Wednesday, 31 December 2014

PK and lively ads

As I was glancing through the movie posters of PK, I came across these two hilarious pics related to the movie.
 Amul has always done great contextual and vibrant ads. This one is just one of those several! The use of words, pun and crisp nature of these ads is something remarkable.
(Translation: For those who shaved their head, in imitation of the movie ´Ghajini´, PK offers a real test of loyalty!)  ... Aamir Khan appears naked in the opening scenes of the movie! 

Theology or Anthropology?

As I was updating - or rather, reworking - my class notes for Modern Western Philosophy, I came across the dilemma of one of the writers, while speaking about some early philosophers.  He states that most of what is spoken of God is basically a human perception.  Philosophy of God actually offers a good insight into anthropology! 

What we actually perceive about God and all things related to God, is more about ourselves than about something supernatural.  Even in the movie, PK, if one focusses only on the God-talk or religion banter or about theology, one is certain to make a fool of oneself.  Instead if we focus our attention on what does the movie speak about us human beings, especially those who vehemently claim to be disciples or followers of a ´good and great´ God, then we stand to learn a lot.

Another thing that strikes me about the protests against the movie: when religious leaders speak of sacrifice, renunciation, brotherhood and all those virtues spoken of by true religion, there is hardly anyone paying attention, leave alone living up to those ideals.  But when there is something very fundamental and challenging that is posed about religion, every Tom, Dick and Harry becomes a ´religious´ person, a ´true devotee´.  

God as a person

I did an experiment to find out how much of God do we truly seek to grasp and understand.  I did a word cloud search for the term ´God´ and I chose the following at random.  I know this is no scientific or valid research, but still is an indicator.
God is barely seen as a person, a being. He is most always a ´he´; synonymous with a string of his attributes; very theological and conceptual (of course, I understand it is a word cloud!)...

What I wish to basically state is that God is rarely looked up to as a person. And even if the term ´god´ is expressed in personal vocabulary, it is of someone and I am merely appropriating it, sans the initial person´s experience! In that sense, the term looses its meaning and flavour and everything, sooner or later.  It becomes an empty shell - good and great on the outside but very much hollow and agonizingly burdensome within!

God Himself is so desperate to become human - I suppose, that´s what Christmas is all about - but we human beings are more desperate to make him divine! 

God and Religion

One of the major flaws of human thinking - consequently affecting human behaviour, attitude and relationships - is to equate God with religion; Christ with the Church.

Religion is basically a means to lead one to God but most of us conveniently settle for religion and God is ultimately, subtly, thrown out of the picture altogether (though His name and image will very well be used as a shield).  Religion makes a caricature of God and it is worshipped as sacred; an individual tries to portray his idea of God arising out of a deep personal experience with God, and he is branded a heretic or a blasphemer.  

PK, God and Religion

I began watching the hindi movie PK yesterday.  I am yet to complete watching it. For once I did not want to rush in to see the conclusion.  I just wanted to savour it... let the questions sink in and let questions in me arise.
As I sat reflecting on some of the primary questions or issues the movie tackles, I asked myself, why did PK start searching for God?  Was it only because he lost something? Was it not also that he, who earlier did not have a notion of God, was ´told´ about God and that he had all the answers?!  What if PK were to have followed his own method or strategy to find his lost property? Would the storyline be the same? Perhaps! Not really sure!

I keep reading about the protests and agitations against the movie in several parts of the country. Several Hindu outfits and groups denouncing the way the movie portrays religion and religious leaders.  I asked myself what if the movie was remade with a Christian slant?  Would the Church too have objection to it?

Frankly speaking, from the part that I watched, there wasn´t anything objectionable about the movie: either in its portrayal of religion or God?  All that it does is raise pertinent and very deep questions about God, religion and humanity. Those who feel ´threatened´ by the questions or presentation, ought to introspect and see what is that that they are frightened about? And if one is genuinely interested in God or religion, seek to find worthy answers for the same, rather than silence the questioner itself. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dying young

Priests and religious die young, perhaps 40 to 45;
but are buried only at the age of 80 or 90! 
said by Fr Kulandai SJ

Monday, 15 December 2014

Choose to be holy

Reading the Old Testament from the perspective of gathering the history of the people of Israel, one cannot notice the whole divine-human dynamics that goes on. I think the point where the Israelites then, and we today, fail to really live up to the sanctity that God calls us to and offers, is when we rest complacent over the gift that He offers.  This is applicable all the more to Priests and religious who claim to be chosen, 'specially' by God (something I totally beg to differ with).
God chose us! True! But that fact does not automatically makes us holy!  I too have to constantly, regularly, every moment and through every deed of mine, choose to be holy.

As for the fact of being chosen by God, whom did God not choose? Anyone?  God calls each one!  Each one! 

Poverty vs Poverty

I remember during one of the meetings in the Provincial house, while discussing about our life of poverty and the corresponding lifestyle that we live, Fr Sebastian John made a very strong point. He said that in the Indian context when we say that we are like the Hindu sanyasis, it is actually a very very contradictory imagery we are providing.  The Hindu sanyasi when he leaves home, he leaves everything: attachment to his family, material possessions, family inheritance, every comfort of the world.  He is practically a beggar on the street, living his life day to day on the charity of others.

In such a context, when we say that we have left behind everything for the congregation and Don Bosco, it is actually a farce!  We do leave our own families... but build up relations with the community members and call them our 'family'; neither are we totally cut off from our natural families altogether.  We say we have given up our family inheritance... but we lack nothing!  We live a comfortable life, assured that the congregation will take care of our every need.  We have buildings to live in (not a small house); separate individual rooms, meals all round the clock, vehicles for our conveyance, domestic helpers to do our work (not only the work of the community)...

And the fact of not owning anything? Well the tons of lugguage we chug along when we move from house to house when on transfer, in contrast to the small 'potli' (sack) a sanyasi owns, speaks for itself.  

Celibacy and Sexuality

As part of the psycho-sexual integration seminar held last week, Fr P.O. Jose made an interesting observation.  When asked why was it that this topic never really discussed in religious formation curriculum in the past, he replied, that it was purposely ignored.  Somehow, besides the various imaginary stigmas and prejudiced notions that hindered an open discussion on topics related to sexuality, there was this peculiar underlying belief that the vow of chastity would somehow make things alright!  That making the vow of chastity would spare one of all the inclinations of the body and sexuality.

Today we realise that the vow of celibacy and a holistic understanding of sexuality is a real bonus for us to love, love all and love deeply. 

Priesthood and homosexuality

Last week there was a seminar for our students on psycho-sexual integration. As the conclusion of the same there was a panel discussion. During the discussion there was one point made by Fr Jose Mathew, in his usual sober tone, as a matter of fact. When asked why is it that the Catholic Church does not look very encouragingly upon those with homosexual tendencies as candidates to religious or priestly life, he  gave the Church's viewpoint, then from the point of psychology and finally concluded stating this: Why is it that this point alone is being singled out as 'against' the Church.  The Church clearly sets down certain requirements of those who are called to serve the rest.  There is community life (for the religious), the demand of detachment (poverty), humility (obedience)... and so is this aspect too.  That as men called to live in a community as Brothers to reach out to serve those to whom we are sent to, especially we as Salesians called to serve the young, we need to be men who can love one and all equally. And for this if our inclinations and motivations draw us to one or only a few then we will never be able to truly be generous in loving everyone.  

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Adieu, dear Fr Lens!

Let me start this month of December and break my long silence with a rather sad event: the death of Fr John Lens sdb.  Of all the Salesians I know, I always looked upon Fr Lens as the closest representation of Don Bosco.  His loss, is indeed much felt and is indeed a great loss, especially for our Province.

Several good and great things were enumerated about Fr Lens yesterday during his funeral service.  More than that the very presence of so many Salesians, even those from the neighbouring Province of Bangalore, and most specially of ex-Salesians and past pupils, was a indeed a great testament of Lens' impact as a person.

He never learnt Telugu (the local language) and did not have a great liking for inculturation with regard to liturgical matters.  But viewed through the whole large prism - as large as the largest Egyptian pyramid itself - these factors are mere dust!

I personally did not really feel sad for I am convinced that he was a man who did much more than what was assigned to him by God when he put him on earth... much, much more!  There would hardly be anyone who would claim that he could have done more than what he did during the years, he spent with us.  Even in his old age, he never knew what it was to sit idle, do nothing! He always kept himself happily occupied. Most of all he read!  Everyday, ... even hours before his final breath.

My immediate thoughts about this simple yet, giant of a Salesian of Don Bosco, soon after I heard about his death are here as posted on the Salesian national website
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