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Crazy Rich Asians and Methodists

Rev Dr Daniel Koh Kah Soon // September 11, 2018, 7:11 pm

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A scene from Warner Bros' blockbuster movie, Crazy Rich Asians.

I saw the Crazy Rich Asians movie.

What struck me most is not so much whether the movie failed to portray enough of the ethnic diversity we find in Singapore, or which local stars had a role in the movie and whether they did well, or where were the locations used for the movie, though it seems so incredible for Michelle Yeoh to have walked along Tanjong Pagar, entered a shop house and ended up in Penang for a game of mahjong.

There were two scenes which serve both as a parable and critique of Christians in general, and Methodists in particular.

There is a disconnect between what Christians read in the Bible and how we live our lives as faithful disciples of Christ.

Of course, we can just brush them aside and caution against taking a blockbuster movie with its exaggerations too seriously. Just have a good laugh and move on in life.

I did have a good laugh but I thought, beneath the drama, there may be some truth about how others may view Christians and how we may have inadvertently contributed to such a negative view.

Which scenes am I talking about?

There was a scene showing a small Bible Study group of a few rich tai tais. The first passage read was taken from Colossians 3 which reminds Christians who have Christ to “set their thoughts on things above and not on things below”.

I wonder who else caught the irony of extremely rich ladies reading the Colossians passage talking about not setting our sights on things below?

When Paul wrote about what is above and what is below, he was not pointing to the socio-economic ladder one sets sight on and climbs as high as one can achieve. And the sight below is definitely not the lowest rung in a socio-economic ladder which one should avoid.

To be sure, Colossians 3:1-3 is not a call to renounce material wealth. So it is fine to be extremely rich.

The point Paul was putting across is that Christians should give greater focus on matters of eternal values.

This is not what the rich tai tais were concerned about. Bible reading does not seem to apply to real life.

My observation of the Church in Singapore is that there is a disconnect between what Christians read (if they read at all) in the Bible and how we ought to live our lives as faithful disciples of Christ.

The second scene was at the beginning of the wedding held in a church which was given an expensive make-over.

What we need are more Caring Rich Asians to bless our world.

In the course of a conversation, one of the tai tais said something to the effect of: “Methodists do not spend more than $20 million” for a church wedding.

Okay, some extremely rich Asians who happen to be Christians may have $20 million to splash, or $2 million to splurge, or even $200,000 to spend for a lavish wedding.

As a pastor I have not seen anyone holding an extravagant, snotty wedding in a Methodist Church.

But I was disturbed.

What disturbed me is not directed at the $20 million mentioned. The figure is too unrealistic. I am more troubled by the fact that there are Christians who associate social success and Christian faith with the ability to lead a wasteful and ostentatious life.

Thankfully there are materially rich Christians who are not seduced by wealth. I know some who are generous with their giving without calling attention to themselves.

So there are Crazy Rich Asians who are Christians and Methodists. Hopefully, the crazy ones are few.

What we need are more Caring Rich Asians to bless our world.

And if they are Christians and Methodists who read the Bible and who see the importance of having wedding in church, may their lives be formed by God’s Word and shaped by the teachings of the Church.

This reflection was first published on Rev Dr Koh’s Facebook page and is republished with permission.

About the author

Rev Dr Daniel Koh Kah Soon

Rev Dr Daniel Koh Kah Soon is a retired Methodist pastor currently re-engaged as a pastor at Christalite Methodist Chapel. He has an interest in applying Christian faith to the issues of our society, as well as a deep concern for Christian social outreach. He is the Chairperson of the Methodist Welfare Services.