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 Articles on Books and Reading               


     Book Reviews, Notes and Comments                  

Beyond AD 2000 by Bishop Hwa Yung

Territorial Spirits and World Evangelisation A biblical, historical and missiological critique of Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare by Chuck Lowe

Lovelace F, Richard. (1985). Renewal As a Way of Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth

Wilkinson, Bruce.(1999). Experiencing Spiritual Breakthrough: The Powerful Principle of the Three Chairs

Fowler, James W. (2000). Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian: Adult Development & Christian Faith

Palmer, Parker J.,1983. To Know as We are Known: A Spirituality of Education.

Astley, Jeff and Francis, Leslie J. (eds).1992. Christian Perspectives on Faith Development

Botton K, King,C & Venugopal, J. (1997). Educating for spirituality. Christian Education Journal, Spring, 33-48 and Gorman, J. 1990. Christian formation. Christian Education Journal, 10, 2 (Winter), 65-73


Laurie Beth Jones,( 2005). The Four Elements of Success

Blanchard, Ken & Hodges, Phil. (2003). The Servant Leader: Transforming your heart, head, hands & habits. Nashville TN: J. Countryman

Brock, Timothy W. The Role of the Congregation on Christian Education as Christian Spiritual Formation, Review and Expositor, 98. Summer 2001, 369-393

Cullinan, Alice R. (2001). The Role of Schooling in Christian Education as Spiritual Formation. Review and Expositor, 98: 395-410

Galindo, Israel. (2001).Methods of Christian Education toward Christian Spiritual Formation. Review and Expositor. 98 (Summer): 411-429

Fortosis, Stephen. (2001). Theological Foundations for a Stage Model of Spiritual Formation. Religious Education. Vol. 96. No.1.(Winter): 49-63 |

Matthaei, S. H. (2004). "Rethinking Faith Formation." Religious Education 99(No.1. winter): 56-71.

Johnson, Susanne. (2001). Christian Spiritual Formation in An Age of “Whatever” Review and Expositor, vol.98 no.3 Summer: 302-332  

Johnson, Susanne. (1989) Christian Spiritual Formation in the Church and Classroom, Nashville: Abingdon Press

Barns, Ian (2002), Becoming Theologically Reflective Practitioners in Professional Life, Journal of Christian Education, Vol.45, No. 2, September : 7-20

Wright, N.T. "God, 9/11, the Tsunami, and the New Problem of Evil." Response, Summer 2005.

Danny Yap, Everyone Needs a Plan: Making It to the Million Dollar Round Table and Beyond (Johor Bahru, Malaysia: Springfield Consultancy Sdn Bhd, 2004)

Barnable Conrad and Monte Schulz (eds.) Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life (Cincinatti,OH: F&W Publications, Inc: 2002)

Ravi Zacharias (with R.S.B. Sawyer), 2006 Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

Cooling, Margaret., 2005, Creating a Learning Church: Improving Teaching and Learning in the local church (Oxford: The Bible reading Fellowship)

Rutter, Mark V., A Holistic Approach to Learning: The Key to Change, Christian Education Journal, Spring 1990, Vol X. No3. p63-7

Groome, Thomas H., 1980, Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Barna, George, 2005, Revolution: Finding Vibrant Faith beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Buford, Bob.2001. Stuck in Halftime: Reinventing Your One and Only Life. Grand Rapids. MI: Zondervan

Zinsser, William. 2006. On writing well: The classic guide to writing non-fiction. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Yancey, Philip. 2006. Prayer: Does it make any Difference? London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Scarrow, Simon 2006 The Eagle in the Sand London : Headline

Coonts, Stephen 2006, Traitor (London: Orion Books)

Wong,Gordon 2006, Faithful to the End: The Message of Daniel for Life in the Real World (Singapore: Genesis Books)

Crichton, Michael 2006, NEXT (New York: HarperCollins Publishers)

Sweet, Leonard (ed.) 2003, The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (Grand Rapids, Zondervan)

Shane Hipps,(2005) The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

Discovering God in Ancient China

Hugh Hewitt (2005) Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation that's Changing Your World

Sweet, Leonard (2007), The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living a Grande Passion, Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press).

Paul Levinson (2006), The Plot to Save Socrates, (New York: Tor Books)

Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir (2007) The Best of the Destroyer

What About Those Who Have Never Heard?

Mother Teresa, (2007) Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the "Saint of Calcutta" (New York: Double Day)







Calvin Miller (2006), Preaching: The Art of Narrative Preaching (Grand Rapids. MI: Baker Books)

Marcia J. Bunge (ed)(2001) The Child in Christian Thought (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Richard and Rachael Hiller (2007), The 13th Apostle, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Beauregard, Mario and O’Leary, Denyse (2007), The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul, New York: HarperCollins Publishers








Tod Lindberg (2007), The Political Teachings of Jesus, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.







Stephen Hunter (2007) The 47th Samurai, New York: Simon & Schuster.








Making Money in Ang Morpork (2007) Terry Prachett






Book review on the Yellow Lighted Bookstore







Campolo, Tony & Darling, Mary Albert. 2007. The God of Intimacy and Action: Reconnecting Ancient Spiritual Practices, Evangelism, and Justice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.








Amir Aczel, The Jesuit and the Skull








Jacobs, A.J. (2007) The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. New York: Simon & Schuster








James Waterson (2007) The Knights of Islam: The Wars of the Mamluks, London: Greenhill Books.








Jeremy Beckett, Tessellating: Starting out in Medicine and Dentistry, Where faith meets practice, Christian and Dental Medical Fellowship of Australia.









Benson L. Benson and Carolyn H. Eklin, Effective Christian Education Study: A National Study of Protestant Congregations, A Summary Report on Faith, Loyalty, and Congregational Life, Search Institute, Minneapolis; March 1999









McLaren, Brian (2008), Finding Our Way Home: The Return of the Ancient Practices, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson









Larry McMurtry, 2008, Books: a memoir, New York: Simon & Schuster


Blown2Bits: A Digital Explosion

This 2008 book is written by Hal Abelson, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MIT, Ken Ledeen, Chairman/CEO of Nevo Technologies and Harry Lewis, former Dean of Harvard College, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard.

The question this book seeks to answer is how the digital explosion will affect life, liberty and happiness. Since this book is written for the North American context, it nevertheless gives some answers to the rest of the world.

Much of the book deals with the tremendous technological leap that took us from there to here. It also identifies two groups of people in North America; these before and after the Internet. Obviously the new generation is more computer savvy and more at home on the Net.

The book raises the issues of copyright (intellectual properties, movies, songs etc) and of personal privacy. The free availability of information (bits) has in many cases forces us to redefine copyright and privacy. Again, the younger generations is more relaxed with these two issues. Note the amount of files being exchanged and the amount of personal information that is being uploaded voluntarily to social networking sites, blogs and websites. This is an interesting book, while not providing trends or answers, gives we something to think about as we run for cover in the digital explosion.



Theological Guide to Calvin's Institute


David Hall & Peter Liliback (Ed)(2008) Theological Guide to Calvin's Institutes: Essays and Analysis, Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing

One of John Calvin's greatest legacy is his book, Institutes of the Christian Religion. In its final edition (1559), it was a great piece of writing in systematic theology. This year, the 500 anniversary of his birth, one of the Calvin 500 project was to engage and update the Institutes.

The contributors of this book is a formidable list of who's who of Reformed theologians. (Why is there no female?) Each is a specialist in Calvin's Institute. It is a pleasure to read as each engages with the Institute with his expertise and context.

This book is an excellent example of the motto of the Reformed tradition, Reformed and always reforming.





Ian Randall: Spiritual Revolution

Ian Randall (2008), Spiritual Revolution: The Story of OM, Milton Keynes, Bucks : Authentic Media

There have been many books on the history of Operation Mobilisation (OM) but this book is unique in that it was issued on the 50th anniversary of the organisation. Randall set out to tell of God's faithfulness in the formation, ministries and sustaining of Operation Mobilisation International. It started with George Verwer's conversion as a teenager in New York. Today OM has its presence in over 100 countries with more than 5000 workers.

The book highlights the various ministries of OM; short term missions, evangelism, literature evangelism, ships and sharper of young lives. It is especially meaningful for me as it has influenced me when I was a young Christian and I am in contact with others who have also been influenced by the organisation. One of them now teaches in a Bible school in Kuala Lumpur while another is a missionary in China. There is an appendix at the end of the book which records ministries started by former OMers and also another list of books written by former OMers.

OM is truly a spiritual revolution involving a team of people dedicated to missions and in the saving of the lost. I strongly recommend this book to those who want to know more about OM.


Moses Tay: Born for Blessings

Tay, Moses (2009), Born for Blessings: An Autobiography of Moses Tay, Singapore, Genesis Books.

I am always curious about people who writes their own autobiographies. Moses Tay is a medical doctor who was the Director of Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore before he resigned to take up the post of the 7th Bishop of Singapore (1982-2000) and the 1st Archbishop of South East Asia (1996-2000).

In this highly readable autobiography, Moses Tay set out to narrate the story of his life. It is wonderful to read about his faith and God's bountiful blessings in each of the stages of his life. However, personally I will like to read more about the inner Moses Tay; his struggles, his formative factors and his regrets (if any).

This book will serve as a useful resource for students of Christian history in Malaysia and Singapore, and also of the Anglican community.





Festchrift to Chow Lien Hwa


Johnson Lim (ed) (2008) Take Root Downward, Bear Fruit Upward: A Festschrift Presented to Lien-Hwa Chow on the Occasion of his Eighty Eighth Birthday, Hong Kong: Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary.

Chow Lien Hwa is known as the"Father of Asian Baptists." He is a pastor, scholar, teacher and a mentor to many Baptists around the world. His untiring work of teaching and writing is based on his belief that it takes three generations before contextualisation can fully take place.

This festschrift is a love-gift from Baptist theologians and pastors from around the world but mostly from Asia. It is heartening to read and appreciate the level of scholarship that is developing in Asia. These articles are mainly in the area of hermeneutics though it is heartening to read Dr Sunny Tan's (Dean, Malaysia Baptist Seminary) call for Pastor-Theologians and Dr Johnson Lim's (Research Director, Asian Baptist Graduate Seminary-Singapore) on the original sin.





LustBader: The Bourne Sanction

In this 2008 book, Eric Lustbader continues the adventures of Jason Bourne, a character created by Robert Ludlum.

Jason Bourne is the 21st century ultimate secret agent as James Bond is the agent for the 20th century. The interesting twist is that Jason Bourne does not exist but is an alter-ego created by the CIA to catch Carlos the Assassin as seen in Ludlum's trilogy: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatium. These have been made into movies. Eric Lustbader took up writing Jason Bourne thrillers and so far has produced two: The Bourne Betrayal and now, The Bourne Sanction. Eric Lustbader is a good choice to take up the mantle of Ludlum in writing Jason Bourne stories. I have enjoyed his Nicholas Linnear novels and China Mardoc novels.

This book took up with the life of David Webber, who is the real person. Jason Bourne is a created personality. David is teaching in an American college and having an identity crisis. He does not know whether his real persona is Jason Bourne or David Webber. This reminds me of The Batman/Bruce Wayne.

As in other stories, this weakness is manipulated by others. This time it is the Russian mob, an ultra secret terrorist organisation, and the CIA. In the pursue of his mission, Bourne leaves behind a trail of destruction and dead bodies. I like this book which has people double and triple crossing each other and thus is a mystery-thriller. What strikes me as I read these books is that basically David Webber and Jason Bourne has a deep sense of decency and loyalty to his friends. I look forward to the movie.

Related postings
The Quest for Jason Bourne
The 20 greatest fight scenes ever


Outliers: Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell (2008), Outliers: The Story of Success (New York: Harchette Book Group).

One of my observation is that most medical students who scored well in their assessment examinations during their long medical courses do not do well and become successful medical practitioners after they graduate. Of course, there are rare exceptions. Usually those who are average and sometimes borderline passes do well in their lives after graduation. I have often wondered about this.

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Blink: the power of thinking with thinking and The Tipping Point: how little things can make a big difference offers some insights into this. Gladwell is an insightful author, looking behind the obvious to gives us a more obvious answer.

Outlier (noun) means:
(1) something that is situated from or classified from a main or related body, and
(2) a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample.
In an average mean chart, an outlier will be a person who is either in the top or bottom 10% of the mean.

Gladwell tried to analyse the lives of successful men and women, those whom he calls 'outliers' to discover the secret of their successes. As in the previous books, he balanced his arguments with facts and anecdotes. His theses are both fascinating and obvious.

There is a limitation to what genetics can offer a person. For example, IQ. The higher the IQ a person has does not automatically translate to a more successful life. In fact, there is no advantage to being a success beyond a 120 IQ points.

Galdwell's theses has a lot to do with nurture. Given a person with average intelligence, these are the factors that will help make a person a success:

(1) Nurture
both in families and communities that produce an higher EQ. It is the high EQ that is a determining factor. The nurture of EQ seems to be better in higher income families and in families who are concerned to help their children grow.

(2) Opportunities
one example quoted is Bill Gates who in high school was given the opportunity to learn from the very best computer code writers and be allowed a job to write computer codes himself while as a high school student.

(3) Cultural legacies
such as the Asian culture of hard work ( Asian students tend to score well in Maths) which produce successful people and the hierarchical system in Asia which inhibits individual initiative and thus inhibits success (example the high rate of airplane crashes in Korean Air in the past).

It will be useful if Gladwell defines what he meant by success instead of mentioning men and women who "did things out of the ordinary" and launched into various biographies and autobiographies. My gleaming of what he meant by success is something very achievement-orientated, secular and individualistic. There is no spiritual or moral element in his definition of success. It will be useful to include these two elements into his group of 'outliers' and see how many still remains after this two criteria are added.

Another problem I have with this book is the way data from some researches are used. I find it hard to understanding how the hard work related to rice farming in China is linked to Asian children doing better in Maths. While it it true that rice farming demands hard work, it is a leap of faith to declare that the Chinese cultural legacies of hard work is related to the rice field and also to Asian children doing well in Maths. Another explanation offered in why Asia children do better in Maths is that numbers in English is longer that the same numbers in Mandarin. For example the pronunciation of the numbers: 7 in English is double syllable se-ven, while in Mandarin is monosyllable. Also English has more number names than Mandarin; English-eleven ,twelve, thirteen... while in Mandarin, Korean and Japanese, it is more logical- ten-one, ten-two, ten-three...

My impression is that Galdwell has formulated his theses first and then find studies to support them, i.e. he is working backwards. Thus he was very selective in his choice of literature. On the whole this is an interesting book to read. I am amazed at the varieties of studies Galdwell has dug up.


The Return of the Prophet

Hajjar Gibran (2008), The Return of the Prophet (London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd).

I am a great fan of the writings of Kahlil Gibran especially of his book, The Prophet (1923) which I have blog here. So it is with much anticipation when I read Hajjar Gibran's book. Hajjar Gibran claimed Kahlil Gibran to be his great-uncle. However, in a note in the end of the book, he reveals that they are more of distant relatives.

This book is autobiographical in nature with Hajjar attributing his spiritual awakening to visions and conversations with the Prophet of Kahlil Gibran. It documents his journey from despair at the death of his brother to his wild life and spiritual awakening. Then of his development of spiritual insights and success in Hawaii.

While the writing style imitates that of Gibran's masterpiece, it lacks the spiritual depth and wisdom of the book. Hajjar's work is more of a journal of a spirit channeling. Spiritual discernment is required to read this book.






Lawrence Khong's Give Me the Multitudes

Lawrence Khong (2008) Give me the Multitudes! Obeying God's Call into the Media World, TOUCH Ministries International: Singapore

Lawrence Khong is the Founding Senior Pastor of the 10,000 strong Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore. He has been commissioned as an Apostle by Dr Peter Wagner of the International Coalition of Apostles and is a member of Pastor Cesar Castellanos' International G12. He is also the Founding Chairman of TOUCH Community Services, a registered non-profit welfare organisation that serves the needy, and the Founding Chief Execuitive Officer of Gateway Entertainment, an entertainment production business that stages mega magic shows like Magic of Love (from the book burb).

This little booklet of 119 pages, large fonts with 1.5 spacing format and a few pages of black and white photos is an autobiography by Khong about the last six years in which he was involved in his magician/illusionist Magic of Love stage magic/dance/musical production.

Though an autobiography, it comes across as an attempt to justify his involvement with the Magic of Love. As I was reading it, I was wondering why is there a need to justify his actions if the call from God for him was to begin an apostolic ministry in the 'media and entertainment scene' to win the lost. It is good to know that his interest in magic/illustionist acts began when he was a child and remained his hobby. It is also good to know that he thinks that his Magic of Love may be a platform for him to share Christ with unbelievers. The telling of his daughter's out of wedlocks pregnancy and the neglect of his son by the show is of human interest but did not further the justification of his action.

It is my personal opinion that after reading this book that Khong may need to let go of being a pastor if he is to seriously consider entering into the world of media and to win it for the Lord. Being a pastor is a handicap because no non-Christian will take his shows seriously if he is still linked to the church. To them, this is just another Christian evangelism gimmick.

Khong also need to be careful in his choice of theme for his shows. The Magic of Love is a good them because it tells of the love between a father and his daughter. However, the "Spooky Show" may be a gray area.

Finally, Khong must realise that he is not alone. Maybe he has been a pastor too long that he has forgotten that thousands if not millions of Christians are involved in 'marketplace ministries' and many of them in the media. He writes as if he discovered the marketplace ministry all by himself.

On the whole, it is a good book to read. I have a better understanding of Lawrence Khong and his ministries.



Isaiah's Immanuel

Edward Hindson (1978), Isaiah's Immanuel (Phillipsburgh, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co )
Edward Hinson was professor of religion at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia. He is an Old testament scholar.
This is a 'meaty' scholarly thesis on Isaiah 7:14. There are three possible intepretation of the 'virgin' in the verse (v.14-16):

(1) The boy of whom Isaiah wrote was conceived shortly after Isaiah spoke this message. A young woman, a virgin, married and then had a baby. Before he would be old enough to tell the difference between good and evil the northern Aram-Israel alliance would be destroyed. According to this view the woman was a virgin when Isaiah spoke his prophecy but was not when the boy was born because he was conceived by sexual relations with her husband. Some say this child was born to Isaiah (8:3-4). They point out that 8:1-4 corresponds in a number of ways to 7:14-17.

(2) A second view sees the predicted birth as exclusively messianic and the virgin as Mary, Jesus’ mother. It is argued that in Isaiah 7:14 the virgin is said to be with child (lit., ”the virgin is or will be pregnant“). It is also argued that Matthew, stressing the fact that Joseph and Mary’s marriage was not consummated till after Jesus’ birth (Matt. 1:18, 25), affirmed that Jesus’ birth fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Matt. 1:21-23).

(3) A third view, a combination of the first two, sees the prophecy as directed primarily to Ahaz regarding the breaking of the alliance. The ‘almâh was a virgin when Isaiah spoke his message, but then she would marry and have a baby. When the Aram-Israel alliance was broken the boy would still be young.

Hindson's thesis is that “(A)n evaluation of the evidence reveals that Isaiah did in fact predict directly and in advance the birth of Jesus Christ by Mary, the virgin of Nazareth.” (p.87) i.e. option number 2. Aside from the exegesis of the word 'virgin', Hindson seeks support from the Septuagint’s interpretation of Isa. 7:14 as that of a virgin birth. This messianic pre-Christian interpretation is shared by the rabbinic, Palestinian and Alexandrian Jews.

Option one is to be rejected because (a) Isaiah’s wife already had a child (Shear-Jashub, v. 3) and so was not a virgin, (b) the second child born to Isaiah’s wife was not named Immanuel but Maher-shalal-hash-baz which is a judgment on Judah while Immanuel is one of hope (8:3),(c) the virgin is Isaiah’s second wife which has no scriptural backing, and (d) there is no virgin birth. If option one is not acceptable, option 3 of double fulfilment is also not acceptable.



Tanks changed the concept and strategy of warfare as the horse did many centuries before. It was with the skillful use of tanks that Hilter and his generals were able to capture Europe and Paris so rapidly during the beginning days of the Second World War. Tanks was first introduced during the First World War. Initially it was unreliable and as dangerous to its drivers as to the enemies. Christy Campbell, a former war correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph gave an interesting and readable account of early tank warfare. I had a good time reading it. .



Ernesto 'Che' Guevara has always fascinated me. Together with Fidel Castro, these young idealists armed with idealism and little else set forth to fight a powerful, ruthless and corrupt government. That they were successful is a matter of history.

Che, the man always eluded me. After being Minister for Industry in Cuba, he left it to start a guerrilla warfare in Bolivia. It was a successful campaign as guerilla warfare goes. Che, himself was captured and executed in 1967.

This book is a record of his thoughts on guerrilla warfare. While reading it, I thought it gives me a glimpse of the man - pragmatic, idealist, and yet ruthless. He would have been a good "Watchmen." I feel a certain kinship as Che was trained as a doctor but found that political revolution helps more people than his medical skills. I do not necessary agree with all his political views and his methods, but I have learned to respect the man.



More about Che from Time magazine here and of course, Wiki here.




I have had a great time reading this book. I like Scott Adams' sense of humour and I have enjoyed his other books, The Dilbert Principle and The Dilbert Future. This book is even funnier and oh so true.













Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield













A Darker Place by Jack Higgins



Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight (London: Penguin Books, 2006)


The 100 Best Business Books














Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol

Dan Brown's latest offering of the exploits of Harvard Symbologist Professor Robert Langdon is another round of conspiracy theories, symbols, ambitious people and murders. This time it is located in Washington D.C. and involves the Freemasons and Ancient Mysteries. There is a lot of Masons mythos in this novel, too much in fact that at times it reads like a non-fiction book. Surprisingly for a best selling novelist, the character development is poor and inconsistent, and the writing is choppy. The writing and storytelling is not as smooth as in his previous books.

Nevertheless, it is an excellent book to read for relaxation for a few hours.

Read this review by Ben Witherington.


The Genesis Enigma by Andrew Parker

Bruce Demarest (2009), Seasons of the Soul: Stages of Spiritual Development, Downers Grove IL: IVP Books

Book Notes on Alan Andrews (ed.), (March 2010), The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Book Review on The Element by Sir Ken Robertson

The Emperor's Tomb


Tim Challies, (2011), The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

The Why and Who of Suffering


Lim Ka-Tong, 2012, The Life and Ministry of John Sung, Singapore: Armour Publishing


Return to our senses

Christine Sine, executive director, liturgist and chief gardener of Mustard Seeds Associates and her blog Godspace  is a one of the innovators of the contemporary Christian contemplative tradition. In this delightful book which is aptly named Return to our senses: Re-imagining how we pray, Christine challenges our perception of how and why we pray. Christine argues that though there is great value in verbal prayers, there is more to praying than using our cognitive “senses.” To her, our sense of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste are also means to praying.




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