Interfaith Memorial Service for Rev Yap Kim Hao @FCC

(TattSi walked to centre stage, lit a candle, and turned to the mic)

“Hi everyone, I’m TattSi, and I’m from the Humanist Society.

I just want to reassure Mao that while you knew Rev Yap only for a short while, you still beat me in that department. I never met Rev Yap, and only knew him for less than a year, on Internet, on Facebook.

So, to me Rev Yap is as what Rev Miak described, even more powerful in death than in life, mimicking the character in a recent movie, a green Yoda from beyond, because I had never met him in person. For humanists, we feel death is what makes life glorious.

I’m up here the later part of this service, because I wanted to hear all of you out; take in what I didn’t know of Rev Yap, before talking about him. As a humanist, I do not have any religion. (Pointing to the candles) The humanist in me will probably tell everyone here who wants to light a candle , to light it from the inside out, because if you light it from the outside in , the next person will burn his/her hand trying to light the inner ones.

So as humanists, we really don’t care if you call us humanists, atheists, agnostics, freethinkers etc, we are not so much for labels, but we are perceived to be immoral for the lack of a god-belief. We have a saying within our community, that ‘if the religious can stop calling us scums we will stop calling them idiots’ . Of course you are not idiots, you may be silly at times… I’m silly at times.

I remember being here, at FCC, earlier this year, where Rev Miak, Imran (sitting at the back), & I had a good dialogue on religion and atheism. After that, Rev Yap & I had many discussions on Facebook. We discussed many things, including some which I proposed for my [humanist] movement that Rev Yap did not agree with, and it got contentious, but we were able to agree to disagree, and he was a gentleman.

Between the people of different religions, the divide seems to be of different gods and of different theologies. Between the religious and the non-religious, the divide seems to be “immoral scums vs ignorantly stupid’, but it’s not a real divide, and there isn’t a clear aisle dividing both sides. Humanism is about using reason, and having compassion. We certainly use reason, we have compassion, and what I learnt from Rev Yap, is the critical thing called Passion. Just as Keith before me had said , it is passion that makes a person go do something than just sitting around talking about it.

A while ago, you will remember there was a Texas Church shooting… and the gunman was an atheist. Sure, he was an atheist, but an atheist with a lot of problems from his Air Force days. Of course, people should know that atheists do not kill for our Non-god … Rev Yap and I discussed about this online, leading to what he said to me, exactly one week before he passed, with little context to the Texas shooting case, something that will stay with me the rest of my life :

Vivian, I’m sure you love to hear this quote.

Humanists have a way of giving religious perspectives back in a funny way. The religious love to say ‘you have a god-shaped hole in your heart’, but when Rev Yap passed I said ‘I have a human-shaped hole in my heart’ , and that human is in the shape of Rev Yap.

Rev Yap will be remembered by us not as a religious person, but as a real human, full of human spirit. And the last two, are what we humanists honour the most.”


_______________________________

Note :
Mao – Rev Yap’s future grandson-in-law, who lamented the short time he’d known him
Miak – Sr Pastor FCC
Keith – American introvert, who was inspired by Rev Yap to work with ex-convicts
Vivian – Sociologist who spoke of critical thinking

(Speech reproduced from memory of the proceedings)

Musicians of HumanistSG – Adam Quek

The Humanist Music Day event was a half a year ago, though the ripples are still radially expanding to touch distant hearts . We will pick up where we left off, writing about the musicians who performed that Saturday afternoon.

Adam hails from the financial sector. It’s easy to tell , since he was the HSS internal auditor two years before, meticulous with numbers, and precise with chords and plucks. Adam had performed two Johann Sebastian Bach pieces earlier – Prelude & Bouree – and this song, named “Circular Logic” , was written for his grandpa who passed away two weeks before, after a long bout with dementia.

Adam imagined his grandpa reliving his youth but forgetting his present state, questioning inner bliss and outer reality, hence Circular Logic. Natacha, Adam’s daughter (mother’s Korean), wanted to be with papa throughout the three songs instead of sitting in the corner by herself. Despite the scores of eyes affixed onto the father-daughter pair, she hardly flinched, signifying another musician with nerves of steel in the making, and a papa-child relationship that emerges from a loving grandpa-grandchild bond.

HMD-04a

On close attention, you can see the 7-string guitar ‘christened’ by Natacha’s Snow White sticker – her seal of approval of papa’s finesse on this instrument.

On the posting of this, is Adam’s birthday. We wish him many happy ones to come !

(Adam plays for Forbidden Planet, a 4-piece instrumental band , in the uncharted terrain of ‘genre-bending prog rock’)

Mid-Autumn Night’s Moon Viewing & Mooncakes

HumanistSG’s second event with People’s Association was another resounding success. A total of 40 people turned up for an event that was supposed to be for 30 people based on the size of the venue.  It was also the first time that HumanistSG got to work with the Galaxy Astronomy Club, led by Dylan.

The evening did not get to a promising start at first, as a persistent afternoon shower had left the sky overcast and grey. It looked like the moon would be a no-show tonight. Nevertheless, the participants still eagerly streamed in to the Community Club for an evening of learning and mingling.

After dinner, Astronomy club kicked off the evening with a dose of science. Astronomy Club’s Jing Peng gave a light-hearted presentation of telescopy and astronomy, complete with beautiful visuals of starry skies. HumanistSG followed up with the cultural presentation of the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival, also affectionately known as the Mooncake Festival. In it,  the Society secretary Chee Hoew covered the historical origins of the festival and its evolution over the centuries, as well as the myths and legends associated with the moon.

Astronomy 101

History and lores of the Mid-Autumn Festival

The difference between Astrology and Astronomy , is that only the latter is science. The former claims to be foreknowing, but the only thing it gets right is  the constellation name, and even that is specific to the night skies of the Northern Hemisphere. In the scientific studies of the extra-terrestrial , Astronomy, the full spectrum of the electromagnetic waves are used.  An IR biased camera was used to capture some of the evening’s shots.

The steel-meshed canopy at the top of Woodlands Galaxy Community Club

The telescope proper

The telescope pointed at the moon

Ghostly images of the moongazing activity around the telescop

Science pegs reality. People continue to use the lunar (almanac) calendar for tidal predictions, and in agrarian societies. It is no secret that the moon only has the same side facing the Earth because of tidal lock. We are also fortunate that we live in an epoch where the moon, when she comes between us and the Sun, casts just the right shadow for an annular solar eclipse. We do live in interesting times, and if we can let go of the dogma that all these were part of the divine plan, we would realize that it is not, and that our own appreciation of these peculiarities of our times make us special and unique.

The event came to a sweet conclusion with tasting of moon cakes, both the snow-skinned and the Teochew flaky crust version, courtesy of our lovely host, the People’s Association. 

When people recognise that we are distant cousins, and are linked by cultures that are very different and yet celebrating the Sun and the Moon in such similar ways, perhaps we will lower our guard, for us to celebrate reunion than confrontation, and that we really have no real qualms with each other. That is real community engagement, and conflict mitigation becomes superfluous.

Musicians of HumanistSG – Bryan Gan

Bryan was a devoted metalhead long before learning to play music. Picking up the guitar casually at age 17, he dabbled in classical music as part of an ensemble (while unsuccessfully trying to play Malmsteen licks) until joining one of Singapore’s premiere death metal acts – Oshiego (www.facebook.com/Oshiego). There, he was schooled again and again in the art of aggressive yet precise riffing, the hallmark of any heavy metal band worth their salt.

Using a guitar amplifier that also doubled as a stereo, Bryan performed two Oshiego songs to a backing track, The Great Architect of Nothing and Crossing the Bridge of Siraat, the title tracks of two of the band’s albums. Oshiego’s style of death metal takes big influence from the Stockholm scene of early 90’s Swedish death metal, as well as German thrash metal from the 80’s, notably from Kreator (who will be performing in Singapore in August). This style of music is understandably and desirably abrasive for the uninitiated listener, albeit bolstered with strong melodic lines.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/95171409@N07/36013432761/in/album-72157682511151114/

Bryan considers heavy music to be anathemic to the glossy and dull pop songs that adorn megachurch halls. It’s not for everyone and it doesn’t try to be. Despite that, many of his musical influences are less sonically devastating – Marty Friedman, Jon Schaffer, Neil Zaza, etc.

https://www.facebook.com/Oshiego/

Musicians of HumanistSG – Paul Amazona

Paul hails from The Philippines, and has been working in Singapore. Paul is a free-spirited performer, finding church repertoire in his early days ‘too careful’ and ‘lacked freedom’.

His music background began with the recorder; went on to guitar ; had a trying time with the keyboards ; dabbled in tin whistle and ocarina; and considered the ukulele a piece of toy and ‘prop for jokes’.

Being a founding member of the Humanist Music Day, he surprised us by choosing an instrument that is not usually associated with virtuoso performance. Three years working at the ukulele, he now composes on it, and thinks it a great instrument for painting on a silent canvas , doing art through the constant tweaking of acoustic rhythm, timbre and harmony.

Plucking and strumming , Paul played the ukulele connected into the guitar amp, with notes reverberating and hovering within the gallery. An instrument that featured generally bright sounds began to yield to his serious rendition of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Paul was visibly immersed in this opportunity to bounce these notes around, taking the audience’s returned energy to fuel his rhythm and movement with the four-stringed instrument. His powerful strums were counter-balanced by the deliberate and crisp slow plucks, as the music died. The applause was quick & furious , for most , if not all, had never heard a ukulele taken to such heights.

HMD-23

The encore piece was “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele,  cheerful and well tempo’ed. Paul had the entire audience clapping along. You had to be there.

April Fools : CoCC rules against Humanists

HumanistSG executive committee will be holding an urgent closed-door discussion , in response to this recent announcement.

 

CoCC DECIDES AGAINST HUMANIST SOCIETY – AFNN

(1st Apr 2017)

After long consideration, the Council of Committed Communities (CoCC) has ruled that Atheism is a religion. The Humanist Society (HSS) now has thirty days to register as a religion with the Board Licensing Societies (BLiSs).

The Honourable Bjetahan of CoCC said that despite the protracted and careful study of the rise and popularity of Atheism, it was a relatively simple decision to make. “They organize regular social events, bringing stability to otherwise meaningless lives; they do charitable work for the poor and underprivileged and they do so with the conviction we have also observed among other religions.”.

Another CoCC council member Li Chin Gong added: “The decisive thing was once they launched Celebrant activities for weddings, deaths, moonyöt (babies’ full month) and gay outings. That’s a clear sign of religion-commercialization.”

Mr Li was reported to have said in private, “We are doing these goondus a favour. Terrorism has no religion, and since atheism is now considered a religion, its followers will no longer be branded heretics, nor persecuted for lack of morality.” . He added ‘it was a thankless job but the authorities had to regulate this bunch who were making a mockery of non-religion.’.

In a related development, current HSS President Ng Chai See suddenly found himself embroiled in a power struggle. A rival group, understood to be led by ex-President Jessie Low, is gearing up for the upcoming AGM elections on the platform of an HSS in worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monstress (female of ‘Monster’). When interviewed Jessie Low shared, “The Flying Spaghetti Monstress, power be unto Her, is not a make believe mascot. More of us have had personal visions of Her. She has come into our dreams to challenge us to take Atheism where no atheist has gone before. We will be led to victory in the elections.”

Other ExCos could not be reached for comments. Mr Ng claimed ‘other ExCos do not exist’ and ‘will be postponing all activities until they have consulted with their accountants.’. The optimistic, revenue-minded Mr Ng revealed that ‘blessing new subway trains is potentially a new source of income.’ – AFFN

(Original announcement can be found at this link :  http://www.fiends.net/index.html )