Monday, March 21, 2016

The Soul & Scholarship

I experienced the dark night of the soul. From 11pm to about 1am, I struggled to sleep as I reflected on the state of my soul. Feeling lonely and without a church for a first time (though the College community is now my church), I struggled to make sense of this constant moving and going. Literally I drove close to 1,000 kms last week, from Telupid to Ranau to Namaus twice, then to KK and back to Ranau and Namaus. What is the point in all these?  I struggled to understand the nature of my calling. I questioned whether I should stick to one place either as a pastor or as a scholar. I was reading books online as our library's resources are limited in this part of the world where I live. I came across my name as a contributor to an essay in a book edited by two US-based professors (see here). I thought 2 years ago I had already withdrawn my article from publication. But as I read part of the book on Google books, I felt a sense of restrained joy as a published author for a second time since my first and only book in 2005. A decade passed by like the twinkling of the eye.
Today we held special prayers for widows and orphans and as I prayed I remembered my mission trip to Medan, Sumatra 11 years ago, to Mercy Indonesia that cared for 20 or so orphans due to the Nias Island earthquake just several months after the Aceh Earthquake and Tsunami. I wonder what had happened to the boys and girls we visited that day. So also the news of my essay being published brought some cheer to my heart but at the same time led to further introspection and melancholy. My name is associated with Singapore and not Sabah or Malaysia. It is "Tony Siew of Singapore" and while I wrote the essay in Singapore in 2012, yet I clearly told the editors that I was returning to Malaysia. Is the Lord telling me something? Perhaps I could publish more if I based myself in Singapore. At least resources and libraries abound. I still receive email updates from NLB, the National Library Board of Singapore. My soul is in turmoil. The soul of a scholar like a caged bird in the wilderness where there are few books and intermittent Internet access. Ironically,  in my essay I talked about using technology to preach the Gospel quoting John's Revelation in 14,6 that an angel flying in mid-air preaching the eternal gospel to all nations.

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