Evan Almighty 衰鬼上帝2

Evan almighty 喜歡上一集Jim Carrey主演「衰鬼上帝」的朋友﹐可能會到對今集感到失望﹐沒有跨張無厘頭的暴笑喜劇﹐取而代之是溫馨感人的輕鬆小品。我一向不喜歡Jim Carrey橡皮怪臉的演技﹐反而今集由傻呼呼的Steven Carell當主角看起來較順眼。Morgan Freeman依舊飾演上帝的角色﹐他的上帝形象深入民心﹐中世紀油畫的上帝永遠是穿白袍的長鬚老人﹐現代荷里活電影的上帝則是穿白襯衣的黑人。

這一集玩的情節不再是上帝放假﹐而是現代版挪亞方舟。上集當配角的Evan今集擔正當主角﹐原本是電視台的新聞主持﹐參考國會議員競選成功﹐一家人搬去華盛頓展開新生活。在這位政壇新星準備大展拳腳改變世界時﹐上帝向貨顯示神諭﹐叫他參考聖經創世紀建造一隻方舟。全世界也嘲笑主角是瘋子﹐不過他始終堅守到最後﹐等街大洪水的神蹟出現﹐拯救原本嘲笑他人的上船避難﹐皆大歡喜大團員結局﹐還踢爆壞蛋議員破壞環境謀利的陰謀。這套電影是黑白分明的童話寓言故事﹐ 所有角色也性格簡單﹐忠的正直奸的邪惡﹐所以請觀眾不要深究劇情細節是否合理。這套電影是喜劇﹐笑位也水份充足。上帝在說道理之餘﹐不忘整蠱捉弄主角﹐於是經常笑話百出。前乘來搭方舟成雙成對的動物﹐更加是生動有趣﹐還懂得幫手造船﹐小朋友一定看到拍爛手掌。還有一些笑料比較隱晦﹐要花點心思腦筋急轉彎才明白﹐照顧到水平較高觀眾的知性需要。這套電影歡歡樂樂健健康康﹐是這個暑假檔期適合一家大細觀看的選擇。

承接上一集衰鬼上帝的風格﹐觀眾在戲院中除了開懷大笑一頓外﹐完場時細味少思劇中的意義還會有所得著。 雖然故事是取材自聖經故事﹐但電影沒有令人反感的硬銷式傳教。劇中上帝說的教訓不多﹐皆是不論宗教派別﹐總會讓觀眾感覺窩心的大道理。劇中方舟比喻想要改變世界就要由自己開始﹐方舟的英文是ARK﹐ 拆開來代表Act of Random Kindness。在中段主角的妻子因為害怕帶著兒子搬回外家﹐在途中餐廳遇到上帝裝扮的待應﹐他們那一段對話最發人深省。大意是說﹕若果有人祈求忍耐﹐你說上帝會直接給他忍耐﹐還是給他一個鍛煉忍耐的機會呢﹖若果有人祈求勇氣﹐上帝會直接讓他勇敢﹐還是給他一個發揮勇氣的機會呢﹖若果祈求一家人親近﹐上帝會否忽現間讓人心中湧出暖意﹐還是給一個機會(全家一起建造方舟)去讓他們學習相親相愛呢﹖

據聞在香港早年拍攝「謊舟大迷信」的影音使團﹐包下電影院播放「衰鬼上帝續集」作為傳教工具。我想他們這些傳教活動只會適得其反﹐讓觀眾更加質疑他們挪亞方舟是歷史事件的宣稱。聖經神話在外國是傳統文化的一部份﹐不少電影也會借用聖經故事來說說道理。這等於希臘史哲學家用希臘神話說道理一樣﹐不會有人認真地當那些神話是真實發生的事情。反而會下意識地認為人可能重新解讀演釋聖經﹐更新那些古老過時的神話故事﹐把道理靈活地應用在現代的生活上。其實這樣做已經違背了基督教中聖經一字也不可以更改﹐任何經文也要照字面意思直解的教義 。電影中的上帝是仁慈的智者﹐最後大洪水是因為人類破壞環境帶來的災害﹐現代挪亞把最初不信有洪水的民眾救上船﹐沒有淹死一人。舊約聖經的上帝卻是個草管人命的凶殘暴君﹐降大雨消滅地球上挪亞一家外的所有人。作為一個有良心理知的觀眾﹐看完電影的方舟故事後﹐再對比舊約原版的方舟故事﹐大慨寧願相信扮上帝的Morgan Freedom﹐也不願相信基督教的耶和華。

A chapter in the history of IQ

This is a speech prepared for my toastmaster ATM#5.

How many of you have taken a IQ test? Please raise your hands. Don’t worry, I am not asking any IQ question. Today I going to tell you a story about Lewis Terman, the father of IQ, Intelligent Quotation.

It was year 1923. Inside an office in the psychology department of Stanford University, Professor Lewis Terman was preparing his lecture tomorrow. Back then, Stanford was a still new unknown university in the West, surrounded by the farm land in Palo Alto. Look outside his office, he can see farmers busy harvesting the crops. (Side note: Lewis’s son, Fredick Terman, the chairman of Stanford physics department, was the founder of the Silicon Valley, but that would be another story.) Terman was relaxing in his arm chair, thinking over his archievments in promoting the IQ test since he joined Stanford.

Terman always has passion for intelligence. It was his life long career to establish an objective measurement of human intelligence, which is the ability of abstract reasoning. Shortly after he joined Stanford, he improved an intelligent test developed by French psychologist Alfred Binet. However Terman put a twist into the original test, which is designed to identify slow children that require special help. Instead Terman turned the test around to identify the gifted children. Since then, the Stanford-Binet test and its variation are popular among schools to identify bright student and give them challenges.

Suddenly, a knock on the door interrupts Terman’s thoughts. It was his research assistant. The assistant received a letter from a young fellow named Edward Dmytryk asking for help. Dmytryk was running away from his abusing father who force him to work in a coal mine instead of continue his education. He was in the care of social welfare department right now, but the court was about to send him back to his dad. Terman recalled the interview with Dmytryk, he was a participate in the genetic study of genius project. Terman started up this project to keep track of the life of over a thousands of children identified with IQ score over 135. In those days, people has prejudice against smart kids, they think them “early ripe, early rot”. Terman wants to prove intelligence leads to a better life quantitatively with this life long scientific research project.

Terman always has a heartfelt for the gifted children, he wanted to help them to realize their full potential. He is struggled whether or not he should help Dmytryk. On one hand, he know Dmytryk will be ruined if he was sent to work instead of school. On the other hand, as a scientist, he should not meddle with the life of his test subjects or the result will be biased. He debated the pro and con of helping Dmytryk with his assistants all day long. At the end, the human side of Terman won the argument, he felt obligated to save the child. He wrote a letter to the judge, explaining the situation with his respectable reputation in childhood education. Dmytryk was put to a good foster home. Many years later, Dmytryk became of one of the most famous director in Hollywood.

Terman’s work no only change the life of little Dmytryk, it also inspired how school around the world treated the gifted children. They have more challenging curriculum, enrolled into enriching school programs. This is all thanks to Lewis Terman, the father of IQ.

Blog ideas

Blogging has been a popular phenomena for the past few years. Before blogging, there was personal homepage, similar idea but less convenient to use. Just like any trends, bloggers come and go after they have lost their interest. I witness may blogs suffer a slow death, as the blogger post new entries less and less often. At the end the blog stop all updates and die. One reasons why the bloggers stop writing is they move on to the next stage of life and could not afford the time to write anymore. It is sad, but there is nothing they can do. Time is in scare supply after all.

Another reason why bloggers stop writing is they run out of new ideas. They complain they couldn’t find new things to write everyday. If this is their problem, then they are just not trying hard enough. We have come across so many thoughts each day. We just have to catch any one of them, organize the thought a bit and making it more presentable. Voila! Now you have a nice blog entry. The mind of man is a like never empty treasure chest, you will always find new things if you care to look inside. The only way a man to run out of new idea is that he stops thinking. As long as we keep think, new ideas will appearing in front of our eyes to surprise us.

九龍皇帝

Kowloon King

九龍皇帝曾灶財駕崩﹐享年八十六歲。他可算是一代香港人的集體回憶﹐他四十年來默默耕耘﹐在港九各區的天橋底﹐電燈柱﹐護土牆上留下無數的御筆親題。我們每天也路過九龍皇帝的墨寶﹐但沒有人會停下來細閱九龍皇帝的聖言﹐因為他的大字報和標語路牌一樣﹐與城市的背景融為一體﹐已經是我們日常生活的一部份。香港有很多人掉念他的離去﹐報紙更以頭版發表訃文﹐見證香江一代怪人的傳奇故事。在正常人的眼中﹐曾灶財精神有問題﹐因為翻查族譜﹐發現滿清皇帝賜九龍給他祖先為食邑﹐於是他四處塗鴉宣示主權﹐控訴在英國人搶去了他的封地。

本來九龍皇帝只是荼餘飯後的笑話﹐人們說笑完轉眼便忘記了。可是一件無論多麼荒謬的事情﹐只要持久長時間地出現在人們眼前﹐人們先會慢慢習慣然後變得麻木﹐視之為理所當然的事情。合理化身邊發生的事情是人的天性。當九帝皇帝從異常性事件演變為生活常態後﹐人們便想要發掘出他四處塗鴉的理由。若找不到背後有任何實在的理由﹐便憑空創作些理由出來。本來只是一個傻佬的曾灶財﹐被那些文化界藝術界的學者帶上光環﹐升格成為一個街頭藝術家﹐甚至反抗殖民主義的鬥士。九龍皇帝歪歪斜斜的大字內﹐原本無意義的瘋人瘋話﹐被各方學者挪來借用﹐給大字的空殼強灌思想解讀﹐淪為表達他們文化議題的工具。九龍皇帝從塗鴉變成藝術﹐正是哲學家George Dickie的藝術制度理論的最佳例子。藝術並不獨立客觀的存在﹐只不過是藝術界隨意劃出來的定義。不論是什麼樣垃圾創作﹐只要有學者撰文剖折﹐就馬上搖身變為一件藝術品。九龍皇帝沒有創作任何藝術﹐真正創造藝術出來的人﹐是那班坐在桌子前寫稿評論藝術的學者。

九龍皇帝在港九各地還遺留不少塗鴉﹐有些文化界人士認為政府應該保留這些集體回憶。我懇請那班文化界人士高抬貴手﹐不要再強姦九龍皇帝純真的塗鴉﹐作為爭取他們社會議題的工具。曾灶財生前不會認同﹐也不明白這些解讀﹐他只是單純想寫大字。他現在已經不在人間﹐就讓他的筆蹟隨歲月消逝。政府也不用刻意清洗塗鴉﹐讓它們隨重建或風雨自然消磨。幾十年後九龍皇帝將會成為香港典故一個點綴﹐這是歷史給與九龍皇帝最合適的角色﹐大時代中平靜安詳的小注腳。集體回憶始終是還要留在回憶內才會美好。夾硬把回憶挫進現實﹐撕開浪漫的糖衣包裝﹐才發現回憶的本來面目很醜陋。

射鵰英雄傳(新修版) – 金庸

Condor Hero 在金庸的六部長篇小說中﹐ 「射鵰英雄傳」是我看過次數最少的一部。除了初中時第一次看過以後再也沒有重讀﹐不像其他長篇般看過幾遍。「射鵰英雄傳」是金庸的第一部長篇小說﹐也是確立他一代武俠大師的巨著。當年我看的是初版﹐四十多本簿簿的小說﹐不是通常在圖書館借到五厚冊的那個舊版。詳細內容我已忘記得七七八八﹐這次重讀新修版有新書一樣的感覺﹐追看得十分痛快。初版與新修版的情節變動很大﹐印象最深刻的蛙蛤大戰竟然給刪去了﹐有點失望。反而網上很多人談論新修版中﹐新加關係黃藥師與梅超風的舊情﹐我則覺得可改可不改﹐只是沒有什麼特別的旁線。東邪素來不理世俗禮教的眼光﹐刻意避忌梅超風反而與東邪的性恪不合。

「射鵰英雄傳」的故事不用多作介紹﹐沒有讀過原著的人也會看過無線拍的版本。射鵰故事的主線不是很豐富﹐只是伴著郭靖這個傻小子漫無目的四處冒險。故事沒有能夠襯托起主角的壞人﹐楊康武功不濟﹐奸骹不足﹐二十年比武之約雷聲大兩點小﹐最後反高潮不了了之。西毒武功高強﹐可是與他齊名的東邪﹐南帝﹐北丐三個皆是好人﹐不計郭靖還有老頑童﹐好人擺明人多欺人少﹐勝之不武。射鵰劇情雖然普通大路﹐但金庸筆下創造出來的人物卻詡詡如生﹐成為燴灸人口的經典角色﹐人物亦是吸引讀者之處。書中的武功招式創意無限﹐降龍十八掌更給其他小說漫畫借用到爛﹐成為誇越武俠世界的武學絕招。全書最精彩的一場比試﹐是東邪西毒奏樂器鬥內功﹐雙方沒有出過一招半式﹐靜止優雅的樂聲卻比刀劍相交更加兇險。

我對書中男女主角沒有太大好感﹐黃蓉是「碧血劍」溫青青的改良版﹐減去吃醋和臭脾氣﹐換上古靈精怪的鬼主意﹐同樣是飛來雀纏著男主角不放手。郭靖是我最看不爽的金庸男主角﹐天資愚魯但一世夠運﹐他的亢龍十八掌打起來沒有蕭峰和洪七公的氣魄﹐只是死板板的靠壓到性的力量取勝。誠然武俠小說不可以篡改歷史﹐但我也不禁破口大罵郭靖腐迂的封建愚忠。鐵木真最後那番真心話很有說服力﹐在宋朝當忠臣有岳飛的前車可鑑﹐當蒙古大王去管理漢人有什麼不好。就算郭靖不想貪圖榮華富貴當駙馬﹐也該為天下百姓的幸福著想﹐不要計較背負不忠不義賣國惡名這些小事。蒙古人在短時間內統一中國﹐民姓就不用連年征戰受苦﹐人民在仁厚的郭靖下生活﹐應該勝過給昏庸無能的南宋皇帝統治。在郭靖要決定去留的那一時刻﹐很可惜只有無知農婦的母親在旁﹐結果下了一個錯誤的決定。若果有東邪或黃蓉從旁建議﹐說不定可以向大汗爭取一國兩制﹐讓南宋舊地享有比香港特區更大的自治權。

金庸小說不只是流行讀物﹐還有深入嚴緊的金學研究﹐若要分析 「射鵰英雄傳」的世界﹐書中人物的性格背景﹐武功和歷史考證﹐資料多得寫三個月也寫不完。我這篇文章稱不上是書評﹐只不過是看完小說後記錄下來的一點感想。我希望實現重看全套金庸作品的大計時﹐能夠用文字留下點滴曾經來過的足跡。

Banquet reservation

When planning for a wedding, the two most important thing is the church and the banquet.  We booked the church for the ceremony with no problem, but finding a good restaurant to host the banquet at night is proven quite stressful.  We are looking for wedding date in next August, yet many restaurants are already booked, almost 1 year in advance.  I called many restaurants last week, they are already booked on the date of our choice, except a small restaurant.  I can only put down my name on the waiting list.  Pat keeps encourage me saying that we have to faith in God and things will work out and it did!

Kirin is the default restaurant for wedding banquet among my friends at work.  We checked the Kirin in Cambie and Richmond, but both of them are already booked.  Yesterday, Pat was looking for a place to have diner with a family friends in the newspaper and release there is also Kirin in downtown.  She called the downtown location and learned that although someone has the date on hold, they haven’t put down any deposit.  We went there for dinner at once, with cash in hand and determination to bump out the other party.   The restaurant called the other party as a courtesy giving them the opportunity to commit.  Probably it was guy who can’t make the call answering the phone and he cannot confirm without asking his fiancee, so we got the restaurant.

Now, I don’t have to worry about the venues of my wedding.  It can go ahead as planned on August 16, 2008.

Salt Spring Island B&B

Last year, the destination of our summer get away is Tofino, this year we picked Salt Spring Island. We didn’t finalize the plan until the very last minute, a little bit more than 2 weeks from the vacation day, as a result we have a hard time booking place to stay. Salt Spring Island is a small resort island next to the Vancouver island. All the inns, resorts or B&Bs are run by small independent owners. I have to call around to find available rooms. I called over 20 places before I can find rooms for the date we plan to stay.

Most places only have a static webpage for information and photos. Some places are more advance and have a web reservation system. Looks like there are two major providers of the reservation system for hotels in the island. However reservation system of each individual hotel is isolated. I have to search rooms one place at a time. It would be to have a tourist friendly update in the system if I can just just type in the date and got all places with available room. Last minute hunt for hotel room is tedious and frustrating, that’s what put people off doing last minute trip. Streamline the hotel booking by making it easier, will attract more visitors and improve the tourist industry of the island.

Harry Plotter 7

This weekend is the release date for the last Harry Plotter novel. Everyone over the world is crazy over the hype. People lining up in front of book store to get the book like it is given out for free. Many not so crazy but still enthusiastic Harry’s fans pre-order the book, so they will receive it on the first day of release. I also ordered the book, but foolishly I use the company address as the mail address. Since the company is close on Saturday, I have to wait until Monday to get my copy of Harry Plotter. Well, even if I got it on the first day, I may not want to read it right away. Reading a book is not a race, you don’t have to finish it faster than others. I rather relax and take my time to finish the book.

基督教思想史第一部-第二章﹕早期教會與諾斯底主義

早期教會對外要扺抗希臘哲學和羅馬帝國的挑戰﹐對內則要應付諾斯底主義影響分化教會的威脅。諾斯底主義並不只是基督教分支﹐而是在古代一個橫跨宗教的思想運動。諾斯底主義強調宗教性的神秘主義﹐認為只有通過神秘知識才能得到救贖。諾斯底主義完全不接受舊約﹐只保留新約中與諾斯底思想吻合的部份。他們主張世俗二分﹐認為被造的世界充滿邪惡﹐只有捨棄世界心靈才得到釋放。耶穌在諾斯底主義亦充當救世者的角色﹐祂化身為善神來到世界﹐對抗舊約中的邪神耶和華。

早期教會透過反諾斯底運動﹐確立了天主教大公教會的雛形﹐其中Irenaeus﹐ Tertullian和Hippolytus是三位最有名的反諾斯底主義神學家。諾斯底主義對教會最大的挑戰﹐是宣稱他們擁有耶穌的秘密訓示﹐並以另一套方法去詮譯解讀神的話語。於是教會組織和建立正統的權力系統﹐肯定聖經正典的書目﹐藉著宗徒傳下來的傳統﹐讓主教團擁有解讀聖經的權柄。

由於諾斯底主義宣稱擁有聖靈的力量﹐並可以透過聖靈接收新的啟示﹐藉此挑戰教會的正統教導﹐所以制度化的教會織組容不下聖靈。結果教會宣稱新約時代不會再有新的啟示﹐也容不下藉聖靈之名挑戰教會傳統的先知﹐未世思想從世界終結演化為個人的死亡。歷史上不斷出現以聖靈之名反對教會的人﹐諷刺的是當那些人脫離原教會建立的新教會壯大後﹐他們也步上原教會制度化的後塵。教會是重視傳統的制度化組織﹐與直接受聖靈指引﹐要顛覆傳統的先知﹐在本質上永不可能相容。

早期教會沒有解決聖子和聖靈角色的問題﹐在諾斯底主義的影響下﹐基督教有演變成多神主義的危險。在諾斯底主義的世界觀中﹐存在著善神與邪神的正邪之爭。救贖世人的善神﹐帶領世人對抗創造世界的邪神。教會以三位一體的神作為回應﹐創造神就是救贖神。神創造世界本來是美好的﹐罪惡是源於人類的墮落。舊約的記載與新約的耶穌﹐正好貫穿起來成為教會的救恩史觀。兩大反諾斯底神學家對救贖觀所持的重點不同﹐Tertullian著重律法而Irenaeus則著重恩典﹐這兩者組成後來天主教的救贖觀﹐與基督教源於保羅神學因信稱義的救贖觀不同。

自早期教會一直到現代﹐領洗對基督徒十分重要。早期教會認為領洗的水有神秘力量﹐讓人洗去罪惡和接受聖靈。因為嬰兒還沒有決志信主的思考能力﹐這份神秘的救恩力量就成為嬰兒領洗的神學根據。嬰兒領洗在早期教會有過爭論﹐後來基督教成為羅馬國教﹐命信奉異教的外族全國歸化領洗﹐不可能只洗成人不洗小孩﹐更加肯定領洗水的神秘力量。

田立克最後在文中指出﹐在公元三百年左右的早期教會﹐對後來羅馬天主教影響深遠。很多基督教在宗教改革時﹐宣稱他們不過是撥亂反正﹐回到早期教會原本的教導。可是從神學的角度去看﹐早期教會很多為因反諾斯底而建立的教義﹐與基督教的基本教義不相乎﹐反而天主教的核心教義更接近早期教會的教導。