Sunday, 30 October 2011

Being models

The readings of the day speak about being models and the responsibility of being role models.... models in word, deed and life. The failure to be one is a grave sin. Parents are to be role models to children; children to their companions; Priests to all people of God; employees to their responsibilities...

In stark contrast to this reflection was the experience I had this evening. As I sat in my office I saw a family of quite a few adults and a small girl enter the campus. As I saw the excitement on the face of the ladies when they saw the beautiful flowers, I knew something would go wrong. The next instant I saw the small girl reach out and pluck a flower right infront of her parents and others. I rushed out of my office and said in a loud and clear voice: no touching plants and flowers. When I repeated my statement again, the father of the girl replies, "after all, she's a small girl" to which I retorted, "but you are not, I suppose! So tell her the right things." That silenced him. I was later told by the Brothers that they were some big shots from the city. I was upset all the more: if educated and well-to-do people could behave in such an irresponsible manner what of the illiterate and those who have no opportunity for a formal education in civic manners.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Take it or leave it

Here it is, take it or leave it; if you take it you must accept it completely.
That's the option I gave to the eight final year Brothers doing their paper with me. I offered them the simple way and the tough way. Once a choice is made, so will the procedure follow accordingly. To one who was not very clear of the implications of this choice - as always, they would shirk responsibility of making the choice - I stated that to the extent you are willing to commit yourself to work hard and make the most of this academic endeavour, to that extent I will guide you, push you and lead you. As simple as that!

No intention of pouring out my life (committing suicide) for someone so dead.

Differentiating pride from self-confidence

The Gospel of the day speaks of friendship and more specifically about humility. Naturally the sermon of the day was on pride and humility. Pride was described as total reliance on oneself. However, I realised that there is a thin line dividing pride and self-confidence. I would rather believe that self-confidence is trust in oneself. That one is capable of doing things on one's own. Now that's an acknowledgement of the bountiful graces we are already blessed with. And hence, a very positive thing.

Pride, on the other hand, is shutting off the others from lending a helping hand or a total rejection of others, including God. That we are capable is true and good but that does not mean, we should reject the help that comes our way.

Friday, 28 October 2011

John Q: the father

Just watched the movie John Q... very well made. It really raises a lot of questions. However, it does not do any moral policing. All it does is portray the love of a father for his ailing son and shows the extent to which he is willing to go to get his son back to normal health. There are many loopholes in the story but the portrayal of Denzel Washington as the cornered father whose son needs a heart transplant immediately, but is not able to financially support the huge costs, covers up all those gaps! One of the best performances of Denzel Washington. The song during the final credits, The voice inside my heart is superb and truly makes so much sense after the movie.

To provide for his ailing son he takes the emergency room of the same hospital hostage. Only later to made a tough decision to give up his life so that his son can have his heart. The presence of Robert Duvall too is very electrifying. Indeed great actors! Here's the part where the father makes the decision to die so that his son can have his heart.

This sort of courage and determination to go to any length does not come easy. At times it sounds insane and beyond logic or reason. Yet that's the love of a parent. A father and mother know no bounds when it comes to their child.

Birds which never flew

Jerome, a first year student of ours, submitted a poem a couple of days ago to me to be published on the Seminary blog. I happened to read it and found myself rereading it for its quality. I normally have no interest or have no idea about poetry. But this time round, it was the topic and the words expressed that drew me to the content.

He speaks about children on the street and those abandoned to their fate. The title is 'Birds which never flew'. One can read it here.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Living life by crazy rules

I had heard of Steve Jobs' famous Stanford Commencement Lecture of 2005 in bits and pieces, but never read the whole text myself. I did it today... here. It is good. For a person who thought differently and made a life for himself and showed the world the power of passion and determination, the words he uses mean a lot. I liked the part of his life wherein he is fired from the very company he created (Apple)! And yet he does not sit and mourn the rest of his life. He continues to love what he did and the result is that he creates another couple of companies (NeXT and Pixar). That's called living the dream and being passionate. I know not how many of us will have that courage and determination. Most of us play it safe, play it by the rules, thinking that success and happiness is guaranteed thus. However, it takes people like Steve Jobs to show us that life has its own rules ... we just have to follow the heart.

Here's an article that summarises the best of Steve Jobs.

Substitutes for Microsoft Picture Manager in Linux

While I really do not miss anything much of Microsoft, one thing that I really felt lacking in quality was Microsoft Picture Manager. For someone like me who is not adept at Photoshop and neither intends to be, doing some basic touch up on a picture can at times be a herculean task. While with Microsoft, the Picture Manager did best and it was really great. Once I switched over to linux, I really didn't find anything already existing as good and easy as Microsoft Picture Manager... not until today!

I came across two simple and easy methods to fiddle with pictures and photos from linux itself: gthumb and mirage! The former is much better than picture manager of microsoft!

Forever young - Bob Dylan

As I was glancing through the life-story and bits of Steve Jobs' works, I came to know that he loved Bob Dylan and the following song was sung at one of his memorials after his death. Truly beautiful song with wonderful lyrics too.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cell phone put to use!

During my journeys there have been several occasions when I wished I had a camera to click photos of something I knew are really 'different'. This wish of mine seems somehow to be true since I have with me a cell phone with a camera (how I came in to possess one is a long winding story, though!). This time on my trip to Bangalore and back, I did come across something really hilarious. One such is what I found in the Visakhapatnam railway station... a banner of an official railway stall. Check out the first line! I did click a couple of other photos too, but someone lost them while transferring them to my laptop. Anyway, next time!

In 60 seconds on the Web

Here's an amazing piece of statistics about the web...
I came across this on Free Technology for Teachers. It's amazing how much of information is available on the net. The biggest challenge, unlike yesteryears when sources of information were limited, is to sift through it all and transform this information - that too, worthwhile and necessary information - into knowledge and then gain wisdom!

On Martin Luther and Reformation

Glancing through my daily list of RSS feeds, I came upon this one from The Journeyman's Files. This sounded interesting given the fact that I am dealing with my students about the time when Martin Luther initiated the Reformation, as part of my class on Modern Western Philosophy. The Christian Audio site offers a free audio version of the book of Luther containing his famous writings, especially the controversial 95 theses which ignited the Reformation. Click here to go directly to the download page.

The audio-book also includes the following: The Small Catechism, On Faith and Coming to Christ, On Confession and the Lord's Supper, Of the Office of Preaching, Excerpt from Luther's Tower Experience and
The Last Written Words of Luther.

I also came to know that October 31 is commemorated as the Reformation Day. I know not if the Catholic Church endorses this?! However, let good flow in from all sides!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Metaphysically, yours!

Today was my fist day of class of the second semester, with me handling straight four hours of Metaphyscis, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Modern Western Philosophy ... exactly in that order. It was only at lunch did I really understood what I heard Uncle Jimmy state, years earlier, while at Karunapuram after successive classes on Logic and Theodicy:
Oops what a shift of gears I have to make, given the content of these subjects: one lofty and abstract, the other concrete and practical.

However in a sense, the course that I gave in Medieval Western Philosophy, at KJC last week stands in good stead as I continue teaching the modern era for our Brothers here. The fact that the Modern has barely anything much to do, except in contrast to the medieval, adds greater thrill to what is yet to unfold.

All said and done, the shift from Metaphysics and Epistemology to Modern and back to Metaphysics is quite a jugglery. (The included cartoon is from the following site on Metaphysics Cartoons... gratefully acknowledged.)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Listening to sea shells

As I spend time wallowing in self-pity, trying to get out of it and at the same time, "relishing" that sluggishness, that inability to decide the next strategy to put in place, I came across this interesting fact about sea shells and the unique experience of holding against one's ear:
The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear. Any cup-shaped object placed over the ear produces the same effect.
However in my present state of mind and body I wish to hear something more than my own blood boiling! Hope I'm listening!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A bit of grumbling...

Back in Kondadaba, life is already in full swing. We had the youth retreat this day... tiring and hopefully impact-filled for the 160 youth who attended the retreat. Personally for me, it was very tiresome. Not that I did anything for the retreat. Far from that, I was only supervising.

What drained me today was some of things I witnessed Brothers upto, that too immediately after the retreat. I arrived here last evening and very many told me that they liked the retreat and it did them good. But their behaviour and actions, showed little or no change at all, least of all their thought pattern or attitudes.

The worst I felt was when I saw so many of them clamouring to meet a particular Sister who was part of the retreat team, who according to many, shared with them their past and deepest thoughts. I realised this was true even last year too. But what pissed me off, was that our Brothers, at least quite a few of them, were only 'thrilled' by this...not moved by it. This whole experience, the retreat experience, remains at the emotional or feeling level. It does not percolate to deeper levels and help them review their life and take stock of situations. It does not help them form, or atleast make effort at forming, convictions.

Very many use their petty idea of spirituality and prayer as a shield justify their reason to be in the Seminary and enough reason to be Priests. Perhaps the Brothers cannot be blamed entirely too. They join the seminary for varied reasons and when they see that consecrated life is the easiest way of living a luxurious life (eating the cake and having it too) being lived out by their elders and those who are to be challenging role models, they justify their lethargy.

Travelling in between 'time'

After a lovely break in KJC, B'lore am back in Kondadaba. The journey back by Prashanti was very amusing and interesting. I had for company several small children. At first I thought that would be the end of my intended rest, but on the contrary it was very relaxing. In the same cabin there was a three and half year old girl, 'yet to learn to speak' said her parents. But I guess she has not been blessed with the gift of speech. All the same very cute and her eyes so expressive. She was very shy and never felt comfortable to venture out of our cabin area. Neither would she interact or go near anyone other than her parents. Even the toddler, the other kid in the cabin, was kept at a distance by her. Her best passtime, all the time, was to sit by the window and watch outside. And of all things passing by, a train speeding by was her greatest delight. Her eyes would sparkle and dance at the sight of a speeding train.

The other toddler was another interesting chap... just a kid of about a year or little more. Surprisingly was very jovial and happy all the while. Never once did he cry during the 26 hour long journey. (However, there was one in the next cabin, who made up for his silence!). He was very comfortable with anyone as long as they smiled.

Only after reaching home and sharing these lovely moments with Sateesh, did it strike me that while on the way to B'lore, it was quite contrary. I was literally surrounded by senior citizens. All the 7 others in the section were above 70... one of them was paralysed below waist. But no regrets... they were very pleasant and though initially skeptical and bit apprehensive about me, were very cordial and thankful when I started helping them for little things which they found difficult with.

On the whole a very relaxing trip to B'lore. Thanks to Mother Mary.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Experimenting with Thinglink

Here are a couple of photos of our Brothers while on their 'forest-lunch' (vanbhojanam) ... one of the last activities of their semester holidays, prior to the commencement of their retreat. However, the real intention of posting these photos is to try out the Thinglink image tagging feature I installed on this blog.

Refreshing change of occupation

The past five days have truly been very relaxing and a great source of refreshment. The timing too is perfect... back at home the Brothers are in the retreat and therefore I need not worry too much about the classes or required things for the daily running. The latter is taken care of already. So what exactly did I do in the past week or so, besides taking classes on Medieval Western Philosophy? Met friends, spent time talking and chatting with confreres, enjoyed the leisurely meals, read the paper end to end, checked out all the starred items in my mail, reader and blog (something that I last did in June this year!) and of course, what I normally do best: sleep!

What 'Steve Jobs'?

I am almost nearing the end of my course on Medieval Western Philosophy for the first year students of Philosophy here in KJC, Bangalore. Tomorrow is the last session. Though it started on quite a dull note, I should say, most of them have picked up and are quite enthusiastic. Today's heated discussion on the Five Ways of Thomas Aquinas was really worth the time and effort. However, some of them had no clue of what was going on. Since they too never made any attempt right since the beginning to understand and get involved, I left them to themselves. I did try to draw them into the discussions or explanation of things, but they preferred to be idle. I choose the lesser evil of leaving them alone rather than drag everyone with them to the least possible.

The most craziest point of the session thus far - know not what surprises await me tomorrow, though - was when I asked them, while explaining some point using the life of Steve Jobs. Looking at their faces, I knew they did not know about whom or what I was talking about. It is then I asked as to how many heard the name 'Steve Jobs'. Only three out of 26, 'heard the name' and only 2 out of the three knew something more than just the name. So much for knowledge of the world, whom they will soon claim to be the leaders of.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Relationship gamble

Speaking of convictions and choices that people make in life, especially religious and Priestly life, I was told that our whole gamut of relationships now depend on exactly this. My students back in Kondadaba, in more than one way, tell me (subtly) that what ultimately matters when back in the diocese is affiliations... to which group do I belong to. To stand alone is to be crushed and cursed. It is difficult for me to see the point. Yet I understand that their main problem is not which group to belong to or affiliate themselves to but their lack of inner depth which will help them take a stand and stick to it, come what may, say what anyone may.
The wrong kind of people hate you for good in you, and right kind of people love you after knowing even the bad in you. That makes a perfect definition for relationship.

Playing chess with God

Here's one quote from Rabbi... not sure where he got it from!
Life is like playing chess with God. After your move, he makes the next move. Your moves are called choices and his moves are called challenges.
In class this morning, I had a chance to speak of this idea of choices that determine our freedom rather than our origin or state of life. I could see that some did get the point, that too quite fast. The same thing took me ages to get across in my classes on Theodicy back at Kondadaba. The context in class this morning was the idea of rationes seminales as proposed by Augustine, while explaining creation.

anxiety!

... and just when I was telling myself that I need to stay positive and not be prejudiced, especially with the group in hand, I come across the following statement:
Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow but empties today of its strength.
Another fact to add strength to this:
... that only 8% of what we worry about ever comes true?
I wish that what I worry about is not part of that 8%.

Religious life and security

I am back in KJC, Bangalore for a course in Philosophy for the first year students... back to where I began this blog a couple of years ago. The batch consists of 26 young men from different congregations. Some of them are quite bright and smart, the rest (most) of them have no idea of what is happening around! I realise that while the secular world is getting more and more competitive, the religious life and consecrated life is getting more and more lethargic. Perhaps it has much to do with the attitude and intention with which young men 'seek refuge' in religious or consecrated life. Fr Wilson's week-long visit to another Philosophate down south too was quite discouraging he says. So I guess it is not an isolated event but a growing trend. To such a group, teaching Philosophy is something like teaching a duckling to fly - leave alone, get it to the pond for a swim. What I am most concerned is that these young men will sooner or later be leaders of the Christian communities and then...?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

When 'treasure' and 'hunt' parted ways...

Today, along with Sateesh, I organised the treasure hunt for the Brothers. The first and second course Brothers had no idea of what it was all about - they had never played this before. So I suppose it was some fun for them. However the best part of the whole game was that while it took both of us nearly 4 hours to set the trails, one of the (two) groups reached the 'Treasure' within 15 minutes of the start. I just could not understand how they could manage to do it. However, I went after the other group, just to keep an eye on them since there was one clue which they had to retrieve from a deep well. I wanted to ensure that they do not do anything foolish or hazardous. But by the time I reached the second group, a few of them had already the penultimate slip in their hands... without any of the other slips/clues! But about 17 of them did have a good round of the whole place and had a real 'hunt'. The rest of them reached back home within half an hour and were most probably 'plucking blackberries'! Later I realised that a couple of them had strayed and 'discovered' a clue... the last one which led them straight to the treasure! Poor guys, missed out the whole fun... so I thought, but not many of them! Some were glad it got over quick.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Being chosen; being consecrated

I know not if there is a big difference - theologically or not - between being chosen and being consecrated. I really haven't read about these two concepts from that frame of mind, ever ... so I really do not know the difference. But listening to the explanation of the gospel of the other day, the preacher having strayed from the main theme - as usual - made me reflect on these two words. Is it that those chosen by God are 'automatically' consecrated? Or is it that there is only a 'special' group within those called, to whom consecration is 'gifted'?

The Israelites from time immemorial claimed to be the chosen race. Yet, going by the Bible (especially the New Testament), when the time came, they did not believe nor recognise. Now we Christians claim to be the chosen ones of God - whatever that may mean! What guarantee that we we now recognise the Lord? ... that we would believe in that what is right?

In the same lines, does consecration of a person or race, mean that all that he or they do is sanctified? If not, how does consecration work or what does it mean?

The more I reflect on these ideas, the more I feel that it is the person concerned, that ultimately makes the choice. The final decision is in the hands of the person. This may make God a secondary entity. Well, apparently this line of thought does put me over God. But a little more careful observation of this fact will reveal that even in this situation wherein the person is given the right to make the final decision, God's supremacy is intact for He is the one who is offering us this choice. That's a very costly gift... and a heavy responsibility too.

De-focussing

The washing machines of yesteryears had only a unidirectional swirl. Then came the 'twirl' - that which twists and turns the clothes not just in the same direction but in the opposite as well, from time to time. Something akin to that is the whole recommendation given to those who have to sit long before computer screens: after a 20-25 minute work, look around for a minute or two at objects or things at varying lengths. The idea is the eye gets some exercise from 're-focussing'.

Something similar to that is what I asked Br Sateesh to introduce into the Biblical quiz we had this night. I asked him to introduce a round of questions by and to the participants themselves. Each group asks the next one, a question... rather than the quiz master. Just a simple strategy to reverse the order of thought and movement in order to make a better and clearer sense of the original/normal direction.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Learning the hard way

The hard dose that I administered for the final year students was showing its signs this morning as most of them were watching me but were careful to avoid eye contact. One of the most powerful impact of last night's events was the breaking point of one of them. He really felt he had it enough and would no more stand by his classmates for their lack of sincerity and commitment to the choice of this life. Listening to him pour out his anguish was like reliving my first and greatest shock on entry into the aspirantate at Gunadala. When I had entered the aspirantate straight from home, I had a truly utopian idea of 'seminarians' - looking back, I can now call it utopian, back then it was like 'how could it be anything otherwise'. Well, that taught me the first lesson of consecrated life: 'consecrated' life is only on paper. In reality, it is more of 'desecrated' life! Having gone through that painful experience and built on that, I was able to understand his anguish and frustration.

I hope he learns his lessons well and builds on that.

Freedom accompanying freedom?

Here's another great philosophical insight I never could have managed to get even after celebrating my platinum jubilee teaching Philosophy:
The gift of freedom is always accompanied by freedom.
Now I could have very well passed it off as a mistake or error of words. But no! The Brother who wrote this had an explanation for this! Yes, this statement! Now that's when a student surpasses the teacher... into insanity!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

"Leaders" of the Church

Tonight I let the third years have a piece of my mind... I know not what impact it will have, or it will have an impact at all or not. The final crux of the issue, I concluded with, after having heard and debated and argued over their reasons and my justification to be angry at their lack lustre performance in their theme presentations, was this:
You expect me to believe and be faithful to a 'Church' the leaders of which I know are happily ignorant, perfectly lazy and solemnly wallowing in their own slush, rather than give their best to the community - leave alone, God - the community, which trusts them as men of God and prayer. Leaders who will show them the depths of spirituality and the magnificent meaning of union with God. You still want me to go to such kind of a 'Church'? Attend services, receive sacraments, participate in Mass, pay attention to sermons, go to confession and be 'faithful' to my Christian vocation?

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Vows for doctors and Immortal blindness

To help the students - or rather 'drive' the students - to read, study and reflect something and gain something out of their three years of study of Philosophy, the staff this year changed the methodology of the final B.Ph. paper. Rather than a research work, we adopted a reflective study mode. The students were given a set of twelve themes, two from each of the six treatises, at the beginning of the year. They were supposed to read, reflect and write the answer to those 12 questions, BY THEMSELVES, and submit them by the end of the semester. Next semester they are to summarise a book, just one book and apply these 12 themes to that book. That was the approach. A couple of days ago the Brothers submitted their themes. Most them, mind you 'most of them', merely got their neighbour's answer and copied it. And where did the neighbour get it from, of course, his neighbour. There were just a handful of them really working on the themes during the semester, in spite of repeated reminders and instructions from the Principal. The net result is evident. I now have some samples, just a couple of them, from the first four sets of papers I went through, today...

Here's one Brother, who copied another's example of a Priest's choice of life. He merely changes the word 'Priest' in his paper. Here's how the example begins:
For example, I have chosen to become a doctor and I should accept the life of doctor like poverty, chastity and obedience. (emphasis added)
Wow! What would become of the world, if all doctors begin to live the vows!!

From the same Brother's answer sheet, here's another. This time he is speaking of evil and 'trying' to exalt God - that's what the question was about - explaining reasons how and why God can be exalted in spite of the existence of evil.
Blindness is a physical evil, it can exalt God. If there is no blindness for beings then we would be immortal which God alone can be.
I never really could understand what blindness has got to do with immortality, until I read the next lot of answers. Another Brother had the same statement, albeit, the evil therein was 'death'. It then dawned on me that my good friend had merely replaced 'death' with 'blindness'!

There surely will be more along the way, but none better than these I believe... anyway, hoping against hope!!!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Be the miracle

During my classes on Theodicy, more than once this topic of miracles came up. For very many people, miracles are really great and wondrous things that happen only once in a way and that too to manifest God's great power. While I have no problem in agreeing to the latter, I certainly am not convinced about the former concept.

It is at times as these that the quote from the movie Bruce Almighty comes to my mind:
Parting a soup is not a miracle, Bruce. It's a magic trick. Now, a single mom who works two full-time jobs, and still finds the time to pick up her kid at soccer practice, that's a miracle. A teenager that says "no" to drugs and "yes" to an education, that's a miracle. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle.
I've shared this with the Brothers too. But somehow, their idea of miracle is only that happens during charismatic prayer services amidst all that 'hullabaloo'. My comment on those 'occurrences' as 'magic performed in the Church' infuriates them all the more.

Here's the video clip of the above quote:

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Earth's grandeur

I'm surprised I did not include this quote of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in my collection, even though this has been one of the most inspirational quote since long:
Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
These words make me wonder what exactly am I doing with my life: enjoying the beauty of life or just sitting pretty tight and swatting flies?

English at its best!

Here's a real gem from the English conversational exam held today under the guidance of Fr Rector. As two 'scholars' of English conversed, Fr Rector asked them to frame a statement in active voice and the other to change that to passive voice:
Br A: I climbed the tree.
Br B: The tree climbed on me.
Fr KT says he was privileged to hear quite a few such 'insights'. However, we never progressed beyond this one. We just couldn't...!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Sustaining changes

In his homily this morning, Fr KT used a very beautiful analogy to drive home his point. He was speaking of changing one's life and attitudes for the better and more importantly offering help to sustain those changes. He used the analogy of the caterpillar that transforms into a beautiful butterfly after it period of hibernation in the cocoon. As a caterpillar, it just eats and eats lot - but only leaves. Once it transforms into a butterfly, something so different from what it was earlier - it sustains the change, mainly by changing its food habit. It no more eats leaves. It merely feasts on nectar (The picture is that of a tiger swallowtail butterfly).

Moral: Wish to sustain changes you adopt in life, change your feeding (thinking) habits!

Perseverance of St Francis

The little poverello, as he is called, St Francis of Assissi was indeed a giant in holiness. His life always fascinates. Simple yet radical; never imposing but powerfully inspirational. The fact that as a young man he was anything but interested in Christ or spirituality. The changeover, though slow, was firm and sure. As I always believe, what most of us lack is not the moment of conversion, but the perseverance to sit through the darkness and anxiety that follows during which God asks us to let Him guide us. Just like St Paul encountering Christ on the road to Damascus, the real journey begins when he awaits to regain his sight. That's the real point of conversion.

Having encountered the Lord, there was nothing that would stop him from being His and His totally. I wonder how many of us will have that courage and strength to leave everything and trust in Him alone. Among the many things that he inspires me with, for today it is this ability to persevere in a chosen path of life... not just change for a day or two but be willing to tread the path, come what may!

Monday, 3 October 2011

The ant philosophy

You can check the original here. Written by Jim Rohn.
  1. Ants – they never quit! Try and stop them, and they will look for another way. They will climb up, climb under, climb around. They never quit looking for a way. If they are headed somewhere, they will get there.
  2. Ants – they think winter all summer long. Don’t think nice when it is nice. Things are easy in the summer time. It’s warm. Resources are readily available. But the ant is thinking about gathering and working during this time. Think ahead.
  3. Ants – they think summer all winter long. They say, “This won’t last long, we will soon be out of here.” When the first warm day comes, the ants are out! First warm day and… the ants are out!
  4. And finally, how much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All that he possibly can. What an incredible philosophy, the "all-that-you-possibly-can" philosophy.

The rape of God

Today as I sat for the Theodicy exam with the third year students (oral), I felt ashamed of myself. The answers of the Brothers were so mediocre and senseless, not just to me but worse, to themselves! I felt so ashamed of having taught them this subject with such zeal and fervour. They literally raped God right in front of my eyes, one by one and all I did was hung my head in shame. Their ideas of the subject were so weird or unrelated that any one with the minimal of common sense would kick them in the place where it pains the most.

Here are some of their thoughts:
  • Evil is some higher perfect good.
  • Evolution is from a single cell which is transcendent and that is God.
  • Polytheism started 400 years ago. (I, like in every such statement, asked: sure? You mean, it started in 1500 or so? Yes, came the confident reply!)
  • Leibniz proposed the idea of 'anticipated world' (God alone knows what that is! or which Leibniz was he talking about!)
  • When there is good, evil will attack.
  • God is a silent, community, idolatry, particular...
  • God as crotch! (Crotch or crutch?. No Brother, it is crotch.)
  • Moral evil is due to order in the universe.
  • Physical evil is caused by bad - due to perfection.

Risking God's closeness

Today's readings form an interesting combo: Jonah and the parable of the Good Samaritan. Fr Wilson rightly asked what would be the commonality in the two most gripping narrations in the Bible. He stated that it was the fear of responsibility that was common in both the narrations. Jonah was fleeing Yahweh and the Priest and the Levite from the parable too were escaping the direct responsibility that God was placing before them.

Both these instances offer a very revealing insight into our human relationship. We love God from afar. We dearly desist coming close to Him - or Him close to us. For that is too risky an affair; that closeness demands a lot from us. It involves risk, responsibility and commitment - the very things we shirk away from. We love to keep our lives small and peaceful. Letting God into our lives is living with a turbulence. He constantly challenges us, never letting us just be the minimal we can be and do.
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