Recently the global banking giant Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has put up two replicas of their pair of mascot lions in rainbow colors outside their headquarters in Hong Kong to celebrate the coming holidays in Winter.
The pair of lions are the creation of a local artist made for the bank in a move to express it's corporate citizenship in the 21st century, in a modern and diverse society, where people, regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity are to be treated with respect and fairness.
Apparently the colorful big cats have drawn the ire of some anti-LGBT groups who claimed that the display of the artwork, at the bank's own property, "offended the customers and shareholders."
Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong (UUHK) thought that it is great to have a bank which has its roots in Hong Kong to express their support of diversity, inclusion, compassion and be good to one another, which are the core values of this holiday season.
UUHK found the idea of the artwork being "offensive" absurd and supports HSBC's genuine initiative to express tolerance, inclusion and diversity.
Regardless of your faith, or the lack of it, we should commend HSBC's action and disapprove that of those anti-LGBT groups.
The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), shares this pastoral message:
The horrific terrorist attacks in France fill all good people with the deepest sadness. May we all rededicate ourselves to waging peace based on compassion and respect. Hatred must not triumph.
I share the following prayer written by the Rev. Eric Cherry, director of the UUA’s International Office:
Holy One, our hearts are torn, broken, and battered.
Even across an ocean
from the City of Light;
Such pain, such violence, such suffering.
The trauma is immense, nearly unspeakable.
We know that we are called to feel the pain of humanity,
to hear the cry of the soul,
the innocent soul.
So we shall.
May it help us turn to love in spite of hate.
May it help us turn to trust in spite of fear.
May it help us turn to each other, people of all faiths and none, in spite of intolerance.
May it help us turn to our neighbors in need.
May it help us turn our care to the vulnerable near us.
May it help us turn our spirits to the grieving, the injured, and the traumatized.
May it help us turn to the recovery,
And to our work of becoming a world of justice and compassion.
Turn us. Guide our feet and hands. Bring us to peace.
by Rev Silas Wong, Treasurer, UUHK
This is the article I shared with the Blessed Minority Christian Fellowship (BMCF) lately. The content relates to my trip to the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) Conference in New York (as delegate for UUHK) and the history of Unitarian Universalism. Sorry, only in Chinese language.
紐約的天氣雪冷時晴，冬日之美景盡現。剛巧舊曆新年來至，我就如遊子般書寫今次家書，以慰藉在遠方的親友。這次來美參加尋道會的國際會議（ICUU ), 遇到不少友善同志的牧者及信徒領袖，也遇上了同志的弟兄牧友，實在喜出望外。UU (Unitarian Universalist) 起源於特蘭西瓦尼亞（Transylvania），現為羅馬尼亞的一部份，卻為昔日匈牙利的領土。由於十六世紀宗教改革，他們卻因自成一派（不接受三位一體，祗信獨一的上帝）地不受天主教甚至抗羅宗（Protestant), 亦即改革派的基督徒的接納而被迫逼。然時至今日，全世界各地都有UU的成立。我在離開傳統教會服事後，便遇到在港成立尋道會的前宣道會弟兄，於是便與他們結緣。他們的存在對我而言便是如LGBT信徒受排斥和傷害，甚至被判為異端，重則被火燒死，輕則打入冷宮。然他們視同志及跨性人士卻情同手足，令我動容。若果要我說三位一體重要抑或獨一真神重要，後者無疑才是信仰的重心，不過透過主耶穌貫通新舊約的時代和聖靈的入住及更新。我想三位一體這教義充滿著奧秘，連神學家也不易理解，我們卻去對不接受者大反特反，如對耶和華見證會及猶太教等的討伐，這是否有點矯枉過正？！
A tragic ferry accident in Hong Kong killed more than 30! CNN's report here. It was supposed to be a happy day. It was the 63rd anniversary of the People's Republic of China, a public holiday. It was an "open day" of the Hong Kong Electric, one of the two major local power suppliers. The electric company arranged a family day for her staff. More than one hundred and twenty staff and family, many being children, had visited the power facilities on Lamma Island. After dinner, the ferry was carrying them back to Victoria Harbor to watch the firework show there. Just 5 minutes after departure, however, the ferry was hit at one side of her tail by another public ferry. She sank within 2 minutes, with her tail hitting the sea bed vertically. All passengers fell into water. Many were rescued swiftly but still more than 30 were registered dead! UUHK mourns with the whole city.
Starting 3 September, we are very pleased to have the interfaith minister Peter Lloyd to lead a series of monthly UU worships for us. The theme of the first one is Forgiveness. I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks Peter for putting together this fantastic worship service.
Only after the worship did I find out that, incidentally, the theme of the September issue of Quest is forgiveness!
Quest is a monthly publication of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, a "church" serving isolated UUs worldwide.
The format of Quest is two sermons followed by other content. Needless to say, both sermons are on forgiveness. What struck me most, however, is a short story told by Kate Braestrup. Kate's two children were badly burnt in an explosion caused by the gasoline Kate's cousin George, an adult, used to ignite a pile of backyard brush. Those few simple yet astounding words from one of her burnt child Zach to George, who was blaming himself, fully illustrates the divine quality of forgiveness: "It's all right, George. We love you."
Kate's final remark is so true: "If you are living in love, you are in heaven no matter where you are. May heaven hold you. May you always, always, live in love."
This story and the two sermons in this issue of Quest beautifully complete our worship service.
Read Quest September 2011 here
跨宗教牧師 Peter Lloyd 開始為尋道會帶領一系列 UU 崇拜。第一次崇拜的主題是「寬恕」。我十分有得著；感謝 Peter。無獨有偶，Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) 出版的月刊 Quest 九月份的主題也是「寬恕」。CLF 專為世界各地沒有教會可去的 UU 個人及家庭而設。它的月刊都有兩篇很好的講道。今次最令我感受深刻的反而是 Kate Braestrup 牧師鈙述的事件。她的表親喬治，大人，用汽油點燃後院樹枝堆時，發生爆炸，燒傷她的兩名孩子。當喬治非常自責的時候，她兒子的一句話最令人明白寬恕的神聖，他以燒傷了的手搭在喬治的肩上，安慰說：「沒事的。我們都愛您！」
讓我們記取 Braestrup 牧師的一番話：只要你心中有愛，無論身處何方，你就是在天國裡。願你常活在愛中，願天國擁抱你。
East Africa, especially Somalia, is in a devastating famine. This is the world's worst food security crisis in the last 20 years. Lives, especially children, are loss every second right now. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has just launched a UUSC Somalia and East Africa Relief Fund. Please help. Details here.
Extremely sad! On March 11, a terrible magnitude 9 earthquake, followed by a devastating 10-m high tsunami, mercilessly destroyed most of North-Eastern coast of Japan. Over ten thousand were killed. Many more have lost their families, homes, and all they have. Those in relief camps are facing shortage of electricity, food, water, and shivering in sub-zero temperatures; some of the victims actually died in the camps! The deadly nuclear disaster in the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues to unfold. Radioactive contaminants were detected in vegetables, milk, other foods, and even in the tap water of Tokyo. The catastrophes are still going on, countless Japanese are still suffering. Japan, our hearts are with you, we support you!
The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee have jointly set up a UUA/UUSC Japan Relief Fund, click here for details and to donate. Thank you!
（一）馬丁路德金作為社運領袖最令人折服的氣質就是自我犧牲的精神。他的名句「如要犧牲，願那是我」和「可能要流血，但要流的是我們的血」，最令人敬佩。這難能可貴的精神是今天的民運領袖所應該響往與仰望的。馮牧師點名舉例說 Malcom X 及司徒華便具有此高貴特質。
On January 16, 2011, the eve of Martin Luther King Day, Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong and the Mount of Olives (founded by Rev Fung Chi-wood, Anglican priest and former legislator) organized a memorial gathering titled "From Martin Luther King to the Democratic Movement of Hong Kong."
Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr (15 Jan 1929 - 4 Apr 1968) was an American clergyman, a prominent leader in the African American civil rights movement, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He is best known for the advancement of civil rights in the United States using nonviolent methods. He has been arrested for 30 times and finally got assasinated at an age of 39. King is a heroic leader in the history of modern American liberalism. The third Monday of January is the public holiday in USA devoted to Dr King.
In our memorial gathering, short videos were shown of his life story, the famous gripping "I Have a Dream" speech, and his final speech "I've Been to the Mountaintop." During our discussion session, Rev Fung shared his incisive observations and reflections on the present situation of the democratic movement of Hong Kong:
1 The most admirable quality of Dr King is his spiritual quality, namely, the spirit of self sacrifice. "River of blood may have to flow before we gain our freedom," King addressed, "but it must be our blood." It is this noble spirit that today's democratic leaders in Hong Kong should aspire. Rev Fung named Malcom X and Szeto Wah among those rare examples who possess this remarkable spiritual quality.
2 A clear unifying central issue is lacking in the present democratic movement of Hong Kong. During the time of Martin Luther King, the terrible human rights conditions of African Americans in the United States served as a unifying issue. In Hong Kong, back in 2003, the impending national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law had successfully recruited a massive half million demonstration. Such a central issue which could unify the spirit of Hong Kong citizens is now missing.
3 The present democratic movement in Hong Kong is unable to shape a focus to unify the attention of the public. For example, conflicts between the rich and the poor is a serious and pressing social problem. But the social movement sector has not been able to present a simple, clear, and effective message to the people to draw their interest and recruit them to action.
4 Self-interest is commonplace within the pro-democracy community of Hong Kong. They often utilize each other. Tolerance of different ideas is also lacking. Without unity, how can the democratic movement succeed? From the Christian point of view, the democratic movement of Hong Kong is in need of the spirit of love and the spirit of selfless giving of Jesus Christ.
Shocked and saddened by 8 HK tourists losing their lives, and 1 is critically injured, now still in the ICU. So close to us HKers, as many of us travel occasionally and the Philippines is among our popular destinations. www.uuhk.org has changed its look, and a thread is added to the forum, for mourning. May the dead rest in peace. May the injured recover soon. May the families be comforted and supported.
Let us reserve a minute of silence to remember the dead, the injured, and their families! We are star dust, yet so precious and valuable. Let us reflect seriously on our short and fragile being. Let us treasure our only life and feel deeply with our only body. Let us live life to the full, to actualize ourselves. Give thanks to Nature for our existence, and use our life wisely to love and help our fellow Humans.
Share with you a UU way to mourn.
Listen to Spirit of Life here
Spirit of Life, come unto me
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea,
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close,
Wings set me free,
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
I often consider my life to be a journey of Truth-seeking. As such, I explore a wide range of worldviews, including various world religions and atheism. With Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong (UUHK), I have paid eye-opening visits to the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Bahai community in HK. This time, on May 8, 2010, we visited the Zoroastrian community.
Because of the impending visit to a stranger religion, I have done a little homework. To my surprise, members of this little-known religion have made major contributions to the British colony in her early days. More surprisingly still, this small ancient religion has a profound influence on a hugely popular religion in the West, namely, Christianity. Some biblical scholars maintain that, in the Gospel of Matthew, the magi from the east visiting the baby Jesus were Zoroastrian priests. The reason, they say, for inclusion into the narrative the then prestigeous Zoroastrian priests is to enhance the creditability of Jesus as the Messiah. Also, the Bible is full of Zoroastrian concepts: God/Satan, Heaven/Hell, Angels/Archangels, Judgment, and Bodily Resurrection. (1)
On the day of visit, when I arrived at the Zoroastrian Building in Causeway Bay, I could spot the symbol of Faravahar on the outer wall (figure 2). The soft-spoken and very friendly priest Homyar explained to us the basics of his religion. The founder was Zoroaster (628-551 BCE); his name appeared in Nietzsche’s famous “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” Zoroastrianism was the national religion of Persia and the most influential religion in the Middle East at the time of Jesus. Its main God is Ahura Mazda, “Ahura” means creator, “Mazda” wisdom. Good thoughts, good words, and good deeds are her three basic principles. The scripture is Avesta, mainly accounting the life and teachings of Zoroaster. Fire is believed to be the earliest creature, symbolizing God’s eternity and mercy; therefore, all their temples have an ever-lite sacred fire.
Regarding adherents’ current religious practices, every member will wear the symbol of Faravahar, the guardian angel, as a necklace. They don’t smoke, for smoking blasphemes the fire. Every youth will pass through an adult ceremony, in which (s)he will start wearing a white underwear with a small pocket in the middle of the collar (figure 3), a symbol of keeping good deeds done every day. The religious identity is inherited and they do not accept converts. Their children are encouraged to marry within the religion. Women married to outsiders will be considered as leaving the religion, men marrying outsiders have not this problem. Priesthood is also inherited, passing only to sons. Homyar joked that he has a daughter and so his line of prienthood has been cut off.
The origin of HK Zoroastrians can be traced back to the 17th century, when Muslims conquered Persia. Some Persian Zoroastrians fleed to Mumbai, India, where they were called “Parsee,” meaning a people from Persia. After the Opium War, they followed the British colonists to Hong Kong. More famous figures included Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody, a co-founder of the University of Hong Kong. The Mody Road in Tsim Sha Tsui was named after him. Jehangir Hormujee Ruttonjee was the founder of the Ruttonjee Hospital. The Star Ferry was started by Dorabjee Naorojee Mithaiwala. Parsees also helped establish the HSBC Bank and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
After the introductory lecture, Homyar guided us to visit the prayer hall, the center of which is the sacred fire fed by sandalwood (figure 1). Homyar stressed that they worship not the fire, but God through the fire. Afterwards, we took a fifteen minutes walk to the Parsee Cemetery in Happy Valley, which was built as early as 1852. Celebrities’ names such as Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody and Jehangir Hormujee Ruttonjee can be found there. At present, however, there are only about 200 Zoroastrians in Hong Kong (only about 210 000 in the whole world) and they have been largely forgotten by the rest of Hong Kong.
This visit added an important piece to the jigsaw puzzle of my life, linking together fragments such as the Star Ferry, the University of Hong Kong, the HSBC, and Christianity. It forced me to reflect deeply whether Christianity is really that special and sacred, as many of her core symbols were merely borrowed from earlier religions.
Articles related to Zoroastrianism from Universalist Herald:
拜訪當天，來到銅鑼灣善樂施大廈（外語名稱正是 Zoroastrian Building），在外牆已看見祆教的標誌 Faravahar（圖 二）。招待我們的祭司 Homyar 向我們講解該教之基本。祆教的始創人是瑣羅亞斯德（又譯查拉圖斯特拉，公元前628－551年）。尼采名著《查拉圖斯特拉如是說》就是用了他的名字。這宗教是波斯的國教，亦是耶穌時代中東一帶最具影響力之宗教。它的主神是阿胡拉·瑪茲達（Ahura Mazda，Ahura 意即「創造者」、Mazda意「智慧」）。祆教的三大基本教條是：好的思想、好的話語、好的行為。該教的主要經典是《阿維斯陀》，主要記述瑣羅亞斯德的生平及教訓。他們認為火是神最早的創造，象徵著神的絕對和至善，所以神廟必有長期點燃的聖火。
說到他們的宗教生活，祆教標誌 Faravahar 可說是守護天使，每個教徒都會作頸鍊帶在身上。他們不吸煙，因為褻瀆火。教徒一代傳一代，基本上不接受外人信教。青年在成人禮時會穿上一件白色短袖內衣 （圖三），胸前有一小袋子，象徵盛載每天的好行為。家庭鼓勵子女教內通婚，女子嫁給教外人便算離教，男子娶教外人則無問題。祭司制度是世襲的，只傳男子，Homyar 笑言他有一個女，所以斷絕了承繼。
講解後，Homyar 帶我們參觀祈禱禮堂，內有檀香木聖火（圖 一），這個火，可說是崇拜的中心。但 Homyar 強調他們並非拜火，而是透過火敬拜神。之後，祭司帶領我們步行十五分鐘到達位於跑馬地的巴斯人墓園。該墓園早於一八五二年建成，可以找到一些香港開埠名人如麼地和律敦治家族的墳墓。但時至今日，香港現有祆教教徒只有約二百多人（世界祆教教徒亦只有約廿一萬），在社會上幾乎已被人遺忘。
1 Ken Vincent, ‘The Zoroastrians,’ Universalist Herald, Nov/Dec 2009, p. 21. (download "zoroastrians.jpg" below)
Alex from UUHK