Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Of yeast and mustard...

Strange but true, the yeast is not asked to be the dough, nor the mustard to be the jackfruit.  What is expected is that the yeast be the best it can be and do the most it can do.  Being in the minority it is asked to be a catalyst in the whole dough, not become the majority!  It is to transform the whole of the dough by being in the whole mixture, not outside, not away, not detached.  

Perhaps a lesson we ought to learn: rather than spend all our energies on increasing our numbers, as Christians, we need to deepen our own understanding of our call, and thus be agents of transformation in the whole society.  Statistically the world may then not be 'Christians' but in spirit and in truth, it will certainly be! 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Change

There is an instance in the movie The Mighty Macs, wherein a young nun tells the coach of the girls basketball team, after months of working together with her in getting the girls to a stage of respect and dignity, the following
You taught me that not only is change possible, it's as vital as breathing. 
I do spend quite a bit of time reflecting upon this statement everytime I remember it. However, I hardly have the courage and the patience to live it.  I suppose that's what makes us dread change.

Sunshine!

After seven full days of rain not a bit of sunshine we had our first rays of sunshine in eight days this morning.  The past week was all rain and clouds, not one ray of sunshine we had.  Well for some parts of the world this may not seem anything odd or strange, but this has never been in Andhra Pradesh.

Rain has been pouring rather steadily all week long.  That was the only saving grace. If only it was torrential, then it would have been catastrophic.  As of today, there is water everywhere.  The ground is all wet and unable to soak in any more water.  Neither can it flow anywhere because all low lying areas are already under water.  Some parts of the Seminary which never got drenched by flowing water, are now submerged!  Our open well is so full that we can draw water with our hands!  The well is almost 80 feet deep.



Thursday, 24 October 2013

Reasoning Faith vs Faith-ful Reasoning

What's the difference between 'religious thinking' and 'thinking about religion'?  This was the question I spoke of as part of the introduction on Philosophy of Religion yesterday.  After explaining the difference, I left them with the question, as to which category belongs our practices of piety?  Is it religious thinking or thinking about faith?  Would one be possible without the other?

The other tricky part was speaking about faith and reason or in other words, the need to engage oneself in a process of critical dialogue.  That a genuine faith will not shrink from being challenged and challenging!  That a robust faith is possible only when one has put one's faith to test and made a sincere attempt to review our body of beliefs.

... that people fear putting their faith to the test for fear of loosing the little they have.  Others, fear that they'll have nothing to hold on to (so who is sustaining whom? Faith sustains us or are we 'sustaining' faith???).  Some those who, with great trepidation, dare to undergo the test, cling to the massive debris rather than the iota of essence. Some go through the test only to 'justify' their faith, not to test it, but merely to somehow endorse it. 

Monday, 14 October 2013

The duck that drowned

A man once owned a small duckling and one day all of a sudden it drowned! The autopsy report said that the bird lacked a particular kind of oil which a duck's feathers naturally have.  Due to this lack of a natural ingredient, which was quite odd, the feathers soaked in the water and naturally the duck drowned.

Fr Basani Prakash, the retreat preacher, for our Brothers narrated this small anecdote to the Brothers as part of his homily this evening.

Lesson: If we do not develop what is naturally bestowed upon us, we take it to our grave much before time and with no use whatsoever, neither to others nor to ourselves! 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

God as prisoner

While putting down my own reflections about the course on Philosophy of God, it struck me that perhaps my students and I were reading from two different books for our course... not literally but figuratively.  While they were all the time 'acting' as God's soldiers, I was the only one playing the devil's advocate.  Of course, they know that well. But they don't want to see themselves do it ... perhaps they're too frightened to lose or even question their faith or God.  So what I ultimately did during the whole course was not give them some philosophical or grand ideas about God, rather all that I did was try to 'cleanse' their idea of God!  I did my best to help them let go of their God and live with him rather than have him chained and imprisoned within!

Popular Religion

We concluded the semester exams yesterday and last evening I pulled out my study material for the next semester classes.  For the third years I'm taking Philosophy of Religion (PR) and as I was going through my own handwritten notes of the past years, I came across a piece of paper with the following quote on it:
To become a popular religion, it is only necessary for a superstition to enslave a philosophy.  (William Ralph Inge) 
Perhaps that's a good point to start my discussion on PR. Of course, that would mean, I'll have spend at least one class explaining to my students the meaning of that quote!!

Anyway, the examination on Philosophy of God was an utter fiasco.  Mostly all of them were sure of the theory but had no knowledge of what they were speaking! Thus I told them: theory: 100 but knowledge: 0.  I may be too fast or rash in judging, but their idea of God remains the same!  They don't just defend their 'God'; they simply imprison him!  So their initial idea and their concluding idea is the same, everything else in between is a text; nothing of which affects either 'their God' or themselves.  Or perhaps, it will in due time, hopefully! 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A b'day prayer for Fr Lens...

After long I wrote a letter today... a b'day note to dear Fr John Lens. I enclosed in the envelope a small prayer card I happened to find in my table drawer and which I felt was a very apt prayer for Fr Lens... I also know very well that he'd pass it on to others... just like, my brother and I, were the beneficiaries of many a stamps, holy pictures, puzzles and games which he'd generously give away to us boys, way back during our school days at Don Bosco, Sulthan Bagh.

Here's the prayer I prayed for Fr Lens:
I said a prayer for you today
And know God must have heard 
I felt the answer in my heart
Although He spoke no word. 

I didn't ask for wealth or fame,
I knew you wouldn't mind, 
I asked Him to send treasures
Of a far lasting kind. 

I asked that He'd be near you
At the start of the new day
To grant you health and blessings
And friends to share your way. 

I asked for happiness for you
In all things great and small
But it was for His loving care 
I prayed for most of all. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

God's gift of walnuts

Most of us have a very 'magical' perspective of God.  He is more of a magician than a person. Someone who does tricks out of the blue and yet is holy.  Someone who is great and at the same time, my 'friend' - though I barely live or am his friend myself. Subsequently all our belief, faith, attitudes and related aspects with God take shape accordingly.

However, loved this Russian proverb, which in a nutshell describes 'my' God:
God gives us walnuts but He does not crack them.

An old age prayer

One unfortunate thing about old age is that one does not get to practice it! It merely creeps upon you... watch this hilarious prayer:

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