Saturday, May 23

Yes and No

The resent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Africa had the most predictable outcome. He directly had to address his beliefs on the population planning and control methods promoted by the NGOs and the United Nations in Africa. The NGOs working with AIDS victims in Africa disagreed with the Pope on the efficacy of condoms in the control of AIDS. I was looking ahead as to how this would roll out.

The Catholic Church’s views on life and its sustenance run contrary to the secular and liberal views on the same. Fr. Joseph Ratzinger’s elevation to Papacy has only made these discussions rigorous in the recent public domain. The Evangelical Christian and the Catholics together agree on a wide range of subjects on life and its sustenance. However, I have not heard nor read anything from the ‘silent middle’: the conventional Christians who occupy the middle portion of the faith spectrum scale. Most us feel that these are personal issues and need not be brought to public domain. Others feel that individual discretion is most appropriate in these matters.

The Evangelicals and the Catholics seem to tell a very simple point: the deep degradation of moral values and its effect on the social life of the masses cannot be negotiated with modern inventions and gadgets. Getting into the root of the problem is the only true solution. Effective control of AIDS through condoms looks very attractive. It is a simple, quick and a cost effective idea to the health fraternity. True, it is. Nevertheless, going a step further backward, by developing the right contact, by conducting a moral living, we achieve the best control.

The question is whether the risk-exposed communities around the world can hearken to the voice of faith or to philander with gadgets that will shield them in their immoral living.

Pope Benedict XVI will continue to champion the cause of faith and the French President’s wife will discontinue believing in the voice of the Pope. But the reality is, we continue to bump into an unchanging God everywhere... from the bed room to the board rooms of our living.

Jesus said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Mathew 5:37).


Wednesday, May 20

A Trekker's Prayer

‘Lord, give me a quiet mind,
That I might listen;
A gentle tone of voice,
That I might comfort others;
A sound and healthy body,
That I might share
In the joy of walking
And leaping and running;
And a good sense of direction,
So I might know just where I’m going!’

...... from Ruskin Bond's 'Rain In The Mountain, Notes from the Himalayas'


Tuesday, May 19

Unsound Art

"For an artist to marry his model is as fatal as for a gourmet to marry his cook, the one gets no sittings, and the other gets no dinners"
..... Quoted from 'London Models' ( Oscar Wilde)

Friday, May 15

M.A. in Politics

The beauty of today’s politics is that people can laugh at it. It has always been so since sometime. As India counts the votes, most people will laugh and some cry.

Politics is a dirty word, yet essential. I wonder why universities award a degree in politics! I must find out what is the syllabus academies follow. I guess one aspect surely is inclusive in their syllabus: Horse-trading. Even without any university education, some of our politicians excel in horse-trading. Imagine if they were to have adorned a degree in politics!

As Christians, what can we make of politics? Politics and faith, politics in faith, politics and Church, politics in Church, politics and social governance are all hotly debated subjects among Christians. From the forests of Nicaragua to the streets of Poland, Christians and the Church of Christ have been active in politics. But, the social and the moral values that today’s politicians harp are the very same that the Word of God spoke a thousand years ago. So, what is the big thing in politics?

Looking at the story of Jesus, we know that he lived in a politically charged society. Palestine was a nation under siege. Theocracy and autocracy respected one another; they balanced each another. Then, in the fullness of time, Messiah emerged in the middle of it all. In St. Luke’s Gospel, the Luken Christ spells out his involvement in society. In fourth chapter, 20th verse Jesus concludes the lesson by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. Here, Jesus makes a complete claim of the situation. Nevertheless, the same Christ tells us, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

The life of Jesus never tells us to alienate from politics. In fact, Church of Christ is one of the most politicized institutions in the world. Hence, even a person who isn’t interested in politics is drawn into it. However, Christ tells us to give God ‘what belongs to God’. This is the balancing trick in the act. Talk shows, debates and all other products of mass media that orchestrates the political voices in today’s society, should make us a truly a balanced personality. The voice of our conscience should reflect ‘the children of the light’.

As modern politicians backstab and horse trade, I search for a candle and a matchbox. I want to reread my M.A in Politics.

Wednesday, May 13

Let us live!

The essential element of playing football is not to read or see football but to play it. I spend my whole life listening to sermons that I do not have time to live it! Churches goers are often caught up in this sort of problems. How is it that an average Church going Christian is so confused with doctrines and theology! In that whole process, he just cannot see the sum and substance of Christ’s Gospel... he cannot live the Gospel. Instead, he gets into spirals of arguments with other fellow Christians. This is a common problem.

The contemporary churches are flooded with new doctrines. The other day I was told of a group of believers who wanted to name their newfound fellowship. However, the different members could not agree upon a name. Ultimately, the fellowship split into two parties. Stories such as these are common. Hence, this brings in a great reality: where two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, there breeds disunity.

One of the most important arguments that I have heard among Christians is that of baptism: when to baptise, how to baptise, where to baptise... and it goes on. I scripturally believe that an argument on baptism is shallow. Just look into what the author of Hebrews tells us in 6th Chapter, verses 1 and 2: ‘Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.’

It is important that we take quality time to live the Gospel. On a dinner table, how bad it will be to discuss all about the recipe of every dish that is served. We’ll never do that on the dinner table. Instead we enjoy the dinner. Similarly, having achieved spiritual maturity, we got to ‘leave the elementary’ and start to live the Gospel.

Let us live it!


Wednesday, May 6

"Me, You and Jesus"

How can we look at Marriage in a renewed manner daily? This complex problem is similar to all the new elements that come into our lives. As years go across, the Intensity, the passion, the beauty and the drive all ebb away. This is a universal reality.

Loving each other becomes difficult when we begin to seek extraordinary in the ordinary.

Having worked in real estate development, I have understood the fancy of beachfront products. The commoners around a beach front see the ordinary beach everyday of their life. But a little away lies a crowd that appreciates beach in all its newness, in all its beauty and joy. The beachfront commoners should not expect the extraordinary from the beach every day of their beachfront stay.

Marriage is a relationship, it is a commitment and I think it is looking at pleasure with a long-term view of enjoying it: its beauty, its companionship, its sharing, its physical pleasures, its strength and its weakness. Hence, it is also venerable…venerable to each other. Marriage invites us to a deep offering: it offer a real world of safety and home in a very fast moving world.

In a married life, the parties give to one another their body… in all sense, their very own body for each other's pleasure. Two persons consummate in love becomes one. It isn't a sacrifice, it isn't pain, it is pleasure in fullness. Intercourse is the finality of physical union. But, Philip Yancey mentions in his book, ‘Rumours of Another World’, an interesting point we overlook. The same bodies that entertained each other become dull, unattractive, noisy, troublesome, smelly and useless. At that stage, the synergy of the heart and the mind has to overtake the physical. And the married journey continues.

In the Holy Eucharist, Christ performs an equivalent act : giving away His body and blood to be eaten and drunk by his intimate partners. That is the climax of the spiritual intercourse. The challenge for us is to accept Christ in Holy Communion in that manner. How can I keep myself away from Holy Communion (the Lord's Table) when I am madly in Love?

What more can I look towards in these intense acts? If sexual intercourse brings about certain commitments and certain discipline between the partners, then Holy Communion too brings about a similar discipline in our spirituality. The Holy Eucharist spreads its radiance on the whole life!

The Holy Eucharist becomes the living sign of 'God with Us'. One manner in which we can renew our earthily marriage is through systematic spiritual exposure to the Eucharist.

It is 'me, you and Jesus'.


To Take Home Something

Being given a time to preach in the Church is often a time of thoughtful hours and days.

I can never pick a sermon at a shot. Speaking of Church, Bible or on Christian living , I become a hypocrite when I speak matters larger than me… larger than what I can live…larger than my own beliefs. Those words may sound good to the Sunday Laity… but they will remain ineffective.

How can I call people to life which I myself cannot live? So, I preach to myself all my sermons before I do it on a podium. I hear it by the sea sides, beaches and by the lonely places. I ask myself if it is all true…. If all that is true…true in my own life. As Oscar Wild puts it in his book 'The Remarkable Rocket', "I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my greatest pleasures."

I sympathize with people who has to 'deliver' a sermon every other day. What a right word is 'to deliver' ! A person who delivers isn't really interested in the content of the packet!! He just need to ensure that the packet reaches safely. But is preaching after all a 'delivery' business? Is today's ineffective Church pulpits standing testimony to this 'delivery' business?

It will be the greatest cross for me to do preaching on a regular basis. Hence, I am not called for that. The joy of speaking and listening is a compounded joy. The speaker or the preacher has to listen to his own speech or sermon. He got to see the qualities of his message in his own life. When happens then? The words begin to take life in the listeners. Then, what the writer of Hebrews says in 4:12 comes true …."For the word of God is living and active."

One of the very simple question that I ask myself after every sermon that I hear is , "What has this Sermon got for me?" or "Can I take home something from it?". Else, I just forget it.

To listen to the sermon is to go beyond hearing it. It is to take home something.