Did Kong Hee let down my friend Chocky? Or did Chocky let himself down?
June 27, 2012
Way back to the time before I decided to wing it as a farmer. I lived in the East of Singapore. Since I like nothing better than cycling. It was not unusual for me to ride whenever I can. One of my regular riding companions was a chap by the name of Chock Fei. “Chocky,” wasn’t really part of my original cycling troupe, but since we kept running into him during our evening speed trials along the stretch of road parallel to the Changi runway. He just became part of the cycling team. One day Chocky invited me to his church. He told me God was there! No kidding, I exclaimed – how could I possibly refuse. So one Sunday, I accompanied Chocky and his wife and kids to service. I am not going to analyze or go too deep into the reasons why I found the whole Sunday service uninspiring – all I am willing to say is that was really my first and last time – and since I am the sort who doesn’t seem to be embarassed or paiseh about saying “no” to others – in subsequent invitations from Chocky to go to service, I just said, “I have better things to do with my time.”
Eventually Chocky and a leader from church came over to see me – they asked me why I didn’t want to fellowship with them. I asked, “who specifically is them?” The leader replied, “the body of Christ, of course.” I asked, “which body part would that be?” By this time, I could see that both Chocky and the leader was getting abit irritated by my barbed repartees. So true to the spirit of a farmer, I told them that I was really not interested. As there are really better ways to spend my time on a Sunday, than to sit down and listen to someone who is just trying to squeeze as much money as he can from an unassuming congregation. When the leader pressed for prove - I simply replied, “if you can’t see it, then you have no wisdom. As it is clear as day to me. It’s a con job.” But I could see that the leader was a very a persistent fellow who was accustomed to handling skeptical and suspicious characters such as myself - so I gave him the reasons in bullet point fashion why I didn’t feel it was a good idea for me to get myself any deeper into church life.
In summary I just told chocky and leader, “I don’t believe churches should be allowed to accumulate so much wealth. I don’t see the point. Besides the money could be better used for the needy, such as the unemployment, aged, handicap and the mentally challenged” The leader exclaimed, “you’re not giving to the church, you are giving to God.” So I asked, “where is Mr God, can I make an appointment to see him?” By this time, I could see that Chocky was getting embarrased. As for the leader I could see that he was definitely not in familiar ground – so I pushed right on by stating my views about money and religion clearly. I told the leader point blank that he was dead wrong that I wasn’t giving the money to God, but rather a man and I was simply uncomfortable with that sort of arrangement. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the leader stormed out with Chocky in tow who flashed me an embarrased look – I guess didn’t end very well for both of us and that was the last I saw of both Chocky and the leader.
In the weeks and months following that parting of the waves – I still ran into Chocky during many of my evening rides with the boys - but he was always distanced and guarded. Whenever I asked Chocky to join us, he would just make all sort of excuses and it didn’t take me very long to realize that he was avoiding me. So once again true to the spirit of a farmer – one day I simply asked Chocky point blank, “Do you have an issue with me? Have I pissed you off?”
And it all came out – Chocky called me all sort of things. He said that his leader told him that I was the sort of person who can break up a church as I have no faith and such people are simply the destructive sort and should be avoided at all cost. Since Chocky was so forthright about what he felt about me as a person – I didn’t hold back either so I told him what I really thought about the proudest moment in his life – when he had undertaken to foolishly donate 10% of his salary every month to the church – I told him that he should use his mentality, as his eldest son was autistic and since his wife was recently retrenched, he should instead save up the money and forget the whole fantasy of giving a substantial part of his salary to the church. Any way the conversation was pretty heated and the only thing that I can remember about it was Chocky’s last words to us, as he peddled away “I don’t ever want to get mixed up with you people again.” With those words Chocky rode away into the sunset as all of us looked on.
That was 7 years ago. This morning when I opened my e-mail. There was a note from Chocky, it simply read, “Hi Darkness, the truth will set you free!”
I am not going to say what I wrote back. But I will say this, if there is such a thing as a supreme being, then the last thing he needs is your money. I guess what many people don’t realize when they marinate their mind, body and spirit into church life is the pressure to tithe 10% of their salary is so impossibly strong that it’s impossible for even the best of us to say ‘no’. That’s especially the case when one is unfortunate enough to join a church where the pastor is so confused that he thinks, God wants him to make his wife into Lady Gaga or fashion himself as Bob the builder, then what can only happen is the congregation will get milked for money right up to the hilt. And since hypermarket churches are so well organized and synched with the needs of the public, it’s really impossible to say no to them – the only way I know to avoid being conned is to walk away from it all.
Many people cannot do this. And even if they can. They may feel its not worth it. As often they believe that their derive so much out of church life – community, shared fellowship and common beliefs are just a few things worth mentioning. There is also the comfort and sense of security one derives from being part of a large community.
But as I once said to Chocky, “You have to keep your eye on God and not focus on the man who is asking you to keep your eye on God. Besides if you want to find your father, you can do it anywhere. You don’t even need to go to a church or commune with other christians – you could just as well find God right in the middle of a plantation right beneath a palm tree or in some valley smack in the middle of nowhere – as for giving 10% of your salary to the church – that is the dumbest thing you could possibly do. The best thing you could do for yourself your better half and the greater kingdom of God is to put that 10% in an education fund for your kids – that after all is what a real Father would want for his children - as for the rest, it’s just a crock of shit!”