Monday, April 30, 2012
Many thousands years ago, the islanders of Lepsog islands were champion squid hunters. They harpooned these humongous sea creatures that roamed their oceans and brought prosperity to their islands. Every young man who reached 18 years of age was required to join the older men in the great sea hunt.
There were many accounts of exceptional courageous and successful hunts recorded in the ancient book known as the 'Chronicle of Sea Warriors'. Recorded in one of its illustrious chapters was a story of a Master Squid Hunter known as Nomis who with his long-time navigator, Nhoj hauled in these super seafood that fed the islanders for years.
In another account, Luap, a famous village singer, singlehandedly speared his game with his very own handmade harpoon. There were of course stories of cowards and quitters. There was a report about Kram, a young apprentice, who jumped out of Luap's boat and swam to shore even before any squids appeared. However, the legend did record that Kram overcame his fear and became a Master Hunter himself. Another islander, Samed, who served as an assistant to Luap but he quit after being bitten on his little finger by a small cuttlefish. He left the island for good because he was attracted by the lights of the mainland. No one knew whether he and his canoe ever reached the land of his dream.
The Master Hunters left behind manuscripts on how to make the right types of harpoons, appropriate baits and also techniques in catching these sea monsters. They wrote good advice on how to avoid the tentacles and if attacked, what the sea hunters should do to free themselves. For thousands of years, the manuscripts were compiled and became a treasured manual. This was a book of success as far as the hunters were concerned. Many copies were reproduced by hands and even translated into different languages and dialects.
After the first generation of hunters passed away, new hunters rose to fill their places. With the manual and the direct instructions from veteran hunters guiding them, they were just as effective as the old-timers. Many of these younger hunters pursued larger species in far deeper oceans than their predecessors had even been. Years passed, as more and more people from other islands sailed to the Lepsog island to learn how to hunt the sea giants, the people of these other islands were enjoying a very good healthy diet of quality seafood.
Fast forward to today. The Islands of Lepsog are filled with hunting schools and colleges. The students of the original schools set up similar institutions on other islands outside of Lepsog too. Squid hunting professors are very impressive. They are fantastic lecturers. To help the students, they have beautiful PowerPoint presentations and even some black-and-white film footages on how those brave hunters of antiquity brought in thousands of these deadly animals.
The libraries of these institutions are filled with countless volumes that tell and retell these old stories. Many graduates of these institutions have gone on to become the grandmasters of the Hunting League. They in turn write many books about how those ancient mariners caught their amazing giants.
There is just a slight hitch - none of these grandmasters has ever caught a giant squid before. Don't get me wrong - they are believers of the previous existence of these gigantic creatures. However, they do not believe that there are any more giant squids in the oceans. How did they know that? They had gone to the oceans to hunt for them but without much result. They have the most modern boats and ships. They have the latest hunting equipments. They have lots of money to buy anything they need for deep-sea hunting. The only problem is that they have not encountered any living giants in the deep oceans.
To pacify their disappointments and justify their lack of success, they assume that the giant squids have become extinct. Most likely, these creatures existed in the past for the purpose of testing the courage of their ancestors. More books are produced year after year about the extinction of the deadly animals in spite of many sightings reported by other hunters outside their immediate circle. These reports are from unprofessional hunters and therefore cannot be accepted. The photographs shown are most probably doctored with Photoshop or similar types of software. Life goes on even without any sightings of these elusive monsters.
The social activities of the Hunting Clubs in all the Lepsog islands are alive. They organize weekly events to celebrate the past existence of the giant squids. They also celebrate the bravery of their ancestors who risked their lives to harpoon these amazing creatures. Some islanders convert their clubs into museums and draw large crowds of tourists.
Then some younger members of the esteemed Hunting Club, claim that they have sighted a few giant squids during some of their hunting trips. Once again, the grandmaster and his committee quickly dismiss these as unsubstantiated reports and thus should be considered as mere rumours. Even though, they are shown a decomposing carcass, they conclude that "it looks like a giant squid, smells like a giant squid and feels like a giant squid but it is not a giant squid".
Those young hunters are given warnings not to spread the rumours or face severe punishment such as being expelled from the club. Without any further interruption from these ignorant youths, the Clubs continue to flourish with exciting activities. They have scholars who write articles and books. Then they exchange notes and book reviews. All the clubs are filled with published materials and they prosper and develop franchises all over the world. The Hunting clubs are now more like reading clubs. People spend more time reading about the great exploits than actually experiencing the exploits themselves.
This is what happens to our churches today. Many churches have not experienced signs and wonders for such a long time that our preachers only preach about miracles of yester-years. One of the popular sermons is about how Peter and John healed the lame beggar at the gate known as 'Beautiful' (Acts 3). We love to repeat what Peter said to the lame man, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
What an irony! Today, we have much silver and gold but in the name of Jesus, no lame person can rise up and walk. How many scholars and professors in our theological seminaries have ever healed the sick in the name of Jesus? How many have ever cast out demons? Our seminaries become "reading clubs" rather than "hunting clubs". We spend hours talking about the devil and his demons but we have no power to cast them out. Theological understanding is only good when it can become practical in ministry.
Let's get the grandmasters back into the oceans and let's really catch some giant squids.
By Rev Albert Kang
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