William Wan

Contributor Biography

William Wan is the General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, Chairman of Prison Fellowship Singapore and Vice-President of the Singapore Scout Association. He is also a Justice of the Peace, and a lawyer who speaks and writes passionately about matters of the heart. A retired ordained minister of the United Church of Canada and the United Methodist Church (USA), he is a recipient of numerous awards including the Board of Police Commissioners’ Civilian Commendation and the Solicitor-General’s Award for Crime Prevention (Ottawa, Canada); and in Singapore, the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Award, the Singapore Scout Association Distinguished Service Award (Bronze), the Council for Third Age’s Active Aging Award, and the Abdeali Tayebali Lifetime Achievement Award. A published author, he contributes regularly to the Straits Times columns, CNA Commentaries and Today's Manager. His latest book is Through the Valley: The Art of Living and Leaving Well (Straits Times Press, 2019).

The Word

"In the beginning was the Word..."


—John 1:1

The Word became flesh

And dwelt amongst us

The Bible still dwells amongst us

God’s Word in human flesh

 

But words are fragile broken vessels

to carry living waters

sound bubbles bursting in mainstream denominations

empty declarations dancing in winds of sectarianism

questions and answers

playing hide and seek

pirouetting, posturing

smiling like the Cheshire cat

 

Words expand contract

distort in time and distance

captives of culture and customs

victims of modern preunderstanding

 

Words are elastic

in time hardened and moulded

by plastic hands of theologians

amplified by eisegesis

echoed in unintended

misbegotten shapes

ping pong amid existential struggles

 

Words slip and slide and shuffle

under the microscopes of scholars

defying linguistic skills to deal them

rationalistic understanding to hold them

 

Words break and are broken

words mean something

but do not always mean

what we mean

           

Who dares use words?

So we keep them from us

at a safe distance

 

Even so

the Word came near to us

a babe

swathed in flesh

housed in clay

birthed in time and space

a loaf broken

a cup poured out

a body rent

bridging heaven and earth

 

Redemption announced in unspoken words

written upon a tree

dying, died and came alive again

words in three languages

indelibly paradoxical

 

Because it is God’s Word

in human fragility

we need to handle with care

in light of the Lifted Paradox

 

God has spoken

and is speaking still

 

To communicate the Word

in time and space

is to interpret

translate

 

First, the text

then the context

never a pretext for a proof-text

that’s the explicatio

now the applicatio

the Word in one hand

the newspapers in the other

 

But which informs which?

Depends on which overpowers which

for the Word was overpowered then

it is being overpowered now

by powerbrokers on the right and left

stretching the Word to bridge heaven and earth again

 

each struggling to apply itself

wholly to the words

each struggling to apply the Word

wholly to itself

 

Who is nearer heaven

I cannot tell

but this I know

the Word on the cross

was firmly planted on earth

to rise towards heaven

 

—Ottawa, 1985

Jesus Sat and Ate with Sinners

"While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors

and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples...”

—Matt 9:10

Jesus, He sat and ate with sinners.

But I am a middle-class Christian

who lives in a clean and green suburb

dressed in Armani suits complete with

Ferragamo ties and Bally shoes.

I do not sit and eat with sinners.

 

Sinners, I am told, mug and

rob people on the streets.

But I work hard with hardworking

people in plush skyscraper offices

high above everyone on the streets.

 

I turn exponential profits from

produce grown by farmers who

work ten times as hard

making a hundred times less than I.

 

But I do not rob.

I merely make handsome profits.

 

My children are bright.

They study in private schools.

They excel in academic pursuits

and in sports and social relations.

With sound minds in sound bodies

their future is as bright

as the healthy sparkle in their eyes.

 

The farmers’ children are unschooled.

They labour in the fields

their bodies caked in mud

and slime

to produce what I want

at prices I determine.

 

I wonder why some are leaving the fields

to rob innocent people on the streets.

 

I have nothing much to do with them

except to buy their labour cheaply.

I help them to subsist

on bread and water

to enable them to produce

meat and wine for me.

 

Jesus sat and ate with sinners.

 

But I am a Christian

and I help to produce sinners

with whom I do not sit

and with whom I do not eat.

 

—Washington DC, 1992

Melvin Sico

Contributor Biography

Melvin Sico is a corporate finance specialist with over ten years of experience. He has a background in investment analysis, equity research and structured finance. Melvin has covered a wide spectrum of industries including telecommunications, biotechnology and healthcare. He has experience in financial modelling, valuation and investment due diligence.

Prima Scriptura

It is postulated that in the crucible of our skulls

we create the markets, and the markets create us

and every need is met, every desire satisfied 

by those who meet in the middle

handing out the price closest to the asymptote of the curve

and, mundus vult decipi, we commit ourselves to work

an honest day’s toil.

Viewed from a distance, all is well

from the Sermon on the Mount 

to the Consensus at Washington.

Come, come closer, to see that those

who sit by the window, seeking The One

who walked on water, 

who cast out the money changers,

will be left behind

in the Rapture of those who sought and claimed

the gold of Parvaim.

Ophir lies on an unreachable shore

and the exponentiation of loaves

does not lend itself easily to charity

as it is practiced in our compact with serfdom

(is the person of the Christ risen).

O apotropaic corpus

deliver us from those who seek 

to win over all,

but grant we do not see

the wicked slaves, reaping 

where their masters did not sow.

We the children of the Most High

have become the offspring of Hayek,

serving two masters 

with vats bursting with wine.