- Monday, 24 September 2018 17:37
Some people may find philosophy and theology to be somewhat abstract and remote, subjects that are above the heads of many people.
However, Dr Kwok Wai-luen, Associate Professor of the Department of Religion and Philosophy and recipient of the President's Award for Outstanding Performance in Teaching, is by no means remote and above the heads of his students. Although a student of theology himself, he does not talk down to his students or impose them morality lessons when he teaches philosophy and religion at the University. Instead, he chooses to enter their life at their level. Furthermore, as well as devoting himself to education, he also hopes to help mend the real-life rifts he sees in society.
Dr Kwok was baptised as a Christian while in secondary school. However he never aspired to be a church worker. He completed a public administration undergraduate programme and upon graduation obtained an administration job at a university. "I graduated in the early 1990s when there was much social upheaval both in Hong Kong and Mainland China. I then asked myself: what can I do for others? At that time, most people focused on how to make money. But I think we should look for more important values and beliefs to lead a meaningful life." Thus, Dr Kwok went back to university and finished a postgraduate and PhD programme in theology. He then secured a university teaching post, one where he could connect with the young people that he believes to be the future of society. He not only promotes Christianity among youngsters, he also seeks to inspire them to find a better life.
Many people may ask, "What does it mean to study theology?" In addition to studying the Bible, philosophical theology is both a branch and form of theology in which philosophical methods are used in developing, analysing and criticising theological concepts. With this academic background, Dr Kwok develops a down-to-earth way of thinking. "Religion is all around us. A religion and philosophy scholar should help students explore how religion and philosophy exist in everyday lives." Dr Kwok reckons that learning is a journey of discovery. As a teacher, he believes he should coach his students to seek the truth and value of life, together with its different aspects, through everything that they encounter in their own daily lives.
Over the past decade, Dr Kwok has nurtured many students. Some of them have been inspired by him to change their life's goals and decisions. Dr Kwok is acutely aware of the huge responsibility and pressure that this imposes on him. Thus he constantly reminds himself of the need to do better.
In recent years, Dr Kwok has also explored the dissensions that afflict society. He thinks that religion is a starting point for healing these rifts. So he has organised sharing sessions for Christians in the Hong Kong Police Force and for Christian students in tertiary institutions. At these sessions, both sides of a viewpoint take this opportunity to understand differences of identity and values as a way to mend rifts. Dr Kwok is also keen on working with social enterprises to plan activities for youngsters and contribute to the welfare of the community in a wealth of different ways.