-------Original Message-------
Date: 01/11/05 21:14:32
Subject: [CASonline] Tsunamis / Depravity.. . Prayers, appeals and Tibet -
Religions try to explain tsunamis

"This is how nature works, it is like a cycle," says Vidura, a Buddhist monk.


United States - If talking to God is as easy as lighting a candle, then the Lord has been mighty busy this week, because from every corner, in every language, mourners for the tsunami dead seem to be asking the same question: "Why, God?"

And, as CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports, no one is getting the same answer.

In India, a leading Hindu priest explained that the disaster was caused by "huge pent-up man-made evil on earth" and the positions of the planets.

Israeli chief rabbi Shlomo Amar proclaimed, "The world is being punished for wrong-doing."

But Muslims, who lost more people than any other religion, have a different take.

"It has nothing to do with God punishing evil," says Imam Yahya Hendi, a Muslim chaplain. "Otherwise, why doesn't God punish evil in other places?"

CBS News went to a Buddhist temple and asked why.

The monk there explained that under his religion, the answer is, "just because."

"This is how nature works, it is like a cycle," says Vidura, a Buddhist monk. "From time to time these things happen. We never know where it happens."

It has happened before. In 1755 an earthquake set off fires that destroyed Lisbon and then tsunamis that drowned most survivors. When the rest cried out, "Why, God?" priests roamed the streets hanging whomever they felt had incurred the Lord's wrath.

Episcopal bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington believes to even ask, "Why?" implies God is handpicking the victims.

"I don't see God as a puppeteer," says Rev. John Bryson Chane, an Episcopalian bishop. "God doesn't pull strings and God doesn't choose who's going to live and who's going to die."

So therefore, the Lord is surely present among those who deliver comfort to the survivors, Chane argues, but is in no way responsible for what happened.

"When plates shift on this planet, plates shift on this planet, and that's a geologic statement," says Chane. "That's not a theological statement.

"Stuff happens. Stuff happens."

Only how do you explain that to the parent of a dead child, 10,000 times over. [CBS]

From Weng-Fai:

In Asia, some Christian groups spread supplies - and the word

BY JIM REMSEN, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Jan 9, 2005

Philadelphia, USA -- As Western humanitarian organizations unleash an armada of relief supplies and workers into Asia's crisis zone, some evangelical Christian groups aim to bring the Gospel to the victims, as well.

Religious groups promise to be a major presence in the massive relief and reconstruction effort. InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernment organizations, reports that of its 55 member agencies providing tsunami aid, 22 are faith-based.

Most of the religious players, including the Red Cross, the American Jewish World Service, and Lutheran World Relief, have rules against proselytizing.

But some evangelical groups active in Asia, including the Southern Baptists' International Mission Board, Gospel for Asia, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance, say the Bible always impels them to create converts to the faith.

"This (disaster) is one of the greatest opportunities God has given us to share his love with people," said K.P. Yohannan, president of the Texas-based Gospel for Asia. In an interview, Yohannan said his 14,500 "native missionaries" in India, Sri Lanka and the Andaman Islands are giving survivors Bibles and booklets about "how to find hope in this time through the word of God."

In Krabi, Thailand, a Southern Baptist church had been "praying for a way to make inroads" with a particular ethnic group of fishermen, according to Southern Baptist relief coordinator Pat Julian. Then came the tsunami, "a phenomenal opportunity" to provide ministry and care, Julian told the Baptist Press news service.

In Andhra Pradesh, India, a plan is developing to build "Christian communities" to replace destroyed seashore villages. In a dispatch that the evangelical group Focus on the Family posted on its Family.org Web site, James Rebbavarapu of India Christian Ministries said a team of U.S. engineers had agreed to help design villages of up to 400 homes each, "with a church building in the center of them."

Not all evangelicals agree with these tactics.

"It's not appropriate in a crisis like this to take advantage of people who are hurting and suffering," said the Rev. Franklin Graham, head of Samaritan's Purse and son of evangelist Billy Graham.

Samaritan's Purse is rushing $4 million in sanitation, food, medical and housing supplies to its teams in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. But Graham, in a phone interview from his North Carolina headquarters, said there were no plans to hand out Christian literature with the relief.

"Maybe another day, if they ask why I come, I'd say, `I'm a Christian and I believe the Bible tells me to do this,'" Graham said. "But now isn't the time. We have to save lives."

As Graham knows, laws and customs in non-Christian lands also can inhibit proselytizing. Plans by Samaritan's Purse and other evangelical groups to join postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq in 2003 raised concerns that they would violate Muslim bans on proselytizing and undercut U.S. efforts to improve ties with the Islamic world.

Yohannan said Sri Lankan officials are "extremely angry" with Christian missionary work and want to outlaw proselytizing. Some states in southern India have anti-conversion laws that bar "fraudulent manipulation," he said, adding: "I cannot tell you there is a hell awaiting you because it can be interpreted as a fear tactic." But one of the states, Tamil Nadu, recently repealed its law, and others don't enforce theirs, Yohannan said.

Indonesia, a major arena of relief work, does not ban evangelizing, said Riaz Saehu, spokesman for the Indonesian Embassy in Washington.

Though the country has a Muslim majority, Saehu said, it accords official status to Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism and Buddhism, and "people can do whatever to try to influence others."

Grass-roots resistance may be a greater impediment to evangelists. Saehu said residents of the hard-hit Aceh province are strict Muslims who "couldn't accept (missionary) activities regardless of the law." Yohannan said Hindu and Muslim extremists have burned Bibles and beaten pastors from his churches in the past.

"It's a very sensitive issue," Saehu said.

The U.S. government has said it hopes American tsunami aid improves its image abroad, particularly with Muslims. At the same time, it has not tried to impede evangelical efforts, nor has it received complaints about them, State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said.

"We can't control them," Vasquez said. "They are free to do what they're going to do."

Meanwhile, other religious relief groups eschew evangelizing. Many are signatories of a Red Cross-Red Crescent code of conduct that requires, among other things, that aid "not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint."

Church World Service, the humanitarian arm of the National Council of Churches, is among the signatories.

"We carry out our work as a calling as Christians, but it's not carried out based on any form of proselytization," said Rick Augsberger, director of the agency's emergency-response program. Faith issues might be shared informally, he said, "but not as an objective."

From Phua-Heong:
Singapore Invokes Religious Harmony
Act Against Christians

Issue Date: September/October 2001

Singapore police recently summoned some local religious leaders and warned them that they were in violation of the Religious Harmony Act. This law, enacted in 1992, provides that a restraining order can be slapped on any pastor or religious leader forbidding them to address any congregation or group on any subject.

Any criticism of another religion is considered a violation of the "Harmony Act." One Christian pastor was warned to cease criticizing Buddhism, Taoism and Catholicism in church publications and from the pulpit.

Islamic religious leaders were also called down for promoting a religious leader for a political office, which is also forbidden by the Harmony Act.

Small cultures such as Singapore and Canada have become test labs for ecumenical legislation that limits soul winners from speaking against the sin of the sinner when witnessing. The ecumenical, one-world-religionists advocate unity and harmony as the goal between the religions of the world.

From Kai:
Dear BB,
Could you please let the people on your list know about the following
thehungersite.com is having a tsunami relief program where you can click to
contribute to the Mercy Corp's relief fund. The link is as follows:
From Evelyn:
......... Vietnamese boy, Nguyen Gia Huy, I call him "Huy", is now waiting for his BMT (bone marrow transplant) in NUH. Please lock in to vnvolunteers@yahoo.com.sg for more info.
Dear BB
I'm attached at Club Rainbow Centre in NUH and "Huy" has been in and out of the hospital due to infections and he's not able to get his BMT done due to low funds.
I know, everyone's digging or almost scrapping the bottom for $ for the "T" victims. What we need here is to pray for "Huy" to be able to get his BMT done asap with the generosity of some caring individuals. We can only pray that he'll be given this chance. Please pray for our little "Huy" ......... Thank you so much.
Be in touch. Cheers
From Grace:

----Original Message Follows----
From: samuel.chua@sgp.pilship.com
Subject: Need info/help.
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005 17:25:14 +0800
Anyone knows ?
Samuel Chua
----- Forwarded by Samuel Chua Kee Guan/EM/PIL on 01/10/2005 05:16 PM
From: Ms Khatijah Abdul Kadir [mailto:khatijah17@singapore.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2005 10:14 AM
Subject: Need info/help.
Dear friends,
As you all know from the news, Phanga Nga Province, Phi Phi Island and
Krabi are afftected by the Tsunami. I wonder if anyone of you know
whether Panyee(Panji) Island or Ko Panyee and Phang Nga Bay are
These two villages are on stilts especially Panyee which is situated in
the middle of the sea and built on stilts and even the mosque was built
on corals. There is NO LAND on Panyee Island. These two villages are
occupied by 100% Muslims. I am just afraid these two villages might have
been wiped out by the wave.
The reason why I'm so concerned about these two villages is because I
got to know a local Thai family who lives on a stilt house on Phanga Bay
and another family on Panyee Island or Ko Panyee during my last visit
there several years back. In fact I stayed with them. I also stayed with
another Thai family in Phanga Town, just infront of the main bus
station/interchange. They have all took me and daughter in while we
backpack there some years ago, without expecting anything in return from
us. They have been so nice, warm and hospitable to me and my daughter. I
really like to know their fate. Though I did not keep in touch with
them, they were never out of my mind especially after the Tsunami
incident. I'm really worried about them.
I have searched the net and even asks questions on the forum but the
info I got was very vague. So if anyone of you has any news or know of
someone going to that area (Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga), can you please
find out about these two villages on stilts; Ko Panyee and Phang Nga Bay.
There seems to be no news about these two villages but they are both on
water (stilt houses). I'm just worried that both villages were wipe out.
I pray that they are safe, insya'Allah.
Khatijah Abdul Kadir.
From Mr Sin:
Looking for friends to help in translating from Chinese into English, the Guru Yoga teachings and Long-life Prayer of the 84th Kathok Head - Lhoga Rinpoche
please contact Mr Sin directly at kinkok@pacific.net.sg
From Shian:
Clear Ingredient Listings Needed

I refer to Mr Kenneth Chan's letter, "Flavouring: No beef in fries" (The Sunday Times, Jan 9), which stated that McDonald's Singapore's fries "have no beef flavouring at source". The intention of my letter, "This corn soup isn't for vegans" (The Sunday Times, Jan 2), which he replied to, was a call for more coherent ingredient listings of consumer foods. In fact, it is the lack of this which led to the perception that local McDonald's fries have beef content mixed with its potato.

How is this so? If you visit McDonald's official main website at 
http://app.mcdonalds.com/bagamcmeal?process=item&itemID=6053, you will see "natural flavor (beef source)" listed as ingredients for its fries. But if you search for a similar listing in McDonald's Singapore's website at www.mcd.com.sg, there isn't any. It is thus natural for consumers to assume the fries' ingredients to be universal worldwide and do not differ from region to region. At this point, no one can clearly tell if McDonald's Singapore's fries can be considered vegan, vegetarian or otherwise because there is no direct official statement.

Can a relevant local government authority make it mandatory to have publicly di! splayed ingredient listings for popular consumer f oods? This would without doubt be greatly appreciated by both vegetarian and non-vegetarian consumers alike, especially those who are health-conscious and prefer to know exactly what it is they are paying to eat.

As many Buddhists (who make up the majority of Singaporeans) and Hindus are vegetarians in multi-religious Singapore, the availability of certified vegetarian/vegan labels similar to Halal labels for Muslim foods would offer much respect and peace of mind to many consumers. This would surely put an end to all ongoing needless guessing games on food ingredients.

Shen Shi'an
155 Toa Payoh Lg 1 #29-1175, S'pore 310155
Hp. 96756379
A Tibetan Love Affair
January 09, 2005
Fascinated by its faith, young Chinese are flocking to the region. Could the Dalai Lama be close
Jan. 17 issue - When Baimadanzen was growing up in Beijing at the height of the Cultural
Revolution, his Buddhist father sometimes played records of monks chanting. But he knew nothing
about the religion until he moved in 1989 to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the remote western
Sichuan region of Sertar to study with a master of the ancient Chinese art of qigong. He lived
among thousands of monks and soon became infatuated with their religion. "Their teachings showed
me how to live a full life," says Baimadanzen, now a 42-year-old travel agent who goes by his
Tibetan name. The experience also changed his view of Tibet. "My parents' generation wanted to
liberate and reform Tibet," he says. "But now younger Chinese go to Tibet to learn."
Indeed, journeys like Baimadanzen's are becoming increasingly common. Over the past decade tens of
thousands of Han Chinese have sought enlightenment at the feet of Tibetan Buddhist masters.
According to Robert Thurman, a professor of Indo-Tibetan religion at Columbia University, more
than 3,000 ethnic Han monks and nuns have studied in Sertar alone. Millions of Han tourists have
also made the trip: in 2003, 877,000 Chinese visited Tibet?1 percent more than the year before,
and seven times as many as visited in 1993. That has created a booming Chinese market for all
things Tibetan. Han Hong, a Tibet-born songwriter living in Beijing, catapulted to stardom by
singing about "the land of snow." The number of books about Tibet has also skyrocketed;
Beijing-based author Wen Pulin says his chronicle of life in Tibet, "Ba Jia Living Buddha," has
sold more than a million copies, many of them on the black market. "Lots of people take the book
with them when they go to Tibet," he says.
The surge in interest has even reached the top of the Communist Party. "Government officials won't
tell you that they are studying Tibetan Buddhism," says one academic with government ties. "But I
know that [former president] Jiang Zemin is very interested." Indeed, one wealthy Tibetan living
in Chengdu says that Jiang once personally endorsed $36 million of government funds to restore a
temple complex in Gansu province after the head monk asked for his support.
The enthusiasm is helping to preserve Tibetan culture. Just three decades ago, during the Cultural
Revolution, Chinese traveled to Tibet to smash its temples as symbols of feudalism and
superstition. Now they are giving money to build new ones. Wen, an ethnically Manchu Chinese,
donated $60,000 to build a temple in Sichuan. Bala, a Tibetan living in Chengdu (who, like many
Tibetans, uses a single name), claims to have met a Han businessman who hardly blinked when his
Tibetan Buddhist teacher asked him to give $500,000 for a temple restoration.
The change in attitude is partly a result of Deng Xiaoping's reforms. Prior to 1980, most citizens
knew Tibet only through the propaganda churned out in Beijing. Now they are able to travel there
and have access to foreign media. But the Chinese embrace of Tibetan Buddhism?aas well as of other
religions?aalso reflects a need to fill the spiritual vacuum left by the collapse of Maoist
ideology. Some observers say China's Buddhist roots may make the Han more inclined toward Tibetan
teachings than toward other faiths.
Could the surge in interest pave the way for the return of the Dalai Lama?awho has been living in
exile in Dharamsala, India?aand eventually for the restoration of Tibetan autonomy? Several
high-level delegations from Dharamsala have visited Beijing recently, breaking a nearly 10-year
freeze on talks. The Dalai Lama himself told reporters last summer he remained optimistic that
broader shifts in society could benefit Tibetans. "Things are changing in a positive direction,"
he said. "Among Chinese intellectuals, businessmen [and] artists, more and more are showing
interest in Tibetan culture, Tibetan Buddhism."
Beijing remains leery of movements with popular momentum. In 2001, officials, worried about the
rapid rise in the number of students at the Sertar monastery?afrom virtually zero in 1980 to more
than 10,000?amoved in and forced Han Chinese to return to their hometowns. (Many eventually came
back.) But Tibet chic will be tough to quell. When 29-year-old Beijing-born Huang Mei saw the
Dalai Lama in the United States in 1996, she cried. A year later she traveled in Tibet and then
gave up her New York City job as an accountant to move to Lhasa. Since then, several Han friends
from Beijing have visited her?aand stayed. "The ultimate goal," she says, "is to be happy."
Baimadanzen now sends as much money as he can to monks in Sertar. He also talks up his faith to
friends, and thinks the appeal is contagious. "More Han will begin to believe," he says. Tibet's
future may depend on it.