In which I start to investigate the religion of Singapore and have cause to be impressed by the wonders of Google Earth.
Pepys Diary Monday 21 November 1664
about his business affairs.
Nothing that I feel moved to comment on
For various reasons I’m looking intensively at the meta data of the Christian church in Singapore. Events and services take place on an industrial scale and for as yet unknown reasons I have been moved to have a look at what we can learn. For a start, the standard of talks and sermons is of another order to the usual parochial address that I’m used to in my Anglican upbringing. The illustration above is of the New Creation Church, not part of the Anglican Communion but part of the evangelical branch of the relatively small percentage of the Singaporean population that are Christian. It is a minority religion but you wouldn’t think so.
My only concern is that the size of audiences introduces a certain passivity and even a hypnotic state. I learn by listening to something then asking a question or having a conversation. Sermons are routinely long especially in the evangelical side, up to 1 hour 15 min so I don’t think I could concentrate for that length of time and I would probably find that I was not retaining the material given in the first part of the talk unless I was super motivated to learn. I would almost need a separate occasion to digest what I had previously heard.
By meta data investigation I mean how things are done. I’m doing studies hoping that the lessons learned can be applied to life in general not just people going to church or to an event. I’m seeing someone on Friday in fact two people who lived in Singapore for some time before making any further commitments. The point is that if there is a fundamental difference in culture, the likelihood that an idea from an Englishman would be accepted by the population will vary accordingly, even if I were to go over there and speak to them in person. I have no problem going where people fear to tread but I don’t want to waste my time and find I’m talking to brick walls.
In case there are any Christians or Christian sympathisers visiting this blog, below is a list of churches with their various denominations if any. Christians make up something over 10% of the population and the total population is about five million. This means that a far higher population go to church then in good old UK where everyone goes to the supermarket on Sunday or sits at home staring at their devices.
Anglican- 27 Assembly of God – 39 Baptist – 28 Brethren – 15
Bible Presbyterian – 15 Church of Singapore – 6 CNEC – 3
Evangelical free – 9 Independent church – 103 Lutheran – 5
Methodist – 36 Presbyterian – 21 (Dutch) reformed church – 2
Salvation Army – 6
Unless my math is rusty I reckon that’s over 310, and all these churches seem to be supported very well. I have not checked fully but I think you are expected to pay a proportion of your salary. Certainly they have got the idea of payment to a fine art.
Google Earth is an amazing thing. It finds virtually any address in the world. It certainly has the names of all churches. Try typing in your local church or feature and by the time you have finished the last few characters of the word it will have found a probable match. For example, I wanted to find 200 Madison Avenue in New York and by the time I had typed m-a-d-i it had identified Madison Avenue and where it was, plus 4 other Madison avenues. You don’t have to highlight the country just use the little friendly box on the top left of the Google screen.
Anyway, in this case, I attempted to put all the church names on using a Virtual marker pin but after about the 200th entry, the whole map of Singapore became hopelessly busy and unclear. Guidance is a funny old thing. I know I am being guided when I cannot understand why I’m doing something and what its function might be. In retrospect it always has a function which I often only discover months later. It could be to lead me to a person or to lead me to another idea. Time will tell with this one.
Three days ago a man came to the door from RAJAR which is a commercial organisation designed to investigate people’s viewing and listening habits in this case listening. I have been asked to keep a record of what I listen to over the period of one week. I forgot about it the first day, Monday, and when I came to fill it in, the day was closed for business. I wish they had not included that restriction and I consider it bad form. Perhaps they think that if you don’t fill it in immediately, you will forget what you did.
My short-term memory is about three days and then it does fade I must admit. Anyway I will carry on with the week and put a pin on the wall to remind myself to fill in the form. It is quite easy, mostly drag-and-drop but then there’s a 12 page form to fill in that looks as if it could be a bit tedious. I did get a fiver for being willing to fill it in online so I’ll do my bit for England as they say.