The Ban




Alex Tang



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The Ban

Dr Alex Tang


“Oh, my …”

 “Stop! Don’t say it” shouted Disciple Ah Kow waving a piece of parchment in front of Ah Lek’s face. Ah Lek shut his mouth as his fellow disciple continued reading the Proclamation.

“By the spiritual authority granted to them, the Council of the Abba has forbidden anyone except its members to use the following words,

(1)   God

(2)   I

(3)   We

(4)   They

(5)   You

This is to ensure the spiritual purity of these words as they pertain to the guardians of the faith.”

“We are a monastery. Everyday we pray to…”

“Ahhh. Don’t say it,” warned Ah Kow. “Cannot say the ‘w’ word too.”

“Then how am…” stammered Ah Lek lapsing into silence.

“And how can t…”

“No ‘t’ word too. It has been done. It is the law. It has to be obeyed,” Ah Kow spoke slowly, carefully choose his words.

“How can anyone banned the use of certain words? These words are in common usage!” Ah Lek fumed as he started to tear the parchment.

“No. Stop. Mustn’t tear,” warned Ah Kow, “holy paper.”

“So what are ...urk... the two person here to do?”

“This person does not know.”

“This two person must go to the chapel. It is time for service.”

The chapel service had already started when the two disciples crept into the seats at the back of the chapel. There were some confusion as the choir tried to sing a few hymns without using the five banned words.

“What’s this?” whispered Ah Lek looking at the chapel Bible. “Why are there so many blackened sections on the pages?”

“Banned words” whispered Ah Kow in reply.

“Today’s reading is Psalms 77:1-2. _cried out to _ for help; _cried out to _ to hear me. When _was in distress, _sought _; at night _ stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.” Ah Lian finished reading and walked sheepishly back to her seat.

“…” The congregation sat in stunned silence.

The sunlight was bright when Ah Lek and Ah Kow left the chapel. “What’s this?” said Ah Kow when he was handed another parchment. “Oh, no. The council have banned more things. A list of books. And soap! All are not to use soap when bathing. It is now a banned item.”

“Why?” asked Ah Lek in surprise.

“Apparently in the Gospel it is said that Jesus went under the water and came up cleansed. He did not use any soap,��� Ah Kow read from the parchment.

“Arrgh,” said Ah Lek imagining how the dorm would smell that evening.

“Here,” said Abba Ah Beng, handing them another patchment. “Another banned item from the Council of the Abba.”

“Pneuma or breath refers to the Holy Spirit,” Ah Kow read from the latest parchment, “It is therefore not appropriate for sinful humans to inhale the Holy One….”

“What? What? That means…”

“They’ve banned breathing!”



|23 March 2009|


"treat, heal, and comfort always"

 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


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