Mar 31, 2009

Mission Schools & Religious Beliefs

Commenting on my most recent post, many readers have tried to guess where my new house is, and what schools my children are or will be attending.

So kaypoh. :)

One question that arose was whether I should send my children to mission schools, when I personally am not a member of the relevant religion.

I don't see why not.

After all, my parents had sent me to Christian mission schools (primary and secondary) even though they were not Christians (and even though I was not, and am not, a Christian).

When picking primary schools for my kids, my top three criteria are that (1) the school has good academic standards, (2) the school is near my home and therefore it's convenient, and (3) the school offers a good range of CCA activities and programmes.

Whether the school is affiliated with any particular religion is not that important to me. If the school does have a religious affiliation, I see this as a minor plus point. I believe that such schools are more likely to place emphasis on values and morals, which is a good thing.

I am generally fine with the idea that one day, when my children are old enough, they may want to convert to some particular religion which is not my own. It's their own lives.

Personally I am more interested in spirituality than religion. I see spirituality, as religion minus the distractions.

I think that in general, organised religions do come with plenty of distractions. This is unfortunate, but true. Throughout the history of mankind, religions have always come with distractions. Sometimes in the form of cultural trappings. Sometimes in the form of political power-grabs. Sometimes in the form of over-enthusiastic marketing gone wrong.

But at their respective hearts, all religions are merely different paths to the same divine. Some paths are longer, and more winding than others. You could get lost along the way.

Especially if you fail to recognise the distractions, for what they are.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wang, I won't say "distractions". Certain types are more prone to "obsessions".

Anonymous said...

distraction? Are you alluding to the annual salary paid out to a particular pastor by any chance?

Anonymous said...

Whether the school is affiliated with any particular religion is not that important to me. If the school does have a religious affiliation, I see this as a minor plus point. I believe that such schools are more likely to place emphasis on values and morals, which is a good thing.

good to see not everyone is caught up / obsess with just good grades ...

Btw... missionary school... I am guessing SJI?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Ah yes.

God-daughter said...

Agree totally, as always. Besides acquiring general knowledge about a religion never did anyone much harm. If I didn't attend the very multi-racial primary school I did, I wouldn't have known that Muslim people view dogs as a no-no. Some adult Singaporean still don't realize that.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang,

You are indeed a wise man.

Anonymous said...

"I see spirituality, as religion minus the distractions."

What an interesting and profound perspective. It is akin to something like straight sex without the heartache of a relationship?

Anonymous said...

Singapore is picking up too many of the bad American habits.

Anonymous said...

What annual salary??

Anonymous said...

agree totally too.

Learning about other's religion broaden one's knowledge and perspective about the world. At the end of the day, all religions espouse good morals, but unfortunately, it is tainted by Man's interpretation, ego and greed.

I for one, have visted churches, mosque, hindu temples, and taoist temples on various occassions with friends/families and richer for it.

Oh btw, some born christians in England are campaigning for their names to be removed from the Church of England register. How could their parents decide for them when they were babies?

So I say, expose your kids to all religions or one religion (if you are believer), and they can make up their mind when they become adults.

Anonymous said...

To Anon of 1 Apr 12.29am

http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_356328.html

chengguan said...

"I see spirituality, as religion minus the distractions."

relationship with God + man-made rules = religion

and most of the time man-made rules are damaging as it came forth by taking things out of context...

Anonymous said...

Obsession with money-grab, do-whatever-it-takes-to-climb-over-others and the love of power is itself also religion isn't it?

The said...

Most (I emphasize most, and not all) organized religions are about money and power. In fact, many of the new-fangled "sects" are run like business corporations.

Contrast this to the Buddhist monk who meditate up in the mountain, or sit facing a wall.

Isn't a one-on-one commune with G-d in your own house be good enough? It is the heart and the mind that matters. Do we need to be seen in a $300-million place of worship? Distractions indeed.

Anonymous said...

I think it's more the way that mission schools inculcate certain living values that makes the education there value-added.

These values may be based on certain religious beliefs but good values are universal, regardless of religion.

Anonymous said...

You may not like what you hear.

By establishing a very good place of worship with a good brand equity (and of course with a considerable members economics), the head of worship can harvest a decent salary from it.

"In God We Trust" indeed.

Anonymous said...

Districtions like the pope saying that condoms do not prevent AIDS; war between countries of different religions; Bush justifying the war in IRAQ.....

LL said...

I am a free-thinker but was put in a Christian school many years ago and I thank 'God' that I was at least exposed to one religion.

It is not the religion that matter but the culture that we have here in Singapore. Religion is considered part of a culture, to me, because it instill morals and values as what Mr Wang says, it is also an added knowledge to oneself. However, caution must be taken as to who is teaching and what interpretation that person has on religion. I prefer spiritual to being religious. It is essential to understand the teachings rather than blindly worshiping 'ultimatum' and finally children must understand how religion comes about and to respect other religions. Likewise, one culture is not more superior than another. We cannot judge another culture by our own standard.

Anonymous said...

ah Mr Wang you're indeed wise. I am a christian myself but I agree with you.

The Dude said...

I went to a Catholic mission school, and my wife went to an all-girls' mission school. I don't think it's about the "distractions" like BGR problems etc, more to do with the kind of values teaching often associated with mission schools that is the unique selling point.

That said, when we have kids, I'd wanna send my little 'uns to mission schools too.

The Dude said...

BTW, nice to see a fellow SJIan here! :D

Anonymous said...

Cool mr wang! didn't know you were a josephian like me too!

yuez

Anonymous said...

Not Every religion have different definition of divine, thus not all will lead to true enlightenment when they don't even realise what is the truth.In this sense , not all religions are the same. Some religion believes they are working toward a goal, but end up, they are actually walking a path of delusion for past 2 centuries.

Attaining nirvana is totally different from living for eternity with a creator God.

lobo said...

there is such a thing as being too close to the school. I practically lived next door to my primary school. Because it was so close I typically go home straightaway, I felt that I missed out a lot of interactions with my friends as a result.

plus point: if I ever forgot something and the teacher is fierce, all I needed to do was call home. lol

Jon said...

Labels, at the end of the day are, labels.

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it's not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Anonymous said...

Personally I am more interested in spirituality than religion. I see spirituality, as religion minus the distractions.

Well written. Personally that's how I see it too. But then, I realise that there are very few people who can comprehend spirituality on its own without the distractions. I have only know a handful, mostly those who meditate or are rather smart (e.g. high IQ folks).

A common response I get are people who classify me under "atheist", even though as a spiritualist, I'm far from atheism. There are some who add a moral snub over their perception of my "lack of religious guidance" in life. Ha ha!

Anonymous said...

Just a random thought. If your son is gay, what would u tell him or what would u hope for him?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

If could explain, what is spirituality? What is the difference between pop psychology and spirituality?

onlooker said...

Religious facility have been used as an education centre in the past.
The current christian leaders should not be as respected as the missionary who risk their life to spread their religion.
Most missionary serve their belief in poverty while providing basic help to their congregation,one of which is building schools for the local populace.
Unlike the religion of wealth that is so in vogue at this present age.
BTW if they are really pious, any dirt hut can be a house of god.
Why spend excessive money to build a tower of babel in the form of an ark while neglecting the poor among their congregation.
Let me hazard a naive guess, Perhaps it not as profitable to help the poor and disenfranchised?

Or perhaps the Elites of such congregation had done so many thing that goes against their belief that they need the fake ambrosia of forgiveness handed out by these preachers of wealth?

People know what happen to the narrator in "The Telltale heart" (by edgar allen poe) in the end.

Anonymous said...

Few months back, my insurance agent was talking to me on how stressed she was in trying to find a school for her daughter. she asked me opinions of the various schools. In the end, I told her it depends on the culture, the belief and the environment that she wants her kid to grow up in. Do not chase after the 'brand'. Some schools maybe branded but they may not necessary produce students with excellent character. I have cousins studying in famous branded boy's school. Their father worked so hard as a delivery man to support them to go to good school. But in the end, these kids look down on their father because all their classmates have rich daddy unlike theirs. Kind of sad. One day, if I ever become a mother, I will never send my kids to that school.

Firefly said...

I just became an atheist a few days before good friday after being a christian 25 years of my life and I have never felt more enlightened.