MU Parlour, Strangers’ Reunion, Fraud and Truth
Last week, with China closed for Ching Ming/Qingming, finally got round to spending some time with India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Japan, and Vietnam, and watching the Myanmar elections, and having strange vivid dreams about attending the official show-and-tell of North Korea’s rockets. Then back to China this week for insider news on political maneuverings, and also updates from the US on the whole Rudy Kurniawan wine fraud saga.
In the midst of all this, was pleased to have wandered into two new cafes/coffee places:
MU Parlour in the space previously occupied by Anthropology at 16A Lorong Mambong – a decent cup of MU Blend No. 21, not quite as citrusy or chocolatey as described but really quite decent; and
Strangers’ Reunion (facebook) at 37 Kampong Bahru Road (just a few doors down from Highlander Coffee), where Ryan Kieran Tan helms a Synesso Hydra II 3 Group, the first of its kind in Singapore (HT: Colin Loh), and takes Papa Palheta‘s Terra Firma blend to the bright side.
Coffee hasn’t begun to fetch the sort of prices that result in the coffee equivalent of dodgy DRCs. But come to think of it, brinksmanship, character assassination (by both the incumbent and the opposition), conveying words that are technically accurate but intentionally set in a context that encourages the hearer to understand them to mean something else etc, are all variations on fraud, yet are par for course in social, political intercourse.
I was trying to explain this, over lunch, to a pastor recently: if God is a God who is insistent that humans should have faith in him and trust him because he is unfailingly trustworthy and his words are always true, then we who profess to follow him must not be any different. The command not to bear false witness (Exodus 20:16, Exodus 23:1, Deuteronomy 5:20) isn’t to be read restrictively just to mean not to say anything untrue in a court of law, but that one’s whole character must be one of integrity (cf. Matthew 5:33-37).
There has arisen a strange practice in some Christian circles where a more knowledgeable member of a bible study group asks questions of the leader, giving the impression that she would like to be enlightened, when she actually hopes that others will benefit by her query. The motive for this is a good one, but the constant practice of this sort of behaviour does not help in building trustworthy character. This became evident recently when I asked one of these helpful people about something she had said to someone else, her first instinct was to deny vehemently that she had ever said anything at all, though this was later shown to be untrue.
This is why Paul was keen to emphasise his trustworthiness (and therefore the trustworthiness of God’s word through him):
…we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2 ESV)
In inviting people to events where the gospel will be preached, it appears to be the common practice to downplay the talk and emphasise the good music or the fantastic meal as the main attraction. Before i became a Christian, i was leery of this sort of trickery; and now i realise it possibly dishonours the very God we claim to exalt.