|作者： 杜葉錫恩||來源： 本網見證|
（本文節錄自以下書籍的第16章：AWAY WITH ALL SUPERSTITIONS! A plea for man to broaden his narrow traditional horizons）
感謝原作者杜葉錫恩 Elsie Tu 容許自由轉載
當我對耶穌教導的簡單解釋，和他們所教導的保羅戒律開始分裂時，很明顯地我與他們已格格不入了。中國內地教會（the China Inland Mission）的婦女擁有更廣闊的思維，我和她們建立了友誼。但當我開始和她們定期喝茶時，其中一個年長的弟兄會成員叫我不要再見她們，因為保羅已告訴我，羊群甚至不應與來自不同教會種類的人一起喝奶。
（原文如下 / Original Version）
It is impossible to know the thoughts and emotions of others, and whether we all as youngsters pass through similar mental processes and thought development.
Looking back to my earliest childhood, I think my first impressions came partly from a Sunday School teacher who told her class that God is watching and listening to everything we do or think, and that before we do anything we should stop to listen to God, who will tell us whether it is right or wrong. I am not sure whether that was what first opened the voice of conscience in me. It could have been fear of my mother, who promised to "kill" us children if we did anything naughty, and we took the threat seriously. Or perhaps it was my own awakening conscience that guided me. What I do know is that I had a very tender conscience and whenever I did anything naughty I could not hide it because my face would blush. My mother soon noticed this tendency of mine to "give the show away" by blushing, so when anything was broken or something went wrong, she would first question me. My elder sister was much better than I at looking innocent when she was wrong.
As a child the thought kept occurring to me, "Who am I?", and "Why am I me and not someone else?" This last now seems to be a silly question which could not be answered and eventually I just accepted my lot. I also wondered much about the meaning of life.
Being extremely sensitive made me shy, and I felt very ashamed that my parents so often quarrelled at home. My mother was not religious, but she had very strict views on how children should behave: they were to be seen but not heard. We must not speak to others about affairs at home. So I remained mute and even my best friends knew nothing about our suffering at home as my mother constantly quarrelled with my quiet, hardworking father. She was jealous of him but no one ever knew why because he never went anywhere except to work and back home. Strife in a family can dampen and make them introspective, shy, timid and humble. Yet my paternal aunt, in whose home our family lived until I was eight years old, told me many years later that I was always a bright and active child. But the bubbles of joy are easily burst when the home is unhappy. Parents would do well to remember this.
At school I was painfully shy, and one cross word from a teacher could make me choke with the hurt of it, though I always fought back my tears. In fact, teachers seldom had reason to scold me because I was obedient, and loved to do my work well. My mother was a restless person, always wanting to move house, so by the time I was due to sit the eleven-plus examination, I was already in my fourth school because of moving around. Each school change brought the agony of meeting new classmates, new teachers, new lessons. Yet somehow I managed to come out in the top six in that examination, enabling me to enter secondary school where I could settle down with the same classmates and teachers, and achieve my goal to be top student in both academic subjects and in sports. Sports in fact were my salvation, a release from unhappiness at home. How I managed, with my shy and timid nature, to become class and school prefect and school sports captain, is something I cannot myself understand, unless there was some latent strength and had not yet come into my consciousness. Even now, old school friends wonder how I came to fight corruption in Hong Kong since I was so quiet at school.
So much did I love secondary school that I dreaded the thought of leaving and going to university, where it was decided on my behalf that I was to become a teacher. My own choice would have been a quiet pen-pushing job in the civil service, but my headmistress would have none of it and insisted I should go to tertiary education, where the only career possible at that time was teaching, a career I never wanted. I dreaded the thought of standing in front of a class of students who might be ill-behaved. So leaving school was like falling from heaven into hell, and that made me ripe for the picking by fundamentalists.
I had been at the university only a few days when I was invited along with other freshmen to attend a "coffee squash" offering coffee, cakes and a talk. My college mother (as we called the senior students who were appointed to advise freshmen) advised me to accept all invitations from all organisations, but join none of them. I thought that rather bad advice, but anyhow I joined the coffee squash. There we heard students testify as to how they had become "born-again" Christians, and called upon those present to do likewise. It was all new to me because, like my father, I was an agnostic and had not heard of fundamentalism. However, I like what I heard that day, and along with a former school friend, went forward to accept the gift of new life. We both wept tears of joy, because the whole meeting was emotional, the "born again" students were very nice and friendly, and this seemed to be the way to proceed. The experience was indeed ecstatic, and the results immediate. I no longer felt depressed, no longer had feelings of emptiness. In fact, the first song I learned in new-found faith was exactly true:
Truly, my whole life changed. I was able to control my temper better, I was patient when my mother nagged me, I could "turn the other cheek" and I stopped criticizing or arguing with people. My father marveled at the change, though naturally he was disappointed that his dream of my one day becoming a Member of Parliament and working for the underprivileged would not be fulfilled because I immediately decided that I would one day be a missionary and spread the good news.
Looking back now, I realize that it was naive of me to imagine that I could take the joyful message everywhere. I avidly read the bible and tried to carry out the teaching of Jesus. I also read about missionaries as a source of inspiration for what seemed to be my life's work. This all happened in the year 1932.
Disillusionment came slowly. First I was told that I should finish my tertiary studies before going to the mission field, a step which I thought unnecessary, though now I am thankful that such advice was given to me. I was also disappointed to find that "born-again" Christians must not go to the cinema, smoke and do other things, in which, actually, I had no interest anyhow. I preferred to make the choice myself, though the result would have been the same. In fact I had no money to do these things. One problem arose, however, when the old King, George V, died, and my mother asked me to take her to the cinema to see his funeral on the screen, for in those days television was unknown. Reluctantly I did go with my mother, but felt guilty because of the teaching given to born-again Christians. In fact there was nothing sinful about it, but I received my first lesson on the chains with which fundamentalism binds the believers.
About a year later, I met a young man at the university, a member of our student union and one brought up in a fundamentalist family. This student always appeared at the bicycle shed just as I arrived to get my bicycle to go home. We became good friends, and I discovered that he was a member of the Plymouth Brethren, a narrow fundamentalist group as I was later to discover. We began to take walks and bicycle runs together, and he taught me many things from the bible which seemed to me far-fetched interpretations of the text, his favourite being the "Song of Solomon" of which he found symbolic explanations, though at first reading it appeared to me to be very sensual, even embarrassing.
He persuaded me to be baptized into his assembly, as the Brethren call their church. As time went on, I became more and more troubled about the words of some hymns such as "Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?" It was too gory for me, even abhorrent. I also had some difficulty in believing the miracles in the bible, and I wondered within myself why miracles happened only at that time and in that place, but not today. Following the good teaching of Jesus was no problem as my conscience answered to that and I sought to carry it out to the letter.
Gradually I learned that while the Brethren have no formal ritual, they do insist on what seems to be totally unnecessary, for example, that women must grow their hair long and wear hats to go to worship. It seemed quite irrelevant to being a simple Christian, and I found it was common for members to discuss behind each other's backs any member who did not follow these useless Brethren principles.
Christian brethren were expected to marry only within their community, and perhaps that made sense in that a happy marriage would have been difficult if one partner belonged to the narrow sect and the other did not. Consequently the choice of a partner was very limited and unsuitable matches often occurred. I saw one after another break off an engagement when the "Brother" found a more attractive woman willing to be baptized and join the assembly.
The excuse for breaking off an engagement was always the same: the man had been told by God in prayer to break off. God had to take responsibility then for a jilted lover, as well as anything a man did at God's command in prayer. Since women were in an inferior position, they were the ones who suffered from the broken engagements. A woman was not expected to get messages from God because the bible says it was Eve who tempted Adam to sin in the Garden of Eden, so a woman's word was worthless, and she must remain silent in the church. All decisions were made by brethren.
The joy that had accompanied my conversion was being sapped away, and the last straw was when my boy friend, with whom we had a bond and expectation of marriage when studies were over, also found that God had told him to break off the mutually agreed engagement, though nothing formal had been agreed because his parents objected to his having a girl friend at all. The shock of that nearly broke me, and it took years to recover from the blow. All joy had gone out of life. It was then 1939, and the war had just begun, so missionary work was at that time out of the question. By then I was totally devastated and disillusioned. It was a dangerous time, especially when another of the Brethren asked me to marry him. I refused, on the grounds that I did not want to be caught on the rebound of a failed union, and also I knew that this brother was also from a fundamentalist and even more narrow-minded family.
About two years later, the new friend came a long way to ask me again to marry him and go to China, saying that he had decided to broaden his fundamentalist views. It was mainly the hope of going to China as a missionary that attracted me, though he was a very good person. Soon after, in 1945, we were married.
We set out for China in December 1947, arriving in Shanghai in January 1948, then made our way to Kiangsi Province, Central China, where the Brethren had a mission station. The Mission sent us to spend the rest of the winter and summer in Kuling, and later we spent a short time in Ifeng before finally settling in Nanchang, the provincial capital, as the People's Liberation Army crossed the Yangtze River and finally reached Nanchang in 1949.
We were fortunate that the officials in our district were very understanding and helpful, though they frequently questioned us, probably because they feared some among us might be spies. In fact as Europeans we were technically enemies of China because the United Nations was fighting with Chinese in North Korea. However, they did not treat us as enemies. Finally, as the war progressed, all missionaries with few exceptions decided to pull out of China, and we came with them, settling in Hong Kong.
If all was well with us in China, things were not going too well at the mission station between myself and some of the Brethren, most of whom were of the tough fundamentalist breed. My husband, unfortunately, reverted to his narrow interpretation of the bible, and was very unhappy when I expressed my qualms about forcing women to promise before baptism that they must wear hats in church. Chinese women seldom wore hats at all. There were other matters mostly connected with the teaching of Paul to the churches which seemed to me of little importance compared with the more practical work of the mission, for example, in the clinics and hospitals run by the Brethren. It upset me that their main aim was to preach, and clinics were only a means of providing a platform for preaching. One missionary, for example, said that she gave all her patients medicine for worms, "because they all have worms", and if they came late for treatment and missed hearing the preaching, "I just give them an aspirin". "They" always meant Chinese people, of course. To me the attitude was truly racist. One missionary whom we met in India put it correctly, as I discovered on arriving in China, when he said that missionaries were "imperialists with a Christian twist". One of the first pieces of advice I received from a "Sister" in our Assembly when we arrived in China was, "Be kind to the Chinese, but keep them in their place". I replied, "I don't know where their place is", because the bible they taught clearly said that we should not take the front positions in the church, yet we were told we had to occupy the front seats in our church hall. I felt that this was the land of the Chinese and we were guests, with no right to lord it over the Chinese.
In fact, from the beginning of our sojourn in China, I sensed that we were arrogant to a people with a civilization much older than our own, and I felt uncomfortable on seeing the situation. When two of us requested that we might invite our Chinese teacher to lunch, we were told that the Brethren would not be happy about that, and that if we did invite our teacher, we must sit with her at a separate table. One of those Brethren boasted that in his decades in China, no Chinese had ever been invited into his house – except his servants, who were Chinese.
As the rift between my simple interpretation of the teaching of Jesus and their teaching of Paul's precepts grew, it was clear that I could never fit in with them. I sought friendship with women of the China Inland Mission, who were much broader-minded, but when I began to have tea with them regularly, one of the elder Brethren told me that I must not meet again with them since Paul had told me the flock not even to "sup" with those of a different kind of church.
My mistake, of course, was my own, that I had gone back into a church where obviously I could not fit in. I was trying to preserve my sanity in a situation where I felt totally ill at ease. I had given up my freedom to follow the teaching of Jesus, and was expected to accept the narrow concepts of Paul as studied enough about fundamentalism but had taken it for granted that Christians followed the precepts of Jesus, but when I questioned the Brethren on that point, they told me that the teaching of Jesus was only for the Jews of this time, while we, the church, must accept the teachings of Paul. I could not understand why the two should differ, since Paul claimed to be a follower of Jesus.
By the time we reached Hong Kong in 1951, I had already become totally disillusioned, but did not want to ruin my marriage because I had no personal disregard for my husband. In Hong Kong, I enjoyed helping to run a clinic where I was interpreter because I quickly picked up a little Cantonese. Then I proposed opening a school for some of the many children who had no chance of education. Again I was up against a brick wall. The church agreed, on condition we taught only the bible. The missionaries themselves had sent their children for higher education, but apparently bible teaching alone was good enough for Chinese. I won a little in this battle and was allowed to teach other subjects provided the bible was given prior place and that our aim was to win converts to our church.
But the damage had been done. I saw more and more that I could not continue in this church which had deprived me totally of my freedom to make my decisions for myself. My husband always reminded me that Eve was the one who led Adam into sin. I did not retaliate as I felt, that Adam must have been weak to succumb and must take equal responsibility. But I never quarreled with my husband, a promise I had made my self when I saw the misery of my mother's endless quarrelling. I would rather have died than quarrel.
Eventually I stood up in the church and said I could not accept their teaching. There was quite an uproar that any woman should stand up and say anything at all, because Paul had taught, "Let your women keep silence in the church". To them, it meant just that, though other Christians interpret those words to have been just a reprimand because some women used to chatter during church services. I do not care which interpretation is correct. I declared my resolve to leave the church, though I really felt sorry for my husband. I expected to leave the meeting that day shedding tears of sorrow, but to my surprise, a heavy burden fell from my shoulders, and I felt more free than I had ever done before. I had truly been loosened from the chains which had been dragging me down towards insanity or suicide.
Regaining that freedom meant a lot of hard work ahead, because at the age of 42 I would now have to find a new life, a new way of supporting myself, a lonely way, and moreover, I was determined to make up for all those lost years that I had wasted in the Assemblies. Like Edmund Gosse, I had been deprived of reading what was going on in the world, as the bible was supposed to be our main reading material. Edmund Gosse tells how when he broke with his father on the same point, the fundamentalism of the Brethren, he had to begin his education in literature as he knew nothing even about Shakespeare and the English poets.
But unlike Gosse I was not a poet, and I began to do what my father had always wanted me to do, to speak up for the under-privileged, and fight against injustice and corruption. Unfortunately my father never knew this because he had died while we were in China, yet his influence still assisted me as I recalled his words. Andrew Tu, too, assisted me. He had been a member of our church and we shared many similar ideas. Andrew was unaware at that time of the influence he had had on me. He taught me so much about the arrogance we westerners show towards others, and how easily we misjudge people of other nations. His philosophy of life revived my former ideals.
I hope I have done my part. Having recovered from the ordeals experienced in fundamentalism, I have recovered my health to allow myself to work to make up for wasted years. I hope my life has been useful in the 50 years since I arrived in Hong Kong.
My life is nearing its last years, and before leaving this world I just want to try to point out to young people the danger of becoming totally attached to any fundamental group, whether religious or political. There is nothing good in fundamentalism, only personal hurt and harm to others. With open minds, with determination to retain our freedom of thought and action, provided it does no harm to others, we can face all the problems of this life in our own strength and by our own efforts. We do not need to trust man-made remedies, so-called miracles, intimidating teaching. If God exists, no one can honestly know, but we can keep our minds open and fear nothing provided we do good in this world, and in making others happy, we make ourselves happy and able to live fulfilling lives.
If this book can save one young person from becoming embroiled in the fundamentalism or cultism that can wreck individual lives, and destroy families or communities, I shall feel it has been worthwhile spending time and effort to write it.