Monday, February 21, 2011

付出的喜悅

一年之前,海地發生大地震,死傷無數,為此世界各地都發起募捐,救助海地。我在電台聽到劉天賜的節目,邀請聽眾發表對海地災難的感想。有聽眾來電說他聽從聖經的指導,對救助海地災民作出了捐獻。劉天賜對這位聽眾的善心甚為欽佩,他說付出救助有需要的人是很高的品德。他又說導人行善不止於聖經,其他宗教的經書如可蘭經、猶太五經、佛經和道教經書等等都有如此教導。宗教其中一項較為有用的貢獻就是這一方面。他接著又說還有很多人是完全不需要宗教指導就自動行善,幫助他人是人的本性,付出的喜悅是必然的。如果心中有求而去行善,這不是自由的付出。

下面是一個典型無私的例子,不是為了上天堂、贖罪、消災,或是想求心安。有一位印度人Narayanan Krishnan,他是酒店的名廚,剛為瑞士一間五星級酒店聘用為總廚。上任前回鄉探訪,發覺有很多賤民生活在飢餓之中,感覺甚為震撼,因為自己為他人準備美食,而同胞卻沒有食物。他於是決定不去瑞士,全職付出免費為賤民供應食物,至今已有十年。在2010年,CNN選他為英雄人物。請點點下面照片看看他的工作,影片十分感人。

Thursday, February 10, 2011

iPhone religion

iPhone is successful for a reason. Its hardware and software are not the best in the world. There are many competitors who claim that they are superior to iPhone in their special way, and they are quite true. But iPhone's success is the smoothness of its operation and more importantly its interface with the users. It opens its app store to programmers and there are now tens of thousands of apps to choose from to increase the usage of iPhone.

I just installed two new apps which turn the iPhone into a religious device. One is the Wong Tai Sin Oracle. It contains the text and explanation of all the oracles. More mystically, it has a oracle praying device for you to get an oracle after sincere prayer. Its motto is "What you request is what you get." It seems Wong Tai Sin has graced the iPhone and there is no more need to join the large crowd on Chinese New Year Day. With a personal Wong Tai Sin sitting cosily with you, the wish may come true more easily.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_Uw_6TaqWL5o/TVNSJWvYBiI/AAAAAAAAAog/WTwr2McmyC4/ihponereligion1.jpg   https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_Uw_6TaqWL5o/TVNSJvROkVI/AAAAAAAAAok/cXI0jEcAQMM/ihponereligion2.jpg

The other one is the iConfession which has recently been approved by the Pope. This news is widely reported by world media. You may read this report from BBC. Comments are not all favourable, especially from the Christian quarter.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_Uw_6TaqWL5o/TVNSJrFAleI/AAAAAAAAAoo/QCiHyUewGR0/ihponereligion3.jpgPray and confess to your iPhone. If you are not sure you are sinned, there is a form for you to fill in. Just tick the boxes to be sure. If you are even unsure what sins are, there is a setting for you to customize your conscience. The setting of the examination of conscience depends on your age, sex, marital status and your vocation. I have never heard of such classification of conscience before. Perhaps the sins committed by male and female are different, and married persons are more sinful than singleton.

There is also a setting for you to add sins to the standard conscience. Just think about anything as a sin, and you can add it to your own confession list. Now comes the interesting part, there are seven kinds of contrition for you to choose from. You can choose how to punish yourself. Some may choose to say the Rosary; but some may just choose to skip McDonald once.

Both Wong Tai Sin Oracle and iConfession have taken religion, superstition and worship to a modern level. Modern technology and ancient religions do match on such occasions. Comparing the two, the superstitious mind may still have a point with Wong Tai Sin Oracle. Besides the database of oracles and their dubious explanations, there is still a random factor in praying for an oracle. It uses the random mechanism of a computer programme to generate an oracle number. The very faithful may think of Wong Tai Sin really residing in the iPhone and performing his miracle upon sincere prayer. The iConfession is a case in the opposite. It is artificial intelligence formulating output according to input. The logic and the table of truth in use may actually be set by the users themselves. One can really make sure that he gets what he prays beforehand.