Monday, 31 January 2011

Wheat floored and grapes cursed

The feast of Don Bosco, so far, has been peaceful and simple. Glad to keep it that way. However, not much of personal involvement though. Another week and half of classes and then Philosophy part is over for this year (of course, the exams will conclude only by the end of February). I need to chalk out my programme for the coming days.

Today's highlight was the commentary before the offertory: "... when wheat is FLOORED and grapes are CURSED..." Now you know how the host and wine are prepared! As easy as that!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Old memories

Last night on my way back from Kothavalasa after a haircut and a bizarre struggle with the bike's petrol tank (which was nearly empty), I got the opportunity to give a lift to a student. He said his name was K. Anil Kumar and that he was a student of St Ann's, Mangalapalem. That he was studying class X was no big news for me. It was at that moment when he said that he was in the tenth standard that it struck me that for me it did not matter... but for him, it means the turning point of his life. Days when I was in the school, class X exams were a big big discussion! Even so when Willy too was writing his exams. But after that with no one in the family nor in the immediate circle of friends appearing for class X exams, it slowly lost its 'grandeur'!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Making the best of everything

One nice quote that I came across which I have to admit is very true:
The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

Once given is given totally

This morning I passed on to Fr Stephen some books (ordo, diary and a books of reflections). He was delighted to have them. I frankly told him that I had these books but was not using them and hence I passed them on to him. In fact, all of those were gifted to me by someone or the other. And those who gave me those knew very well that they wouldn't last long with me - that I'd pass them on to others! For me what is given is given. When I give something to someone, I just forget about it. What they do with it is totally and completely their choice. I am least bothered about what they do with it. However, I was not so. I always thought that people should respect gifts and use them for themselves. I had a rude shock which changed this belief and attitude of mine when during my initial years of Practical Training, that too in the beginning of the year itself, I printed out name labels of the Confreres, cut them neatly and then handed them over to each of them personally. All of them, juniors and seniors, received them with joy and thanked me, except for one. He just took them and tore them even before they left my hand! And them solemnly put those torn bits back in my hand.

I was very badly hurt ... but that day I learnt the lesson for which I am happy now. You never give unless you are really willing to give away. Once given is given. It is no more yours. It is the right and the privilege of the other to do with it what he or she best wishes to!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Republic Day or Tyrant's day?

Every now and then there comes a day when the Brothers curse me to hell - most of then in silence (and hopefully unanswered) and some with a tinge of courage and anger speak it out to me. Thanks to the latter, I know that they still have some trust in me and are not ruling me out as a tyrant altogether... that they feel comfortable to come and talk it out to me is itself a great sign. Well coming back to 'those' days, today was one such. That I could convert the Republic day into a study leave day was unimaginable for them, that too the Republic Day! Well it is not that they are very patriotic, or have a great love for (or even a knowledge of) India. It is just that I ruined 'another' holiday! Anyway, I'm now very much used to this. Perhaps a Dean of Studies thrives on curses such as these!

Person or Principle

Yesterday as I prepared the schedule for today, the Republic Day, I inserted a quote of George William Curtis about patriotism. Here's the quote:
A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.
However, since then I am wondering which is right: What is my commitment to? A principle or a person? Both have their drawbacks as well as advantages for the same reasons. And so I'm wondering as to what or on whom should I lay the foundation of my life?

How Freud 'lost' his religion...

Here is an extract from the 'research' of one of my students as to how Sigmund Freud 'lost' his religion. I am sure no one - not even Freud himself - knows this fact.
One day at the age of 12, when he threw his new cap into the mud his father Jacob Freud insulted and shouted at him to get of the pavement, You Jew! Thus, he almost collapsed his hope to be a Jew. Since he was differentiated by religion, he lost his hope to be a Jew, got aversion to religion, and stood against religion.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Jesus safely locked

While on my marketing spree to Vizag this afternoon, Satyam our driver shared with me about a Church door lock costing Rs 23,000/- Well I was truly shocked! The door lock of a Church to cost so much?? That too a lock for a CHURCH!!

Immediately my mind went to another Church that I visited a month ago. The keys of the Church were left on the notice board just outside the main door. Anyone and everyone knew this. So if anyone was interested in entering the Church for any reason could do so, without having to search for the Parish Priest or the Sacristan. His house was easily accessible.

Coming to the former Church, I said to myself: after so much of sophistication and decoration and preparation, the faithful are outside while the Lord is safely locked up in, along with all the paraphernalia. Just a plain lock would have done. But the best would be: no lock at all!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Administration - the leech

The burden of handling the finances and all that matters related to administration is slowly getting heavier by the day. This whole afternoon I spent calculating back and forth the expenses and the durability of investing in a new water purifier or repairing the existing one. Add to that the whole economics of accounting. Then there is the staff saving funds which though is the total responsibility of the staff themselves, they look up to you for advice and operation of accounts - knowing little that I am no better than they.

However one good thing amidst all this is that the Brothers are busy. They have their hands full and hence I need not be too anxious about what new gimmicks they are upto. I know that they will be around the study hall buried in their books... all for a good reason.

The worst thing about administration, as I realised while in the Provincial house itself, is that it saps all your creative and productive energy. Entangled in a whole web of economics and finances, there is little energy left for some serious thought or planning something out of the way for the community.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Desperate about dissertation

Today was the last day for submitting the dissertation papers of the third year students. Of the eight I was guiding, only one managed to complete the whole work. The rest seven of them have some chapter or section of the paper still pending for my approval. They all ought to submit it by tonight and there is no way that I can approve them. Some of them are really downcast... they ought to be. They never took my reminders seriously. In fact they never took their own work seriously! A couple of them are still to print their paper which will take another age, I'm sure!! They sure will be cursing me to death ... but they very well know that it is solely their mistake that has made this whole day so gloomy and desperate. I wish the others, juniors I mean, draw some lessons for next year.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Corrs

Here's an old song from The Corrs which I somehow like very much. I remember purchasing the audio cassette (Best of The Corrs) in Pune while studying M.Ph. at Nashik. I distinctively remember going for a stroll to town after the day's class with Shankar and asking for any collection of The Corrs ... I had heard a couple of their songs on MTV.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

On prayer (2)

Another aspect of prayer that struck me this evening as I tried to reflect on the question, Why do we pray, if God is not going to do anything by himself? I tried to see what and why is it that I pray? It then occurred to me that prayer is simply a conversation, a chat with someone I adore and esteem. So I just share my life, chat with him about the day, express my grievances, discuss, debate, argue, fight, console, ask for help and promise help, and above all, when I speak, he listens and when he speaks, I listen (though the latter does not happen often). I think that's prayer... a simple conversation at the heart and gut level with God.

It is just like talking to my parents and dear ones over the phone. Why do I talk to them? Is it just for some favours or help or to tell about my headaches and troubles? Certainly not. Our conversations are just about anything and everything. It is just a free talk, of course of matters close to our hearts. Any grave danger if I stop talking to my people? Most probably no... but I am bound to feel uneasy and anxious. It is because, I love them and would like to be in touch with them. Prayer too is just that, a loving conversation between two beings, one of whom happens to be God.

On prayer

The discussion on 'obediential potency' triggered another important point in class: the aspect/role of prayer. Kamalesh asked me, "If God is not going to do anything, why do we pray?" I replied, "What do you pray for?" Most often it is a list of things or needs. But that what we pray for is just the help to know what He wants us to do. Or perhaps the wisdom to understand what is going on all around and within us.

Like in the movie Evans' Almighty, where God asks Evans' wife, "When you pray to God for courage, does God give you courage or opportunities to be courageous?"

God is not somewhere there sitting up and doling out, in neat packages, ready made gifts. All he does is provide us with the needed ingredients to get what we ask for. As for the recipe, he has already granted us the skill! But we would rather wait for the prepared meal (if possible, even the digested food!).

Of obediential potency...

I know not how and why on earth did the whole idea of 'obediential potency' and that too of St Thomas Aquinas (along with his Summa Theologica) land up in the metaphysical class syllabus. However, it happens to be the last of the chapters and in a way I'm glad it did. I got an excellent chance to shake and throw quite a few of the second years out of the slumber and lethargy of 'prayer'... so long understood as 'list of things God ought to do'. For the past three days, they are really squirming in their seats for having learnt without any further clarifications that God does nothing!! All that is to be done is left to us!

The argument is simple: God as the first cause of everything will not go around meddling, repairing, modifying, adjusting, recreating the nature that he has given to his creation. For if he does so, he would certainly be a capricious God who keeps changing his own creation and himself, according to his own whims and fancy. Or from another perspective, he would have to acknowledge that what he created in the first instance was faulty! Thus God, as the first cause, does nothing ... now. If there is anything to be done (ex. removal of all corrupt politicians) is to be done by the secondary causes (of which human being is one). Of course, the secondary causes, can appeal to the first cause for assistance (to help or not to, is again God's choice). Thus anything and everything that happens ought to take place in, with and through the secondary causes.

Of course, the concept of 'obediential potency' or in other words, openness of the creature to let God, the first cause, to work through oneself is quite understandable and logically possible. Furthermore the idea of creation as rationales seminales, creative principles, rather than as finished products makes things very clear: the onus is not on God, but on us who have the potency to ...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Bloomers and howlers!

The last four days I have been correcting and correcting and correcting the dissertation and term papers of the students. Perhaps this is the most sickest part of teaching a full-fledged B.Ph. course. Nothing wrong in the paper itself. The only problem is that I do not understand a bit of what they write... and neither do they! In such a circumstance, to find some sensible sentence or a simple insight is a like finding an oasis in the desert - but that is a very very rare occurrence. But I should say some do make a valiant effort in expressing the ideas in their own words. Though they falter very badly (due to their lack of language skills) they atleast make the attempt to understand and then write it. There are others who merely copy chunks and paste it in. When put together they make neither head nor tail of anything sensible. But worst are those who neither write their own text nor copy properly! Here is one such example (it is the opening lines of the first chapter, replete with the spellings, as submitted to me):
Sigmund Freud's father was Jacob Freud. When his father passed away, he remarried again. Jossop Freud second marriage was to a very young lady.

Sabarimala: facts, figures and truths

There has been a large hue and cry over the recent Sabarimala stampede in which over a hundred people lost their lives. Everyone is out blaming the government and the temple authorities for this death and tragedy. Quite true too... however, I also know that that path chosen by those who died was not an official one. It was rather a road discovered by chance and not meant for public to use at all. That there was no security or any arrangement on that path, too is a clear indication that it was not meant to be used at all. Even after knowing all this, if the people took to that road, then I doubt if anyone else, other than themselves are to be blamed for this tragedy.

Perhaps it is good that the media reports cite this fact of the incident too. All the same, I do not discount the role of the temple authorities and the government who should have seen to it that the road not in use, is really not in use!

Whatever it may be, lives, families, dreams and the world of some are no more!

Mosquitoes for a purpose?

Here's another one on mosquitoes:
The good Lord did not create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.

Positive side of life

A baby mosquito returns after its maiden flight to its mum and the mother asks, "How was your first flight experience dear?" "Fantastic! Everyone was clapping!" replied the baby mosquito. Now that's optimism, seeing the positive side of things (even if it is unknowingly!).

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Don Bosco's passion

My goodnight, this day - rather, last evening - was about the famous declaration of Don Bosco to his boys: For you I study, for you I work, for you I live, for you I am ready even to give up my life. Certainly this could have been a very emotional proclamation, but certainly not an empty one. He truly lived it all along and continued to be faithful to this word of his, till his last breath.

I wish each of us are able to say that with our whole heart, soul, body and life. I wish we can say that to as many as possible. I wish I can say that, with the same passion and commitment.

Sermons and chicken

Hearing the long-winding sermons of Fr KT, I was reminded of a joke I heard long time ago: A Priest reaches the altar for a Sunday Mass and finds only one person in the Church. After the gospel, he asks if he should proceed with the sermon. The man in the Church responds, "I own a poultry and when it is time to feed the chicken, and even if only one chicken comes, I feed it." Taking that for a 'yes', the Priest launches out into a zealous full-doze sermon. After the Mass, the Priest asks the man of what he thought of the liturgy of the day. The man replies, "I own a poultry and when it is time to feed the chicken, and even if only one chicken comes, I feed it. But I don't feed it the whole sack!"

Monday, 10 January 2011

Chris with Fr Lens

This one is a rare one: Chris with Fr Lens! Thanks to Fr Lens and his people for sending this across to me. It was clicked by Fr Lens' people when they had come to visit him in December 2010. They had come to Don Bosco School, Sanathnagar and that's when they expressed their desire to meet my family. Kind of them to bring along some gifts for the little fellow.

However, I have my serious doubts if that teddy bear has lasted till now. From what I hear of Chris, he would have by now multiplied it.

Teaching blues!

The class test I conducted this morning for the third year students to evaluate their grasp of the subject I was so passionately and vigourously taking, Philosophy of Religion, turned out to be a rude shock to me. Nearly two-thirds do not really understand anything of what you are saying! There are some who just don't get one single idea - yeah, not even one single sentence or concept - right!! For them it is all a big jumble of words. Nothing more, nothing less! What annoys me most is that they are very comfortable with that. The very thought that these students are the future Priests of Andhra raises every hair on my back!

Some important lessons I think, I need to learn:
  • No amount of preparation and planning is going to bear any fruit with regard to classes. The receipients are perfect dumbos who will not listen beyond the first sentence you utter.
  • Study of Philosophy is not meant for all... certainly not for very many at Kondadaba! So then what to do in a Philosophate? Wind it up! Or another option: be serious about the enrollment policy for the seminaries and studentates of philosophy. If Bishops feel that a person can be ordained without even the least of thought, they may ordain them in their dioceses itself; but not burden the Philosophate with such thondos!
Unfortunately I began another course today: and it had to be of all the subjects, metaphysics! The only silver lining is that I'm only completing the syllabus which was started by someone else. And my curse: I cannot but give my best for teaching. Hence even after knowing that my students, quite a number of them atleast, are not even paying close attention to what I am teaching, I still go on! God save me!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A meeting, after long... for long!

After a long period of time got to attend one of those pointless and endless meetings... I had almost forgotten what it was like sitting for one of those since I left the Provincial house!! This time it was with the Parish Priest and his council for planning the Parish feast which is on the first Sunday of February. The agenda was simple, at least to me: distribution of the responsibilities for the feast as per villages. But it went on and on and on and on...!! The PP was talking and so were all those present. And what were they talking about... of course, about the distribution of roles and responsibilities. But wait! The only thing which was not happening (and the only thing that should have happened) was the owning up of the different responsibilities. What should have taken no more than 15 mts for ten responsibilities devoured two and half hours!

Silence after the Baptism

As I joined Fr KT for Mass this morning, and reflected on the liturgical event of the day, the Baptism of the Lord, I wondered where was Jesus when John the Baptist was beheaded. Why didn't he say anything at all about this murder? Or is it another example/proof for the concept of predestination (God knows what's going to happen to me)? Or is it that Jesus said something but it was not recorded?

I'd rather make believe myself of the last option: that Jesus spoke or said something about the foul murder, but it failed to make it to the Book. I find it impossible to even think that Jesus could have kept totally and innocently silent at the occurrence of such a terrible act.

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Mission

Tonight I screened the movie The Mission for the Brothers in the Seminary. I watched the movie several years ago and I still find it very gripping. The fact that it is based on a true incident adds greater depth to the message it delivers and the way it is portrayed. The double standards of Christianity are very bluntly portrayed and so is the true missionary fervour of a handful. Values like courage, redemption, repentance, patience, simplicity, communion, sacrifice and zeal are beautifully portrayed.

Most of all, I hope the Brothers as they watch it, learn from it that when the word 'mission' is used, it does not begin and end with 'preaching the word of God'. There is more to it than mere 'proclamation' - to be read as sermonizing. I hope they see that being a missionary means living for His people and not just making a living in His name!

A true missionary is one who is filled with the Spirit of God and out of genuine love for God and His people, willing to put up with any difficulty and is ready to go to any extent to stand by His people.

Shattering the 'faith-cocoons'

Did Jesus, at any time, claim to be God? He did say that He was the 'Son of God', the 'Lamb of God'... but 'I am God'?? Frankly speaking, No! Paul Tillich would say that Jesus was the perfect 'symbol' one could describe and find. He always pointed to God, never to himself. The only title he took for himself was 'Christ'. He avoided every circumstance, every occasion, every word that would make him an idol, make him another god beside God. Unfortunately that is what the world has ended doing to him, as with Buddha himself. However, he did not want any idolatrous tendency, even the respect to himself. To this end, he even sacrificed himself so that rather than immortalising him, they look upon him and see the purpose for which he did this.

I know I've stirred a hornet's nest in the third year class with this discussion. But I'm glad I did. I really wish to shake and throw them out of their 'faith-cocoons' which are anything but pillars of strength, not for themselves, and least of all for others. I want them to challenge their own faith, in an attempt to strengthen it, critically look at it and make it meaningful, rather than rely on mere quotations and presentation skills.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Of religion, language and rice!

In class this morning we were discussing the similarities and differences between a sign and a symbol, using the ideas of Paul Tillich, in the context of religious language. It was interesting to observe the dawning of the meaning and difference on the minds of the Brothers. Initially they were all lost and never imagined that 'sign' and 'symbol' meant two different things. Incidentally the dictionary too does not make a distinction between the two words.

I always am fascinated by religion and language. But as I now sit and reflect over the discussion that we had in class this morning, I realise that it never dawned on me that there could be such an intricate link between religion and language. I always felt, in case I get an opportunity to go for higher studies I'd choose a theme in either of these fields. But now I could very well narrow it down to the theme of religious language - and dabble with both religion and language at the same time. The concept of religious language as a metaphor (Paul Ricouer) sounds something worth pursuing; so is religious language as analogical (Aristotle, Aquinas...) and symbolical (Tillich). The angle of religious language as mythical too is worth exploring.

Anyway, it is good that this insight comes my way, but I first need to see about purchasing rice for the community tomorrow. Lest in my eagerness for higher studies later on, I make the community starve tomorrow.

A hot evening!

This evening one of the ladies from the neighbourhood landed up in the Seminary 'claiming' her saree which she could not collect yesterday. In spite of my telling her that there aren't any more left, she waited for Fr KT and got the same reply. After a while of asking and requesting she burst out in an angry tone that she is always refused and that KT always helps others who already have and deny her who really deserves. Before she could carry on any further, I stopped her half way and gave her a piece of my mind. Three of her children are helped by Fr KT not just for their studies but for a decent job as well. Yet she had the guts and the audacity to ramble and rant against KT just because there wasn't any more saree for her!!

Hearing my outburst, which surprised a couple of Brothers too, she shut up. Not a word after that! I was really angry for her demand for charity! Even that was let go but not her curses for helping! While it is true that I do not approve at all Fr KT's style of charity, but that is my problem. And certainly I won't allow that to come in the way of someone from outside coming and abusing him on his face, leaving him helpless to defend himself or state facts and matters to their face!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

My movie's heroine!

This evening Fr KT distributed clothes to the elderly people of the locality - an annual feature around Christmas time. Only the number of recipients keeps increasing in leaps and bounds every year. Well it is something for those people. So to show that they really deserve these clothes (a plain saree for the ladies and a pancha and towel for the menfolk) they'd come with the worst set of clothes. After the distribution, there was another batch ready... within minutes! Fr KT was at a loss as to whom to give and whom to refuse.... till he had a brainwave... he chose the most deserving through a simple test: only those without teeth!!

However our non-resident Simhadramma is perhaps the best among all of these! She came with just two old ragged towels wrapped around herself!! And one should watch her when she comes demanding for a blanket. She shivers like a leaf even if the rest of us are sweating it out and fanning ourselves. If ever I were to be a film director, she'd be my first choice for the role of heroine, straight away ... no audition! And it would be a film without a hero!

That's her, breaking into an extemporare song in praise of her 'boyfriend'... Fr KT!!

Fun with Fr PK

Fr PK Jose was here yesterday and he is still the same... It wouldn't be easy to find him out even if he takes on another birth and comes around!! While talking with him he was speaking about his trip to Rome and the places he visited. He spoke about the Church of the milk of Our Lady! That was the first time I ever heard of such a Church. Seeing my surprise he recalled what Fr Clive Hurley, of happy memory, had told them when he was a student of theology: Surely there would also be a chapel of the foreskin of the Lord!!

Monday, 3 January 2011

The NT from the beginning ...

I read a book about the transfiguration of the Lord today (not that it is one of my favourite topics, but for a review). Reading it I came across a theological debate that has as its starting point the doubt if this whole event of transfiguration is a chronologically misplaced post-resurrection event in the Galilean mission? We all know that the Bible (I mean the New Testament) was written from the perspective of the Resurrection. It was a 'recalling back' of the life and mission of Jesus from the moment of his Resurrection. I was wondering how would it have been, had the New Testament been written along the time of Jesus' life... not from the 'eyes' of the Resurrection? Well that's an interesting exercise that one could undertake... but this I am sure, it would certainly not be the same as we have it now.

Brothers return home!

The Brothers arrived today after their Christmas vacation. Most of them look tired and worn out. Some were very sure that they have a better time here in the Seminary than at home/home Parish during Christmas! However some of them have put on weight and look good. But practically all of them seem happy and cheerful. And behind all of this they also know that the 'game' is already on! The third years have just 20 days to wrap up their thesis and hand it over to the Principal. A couple of my guys are not past their first (of the three chapters)! Hopefully they will get into the spirit of study soon.

Looking back on my own relaxed time, I think I accomplished all that I wanted to during these days of break. Now I need to get going with the administration part of the community. It may appear very easy and smooth but I know what it entails, from my experience in the Provincial house. Anyway, so far so good.

Chris in Mangalore

Here is the latest photo of Chris during his time in Mangalore... he looks very different but he's grown much since he came here in November! Willy's caption for this photo: Hands up!!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Trusting my community

Last night with one phone call, the 'prophecy' of Fr Provincial came true... Initially he had asked me to couple being Dean of Studies and administration to which I had told him, "Quit joking!" After that call last night, I am now laughing: I'm the joker now! However, I'm not anxious or worried about it, for I trust very much in my confreres, Frs KT and Wilson. They've been with me, especially during my illness and I know what a pillar of strength they can be. However, we'll be missing Rinoy around!

Talking of administration, I'll have to keep in mind that it is not just a matter of putting that office in order, I now need to keep an eye on the whole campus, staff, food, not to mention the petty requirements of each member. That's easier said than done. I've always had this 'money allergy'. I really wish they'd never be anything like money. Furthermore this administration needs to be some lay person's work. Surely not a 'religious' job - not worth all the training and formation. But now that it is there, and I'm supposed to handle it (prudently, of course) I need to see that I don't let my personal opinion and prejudice lead to my confreres and Brothers to starvation!!!

Liberating language!

As I was reading the book on Africa, one of the points that the author kept stating was the imaginary power of the written word over the spoken word. For all official and documented reasons, the written word holds the power. But not always! He states:
Traditions confined to written words can easily become something to be learned instead of lived: a statement, constitution, or code of conduct, rather than a way of life. (112)
Furthermore he adds:
In earlier days in Africa when agreements were made between colonial settlers and the nonwriting local inhabitants, these were written down as treaties signed by the Europeans, to which the African chief signified agreement by making a cross, or touching the pen, as a sort of sacrament, the written word carrying more weight than the spoken word. But there was and still can be a major difference between "a piece of paper" and what is "written on a person's heart." "Accepting" something does not necessarily mean "experiencing" something, just as "believing" a theology does not mean "living" a theology. (111)

Oral tradition and oral theology carry a deeper and wider experience from one person to another than written words can describe or convey, and it is the meaning, the experience of a culture that has to be mediated, not a form of words. Oral tradition, whether of custom, law or theology, carries with it the living experience of those who express it. (111)

Expressing vision and values in words, putting faith, hope, and love into sentences, can be restrictive. (111)

Preaching a life rather than a sermon

This morning after the first Mass in the Parish, Peter (the regent in the Parish) came running to me to invite me for a cup of coffee or breakfast. As I politely declined he informed me that he was preaching for the second Mass ... and he was tensed. Not because he was to preach, but because the Mass was being presided over by Fr Rector!!

Anyway I told him: Don't bluff the people; don't bluff yourself. Speak and stand by the truth. That's all the Lord will want from you!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Use the brain, atleast!

While at Navajeevan, Vizag Fr TV asked me if I was interested in using an original fountain pen. I had no such intentions at all. My Rs 1.50 pen works perfectly well with me and I with it. However, what was interesting was our struggle to see where exactly does one fit in the ink cartridges provided with that! I was carefully trying to see the pen, its interior and what not. TV looked around and just jammed it up the refill cabinet! That was it! And then he repeated his father's quotation:
If you cannot use anything atleast use your brain.

The curse of money!

If I were in the Provincial house when I was reviewing this book about the African continent, I would surely have prepared a flex with the following quotation of Paul Kruger, a former Prime Minister of South Africa speaking on the discovery of gold, as the backdrop for the meeting concerning finance and administration:
Instead of rejoicing you would do better to weep: for this gold will cause our country to be soaked in blood.
My conviction that money is the bane of our apostolate gets confirmed every now and then. So I wouldn't shy from saying this to whoever concerned, especially those fervently looking forward to extra financial resources with no clear plan or intention of using it.

God before Christianity

My stay at Navajeevan, Vizag for the past one week or less, was quite useful (of course, it meant more work and a bit of fear for the staff over there). While there I found time to complete my paper corrections and also began a couple of book reviews. One of them, concerning Africa had this unorthodox insight about God, Jesus and Christianity.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu shattered an interfaith audience in the Johannesburg suburb of Lenasia in 1993 by saying that God was not a Christian. "Why do you seem surprised?" he asked. "Jesus was born only two thousand years ago. Do you think God was doing nothing before that?" [Mayson, Cedric Why Africa Matters (New York: Orbis Books, 2010) 21.]
Perhaps there is something here to reflect about Christianity and its 'claim' concerning religious pluralism.

Life continues!

It has been a very exciting year, to which the high tension drama that unfolded in the concluding week was like the icing on the cake... of course, it was very bitter and stressful for very many of us. All the same, to keep myself busy last night (waiting for Fr Wilson to return from Mass) I did a few cosmetic changes on the blog. It was more to stay awake than to join in the fervour of the new year. Given all the years of the past, this was perhaps the most silent one, celebration-wise. Christmas and new year just glided past and did not disturb me nor did I tickle them! And I really feel good about it.

Christmas 2010 or new year 2011, life continues the same... may be with a bit more of complications henceforth! But even that is nothing new, as far as I see!
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