris (Luke 1 and 2)
(the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder)
by Dr. Rob Norris (Luke 2: 8-20)
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A LANGUAGE IN CRISIS
4-Part Series of Commentary to
The Phnom Penh Post
Re-posted on KI-Media and Facebook Accounts
Sent to 1,500 on Email List-serve
A LANGUAGE IN CRISIS
(edited version published in The Phnom Penh Post, 16 Aug. 2011)
A LANGUAGE IN CRISIS
The Written Khmer: The Problem
(edited version published in The Phnom Penh Post, 17 August 2012)
A LANGUAGE IN CRISIS
The Written Khmer: A Few Questions
(anecdotes of the problems on the ground posed in list of questions, forthcoming)
A LANGUAGE IN CRISIS
The Written Khmer: A Few Recommendations
(a few initial recommendations of the way forward, forthcoming)
Venerable Chuon Nath's Dictionary
and other Authority
Language and National Identity
by Dr. Stephen Heder
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សេចក្តីប្រកាស ជាសកល ស្តីអំពី សិទ្ធិមនុស្ស
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This version is from a couple of translations published by the UNOHCHR (booklet, webpage) which I have edited mainly with regards to spacing and punctuations for easier comprehension.
On occasions, I have corrected translation inaccuracies.
– Theary C. Seng, Phnom Penh, 30 Nov. 2012
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The Khmer Bible
Edited by Theary C. Seng
As the Khmer Standard Version of the Bible, 2005 is extremely well translated in terms of word choice/vocabulary, and recently made available in electronic form on the internet, and because I am already very well familiar with the stories and books of the Bible (reading, re-reading them since I first became a Christian at the age of 9 years old--32 years ago!), I am editing the KSV 2005 with proper, consistent, and "new" punctuations as well as reformatting it for clarity and easier comprehension.
I am starting with books and portions of the Bible which contain ideas and concepts which are already familiar, even if the non-Christian Khmer reader may be surprised to find the source as the Bible, e.g. the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Sermon on the Mount, Gospel of Luke and of John, Letter of James, etc.
Both Christian and non-Christian Cambodian readers will be able to appreciate these edited books of the Bible in Khmer, mainly because they rare reading materials available in the Khmer language that are clear and understandable. For the non-believing Khmer readers, take these edited books of the Bible as good literature, which they are (plus more, for the Khmer believers!).
In all instances, I have changed to the correct spelling of ឲ្យ (from អោយ, which is incorrect).
Samdech Sangh (Venerable) Chuon Nath Dictionary (1967) and another dictionary before 1977 have ឲ្យ. Dictionaries of 2004, 2007 have ឱ្យ.
ឱ្យ is an accepted form of ឲ្យ. However, the introduction page of Samdech Sangh Chuon Nath dico (1967-1968) edition - note No. ខ៣, he also indicated that while this form is correct, we should not use: ឱយ or អោយ.
Writing អោយ (which is INCORRECT) is akin to texting in English luv . It is common practice to write informally text or email messages "I luv you" but it doesn't make "luv" the correct spelling of "love". The principle also applies to writing Khmer properly.
I am currently having my staff at CIVICUS Cambodia typing two basic books on the history of Cambodia, already translated but lacking proper punctuations, so that I may edit them and make them freely available online for the public.
MUST BE TRIGGERED
with INTERESTING MATERIALS.
Must be free of the burdens
of having to fight the printed page
and mangled language.
Is the beginning of effective DIALOGUE, of quality EDUCATION, of RECONCILIATION, of Cambodian FLOURISHING (PEACE with JUSTICE, or SHALOM).
* * *
|Michigan; Remembrance of K5 Genocide Victims; HRW 30 years of Hun Sen|
|Examples of Unclarity of Khmer Writing; Cognitive Miser Theory; ឲ្យ v. អោយ; Tradition; សូម and សុំ; Punctuation is the KEY to Development|