Thursday, 27 September 2018

Rational Proof of 'something more'?

My maiden meeting with my supervisor, in person, was quite an experience! All his initial questions and subsequent clarifications were very clear and showed me where I was headed to, if I pursued my line of thought.  And he certainly was not showing off, though his points were very scholarly. 

There was however one question which left me baffled.  I just could not think of any one reason or argument.  The context was our discussion about how language reveals a particular worldview and my furthering that point to show how a diversity of languages assists, rather than diminishes, a better understanding of the reality as a whole.  His question was: What assurance do you have that there is 'something more' to reality that what is perceived?  There may be, but any guarantee?  What rational proof or argument is there, besides intuition, that there is 'something more' to reality, more than what language reveals? 

Each language is different and the other person's worldview is different from mine.  That certainly shows that I do not have the full picture - neither has the other.  But now together, we can arrive at a wider collective picture than an individual worldview.  In this case, what is known is what is collectively known.  The question still remains: what guarantee that there is more than what is known by this collective knowing?  Perhaps that is all there is to know. 

If I stated that there is a world out there that I seek to 'capture' through language, and each language is limited in its revelation, then I'm falling back on the Analytical notion that that knowledge is 'getting the world right'...  I have been trying to get out of this mould of thought. 

Perhaps need to give my head a break!

Monday, 24 September 2018

A questioning faith

For the first time today, I had the opportunity to gladly counter an argument that faith meant 'not questioning'.  When sharing about faith and merely accepting what is told, I feel that my faith does not call me to be blind.  In fact, I find my faith more meaningful, strong and supportive, when I really question!

Someone said, children question but then easily believe what is being told.  I replied, they do certainly believe, but that does not prevent them for asking questions.  To every reply you offer, there's always a question ready - almost instantly.  However, they do not ask questions to everyone.  They approach people whom they trust... not so much to get the 'right answer' but under all that inquisitiveness is the need to be listened to.

Faith is not about 'not questioning', or 'merely accepting'; it is about trusting the one whom I approach with those questions.  And often, like children, I'm actually not looking for the 'right answer', I'm just looking for someone who will listen - listen with love and care!

Witness

As part of the Alpha course that I joined today in the parish, we were watching a video by Nicky Gumbel. Therein he mentions about drugs and alcohol not being the problem, but the solution - at least for those addicted.  The real problem being reality.

That set me thinking for the rest of the talk and the evening.  Certainly for those addicted, drugs and alcohol are not the problem but the solution.  But for the rest of us, looking objectively at those addicted and the drugs and alcohol, that's a problem!  The real problem is reality.  In order to face this reality, those addicted use drugs and alcohol and they see it as a solution.  I was wondering if, as per the intention of this prayer/discussion, we the "faithful" see belief in Jesus as the solution. Someone looking at us believing in God/Jesus, sees this as a problem not a solution.  Just replace drugs/alcohol with Jesus or religion.  From the perspective of an "outsider" it is all the same. 

As a believer, it will do me no good to merely harp on Jesus or religion as the solution because the 'outsider' will only hear that as the rant of an 'addict'.  Perhaps what will influence his attitude is if he sees that this 'addiction' is actually helpful not just for me but for everyone who comes in contact with me, and that too in a holistic manner.  

Musical history

Only last night did I discover that most of my favourite music bands were from Ireland!  The Corrs, Boyzone and Westlife.  All from Ireland. 

My exposure to contemporary English music began when I was at Nashik for my Masters' in Philosophy.  Till then, it was glorious Hindi music only.  Some occasional Konkani songs which Papa played at home. But they were almost by-heart given the fact that there were a couple of which Papa liked and they were on eternal replay mode! 

The only two audio cassettes I ever bought: one of Shammi Kapoor while on a school excursion to Delhi (that was for Papa) and the second one of The Corrs while at Pune for a course at JDV.  Not sure if I bought another one, while at Kondadaba.  But if I did, it was of Westlife.  Then there were some occasional songs I liked here and there but as for these three bands, I somehow liked almost all their songs. 

That said, ABBA and Boney M. were the best!  Literally grew up listening to these songs while at home. They were in Dad's collection which he received from the German family he worked for.  

Sunday, 23 September 2018

You be Jesus

Billy, aged four, and his brother Tommy, aged six, were arguing about who was going to get the first pancake that their grandmother was making at the stove. She took the opportunity to teach them a lesson, telling them that Jesus would let his brother have the first pancake.  Tommy turned to Billy and said, "Ok, Billy, go on then, you be Jesus."

Not just among children, most of us grown ups too have this tendency of 'letting or waiting for others to be Jesus'.  We'd rather not be one ourselves.  Admiring others be Jesus is good enough.  Becoming Jesus oneself is too complicated. 

On the other hand, perhaps we are not called to be Jesus.  Each of us has an identity, distinct from one another, distinct from Jesus.  Our vocation is to live that out to its best.  God calls each one of us, and the best we can do is to respond to him in the most generous and selfless manner.  

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Capacity for language as innate

Just mailed my second article to my supervisor.  Humboldt, Language and the Self.  Started out with something in mind, and ended up with something totally different.  Not sure if I can call it convergence or divergence!  I leave it to my supervisor to decide.  However, the exercise of putting it all together was interesting.  But I do acknowledge I lack the cutting edge or the finesse of writing a philosophy paper.  It reads more like a reflection on life rather than an abstract theorization.  Well, can't complain too much about it, for I prefer the former to the latter! 

Anyway, one of the elements in the paper that I gather and speak about is granting the capacity of the human being to create language an innate value.  Reasoning or thought is already considered innate to human nature.  In fact, it is one of human being's defining elements.  Humboldt's view that language and thought are intertwined, right at the origins, makes it possible to grant innate status to language as well.  I wish I had elaborated this dimension - occurred to me at 2 in the morning! 

However it is not a particular language that a person has innate ability for, rather it is the capacity to language that is innate.  So if language - or capacity for it - is part of human nature, belongs to the essence of being human, what would be the implications?
Not very many, given that language is being treated on par with thought? (too tired to exert the mind anymore!)

Generous and abundant

Fr Peter arrived at Chertsey on Tuesday evening, after a fortnight at home in Slovakia.  I picked him up at the airport.  When we reached home from the airport he wanted to put some things he brought from home in the fridge.  As I helped him I noticed, half his suitcase was filled with snacks - varieties of them, in abundance!  And he generously unloaded it all in the kitchen. The last time he returned from home, it was the same.

That's typical of people from the rural areas, especially a mother - generous and in abundance!  Most of those from the urban areas don't sufficiently understand and appreciate this gesture.  All that hard work, forethought, and love, especially for people she has never met, seen or known... She knows that her son will never manage to eat all of that stuff, all by himself, even if he gorged on them alone for a month!  It is her generosity and love, not just for her son but for all those whom the son loves.  

Grammar and worldview

Reading Humboldt who is considered the father of linguistics, it occurred to me that among the various differences between European and non-European languages, the place of grammar in each of the world languages plays a predominant role.  By non-European I specially mean those languages which have really not been 'touched' by colonisation or Western thought.  To an extent can even include one's mother tongue into this, as long as it is not English!!

My guess is this.  Most European languages have a defined and highly structured grammar. Mastery of such a language presupposes a thorough knowledge of the grammar.  Teaching of such a language is very much linear: alphabet, vocabulary, grammar...

On the other hand, non-European languages (at least most of them), are not heavily grammar based.  Not that they do not have a structure or syntax or whatever.  It is just that it is not codified. It is not set.  It is not rigid, but very fluid.  Only when scholars from another context, zealous to learn about such a language, that language is formalised.  The grammar, its rules and exceptions, is detailed.  And the 'linear study' begins.

No wonder why worldviews differ so widely, among people of different languages.  For Humboldt each language is a specific way of looking at the world, a world-view.  None of which is exhaustive.
By the same act whereby he spins language out of himself, he spins himself into it, and every language draws about the people that possesses it a circle whence it is possible to exit only by stepping over at once into the circle of another one. ... But because we always carry over, more or less, our own world-view, and even our own language-view, this outcome is not purely and completely experienced (Humboldt 1999, On Language, 60). 
Elsewhere in speaking about language and worldview he states
In passing over to others, it joins the common stock of the entire human race, of which each individual possesses a modification containing the requirements for completion by others (Humboldt 1999, On Language, 56).

Soul becomes spirit?

Even after years of listening to extracts from the Bible, everyday during Mass and prayers, some passages still catch my attention.  Perhaps the version I hear has something to do with it. Or maybe it is the reading I'm engaged in/with currently as part of my research.  Or maybe just that I'm hearing that section of the Bible for the first time (possible!!).  Anyway, was surprised to read the following this morning.
Whatever you sow in the ground has to die before it is given new life and the thing that you sow is not what is going to come... It is the same with the resurrection of the dead: the thing that is sown is perishable but what is raised is imperishable.... when it is sown it embodies the soul, when it is raised it embodies the spirit. If the soul has its own embodiment, so does the spirit have its own embodiment. 
Now those two lines are new to me.  The Bible making the distinction between soul and spirit?  And after death the soul is transformed into the spirit?  I remember I've thought about the embodiment after resurrection part before, but not this soul-spirit distinction and transformation.

Words do have the strange ability to confuse and confound!  God is no better! 

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

We did, but you didn't...

We played the music but you didn't dance. We sang the dirges but you did not weep.  We did so much for you but you said nothing!  We gave you all this but you did nothing with it all. 

The pride of being the one giving, the one doing, the one bestowing... it can actually cancel all merit.  In some cases it may backfire as well.  Perhaps the one you were playing music for was deaf and did not really know what you were doing.  Perhaps the one you sang the dirges to, was returning home after a very glorious and joyful day.  Perhaps the one you did so much for, needed something totally different than all the great things you did, something trivial that you did not consider as required by him.  Perhaps the one you gave so much of material things after all needed just a few minutes of your time daily.  Of course, there is the question of holding the other accountable to what he or she has been blessed with.  But should I be the one to whom they should be accountable to? 

Charity does take a big toll on the one engaging in it.  It demands more than being generous.  It demands being able to give without asking anything in return.  It involves not claiming ourselves to be the 'saviour' - not with the ones being helped out, not to others, not even within/for ourselves.  Most of all, it involves genuinely being concerned for the other - it involves love.  

Monday, 17 September 2018

Karwaan... an enriching journey

Yesterday watched the movie Karwaan, a lovely hindi movie!  A very simple plot and not too many characters or complexities.  Yet very smooth and profound.  How three different characters, with perhaps nothing in common bond together and in the process help one another learn something profound about themselves, through their mere presence.  The best I enjoyed was the subtle and comic timing of Shaukhat (Irrfan Khan).
Though don't really agree that the lyrics of this song actually represent the lead characters but all the same, do speak a lot about them.

The human voice

A simple reminder of the declining human presence in the world of technology and progress...

Anyone who has traveled in Europe, especially those like me from India, where public transport is anything but quiet, will certainly vibe with the sentiments brought forth in this video. 

Friday, 14 September 2018

No laughing matter

Browsing through the news headlines, the following one caught my eye
The news is about two men from Rajasthan who have been getting cobras so as to get them to bite their tongues because no amount of the usual drugs they've used gives them a high anymore!  It is said that the cobra's venom is strong enough to kill 20 people or an elephant!  But the same poison is also is being studied as a substitute for narcotic drugs.  The short news also speaks of these two men being the object of study at the Chandigarh university as part of their de-addiction research.

What amused me most was one of the comments below the article... hilarious!
They should try being bitten by politicians, they will either get a higher kick or die in minutes. Their tongues are more poisonous than any snake.

Sacred and supernatural

According to Prof. Tim Crane, one of the elements that links "religious impulse" and "identification" - the two essential characteristics of religion, according to him overlooked by new atheists - is the sacred.  The notion of sacred forms one of the key elements of the characteristics of religion, any religion.  He said that anything could be sacred... a person, a thing, a text, an object... anything!  But this means that there is a distinction between the sacred and the profane. 

The sacred in so far as it represents the 'transcendence' aspect and is a point of unification among the people who agree upon its being distinct from other things, especially profane things, serves as a connecting factor.  So from what I understand, a thing to be sacred has to fulfill both these criterion: represent transcendence and be a source of unity.  That broadly gives us a vague criterion of judging something as sacred or not.  So there could be something that actually reflects the transcendence but not noticed or accepted by us OR something that is socially projected but not actually sharing in the transcendence aspect of reality.  Neither of these can be called sacred(?)

But there is one thing he mentioned in passing: "...the sacred need not be the supernatural."

That set me thinking. Then I remembered the whole distinction between the sign and the symbol, especially made by Paul Ricoeur.  Am not sure if that fits in with Prof. Tim Crane's understanding of the sacred.  However, I don't think Paul Ricoeur would have serious objections to the sacred not being the supernatural.  In as much as what is considered sacred shares the 'immanent' aspect with us human beings while being the representation of the 'transcendent', that what eludes material quantification, the sacred does not become the supernatural.  And if it does turn supernatural, then it loses its immanent character.  I'm thinking of all that we consider 'sacred' within the Catholic tradition: relics, the altar, consecrated statues, churches... all are basically still natural objects or things.  Even the person of Mother Mary, as long as she was here on earth she was a human being, immanent; but now we treat her as supernatural, but she is no more with us in that immanent form as she once did.  (The only exception I can think of is the Holy Communion. Can it be classified under this: representing the sacred but not the sacred itself?)

On the other hand, there is this dilemma as to whether we need this distinction of sacred and profane at all.  After all, if we are true to our Christian tradition, there is nothing that is 'not sacred'.  Everything, however mundane it appears, is sacred.  So perhaps we can at the most speak of 'degrees of sacredness', in so far as it is ascribed to a thing by us collectively and not merely in itself being a representation of the 'trascendence'.  

Understanding tolerance

Another key point Prof. Tim Crane made while presenting ideas from his latest book, The meaning of belief, was the notion of tolerance.  Beginning with historical origin of this word he explained how it initially was very much associated and connected with suffering.  It then basically meant accepting suffering for having no means of escape from it.  However over the years the meaning of the word tolerance has undergone a shift but is now slowly turning into something very different and harmful!   
In the context of religion and religious tolerance, the word takes a different meaning.  It is not that religion or religions are to be tolerated in as much as they cause suffering yet for no other alternative we accept them.  It is not even that we let other religions exist side by side, for want of peace.  This would mean that we resist anything that 'offends' other religions.  We respect them. Prof. Crane said that's an inappropriate and unhealthy notion of tolerance.  Tolerance, on the contrary, involves disapproval, and does not involve respect.  His position was that we need not respect beliefs.  In fact, many beliefs, especially religious beliefs are not worthy of respect!  Rather he stated that we need to respect people, respect believers, not beliefs.  He just stopped short of saying 'Respect believers, tolerate beliefs'!  Moreover he spoke of tolerance as a practical attitude rather than a theoretical stand.  However, he was open to accept that this notion of tolerance, limits of it, actual practical entailment of this, are still vague and not well defined in his thought.

He was mentioning of an article by Bernard Williams on Tolerance... should read up that. 

Truth and meaning

The talk of Prof. Tim Crane (of Central European University) I attended yesterday, as part of his latest book promotion The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist's point of view was very interesting.  There was a large audience, the biggest I've ever seen in all the open public lectures I've been to so far.  Goes to show that people are still interested and curious to know about religion - even here in Europe! 

One of the key points he made prior to the exposition of the main ideas of his book was the distinction he made between truth and meaning.  He said he was not claiming to speak or clarify about the truth of religion.  He was only interested in the meaning of it.  He consciously made that decision because according to him a discussion on the truth would not lead him to any better understanding of religion, rather it would only cause further pain and division.  On the other hand, understanding religion and its contribution, or seeking meaning, would bring about a greater benefit for all.  After all, how can one criticize or even reject something without having a proper knowledge (an adequate conception) of religion? 

And according to me, though the two, truth and meaning, are connected, they need not always be present together.  The truth may not be meaningful (to all, all the time) and just because something is meaningful does not mean it is the truth.  

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Building nests!

I wanted to attend the departmental interview rounds for one post of full-time professorship at the university today.  As PhD students we were invited to be present.  However, was stuck in traffic and didn't reach in time.  So I was waiting outside the room, just in case someone else comes out and I could sneak in.  Then I decided to sit in the PhD room exactly opposite to the room where the interviews were being conducted.  As I opened the room, I saw a pigeon inside and then noticed one of the windows slightly open.  I chased the pigeon out but by then realized that it had been in for some days.  Just as I was hoping that it had not built its nest, I saw it under the table - not exactly a full-fledged nest but some twigs and leaves.  What's more, found two eggs in it! 

My desire to join in the interview presentations and questions flew out of the window, just as the pigeon!  I then searched and found a small lid, big enough for the pigeon to sit in, and then tried to re-arrange the twigs; placed the eggs in it and put the whole thing on the window sill outside.  But then had doubts if the eggs would roll down and crash on the pavement below.  Moreover the sun was beating hard and directly on the eggs - not a good thing!  So then, searched for a cardboard box, placed the whole thing inside the box.  But then it occurred to me that someone might accidentally grab the box in - and thereby disturb the 'ongoing construction of the nest' and break the eggs.  So put a small note on it.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Hunger

If there is one thing we religious - among the many! - have really no experience of, then that is hunger!  The occasional times we are late for meals or carry out fasts during retreats or days of Lent, hardly qualify to be termed hunger.  Real hunger is the physical feeling coupled with the awareness that I do not have and will get no food to eat!  Among the many privileges our profession and ordination offers us is this guarantee of food, irrespective of whether we have worked for it or not.  
There's many a one who would be idle if hunger didn't pinch him; but the stomach sets us to work. [George Eliot, author Felix Holt (1866)]

Bishops and authenticity

In the first reading of the day Paul admonishes the Corinthians to be squabbling with one another and then approaching an 'outsider' to arbitrate justice, forgetting that within the believing community there are individuals who are capable of amicably resolving the issue with greater depth and insight.  But this lack of trust of the one (or some) within is also an indicator that either there isn't one at all or that people have divided up life into faith-related and other-related so neatly that one does not have a bearing on the other.

The first imagery that came to my mind as I read this passage was the scandal of sexual abuse and the Church, all over the world, especially involving Bishops who either were involved directly in the abuse or covered up cases for the sake of 'preserving' the image of the Church.  From that perspective, I found myself reading Paul admonishing the Bishops rather than the people.  I should say, my experience of the Bishops in my lifetime has not been a very happy one.  Only on rare occasions have I met or interacted with Bishops whom I've come across as genuinely human.  Most don't even deserve to be called Christians, leave alone be ordained!

However, Pope Francis' homily this morning about the same reading, sheds a slightly different light which perhaps I've not looked into.  Speaking almost on behalf of and to the Bishops he
invited them to remember three things in these troubled times: their strength lies in being men of prayer; they should have the humility to remember they were chosen by God; and they need to remain close to the people. 
The Bishops Pope Francis has in mind and is speaking about are those who truly feel the burden of being human, not the ones who've decided and live as though they are above everything. (More quotes from the sermon). 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

They followed him

The last line of the gospel this morning, left me wondering if the same call were to be given out today, how many would follow!  Leave alone, just drop everything, no goodbyes or settling affairs or  packing and what not... just follow.

The team fishing would have surely heard of Jesus.  They wouldn't have followed his instructions if he were not seen as someone whom they considered above normal.  Or else which fisherman would take instructions about fishing from a carpenter?  But this team did and when they realise for themselves, rather than the hearsay they relied on so far, that he was someone really special, they acknowledge him to be someone who is to be in better company than themselves.  Peter asks him to leave because they are not worthy to be in his presence.  Interestingly Jesus invites them to join him!  And when he invites, some of them follow him, right then and there! 

I wonder if we in our contemporary world have space for such a feeling of wonder, of being overwhelmed, of being called and promptly accepting.  We'd sit, reflect, consult, calculate, discuss, reason out, weigh the pros and cons, try to strike a bargain, ask a hundred and one questions... But Peter and company chose to follow him right away; all the above followed!  Of course, they did not at once leave their families and homes but they certainly did accept Jesus as master and were willing to do anything he asks of them, right after their first encounter with him.  

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

On being a teacher

In India we commemorate Teachers' day today.  In a way it is a beautiful tradition of acknowledging the role of teachers.  Guru devo bhava! Mostly it is children in school and may be some colleges where they felicitate the teachers.  But it is also a day when everyone remembers atleast some of their beloved teachers.  Some make it a point to visit or call them, even though the student-teacher term is long over!  Just goes on to show that one can never really measure the impact a teacher can make in the lives of the students - for good or for worse. 
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
[Henry Brooks Adams, historian in The Education of Henry Adams (1907)]
On such an occasion, am ending the day laughing away at a forward I received...
Teacher: John is climbing a tree to pick some mangoes (Rewrite the sentence and begin  with 'Mangoes')
Student: Mangoes, John is coming to pick you.
Truly it is not easy to be a teacher! 

Misguided priorities

There is a bill drafted for proposal in the Indian parliament about providing river Ganga 'protection' with an armed force which has powers to arrest those polluting the river!  I really could not believe what I was reading.  My first impulse was to laugh.  The second thought was, why not?  It's a good move, if aimed at preserving the ecology of the river and its surroundings.  However it then struck me, why only Ganga?  Why not all rivers and forests? 

So we now have civil and legal protection for rivers, cows, temples (also places where temples were once believed to be!) ... Wonder when will people, especially women, poor, disadvantaged, activists, journalists, get protection? 

Then there is the tallest statue in the world under construction in Gujarat, that of Sardar Patel.  The cost of which is 30 bn rupees.  Wonder what would that statue stand for?  Sardar Vallabhai Patel was a freedom fighter who has to his credit the feat of uniting India, as the first deputy prime minister, after we won freedom from the British.  This 'statue of unity' will certainly be a tourist spot but to reach it the tourists will have to pass through the poverty and misery of the living people!  This obsession with  investing in buildings and structures seems to be a common disease found among all those in authority, be it in politics or religious life.  

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Benefits of being Jesus

Listening to Paul's letters these days in the readings, to the various early Christian communities I wonder it must have been a very exciting adventure for Paul to write all this stuff.  He certainly was writing those things for a people who were new to the teachings of Christ and most of whom did not know or even hear of Jesus.  Most of his text was for all people, the common folk; certainly not the theologians and highly learned. 

All of this makes me wonder, if the task of Jesus was easier or that of Paul, just the teaching bit?  Jesus taught off hand, used parables, spoke of things which everyone understood - of course, he also dropped in a few lines once in a way which none understood, then and even now!  Comparatively Paul's text is so heavy!  In one sense it appears Jesus was more direct and simple in his teaching.  The rest who followed Jesus and wrote extensively about him, made matters so complex and dense!   

Moving a step further, I envy Jesus - he did not have to break his head with mere thoughts! He had matters of daily living to grapple with.  He was more about living than thinking!  

Monday, 3 September 2018

Witness

The ongoing meeting of the formators (postnovitiate stage) of East and South Asia in Thailand, seems an interesting one.  Am reminded of the formation meetings I attended years ago.  Some of them were very challenging.  Not just the content but it was more about looking into ourselves.  The shift from focusing on what we should be telling and doing with our students to who we ourselves should be, made a big impact on me.

For quite sometime it was all about information: what we should do, how we should form the students, rules, policies, documents... and all that.  But at some point it struck me that if I am not that ideal person or atleast not making the effort to become the ideal one I'm trying to form, then how can I expect my student to be so?  Then on the meetings were more of forming myself rather than 'becoming a formator'.   Be and thereby form.  Or better, 'witnessing as formation'.  Was reminded of the same this morning when I read a statement made on behalf of a formee, from the ongoing meeting in Thailand.
Today we will say, what you are telling us. But tomorrow we will do, what you are doing now!

Needs and wants

Knowing the need and thereby shaping our wants is the ideal way forward.  Our liturgies and devotional practices are basically meant to help us come close to God.  But at times they become so repetitive that they lose their meaning.  On the other hand, they become repetitive because people find them meaningful.  However if our focus is on the need, then the want to have something 'usual' is fine.  However if our focus is merely on maintaining the 'usual' rather than the need, then we tend to miss the point. 

When we eat food, we consume it to sustain our physical well being and carry out our daily tasks.  Energy is our need.  Steak is our want.  Indeed steak gives energy, but if we are so stuck on steak we tend to forget that there are other foods too which give us energy.  And from common experience we know even if one desires steak much, one does not have it for meal everyday!  Knowing our real deep inner needs and fulfilling them is more important than merely going by our wants. 

Creativity in liturgy and what some call 'healthy distraction' during Mass does not make us less Catholic, as long as it helps all of us grow deeper in our love and communion with God.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Prejudice

An interesting forward I received today.  Certainly an exaggeration but does contain more than a bit of truth.  
A world survey was conducted. The only question asked was: "Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"
The survey was a huge failure.  In Africa, they didn't know what 'food' meant.  In India they didn't know what 'honest' meant.  In Europe they didn't know what 'shortage' meant.  In China, they didn't know what 'opinion' meant.  In the Middle East they didn't know what 'solution' meant.  In South America they didn't know what 'please' meant.  And in the USA they didn't know what 'rest of the world' meant.  

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Self talk

When I heard the gospel this morning, it sounded as if it was meant for me - a bit scary!  The gospel about the talents, the servants and the king.  The one who received five made five more; the one with two made two more.  The one with only one hid it and faced the wrath of the master. 

When I had a hundred and one things to do, I did them all well - at least, I think so.  Even when I had less of pressure, I still found things to do - and did them all pretty well.  Now that I have only one thing to do, I'm wondering what I'm doing.

Is it the fear of what the outcome is going to be?  Is it that I may not reach up to the expectations of others?  But who 'others'?  All those who know me, love and care about me, anyhow.  They are not looking for results to love me better.  And there is no competition as such either, that I need to strive for!  Lethargy, may be.  But why? 

God loves everyone

The writing of Paul to the Corinthians about God choosing the weak, instead of the strong, the foolish instead of the wise can be interpreted as a 'privilege' by the clergy, the religious.  Unfortunately!
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.
I've heard many a priests and religious use this quote to praise God for having gifted them with a religious or priestly vocation, in spite of not being the most brightest or best in his or her age group or village or class.  However, the passage can be used for better purposes.  The one that I like is where it can be used to prove that God stands by the weak, the marginalised, those ostracised and abandoned.  He is there with them.  However I would prefer the other version that occurred to me this morning.  That God in choosing the weak and the foolish, is expressing his love for all!  In choosing those less humanly gifted he is balancing the equation among the human beings so that we may complement one another for the good of all.  Rather than see God as loving some more (either the chosen or the 'abandoned') than the others, God when seen from this perspective loves all - equally!  Those not chosen are not bad people! Neither are those chosen good people!  It is just that God wishes the best for each one and therefore offers a level platform where each one can contribute his or her might and thereby complement one another for the good of all. 
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