Tuesday, November 24, 2009

War of the sexes in the trans-Brahmaputra and the Lalooland connection

It angers me to see our girls dropped off early in the morning half dead by some Yakubu or some !dille (ask a Russell Peters' disciple to pronounce that for you). Again it angers me to not have sufficient fiscal resources or the audacity of a Punjabi guy to take our girls out in the evenings. We the menfolk of the trans-Brahmaputra are to be blamed for loving our bottles better than our ladies. The sober ones chicken out and fail to be a man. But I've come to realize that it may not be all that bad to let our sisters out. For instance, I feel safer to travel by the Brahmaputra mail when crossing Lalooland because one of ours is married to that land. I don't know her personally but we have mutual friends in facebook. I already feel closer to Lalooji. Imagine what wonders it can do to have such connections in every state of India and beyond. If I should meet an unfortunate day and is about to be thrashed by the Biharis, I'll yell out the connections.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And the Word became water-proof

The Bible is the best selling book of all times. About 25 million Bibles were sold in the US in 2005. There are over 500 English translations and the Bible comes in varying forms. We have the Students Bible, The Grace for the Moment Study Bible, Women Bible, Brides Devotional Bible, Couples Bible, Cowboys Devotional Bible, Soul Surfer Bible, the colorful Rainbow Study Bible, Good News for Modern Man, Super-Heroes Bible, Outdoors Bible, Woman Thou Art Loosed Bible, etc, etc. They come in hard covers, leather bound, bonded-leather, imitation-leather, red letter edition, ribbons, special boxes, special message from Max Lucado and so on. It may not be long before we have customized Bibles, say one with personal autograph from Rick Warren? Nelson inc. got help from the fashion industry color reports to decide on the Bible cover color. The BibleZine drew inspiration from teen girls’ magazines. The sidebars of the Bible sharing beauty secrets as:
“Have you ever had a white stain appear underneath the arms of your favorite dark blouse? Don’t freak out. You can quickly give deodorant spots the boot. Just grab a spare toothbrush, dampen with a little water and liquid soap, and gently scrub until the stain fades away. As you wash away the stain, praise God for cleansing us from all the wrong things we have done. (1 John 1:9)” (From the book “Rapture Ready: Adventures in the parallel universe of Christian pop culture” by Daniel Radosh) Along came the water-proof Bible, published by the same Nelson Publishing House, Texas. They also have the 'Flap Bible' which has to be read with a magnifying glass. The water-proof Bible was launched in India by OM in Kerala and hit the news in Kohima today. Interestingly the Bible is printed in China. The size and shape are described. It costs Rs. 290 only (not 299, for we are Christians) and the OM expects to sell 5000 copies in India. This makes me wonder how many Bibles have become ‘un-readable’ after wetting it that warranted one to come up with a water-proof Bible. Unless of course, the other name for the water-proof Bible is ‘The Swimmers Bible’ or ‘Bathroom Bible’ (they're calling it 'Immerse Bible'). It would take spirituality to a new high in allowing one to have Bible study while in the showers. The statistics are not however encouraging. Majority of the people who have Bibles do not read them. Those who read the Bible ‘correctly’ will be less and those who put what they read into practice even lesser. Now, will this Bible really sell in Nagaland? Yes, on one condition: if the Bible’s appearance goes well with the Sunday morning dress.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you Apo Thenu

As a doctor, I prescribe medicines. But I’ve never cared enough how much the prescription is going to cost my patient. Also I’ve not understood how it feels to be a terminal patient or family of one. I still remember; ‘cure may not be possible but we will try for palliative (supportive) therapy’, my professor said about my brother. After that, there was a season of desperation, sleeplessness, exhaustion and hopelessness. In that situation, God had not forgotten us; your help was a godsend which man cannot repay. Thank you. Now I know to some extent how you must have felt when your beloved passed away. My brother has completed treatment and he’s up and active; continuing in his academic career and restarting a new life. And I think I’ve become a more sensitive doctor. Thanks again and God bless you and your family. RIMS, Imphal, 2006

Joy

What joy is this? 
Can Heaven have more?  

(This is the most painful piece I've ever written...because it talks of highest joy...written in a time of deepest pain)

Shadows

O my Sunshine
Shadows are lengthening
As you fade from the horizon

Reality bites

Reality bites me to silence 
Each time I try to call out your name

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Being put in a box

We were pulling each other’s legs, a friend and I the other day. I made fun of her bad habit of taking unwanted substances which does not go well with her interest in attending Bible studies. She was quick to point out that I’m a typical Naga Baptist. I knew then what she meant and I felt that I’ve been put into a box which does not truly define me. I’m a Naga Baptist but I’m also not a Naga Baptist in ways more than being so. Some people may think I’m a Conservative while some may think I’m Liberal. But chances are; I’m more liberal than the Liberals at some and more conservative than Conservatives at certain other things. Not only in Religion, some people may take me as a leftist because of some things that I said while I do not consider myself to have such a political stand though I endorse many of what the Lefts say. It is not possible to say everything we are all the time, so it is inevitable that we will be mistaken and be put into boxes that we do not like. If I say I believe the theory of biological evolution is true, that may be enough to label me as a non-believer. Or if I argue that heaven is not some place up there beyond the clouds, some may find that statement sacrilegious. On the other hand, if I do not endorse homosexual behavior, some will think I’m a Conservative. I sometimes try to distance myself from my tribe’s fellowship because I do not believe a church (especially in a multicultural multiethnic city like Delhi) should be set up along tribal/ethnic lines. However, I get myself involved in it because even if I’m not there, the fellowship will go on and I think I better stay in it and bring any change if possible. There is this dilemma of not endorsing the structure, but still working within it. Some people point out the weaknesses of the UESI of which I am a member. I’m aware of the many weaknesses we have. The fellowship we have some say is very un-UESI and we are happy to be seen that way. But we are also loyal to the UESI and identify ourselves as one of its groups. Having said all these, I seem to be a kind of person who is all over the place, not totally this nor that, more of a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Am I an unstable, confused man wandering in a dark? No I don’t see myself that way. Am I a smart guy who has good tastes, some wise man who has it all figured out? No, I don’t claim to be that either. In one of NT Wright’s lectures, he said (seriously but humorously) that a quarter of what he is saying is not true, but he doesn’t know which quarter it is. In other words, he was acknowledging that he doesn’t know it all though we respect him to be one of the best theologians of our times. What a comfort!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

10 books I want to read

10 books i like to read after my course:
1.Conversion of the imagination(Richard Hays)
2.Resident Aliens (Stanley Hauerwas)
3.Surprised by Hope (NT Wright)
4.The Call (Os Guinness)
5.Rich Christians in an age of hunger (Ronald J Sider)
6.The Mission of God: unlocking the Bible's grand narrative (Chris Wright)
7.Subverting global myths (Vinoth Ramachandra)
8.Mistaken Modernity (Dipankar Gupta)
9.Exclusion and embrace (Miroslav Wolf) and
10.Matters of life and death (John Wyatt).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Testimony shared at NCF Delhi camp, 2009

I’m more comfortable in writing; so, even as I am going to speak, I have written it down. Like any other young Naga’s fantasy, I dreamt of becoming a music star but I ended up becoming a medical Doctor. I went to Patkai Christian College, Dimapur and not Science College, Kohima for the sake of music in Patkai. I got into medical college but I wasn’t interested in it at first because somewhere along the way while preparing for medical entrance, I wanted to become a writer. In Patkai and medical college in Imphal, I was involved with the Evangelical Union. After completion of internship, I came to Delhi to work and prepare for PG entrance exam. I worked in Hindu Rao Hospital for one year in Orthopedics. That was the season when I actively engaged with the Evangelical Graduates Fellowship, North Delhi. Within six months, I learned more about God and the Bible than my seven and a half years in Patkai and medical college EU even though I attended a lot of Bible camps and served in the executive committees. It was a kind of re-conversion. Last year, I joined Jawaharlal Nehru University to specialize in Public Health. Now, I consider myself as a student of Public Health, Bible and Music- Music, not in performing or producing but in listening. Sharpening your hearing/developing your music appreciation can be very exciting. I also have not given up on writing as I blog about my other interests. I write about issues like abortion in Nagaland, The rising cost of health care, poems, songs, life experiences, prayers, short stories, book reviews, Bible and theology. Col. 1:17b says that in Christ, all things hold together; that Christ is the integrating centre of all things. The difference in my life is that I don’t see my areas of interest/different aspects of my life as separate entities, but a collective whole in Christ. In Christ, my personal life merges with my public life and the demarcating lines slowly disappeared. I could see Christ in my life from Mondays to Saturdays and not just on Sundays. Being a Christian student doesn’t only mean not cheating in the exams or not beat other people up; but being able to engage in the subject matter (economics, physics, sociology etc.) and discern what the God of the Bible has to say on it. I don’t see my profession as anything less divine than a degree from a theological seminary. It is about living in the society with its joys and sorrows and not living in a spiritual bubble. It is about being agents of change and participating in God’s mission of bringing his Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. The second implication of Christ as the integrating centre is that it provides us a story to live in. The problem is when we pluck out select verses and run our lives on them, good however that may be. The whole Bible from Genesis to Revelations is the story within which we live, nothing less: That God created the world which was indeed ‘good…very good’ (Genesis 1). Among all creation, God called humankind to bear his image. The image of God signifies two things. First, it signifies our status in creation. We are the only creatures called to have a personal relationship with him, but also with the free will to reject him. Secondly, image of God also talks about our role in creation to be caretakers/stewards; to reflect God’s qualities in relation with our fellow human beings and the rest of creation. Man rebelled and sin entered and corrupted God’s good creation. The fall of man has three consequences: Adam and Eve blamed each other (broken relationship between man and man), the ground was cursed (broken relationship between man and rest of creation), and God banished them from his presence (broken relationship between man and God). But God planned our redemption. Through Israel and ultimately and definitely through Jesus Christ, God is in the process of redeeming all the three consequences of The Fall- reconciling all the three broken relationships. Therefore seen in this light, the Good News does not start with bad news of sin, but God’s good creation, and Salvation is more than the saving of the person but the entire creation (Romans). The fullness of the Redemption which is The Perfection, we do not yet see. We look forward to it with hope. This hope is not some pie in the sky which some seem to be content with, or playing harps in the clouds for eternity. The hope we have is that all tears will be wiped away; that all things that we did for the least of our fellow human being is remembered; that perfect justice is rewarded to those who cry now with no one to listen; when the lion will turn vegetarian and weapons of war will be beaten to agricultural tools; that Jesus will pat our back and say, “well done my faithful one”. And we will be reunited with all those who have gone ahead of us and death will die. The Perfection will be when the Kings come marching in with treasures from all nations as Isaiah envisioned. Those in Philosophy will bring in their deep insights; those in the Arts will bring in works of beauty that are too wonderful for words. Those who work with their hands will bring in the fruits of their harvest, etc, etc. And our joy will be complete. (The subjects that we study, the works that we do which consume the best of us are not things to keep us busy in the meantime while we wait for the ‘real thing’ somewhere after death. All these are part of God’s good creation and he’s redeeming All things unto himself). So, Christ is the integrating centre who has taken up his good world he created, corrupted with evil and has redeemed it the perfection of which we do not yet see. This is the story we live in; life in the in-betweens, between Kingdom come (inaugurated) and Kingdom Coming. John Stott calls this meta-narrative, “Foundations for Christian thinking”, the Christian Mind or Christian world view with which we are to think of anything and everything. When I understood this, it brought a deeper sense of my life’s purpose; my definition of success had to be re-defined; and so on. It unleashed a new breath of life to me. God willing, I plan to go back to Nagaland and work in areas where the need is huge. Nagaland is not only Kohima and Dimapur; there’s so much need. We must continuously pray for his strength in our weaknesses. My challenge to you is, “what does it mean to love God and love your neighbor?”
* MP3 lecture "Foundation for Christian thinking" by John Stott
* "The message of Mission" by Vinoth Ramachandra and Howard Peskett, ISPCK.
* "When the kings come marching in" by Richard J Mouw, Eerdmans
* Unofficial blog of NT Wright http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
* "Theology for the Community of God" by Stanley Grenz

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The meaning of Imago Dei

A disclaimer: In a time when a crackdown on plagiarism is thrust forward and copyright violations are increasingly seen as serious offences, it becomes difficult for a guy like to me to say anything at all. What I learn is mostly from others and original thoughts are minuscule. So here I stand and give credit to the One who is the giver of all knowledge to mankind, and a big thanks to all those people who passed it on to me. Hehehe...Now don't accuse me of plagiary or copyrights violation. What does it mean that humankind (ah, very gender sensitive word) is created in the image of God? I have come across answers from different preachers and books but this one by Stanley Grenz in ‘Theology for the Community of God’ is my favorite. There are three positions concerning this matter that he cites: 1. The Structural View. This view says that we bear the image of God, all human beings: it is something that we “possess”. It is inherent in us being human beings and it characterized by our ability to have rational, moral minds. So even if we sin, we still have the image. But what after the fall of man? This view resolves this by bringing forth the concept of “likeness of God” as a distinct from “image of God”; of which the former can be lost because of the fall but never the latter. In redemption, the “likeness of God” is restored. 2. The Relational View. This view says that differentiating ‘likeness’ from ‘image’ is not right. According to this view, we bear the image of God, but after the fall, the image got marred. We are a broken masterpiece which still retains something of the original. They see bearing image of God as our standing before God than primarily as a formal structure of the essential human nature. ‘The divine image is essentially a special relation with the Creator which Adam lost, but Christ restores’. 3. The Dynamic View. The image of God which got distorted in The Fall is being restored (in the process of) through Christ, but the final restoration is in the future. Only at the end of times, we will fully bear the image of God. There are only a few references in both the testaments to the concept of the image of God (Genesis, James, Pauline writings). What I find the most interesting about this concept is the two ideas given below. i. To bear the image of God means that human beings bear a special status over the rest of the creation. Over the creation, we are given the choice to either honor God’s intention for us or disobey him. Therefore we have a special accountability to God. ii. To bear His image also means we are given a special role in the creation. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). Bible scholars have looked into the neighbors of ancient Israel to understand the concept border. The king erects his statue throughout his kingdom. Even in places where he has not been, his statue represents him and reminds the people there who they serve. Similarly human beings are called to represent God on earth. Vinoth Ramachandra points out from this that when we make anything out of the created things and worship them, we dehumanize ourselves. Also how we treat our fellow human beings reflect our attitude to our Creator. In the Near Eastern Traditions, the King represents God on earth and the other human beings are created simply to serve the gods and relieve them of manual labor. But the Bible says all human beings are God’s representatives. In the New Testament, Paul puts the idea explicitly upon Christ. In Christ, we have what God is really like! Into his image we are being transformed (2 Cor. 4:4; Col 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:16; 2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29; Eph 4:24; Col. 3:9-10; 1 Jn. 3:2; 1 Cor. 15: 49-53).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lost Without You...But who's 'You'?

'Lost without you' by Jaci Velasquez was one of my favorite songs....until recently when I came across 'Lost without you' By Delta Goodrem. They are the same: same music, same lyrics...well almost same lyrics. We come across one song sung by different artists at different times. For example, Ronan Keating sings a lot of songs which are not his original. I don't have a problem with that. 'You raise me up' is a very versatile song sung by numerous artists in different contexts. It can be a song between lovers, song about human solidarity, or a gospel song about Jesus raising us up. That's still fine. But what we find here in 'Lost without you' and 'Lost without you' by Goodrem and Valesquez is different and quite unsettling. Who copied who? The fact of the matter is "Lost Without You" is a pop ballad written by Bridget Benenate and Matthew Gerrard, produced by Gerrard for Delta Goodrem's first album Innocent Eyes (2003)(wikipedia).Wikipedia also says, "Contemporary Christian artist Jaci Velasquez has also recorded a cover version (Album: Unspoken, 2003). In this version the lyrics of the song have been revised to tell of a dependence upon God, as opposed to a lover, as in the original". When you look at the lyrics, what's the change? Let me start with more startling ones. On my bed so cold at night I miss you more each day (Goodrem). becomes Oh, my world's so cold at night When I wander far away (Velasquez). but baby since you've gone I admit I was wrong becomes But You loved me all along And I admit that I was wrong if we ever say we'd never be together in the end you wave goodbye becomes If I ever thought we'd never be together 'Cause of all my foolish pride baby I'm so lonely all the time becomes When I fall, You'll catch me every time If I could only hold you now becomes I know that You can hear me now Plagiarism isn't the issue here because it's a cover version Jaci is doing here. Also it's not about a song which is evil dressed up to appear holy. Physical intimacy within marital relationships is a thing anyone can write a song about. What's with this song then? Remove the physical affections and it becomes a holy song about longing for God. Now, can you dig it? Here's another artist. Carrie Underwood can be singing 'Jesus take the wheel...i can't do this on my own, i'm letting go, so give me one more chance' then switch to 'Last night i did things I'm not proud of...my mama would be so ashamed...oh no what have I done..and I don't even know his Last Name' without any cringing. South Park - Christian Rock

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Innocence

Innocence

The Art of Reading and Interpreting Scripture Faithfully

One of the many books that I want to have is ‘The Art of Reading Scripture’ by Richard B. Hays and Ellen F. Davis. The book is too costly and it is not published in India. But I’m glad to have an MP3 lecture by Hays on the book and here’s a summary (or dictation:-)) of the main points in the MP3 with a few personal inputs. To read and interpret the Bible faithfully is important because: i. It is not possible to read Scripture without interpreting it. Consciously or unconsciously, we are always interpreting the Bible as we read. It is important that we learn to do it and do it well because our interpretation tends to be influenced by our social and cultural baggage, educational background, denomination we belong to, etc. ii. The nature of the Scripture itself: that it is both human and divine. The error is more towards treating the Bible as a book fallen from the sky, unpolluted by human hands, thoughts or language. He made a list of inadequate approaches in reading/interpreting Scripture. All of these have some grain of truth but it becomes inappropriate when a point/some points are taken in isolation.  

1.Reading the Bible as an advice column. The Bible of course has lots of sound advices to live our lives. Hays talked of his experience of being directed to ‘self-help’ section in a book store when he asked for the ‘religion section’.  

2.Reading Scripture as a roadmap to heaven or how to be saved. Life is a journey to heaven (like the Pilgrim’s Progress), and the Bible is a guide map to get you there. Or the Bible provides the way to escape (saved from) this evil world which is like a sinking ship going down or a garbage heap waiting to be burnt.

3.Reading the Bible as a script full of predictions of the end time events. Left Behind series comes to mind: that one day, Israelites will return to their homeland, Antichrist (a political leader named Nicolae in LB)defeated, temple worship restarted and Yahweh will rule from Zion.

4.Reading the Bible as a purely historical source of facts. This approach is helpful as counter-balance to the first three points. However, this approach leaves no room for faith based approach which is so vital for any believer of the Bible. A believer is not an outsider, but a participant in the Bible story. The supernatural/divine elements if rationalised and naturalised for the modern mind will miss what the Bible has to say. This approach is prevalent in universities (e.g., one engaged in archeology who is always in Assyria or somewhere in the holy land).

5. Reading the Bible as having a massive cover up or a great conspiracy to conceal the truth about early Christianity and the truth about Jesus. The Dan Brown books come to mind: that the Vatican is trying to cover up some affairs Jesus had and his family line which continues to this day.

6. Reading the Bible in the popular post-modern way of thinking: that everything is relative and all meaning is constructed by the reader and the texts do not have any determinant meanings in their own rights. Suspicion of authority and objective interpretation is oppresive.

7. Reading the Bible as a book fallen straight from heaven, dictated by God word for word. This was the approach of the 16th century fundamentalists to counter liberal exegeses. The idea is that each and every verse is free from historical/theological error and can stand on its own like an individual proverb. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language by human authors with limited capabilities and resources. It fails to pay attention to the process extending over long periods bearing marks of diverse historical situations. It confuses religious teachings which uses a lot of symbolic metaphors with hard scientific data. It ignores and denies the problems presented by the biblical texts in its original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek forms. It invites people to commit a kind of intellectual suicide.  

Ways of interpreting the Bible effectively

The Bible tells a story within which we live. The God of Israel, the Creator of the Universe (since man has rebelled and disobeyed God and disordered the created order) has acted to save the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The full extend of that rescue is something we haven't seen yet. While we wait, the Church (the community Christ has established to be his witness) is called to re-enact the pattern of the loving obedience of Jesus Christ; to be a sign to the world of God's redeeming purposes.

1. It is about God. The Bible is not primarily about me: 'What is it going to do for me?' 'What is relevant in this passage for me?' It is about God and his universe.

2. It is a coherent dramatic narrative. The Bible moves from the creation of the universe to the fall, selection of Israel, Exile, Restoration, Jesus Christ- his Life, Teachings, Death and Resurrection, Community of believers, Redemption of the world in the New Creation.....

3. The Old Testament and the New Testament must be read together. It must be read from back to front and front to back. See exercise below.  

4. A text must be interpreted both in relation to its immediate historical world and finally to the shape of the cannon Hos. 11:1 and Mt. 2:15 Isa. 7:14 and Mt. 1 :23 Gen. 13:16 and Gal. 3:16  

5. Texts in Scripture have multiple senses. This is hard because we want it to be like solving a simple equation. But the texts have layers and layers of meanings which also requires imaginative perception. The Jews knew it, pre-enlightenment christians knew it, and we need to recover it. For example, the good Samaritan story teaches that my neighbor is anyone who is in need. It also has profound things to say about racial/ethnic/class discrimination. The Samaritan is here proclaimed as a hero.

6. The four cannonical gospels of the NT narrate the truth about Jesus. All of them are essential to understand who Jesus is.  

7. The reader has to be a participant in the Church. Many may say, I'm a spiritual person. I can encounter God in a lot of ways and I don't need to go to church. No. The Church provides the community in which we read the Bible. Like a polyphonic music score against a monophonic tone inorder to trully appreciate music.  

8. The Bible has to be performed to be understood. The saints provide models to read Scripture faithfully. Saints are those who are recognised in the Christian traditions, or our role models in the faith-fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, or friends-who read and embody the Scripture well.  

9. Reading the Bible is often done fruithfully in the company of outsiders: particularly with the Jewish community who claim the same Scripture (OT). E.g. the new perspective on Paul.  

10. We can never attain a final closure being inside the story. Living in the in-between, we are called to humility realising that what we say isn't the last word.  

Exercise: Here's a very interesting exercise from Acts 15:1-21. This portion contains references to Amos 9:11,12, Isa.45:21 and Lev. 17,18 (plus christian tradition). Some Jews were upset by mission to the gentiles and they wanted the gentile converts to be circumcised. How did the Council of Jerusalem come to a conclusion that the gentile converts need to only abstain from eating blood, certain foods, avoid idolatry and fornication? Refer to the references. Quite bizzare that this passage of accepting gentiles as they are is used for homosexual rights. That's for another day though.  

Note: lay people need not be frightened ( as in a century ago) by advocates of higher criticisms by giving the impression that a great deal of prelimanry learning is essential before one can understand the Bible properly. Prayer (pleading for light), meditation (hard thought) and temptation resisted(to be passive, refuse to confess, and obey the truth one knows) will lead to the spiritual understanding that theology exists to safegaurd.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Some points to consider in the Evolutionary Creation vs. Young Earth Creationism (YEC) debate

  • Evolution and Theology operates at different levels: The first talks about our chronological origin while the later about our ontological origin. The two talks of different things and cannot be contested. Therefore creation vs. evolution is a non-debate. But yes, Evolution and YEC is the issue in contention.
  • To take the Bible as a science textbook believing in its inerrancy runs into problems within the text itself, e.g. genealogical precision (Genesis 11:12 cf. Luke 3:35).
  • Nature of science is such that a theory’s in place until refuted by another which better explains the phenomenon under study. No better theory has come up to refute evolution than the criticism of its loopholes.
  • The above point doesn’t mean the acceptance of evolution in spite of its weakness just for want of a better theory. The ever growing evidence and the landslide consensus among scientists testify to it being a theory and not a hypothesis.
  • The proportion of Bible scholars vouching for a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is a tiny figure.
  • Coherence: that Astronomy, Geology, Biology, Archeology, etc all agree to and require an old universe/earth negates the possibility of the earth being 6000-10000 years old.
  • Credentials of the proponents of evolution and YEC and publishing of materials in reputed journals need to be considered.
  • Is adopting a stand for a young earth out of scientific proofs or faithfulness to a style of scripture interpretation?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Guest Lecture: Meera Nanda's State-Temple-Corporate complex

Here's bits from a guest lecture by prof. Meera Nanda that I attended in our centre. She talked of the 'Sate-Temple-Corporate complex' that she drew from her new book 'The God Market'. I haven't read it yet, so how do I know? Well, she was reading out from the book.

Here's how the nexus works. Anybody (profit/non profit) can set up educational institutions and get approved by the UGC. Therefore there is this mad rush for universities to get the 'deemed' status. Once you get the recognition, you can hire and fire at will, give your own degrees, fix your own fee structure, and no reservation is necessary. Other than the UGC, the State can also say to a university, 'we recognise you'. Once the university gets recognised, the corporate sector jumps in knowing that now, it is profitable for investment. The religious institutions benefit from this nexus and the business has grown. The use of public money (as all deemed universities get from the government) by hindu religious institutions to train priests, astrologers, vedic sciences began to emerge in a big way with the NDA government. Until 2000, there were only 21 such institutions. It rose to 50 in 2005 and now in 2009, we have 127. This excludes those recognised by the state; only UGC recognised figure here. The government gave Rs. 4000 million to Ramdev, 90 acres of land to Shri Shri ravi Shankar to set up their centre, and so on. 'Pujari' has become a good middle class profession and the demand for qualified (scientific) religion men is more than the supply. Why so much demand when with time, importance of religion seems to be on the wane? Not so, the resurgence of spiritualism is evident in most parts of the developed as well as the developing world. She (Prof Nanda) said that Indians are becoming more religious while the opposite seems to be happening in the west. But I don't think that's correct because even in the west, the increase in interest particularly in old eastern religions has been reported by many. She pointed out that in India, it is the middle and the upper class who are more religious. We have to look at the class, caste, education and equality in the society when looking at religion. The elites ostentatiously express their religiosity. The conclusion was not very clear. Maybe I wasn't attentive. However, as her topic was on privatisation of higher education, there's this good connection of the problem of diverting huge public money to educate priests. I have an assignment coming up; a term paper on communalisation and population. After that, maybe I'll make more sense.

 “The God Market: How Globalization is making India more Hindu” Random House (in 2009) It is the thesis of this book that the growing liberalization and globalization of the Indian economy is not only compatible with, but is actually contributing to the growth of a virulent form of political Hinduism which is as wedded to the project of politicizing and universalizing a Hindu (or “Vedic”) worldview, as the Islamists and Christian fundamentalists are to maximizing the influence of their own respective faith traditions. Meera Nanda

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Love?

 



















 Love is a pain that you can enjoy 
It can totally drive you crazy 
It is a medicine that can make you sick 
It can eat you up inside It is stubborn and does not listen to logic 
Love sees only love and is blind to everything else 
It is a volcano, a tsunami, it is unstoppable 
It is like a thirsty desert that is never satisfied 
Love is everything, somtimes meaningless 
In the end, you don't care if it is love or something else you are talking about

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Delhi Autowallas and hospitality during the Common Wealth Games

I don't know how Delhi's going to teach good manners to her autowallas and citizens before the Common Wealth Games next year. The construction works are very late and are being hurried in preparation for the games and we've seen the consequences. But besides a news item in Times of India, nothing has been done to teach Delhites in hospitality. Delhites' volatile temperament ('short fuse') is well known and a petty roadside quarrel can cost peoples' lives. Lane driving is nil and every driver fights for each square feet in a jam. Bikes climb over footpaths and blue line buses race against each other, sometimes stretching their length across the road to prevent rivals from overtaking. Good manners are not necessarily learnt in college textbooks. We see people throwing banana peels, chips packet covers and paper cups out of SUVs. Some just stop their car and get out to pee damn wherever. Barricades are built and personnel commissioned just to make people line up in metro stations. It reminds me of primary school kids in the morning assembly or PT class. I don't know in my initial years, how many times I've been taken for a ride by the auto drivers. 'Taken for a ride' in the sense of being cheated. They must be looking forward to the firangis during the CWG. It will be a hell of a money spinning season. To be continued.............

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Social Networking Venn Diagram

I find this social networking venn diagram to be quite fascinating. ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Someone’s music, someone else’s noise

It is said that what one considers to be good music can be just noise to someone else. I cannot appreciate traditional folk songs even if they are of my own tribe. Typically a verse has 2 lines and the music is repeated throughout the song. There can be several verses but the tune is the same and each verse is repeated over and over before going to the next. So, even if the first verse sounds pleasing, one can get irritated due to over-repetition. There is no chorus, no variation, and usually the lyrics of the last verse go, “Our song is over, our song is over”. I also cannot understand why female playback singers of Bollywood have to shrill out songs. Homecoming music videos at times look like staged (faked) spirituality. However, I’m gradually learning to appreciate and respect music types which do not delight my musical taste buds.
One significance of traditional folk songs that I was told by my Aunty goes like this: It’s from a story. There was once a man who realized that he has not been good to his wife. But it’s not in our Naga nature to express apology or affection easily and openly. So, he composed a folk song which says, “One cannot change one’s ugly looks, but one can change one’s bad character”, He changed and since then, he remained loving and caring to his wife. Folk songs are a medium of communicating things which cannot be expressed in normal conversations. My critic of the music remains but I’m able to appreciate it better after hearing that story.
There may be a guy who thinks that everyone likes Kenny Rogers ( I know one such guy). If there's anyone who doesn't, he/she ought to love Rogers. When I was in Patkai, the vocational students used to have Christmas concerts. But even if they sing difficult songs and classical music of the highest quality, very few would show up to attend the shows. When a band shows up which sings popular gospel or secular songs, it’s always houseful. Now, someone may blame the musical shallowness and the ignorance of the crowd. But will that be a wise thing to do?
There seems to be frictions between traditional and western music, and popular vs. ‘serious’ music. The churches in Nagaland are trying hard to promote indigenous music. Western secular music is thought by many to be a tradition destroyer, of low moral and a rebellion breeder. Instead of imitating the west, therefore, we should bring out songs that are authentic to our culture and tradition. However, this does not go down well with the young ones who are totally hooked to western music and reinforced by the media attraction. Some people try to reconcile the two through fusion music.
In my personal opinion, it wouldn’t be good to make a big fuss about the argument between western and traditional. We will always look for what we love to listen and will produce what we would like to listen. Traditional music when created well will attract people to it. We don’t love all that is western anyway. Also we can produce very good music which belongs to the western genre without the guilt of imitation. A time may come when the west would borrow our tune.
Now between popular and ‘serious’ music; by ‘serious’ music, I refer to the music literates and I didn’t say popular vs. classical because the ‘serious’ musicians/music lovers are not confined to the classical music. If I have to generalize, the ‘serious’ music people look at popular music as cheap and shallow while the pop music people look at the former as ‘boring’. Music appreciation is a very subjective matter and there is no authoritative judge to decide the case which is better than the other. Appreciation deepens and matures with knowledge but it would be unreasonable to try to educate the masses to ‘read and write’ music. For a farmer who returns home from a day’s work and turns on the radio, the local songs serve the purpose of his entertainment.
This brings us to the purpose of music. If I remember correctly, Ronald Pen talks of three levels of listening (though they are not tightly compartmentalized levels). An example of the first level is going to a concert and simply enjoying the show. The second level is where the listener appreciates the technical aspects of songs like the chord progression, harmony, keys, flats and sharps etc. The third level is where the music inspires and transforms the listener. Music can be used for meaningful purposes at all levels: relaxation to the farmer after work, stimulating creativity in the composer, and bringing people to surrender their lives to the Lord. This life transforming capability of even imperfect music has to be acknowledged. Also we should develop our skills, so that we present our best for God’s glory. In all cases we should respect and provide space to thrive, music that we have no ears for.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Church offering

Yesterday in the church, I took out my wallet as the ushers came for the offering. I selected a Rs. 10 note but as I was pulling it out, a Rs. 100 note was trying its best to come out......But I pushed it back in, "you are too big for this".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Never tired of love

For a thousand years We've been singing about love 
If it were on another theme 
Would have we endured? 
Much less, enjoyed?
 --x--x-- 
Why does the heart hurt 
When we are unloved? 
Why can't we just ignore it And move on? 
What's there in being loved?
 --xx-- 
It's a sad thing That lost loves become branded as Infatuations 
When it was love after all!

First ride

Dad and I boarded a line bus from BOC, Kohima. We did not get seats, so we held on to the posts as we swayed with the winding road. That was how we reached Mao gate. I was on my maiden journey to Imphal: to become a doctor! Again we did not get proper seats in another line bus from Mao to Imphal. We squeezed in the driver’s cabin. There was a Manipuri boy who was roughly trying to push me off my seat. We stared at each other and I showed him my fist asking if he wants to have it. Nothing happened and we reached Imphal without a punch being thrown. We searched for Keduwe, my dad’s ex-student. He received u sand took us shopping where I bought my ragging shoes and shirts. Kohima to Imphal, July 2000

A conversation with Mang

Once I was telling our music secretary Mr. Mang about my past experiences as a song leader of the Imphal-ICEU. I told him that there were times when I did OK and also times when I had flopped big time. He instantly pointed out that if it was done for God’s glory, there is nothing as ‘flop’. 
He was right. As we have come to the end of our session in the EU committee, we may look back and see that we could have done better. We tend to regret at the end when nothing can be changed anymore. Failures are reminders that we are human beings. Also they equip us to do better in the future.
RIMS, Imphal

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The best part


The best part of love is
Just before its beginning
.............:-)

History

These days Everyone seems to have some history 
And I'm looking for someone without history :-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

When you write me a song


When you write me a song
Don’t explain everything
For if you’ve said it all
What’s left for the Imagination?

Lanyi River

You lucky fellows
You who are bound for Meluri
That you get to cross the Lanyi River
Poor us who are Pfutsero bound
That after having come so close
We have to turn away again
Without having the Lanyi River
Flow underneath our feet

Tiisozho omakiirii


Pünhan pünhapüsa
Bavüdopün bavüdopüsa
O kühüzhohi tazüzo
Lüba kümo pülüno
O khü mozono
Pütühi tamha voritayo

Ch: Niepo hapono
Tüsozhohi omakürü seno hüte
N kükhrü mu n küku süno
Tüsonha n yi thibazote

O khriemi O ciekrozü
Onüphaküho thibazori
Dipünhan ciedzü zü
Kükho toshi semo
‘ri no a cüküyi nha
Hapon hanüsa n cievorite

Br: Tüso tüzü
tüna türü
Bayie Khutho
mütü n belü
Niepo Jisu