Not the Parable (Part 2) – the Rice Clan

The Rice Clan

The Rice clan did not have a long history like the Dragon family and they did not own as much land. They were a gathering of numerous families with different heritages. Those families did not get along well in the beginning. They had their family infightings from time to time. They fought against each other and some of their patriarchs and matriarchs were killed during those disputes. After many years of fighting, they learned how to live together through intensive negotiation and compromise to accomplish mutual benefits for most of the family members. Those various families inter-married but individual families retained their own heritage. They tried to put aside their differences and unite as a powerful force among their neighbourhood. In order to make sure that individual opinions were heard, all members of the clan would choose their head of the household periodically. The Rice clan had many accomplished writers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, and most importantly, business minded cousins.

Since the Rice clan had limited resources, they decided to expand through trade. They needed to buy food and raw materials from other families. When they could not afford to buy what they wanted or needed, they would use the unethical tactics such as moving in to other people’s less developed properties and claiming squatters’ rights. There came a time when the clan had to buy too much from other villages to fulfill their needs but they did not have enough products to trade. Some avaricious members in the clan decided to increase their product lines for their capacity to trade and profit.

Two cousins, Kenneth and Norman, whose families claimed squatters’ rights in the mountainous Brown county, realized a high profit margin product which could solve their trade deficit problem.

Being successful traders of the Rice clan, Kenneth and Norman executed an ingenious plan. The people in the Brown county were mostly poor. They were subsistence farmers who had been living there for generations. The cousins coerced the Browns not to grow food crops and switch to grow papaver, a plant from which juice could be extracted as an addictive narcotic. The cousins brought in food from the nearby valley region to trade with the Browns for papaver. The Browns were satisfied with the trade because they now had a steady supply of food and produce. The cousins then traded the papaver with a huge marked up price to the Dragon family for more food, produce and raw materials and sold them for even more profits to their own clansmen.

How could the cousins sell papaver to the Dragons for such a high profit? The answer could be described as a textbook case in marketing, monopoly, and vertical supply chain management.

To be continue…

© Ngok Yeung Lai. All rights reserved.

Not the Parable of the Lost Son or the Loving Parents (Part 1)

A long time ago, there was a family called Dragon with many children. The Dragon family used to be rich. They had land and ocean properties rich in natural resources to farm, mine, and fish. The parents lived off the inheritance left from the family fortune. The mother was a tyrant who was selfish and spent only on herself and would not take care of her children. She was insecure about her appearance. She bought expensive clothes, makeup, food, etc. The father was a drug addict who wasted his inheritance on drugs, prostitutes and gambling. The parents borrowed heavily to support their lifestyles but the children had hardly enough to eat.

Some of their children left home to other countries to find employment because they were starving. Some died and some became slave labourers in mines, household servants, farm workers, etc. They worked under horrific conditions. However, the parents demanded those children to send their wages home to support their lifestyles and repay their drug and gambling debts. Those children, since they were taught filial piety all through their lives, complied with their parents’ demands because they hoped their parents would change and help their siblings still living at home.

On one occasion, a creditor named Rice came and demanded payment. The parents could not repay the debt. They signed away a crumbled shed built on a barren corner of their estate and sold one of their baby girls, Fragrance, to Rice to settle the debt. Fragrance was born pre-mature and weak. The parents thought that she could not contribute anything to the household in the future. They also did not favour girls because women could not carry the family name. Rice promised to return Fragrance to the Dragon family when she grew up as an adult.

To be continue…

© Ngok Yeung Lai. All rights reserved.

The Mississippi of the North

After listening to the Saturday evening new on CTV news interview on the Cornwallis statue,, The Mi’kmaq historian Daniel Paul described Nova Scotia as the Mississippi of the North. This description reflects how I feel after living her for 38 years.

Many locals see anything different or foreign is a threat. There are few noticeable advancement in opportunity According to the Labour Market Statistics in 2014, visible minorities unemployment rate is consistently higher that the overall general unemployment rate.[1] Although the median employment income of immigrants with a postsecondary education is higher than non-immigrants, fewer immigrants worked full-time, full years compared to non-immigrants. For the recent immigrants (immigrated, 2001 – 2009), only 53% worked full time, full year. The median income was lower than that of the non-immigrants.[2]

In my experience, despite well-intention diversity talks, most workplaces, including government and major employers are not that welcoming. Talks about “tolerance” are just not enough. No government or institution can force one to accept another culture into their midst. True acceptance has to come from personal experience and humble encounter.

Speaking of government, despite of political parties, Nova Scotia is also chasing its own people out of the province. CBC has a good monologue on this issue.

A province with its small and declining population base, rule by a few elite families and political class, the future is not bright.

[1] P. 16,

[2] P. 17, Ibid.

Movie Review of “The War Room”

Review of “The War Room”

“The War Room” is by far an improvement of other Kendrick brothers’ movie. I am not to going to reiterate the plot and cast. One can easily find those information on the internet. I am going to express how I felt about the film.

It is a faith-based Christian theme movie on the power of prayer, family, and all that healthy God-fearing stuff.

African American family backdrop

The Kendrick brothers centred the plot on an affluent African family. When I researched over the internet, the Kendrick brothers said, “it would be a different movie if we change the races.”[1] I am wondering what would the different be. Is it just political correctness? What would happen if the story were focused on a Chinese family or a Muslim family and converted to Christ because of fervent prayer?

Being “male” is difficult

Similar to other Kendrick brothers’ movies, “Courageous” and “Fireproof”, being male is subjected to all kinds of temptations: infidelity, pornography, pursue of wealth, success, anger, etc. It is always the women who eventually found God and turned the situation around. Do they have to make male bashing a blood sport in order to sell the plot?

“One ‘C’ in math is not that bad”

When the Jordan’s daughter came home with her report card and confessed she had one “C”, Elizabeth, the mother, responded with, “one ‘C’ in math is not that bad”. Why do the storytellers have to stress that innumeracy is “not that bad”? They gave two stereotypes in just one line. First, the subject of mathematics in school is not that important. Secondly, mathematics is not that important with girls. What do the Kendrick brothers think of science and mathematics education, especially with women? Mathematics is the foundation of all science, engineering, technology, and above all, logical thinking. Do they want to instill a belief that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics”) is not important for Christians (or non-Christians) when they believe in prayer?

Prosperity, simple minded message

It shows an affluent upper middle class family with multiple-garage home will keep their jobs, prosper, have great obedient children if they just pray. Also, when they pray, they have to pray in the prescribed formula: a prayer closet, a list with boxes checked off, posture, words to say… God will answer “on demand”. The husband got sick so he was prevented to have an affair when his wife prayed. It seems that God is our servant rather than our Master. I am just wondering, what happened to those women who prayed and their husbands still had the affair. Did God abandon them? Does it mean that their prayers are not fervent enough?

Deleted Scenes

I watched the “Deleted Scenes” section. My favorite scenes “Dr. Bunji” and “Tina’s Revenage” were in the deleted section. Those are great comic relieve scenes for a preachy movie.


Losers are winners

We all want success, promotion, higher income, and bigger home…

This is the foundational success of prosperity gospel. We see mega churches where the preachers tell the congregation strive for more, pray for blessings, live with a positive attitude beyond reality…

Let us see who is the one they are supposed to worship.

There was a man who lived over two thousand years ago. Jesus was not well educated. He was a son of a tradesman. Some even called him a child from an illegitimate relationship (Mark 6:3). (Jesus was described as “Mary’s son” instead of “Joseph’s son” pointed to some snickering was going on.) He did not own any property. (Matthew 8:20) He drew no big salary. He had no fixed address. He and his followers were no political or business heavyweight. In fact, his followers and those he helped were mostly social outcast, lepers, women, tax collectors (traitors of the Jews), the poor, and the sick. He and his followers gained no favour among the rich, the powerful and the religious leaders. He died at a young age. He was framed for plotting against the foreign powerful occupying government. He was sentenced to a brutal death on a cross. He followers disbanded right after his arrest.

By today’s standard, this Jewish sect should never have survived. They lack money, political connection, social status, education, marketing skills… In today’s world, they would be labeled with a capital “L” for losers. Yes, they lost. Many of them were captured, slaughtered, fed to lions, burnt alive… They became martyrs. The term “martyrs” actually means “witness”. Those who died for their faith considered dying for Christ was the highest form of witnessing.

Yes, the witnesses of Christ worshipped a God who seemingly lost the battle. For a while, it seemed that there were no hope, no victory, no power, only defeat. It was not that surprising that a group of social outcast were defeated. History books were filled with names of high achievers, rich and powerful people, kings and queens, nobles, and all their conquests. Few, if any history books regarded the poor, uneducated, prostitutes, and lepers as heroes in their narratives. If they were even mentioned, those would be as losers, and people and situation we should avoid.

Time has changed. We want our church pastors to be well educated. Pastors want to be called with their title Dr. or Rev. The church wants to be associated with the rich and the powerful, or help the politicians’ elected to office. The politicians also want to gain votes from the congregation. It seems to be a symbiosis relationship that they cannot live with the other but they also cannot live without the other. The church today thrives on success. No more being fed to the lions as martyrs (witnesses). It tries to gain power and influence on whatever stage it can seek, pro-life, anti-gay, pro-choice…

Church history seems to tell us a different story. Whenever the church questions the establishment, helps the poor, heals the sick, love the neighbor, she wins. She gains effectiveness. The gospel becomes real. Whenever the church becomes the establishment, gains power, accumulates wealth and properties, she losses. Her constituents become oppressed by her own dogma. Her message becomes an empty ritual.

Jesus preached a subversive, anti-establishment message on power, wealth, and most of all love.

Elizabeth May and Khadr

I posted my response of Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party and MP, act during the press gallery dinner. I wrote on my Facebook post, “If Harper or any Conservatives MP acted like May, the media and all other parties would ask for their resignation. For May, she was a hero for praising someone who killed a medic. What a double standard!!!”

I received responses from my friends about how wrong and bad the Canadian and American governments did to Khadr. Khadr is such a nice kid, etc…

Here is my response.

“We can argue that Khadr was only 15 when he murdered and harmed others. It is so comforting to have our names listed on the compassionate side of the ledger. Others will call those who supported Khadr as kind, thoughtful and compassionate people. He may be born into a family who is controlling. He may be tortured. His rights may be violated. He just maybe… There are some facts even his lawyers did not deny. He made bombs. He threw the bomb. He intended to kill people. Yes, he was fifteen. No, he NEVER showed remorse after all these years. The medic he murdered also had a mother and a family. Those who are blinded by his bomb are still blind. He is still glad that he did it. Those who supported Khadr’s killing have no problem with the killings of Americans. I am not an American. I am just wondering, why do they have such hateful feeling towards the Americans? The people Khadr murdered and harmed are also creations of God too.”

I am open to opinions that I may be wrong. I DO NOT think those who are in the “compassionate” camp will ever consider they may be fooled by a murder.

Thoughts on Viola Desmond Day


Today is the first provincial holiday in Nova Scotia. This year, Nova Scotia celebrates the life of Viola Desmond[1]. She was a black Nova Scotian who was charged, held overnight in jail, not advised of her rights, convicted, and fined because she set in the main floor of a movie theatre in 1946. The law of segregation was in full force in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Blacks were only allowed to sit in the balcony in Nova Scotia in those days. Her case happened nine years before Rosa Parks[2] refused to give up her seat on the bus in the United States.

According to the law, Viola Desmond committed an offence to the established law of the day.

The theatre acted according to the law to remove her from the main floor.

The police had no problem to remove her from her seat because she was only give a ticket to the black only segregated balcony but she took a seat at the main floor.

The court acted according to the law of the day and found her guilty and fined $20.00 her for the tax (one cent) she did not pay because of the price difference between the main floor ticket and the balcony ticket.

All the procedures, removal, arrest, charge and conviction were according to the law. What was the problem?

The simple answer – the law was wrong!

I read about all the comments of the Chinese communist party, Hong Kong government and establishment claiming that they act according to law.

They rule according to law.

They arrest protestors, use pepper spray, drag protestor to dark alley and beat them up… all according to law.

Protestors were assaulted by police were charged. Seven policemen who assaulted them were hailed as heroes.[3] They were not charged.

I have no training in law. I have only a few observations.

“Law” or “Rule of law”

  • Should not be a tool for the government to maintain their governing authority.
  • Should not be used to shut down dissenting opinions.
  • Should not be used to focus on benefiting the ruling class or the establishment.
  • Should not be dictated to the court or police by the political party or the governing authority. The government cannot tell the court who and how to judge a case.

“Law” or “Rule of Law”

  • Should be fair to all segments of the society
  • Should be independent of the governing authority and the police.
  • Should be transparent in their procedures and decisions.

I can list more.

The “mighty nation” is just too strong. It can impose their will on other nations. No one dares to be the dissenting voice.