Tuesday, October 26, 2010

When faith collides with tradition

Ever since I come into contact with Christianity since my high school days, all the love shared by the people, the generosity shown to the needy, the purpose in life that gives direction, the heart of living a holy life to bring glory to the Creator and the faith in Him to overcome difficulties, they never fail to impress me. Or even, love your enemy that seem to be the best solution, if not for the sake of Kingdom but also for the sake of your health that is to bring peace to my social surroundings. The weekly church that gives me the opportunity to be a better person, on the notion of faith comes by hearing.

All of these are invigorating nourishments that keeps me forward, making everyday fresh.

Growing up from a traditional Chinese family, my parents keeping with their Taoist-Buddhist ways, has also left an indelible mark on me. Compassion, the central value in Buddhism, goes well with my new faith. Since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by the idols placed on altar, anthropomorphic they are indeed, it was my maternal grandfather who taught me, they have their names. Being a foolish kid that I was, I never really understood what those stuff placed on the altar are for. Through the years, I grew in understanding, although not well versed in what the items mean, at the very least I knew to show reverence to those religious objects.

Suddenly.... my maternal grandfather departed. A person who loved and understood me that he was, I grieved on his demise, I am thankful to have him as my grandfather. As per the Chinese tradition, his name will forever be remembered on the ancestral tablet.

Getting to know Planetshakers in Melbourne since I started university was a turning point in my life. I am made anew, and be at peace with all.

Being a Chinese, carrying the heritage and lineage of something so ancient, also as the eldest in the family, I have my responsibility. Being a first generation Christian, converted to bring joy and blessing. But.... this one thing gets in the way.

I know that Christians have totally forgotten about the ancestral worshipping, they worship God and God alone. Being at the crossroads, I am in a kind of dilemma. My late grandfather loves me so much, and I of course will remember him for what he has done. Now, you said that not paying the respect with a joss stick to the ancestral altar is showing disrespect to a grandparent who loved me so much.

That's when faith collides with tradition that gets in my way. This is a storm I've always been seeking an answer for. I've read countless opinions and heard about practices, there are so many stances to the same issue. This is personal, yet contentious.

The old has passed away, why would I need to adore those that are dead and gone? What about the question of filial piety then? Shouldn't you and I fulfill it during life, that's all the enough time for us to honour; any act beyond death of either is considered too late? As I have been told, it's an irony that children argue with parents in life, but upon death children are asked to show filial piety and worship their parents' spirits.

And now, why parents fear so much about children's conversion into Christianity? Really, there is nothing to be afraid about Jesus. The real reason turns out to be: the FEAR of losing cultural tradition.

I'm now set free, I'd want to see my family set free too.

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