When God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful in Genesis, the land was still virgin and undefiled. Adherents of the three major monotheistic faiths have since taken this commandment literally, populating the earth and multiplying descendants, as with other peoples on this blue planet.
Before the Holocaust there was the Merchant of Venice, before the Merchant of Venice there was the Spanish Inquisition, before the Spanish Inquisition there was the Simon of Trent, and before the Simon of Trent there was the Black Death, before the Black Death there were the Crusaders…
The book Trent 1475 documents the proceedings of a blood libel case in Trento, Italy in the year 1475. A Christian boy was found dead and his Jewish neighbours were framed for it. This child, Simon, was once considered a martyr being killed in a ritual murder. His case contributed to anti-Semitism in the European history, which reached its apex in the Holocaust – six million Jews were murdered in that horrific genocide. Eventually, in 1965, Pope Paul VI removed Simon from the Roman Martyrology.
History doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We do not exist in a vacuum. To understand the present we have to consult the past. And history is not just ink printed on dead trees, it is about real living human beings and all that surround them. Nor it just one subject in the school curriculum, for it may lend itself to the betterment of us as individuals and as a species, if we are to pay attention. Paraphrasing George Santayana, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
The question is, have we started learning?
Jointly organised by the Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical Commission and the Hong Kong Christian Council, the annual Ecumenical Unity Service was held at the Kowloon Union Church on Jan-18, marking the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the liturgy was prepared by the churches in Germany, focusing on the theme Reconciliation.
If things go as planned, my reflections on peace will be broadcast on RTHK 4 during 14~18-March, the second last week of Lent.
Special thanks to Rev. Maggie Mathieson for the invitation, and to Rev. Judy Chan for editing the scripts.
True to its roots as a place for inter-faith dialogue between Buddhists and Christians, Tao Fong Shan remains to be a quiet retreat among the busyness of Hong Kong, welcoming pilgrims of all faiths, to converse, to reflect, and to gain a deeper meaning of life.
I will be holding 2 talks about the book Holy Land, published in 2012.
As with publishing the book, this is something that I’d prefer never have to do. However, the recent carnage in Gaza has reminded me that there’s still much to do, if we are to find Peace in the land flowing with milk and honey.
The 1st one will be held in HK Readers on 31-Aug (Sun) at 3pm.
Both talks will share the same message and be conducted in Cantonese.
Special thanks to HK Readers and ACO for making available their venues, they’re also the first bookshops to carry the book. Thanks also to 1908 Bookstore and Kubrick for providing shelf space early in the book’s days.
The proceeds of the book are to be donated to the peacemakers in Palestine/Israel after deducting the production cost. The first donation has been made to Moriel Rothman, who contributed the first writing in the book−Detangling the Holocaust from Israeli-Palestinian Politics−and is an avid activist for a just peace in Israel/Palestine.
I’m not sure if there will be a second donation because, frankly, the sales has been very so-so. On the other hand, as long as the book can help raise the awareness for the prospect of peace in that particular piece of land, however little, my heart shall suffice.
Update 2016-Oct-09: The book is now also available through iTunes.
As millions of Syrians are suffering because of the turmoil in the country, let us remember every one of them in our prayers, regardless of his or her religious orientation.
Living and loving God, teach us and help us to reflect once again on what Jesus’ suffering and death mean to our lives and our world. Give us new hope, we ask it in your name. Amen.
– Bulletin of the Good Friday Service, Kowloon Union Church