Saturday, January 21, 2017

Venting on postmodernism etc

Message posted in church WhatsApp group

Good morning every one.
I went this morning to speak in a youth camp (Japfuphiki Chokri Khriesarü-ü krotho) which went horribly wrong. Spoke in Tenyidie to over 1000 campers without microphone. Nothing can go worse than that. I had a blackout at the start from dehydration and langauge black-outs in between.

I had a conversation with Dr. Cho-o after the program which got me thinking when I went home. During lunch, I kept thinking and my wife thought that something is wrong. So, I typed what I thought and sent to Dr. Cho-o and that is what I want to share here as a way of venting out on an imperfect morning.

Postmodernism rightly diagnoses the problem of modern Enlightenment. It problematizes the confidence and undermines the arrogance of the Enlightenment (that we can do without God and determine our own destiny). But postmodernism as we have found is only useful in so far as to give a right diagnosis of its preceding ideology. It has only led to confusion and does not have any meaning or roadmap (It is against having any of such things). But postmodernism has not explained the basic human condition. Humans have a need for meaning and reason to wake up in the morning. Humans just know in their bones that some things are right and some are absolutely wrong. Postmodernism is incapable to address such things (your truth is your truth, my truth is my truth). What we need is not a return to the modern idea of human self-mastery (through Reason with capital R and so on). What an opportunity it is in this time of void when post-modernism has failed us ( although we still suffer from hangovers of both modernism and postmodernism) for Christians. We can present the Christian narrative of the human story and say, 'doesn't this explain human nature, and the state our world is in?' And we humbly share from the Word the Good News of Jesus Christ, which is not only good for individuals but good news for our world

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On ULB election with WR wrt Article 371A

In the midst of hot debate about Urban Local Bodies election with Women Reservation in Nagaland and its connection or lack of connection with Article 371A of Indian Constitution, I wrote the following for a WhatsApp group:

I don't always agree with my father. I have heated arguments with him but at the end of the day, I love him. I still think I am right and he thinks he is right, but we love each other. He has his experiences and I have my experiences. I want to convince him and he wants to convince me to believe him. We both cannot force each other, but I have learned to live with the tension, and stay united with him. After all, he is my dad. Learning to live with that tension is what I would call 'maturity'.

Tati is a one stringed musical instrument. I would want it to remain one-stringed. But to build a music career in this time and age, I would want my son to take up a six-stringed instrument rather than a one stringed. I would do what I can to preserve the one stringed tati and would totally disagree if someone tries to add one more string to it. But to build a music career in this generation, I cannot simply bank on a feeling of nostalgia about the tati.

The following analogy was not posted in the group. But it says the same thing more or less:

There are so-called 'uncontacted' tribes in the Amazon rain forest. Perhaps they are keeping alive their rich tradition and culture.  Good for them. But at the end of the day, is that where you want to go back to? If you think culture is static and should be preserved as such, you may strip off your clothes and run to your native village. I wish that those tribals are true to themselves and hold on to what they have. But I would also wish that they are 'contacted'. Why should you keep looking back to Eden? Look ahead, behold the city of New Jerusalem!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Attitude towards money

A message for my church  WhatsApp group

CBCC’s and our church’s year theme ‘Righteous Living’ is proper and timely. It is something that each of us can relate to because we all are in need of righteous living for ourselves, for our church and society. In this, we are all somewhere along the road and none of us have arrived. The way things are in our lives and in our society, we are in need of righteous living more than any other thing. 

One of the major benchmarks of how righteous or unrighteous our lives are is measured by our attitude towards money. And if we get this right, we will get a lot of other things right. There are other things but this attitude towards money will be a very important checkpoint. Sexual immorality, alcoholism, and drug addiction are easy to condemn while greed is often a weak spot for many Christians. This is where things can become so confusing that we can come to think that the love of money is actually a Christian virtue, that someone who lives extravagantly is a blessed man, or that spirituality guarantees material prosperity.  

The ‘love’ of money is the problem and not money per se. So, we can say that our attitude towards money is more important than the quantity of money as such. One can have little but burn with desire. One is overtly corrupted and the other is not, but both may be made of the same material. The later may look less corrupted just for lack of opportunity to corrupt. And ‘how’ one makes money is as important as how much money one has. The means is as important as the end. Christianity asks, ‘Is the means to this money righteous or unrighteous?’ The real test of this is, ‘When no one was watching, did you follow procedure?’ What about living lavishly if the money is earned by fair means? I can think of no better biblical principle than the command to love our neighbor. Practically it will depend on the context. For example, if I live in a famine-stricken society but throw parties every night for my own family and relatives only, it will be very difficult to say that I love my neighbor.  

Not only in making, even in giving money, Christianity is particular that we give with the right attitude. It is crazy to think of giving with our left hand without letting our right hand know about it. How is that humanly possible when both hands are connected to the same brain? Jesus knew it is not possible but he must have used that example for its shock value. In giving, Christians are asked to be like secret agents who do good yet stay away from public recognition! That is the attitude demanded while giving.

Now, when we give to church we give to God. We have given it and don’t own anymore. It was never ours anyway if we acknowledge that God is the maker and giver of all things. We would hope that the church will make the best use of it. But we have given to God and not to Tithe Collector, Pastor or Church Committee. Each one is accountable. We can discuss how best we can utilize our resources for God’s kingdom. But we are not shareholders in the church because of our financial contribution. Giving to the church is not a financial investment, a club membership fee for voting rights, or a bargaining chip. Giving in the church is an act of worship. We simply bring an offering to the altar and worship. 

What will it be like in practice to give with one hand and not let the other know? What kind of lifestyle should we live by which we can say that we love our less privileged neighbour? In our church life, what are the ways in which we can promote and cultivate right attitude towards money among members? If we get the money factor right, we will get a lot of other things right in our road to righteous living, and church is a good place to start.

On tribute bands and cover songs

We have tribute bands who sound and dress like the originals. And there are those people who sing cover version of hit songs of old and new. 

Tribute bands and cover songs can be quite popular. We had in Nagaland a couple of years ago, someone who looked just like and sounded like Bon Jovi. There are some Asians who sing hit songs and have millions of views in youtube. There are people who can sing like the superstars, or even better that one person can imitate multiple stars or multiple types of music. 

But in the end, I think, 'why can't these super-talented people launch something of their own?' Yes, many of them will not become as big as the stars, not for lack of talent but for opportunities. But why should one become popular and continue to live so by way of imitating someone? They may make it big or they may not; but if they try to launch their own music career, they will have lived authentically, originally.

I don't mean that no one should sing cover songs or pay tribute. But unless you are a comic character, an artist who is popular by way of imitating another artist, I would say, to him 'why don't you get a life?'