Monday, September 6, 2010

Playing Music To The Cows

Chinese idiom
A kind sister-in-Christ, L, who is also attending NCC, after reading the comments on my previous post here and on facebook, emailed me to advise me and fellow NCC members "not to waste time engaging the outsiders" to explain NCC's one-north project.

I understand her feelings and agree that it seems a waste of time to share our church's vision with them since it seems that many of them have already made up their minds that NCC is on the wrong path, no matter what we say. It is like what a Chinese idiom says: "playing music to the cows" .

I agree with her too that "whatever God has called NCC to do is purely for our members and I believe only we can totally appreciate and enjoy the whole process. It is also a result of many years of revelation of God's Word in NCC members' life and the vision that God has given the church leaders that we dare to step out to do what we did."

I explained to her that my comments and rebuttals are not really meant to convince the person I am arguing against but rather to give another side of the picture to other readers reading the exchange so that they can make a more informed judgment. I'd like more people to understand NCC's position but I guess ultimately it does not matter that others do not understand because it is enough that we, the members, appreciate, participate in and enjoy the whole process.

There are many armchair critics who make comments without thinking it through thoroughly. That's why sometimes I purposely question them to provoke them into thinking more deeply about and justify their comments. For example, one facebook acquaintance questioned why "NCC doesn't consider other alternatives to 1-North" and I asked him for his good alternative. His answer: "split into smaller churches".

Split into smaller churches? That does not meet NCC's objective of keeping the whole church under one one roof, does it? His answer: "many churches down history and in singapore have split into smaller ones when they hit a particular size. there's nothing new about megachurches' size except their insistence on staying under one roof. if this isn't siege/kingdom mentality, i dunno what is. is a family under many roofs less of a family?"

Okay, let's say splitting into smaller churches is really good for NCC. How do you implement it? How many churches should you split 22,000 people into? How about 5? That means over 4,000 people per split church, if every member just unquestioningly follow instructions (which is how some outsiders tend to view us NCC members; the person who suggested the church split even refer to us as drones) to attend a particular split church. That still makes each split church technically a megachurch. Where can you find 5 venues in land-scarce multi-religious Singapore to accommodate 5 new megachurches? How many more pastors and staff and equipment are needed to serve 5 different congregations in 5 different locations? Most importantly, what is the objective of splitting into smaller churches?

When NCC exhibited the first pictures and scale model of one-north, I (and quite a few friends) found that from certain angles, one-north looked like Noah's Ark and perhaps that is fitting since Noah's Ark, just like one-north is now, was a building project ridiculed by those outside his family but Noah knew it was God's project. Those outsiders eventually knew it too, when the flood arrived.

God bless the integrated hub @one-north. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for calling me and others cows.

Jeremy said...


Anonymous said...

Hey Stanley, check this out! Apparently, the original story behind your proverb is a Buddhist one from the first century. Mouzi had made up the story of Gongming to teach that one should talk with another in his/her own language if one wished to be heard. It's not a story about tuning out.

Anonymous said...

By the way, do you know that, in the original Noah's Ark, there were cows? :D

Stanley Wong said...

To play the lute to a cow

Chinese Stories-- Duì niú tán qín

The Story:
In ancient times, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was a master of the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. Unfortunately, his rash behavior often led him astray.

One day, he saw a cow grazing in a field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. Gong Mingyi played beautifully, finding himself intoxicated by the music. But the cow paid no heed to the elegant sounds, simply focusing its attention on eating the grass. Gong Mingyi was surprised at this and could not comprehend the cow's flippant indifference. He felt that since his performance had been masterful, this means that the cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music!

"Play the lute to a cow" implies that someone speaks or writes without considering his audience. Generally speaking, it means the speaker or writer has over-estimated his listeners or readers. In these cases, the idiom mocks the audience rather than the speaker.

Usage Example:
Don't play the lute to a cow, he will not understand your feeling.


Stephanie said...

As we receive Grace and know about there is therefore no Condemnation because of the finished work and the blood of Jesus, we could walk in Grace and give love.

Jesus said to the adultery woman, 'I don't condemn thee, go and sin no more.' The forgiveness come first.

Those that are veiled from the truth, the Gospel will set them free. As one man of God described, 'need to use the power of the words and His Grace to hammer the darkness till it depart.' Glory Glory!