Friday, December 16, 2016

Is their a purpose in life?

Some pop this question during discussions and the group usually get into a frenzy with various responses popping up from all corners.

Most theists will argue that the purpose of life is to fulfil God's Commandments, worship Him in the various manners prescribed, and live by His Books.

Others who have an opposing view will usually claim that we basically live in an environment of continuous events, each one triggered off by the previous one, all the way from and into eternity. The only unanswered question in this deduction is, How did the trigger begin, and Who started it. That's exactly where the religious lot jump in as shout in unison, God!

If science claims that everything began from a single cell, which divided itself and multiplied and then went on to become everything that we see around us now, then the religious gurus want to know where the cell came from. When the claim of God is put forward, the scientists then counter argue with the question of "who created God".

And hence spins an open ended dilemma that has gone on for centuries.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rehab for the Sixties

The late forties was a great time to see the first light of day on this planet of ours. Many are those who popped out during that time and are now grappling with their sugar levels, hypertension, and cholesterol fighting their way through the mid-sixties crises. Many have moved on to the other side. Bless them wherever they may walk.

So, all you mid and late sixty baby boomers, who lived through country music, pop, rock, the twist, radio, and the Beatles, have you ever tried to figure out the journey, all its ups, downs, good, bad, and ugly moments? Have you thought about what life may have been if you had taken a different decision or turn, made alternate choices, at various points in your life? Ever analyzed why you are what you are now and what made you turn out into this animal now? Did you think about the brain washing that yu may have been subject to as a growing child?

So, in the beginning, there was Mum and Dad. In some cases even good old Dad was missing. In some, Mum chose to hand over her baby to an orphanage, Church and run away. Many are the complications and issues that a poor innocent child has to face at birth. Life in the womb was so cosy, warm and nice. What the heck now? Why did we have to come out of our “home”?
Well, life had to be lived. Mummy was warm, gentle, kind and always ready to feed. That felt good. Dad was in and out. Possibly, he was busy making the bucks to buy the diapers and all that other mother jazz that we need to have to survive through the coming days.

And then there was grandpa and grandma. Neighbors, friends, relatives, all flocked in and smiled and celebrated. Each one taking their time to hold the new born baby in their arms and making those crazy sounds that even a baby could not comprehend. Never mind!

And the baby started to grow. One day at a time. There was music on the radio, news on TV, sounds of cars, buses, cats and dogs, and people arguing, fighting, and discussing. That’s a whole lot of data to digest. Yet, the hard disk in the child’s brain was spinning at break neck speed storing each and every fragment of information that was floating around.

Sunday morning was Mass in Church. On Friday’s people went to pray in Mosques and light lamps and offer flowers in Temples. Full Moon days were for Buddhists to spend time in meditation and alms.

Crawling turned to walking and speech developed automatically. “Mamma” was usually the first word. She was the big boss. And before you knew it the time was right for KG school.

The hard disk was running non stop 24 hours a day. There was never an issue of running out of space. Anything that was seen, heard, and felt was stored. Friends became a part of life. They came in all sizes, colors, heights and weights. Some were nice. Some were nasty. This was also a learning process. The teacher was tough. She is not at all like Mummy. At least she doesn’t make me eat and drink like Mummy does back at home.

The brain washing goes on. Gods, Prophets, Messengers, Fairy Tales, Myths, Stories, fear, reward, punishment, fire, paradise, hell, nirvana, phew! Why so many things to worry about?

Not forgetting anger, hatred, love, kindness, pain, and pleasure.
And then that old man, who ran the corner store near our house, looking at me in a strange manner as I passed by on my way to school every day. He gave me sweets and chocolates. He must be a nice man. And then he invites me in to see the rear of his store, where he sleeps, promising me more goodies. That’s when he touches my body. It feels strange but also weird. I am sure he likes me like Mummy does. Yet it feels funny. Those parts are not meant to be touched or seen by everybody, as Mummy has made me understand. It feels good sometimes. The sweets and chocs are still delicious. So I come and see him every day. He touches me all the time.

Time moves on. Primary School is fun. We have so many friends, games, and activities to engage in and manage. Then come homework, studies and exams, all piling up, one on top of the other. My room is a mess. Field trips are interesting. We travel to many interesting places and see and enjoy many new things. Learn about the fauna, flora, people and society. Life is not the same in all places.

The information keeps piling up inside our heads. There’s no limit to how much it can hold unlike the storage on a mobile phone. Friends come and go. Some get close. Some are distant.
Secondary School is heavy stuff. The transition from primary is more like growing up. Adolescence blooms. Hormonal changes are happening inside the body. Hair grows in unusual places. Emotions are aroused. Feelings become mature. Personal needs increase. Life can still be lonely even with Mum and Dad and siblings around at home and friends at school.

The attraction to the opposite sex is surfacing. Relationships begin. It’s a different kind of feeling. There are do’s and donts based on the teachings that were poured down our throats as kids. Rights and wrongs. Good and Bad. Moral and Immoral. Is there really a God up there? Why does he watch all this madness that happens on the ground and do nothing about it?

University is here. There’s a degree to be done. That’s the only way towards a decent career path, spouse, kids, family, house, car, dogs and cats. So we march on like soldiers in line. More like bricks in a wall that build a house.

Through this passage from KG to Campus many are the intrigues and events that have passed. Were they all good? Not really sure. Were they all bad? Not really sure of that too. Were there other abusive and oppressive events? Bet there were. How have they played out? Not really sure. Who is good? Who can be trusted? What is life all about?

And then we move on. Graduation, jobs, marriage, kids, family, travel, career.  Yet, al the events of the past are still clinging on to us like leeches although we may not see them. Do they harm us? Not really sure. Do they make us think and act the way we do? Still not sure.

Relationships outside the marriage crop up. Some hetero, some even same sex. Why? What is the calling? Where does it come from? Who is really pulling the strings? Cant be God, surely?

And the children grow up, go to school, get married, have their own kids. Now we are grandparents. The sixties have now caught up with us. Have the wounds healed? Not really sure. Will we ever know? How can we tell?

Was it worth the ride?

So what next?


July 21 2016

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Unbelieving Clergy

Dan Dennett has been studying the phenomenon of preachers who don’t believe what they preach, and the paper and commentary are available at the Washington post. Strangely, the newspaper has headlined it as “Skeptical clergy a silent majority?”, which is odd — the work doesn’t attempt to quantify how many unbelievers there are in the ministry, but is more of a case study of those they’ve found…and since they are only describing the in-depth interviews of five people, it’s absurd to try and draw conclusions about proportions.
It’s interesting stuff, but utterly unsurprising to atheists. These are people who entered the ministry out of a sincere desire to do good in the world, and as they delved into religious scholarship, they discovered they couldn’t believe anymore…but hey, they were still humane and concerned about their fellow human beings. They’re also concerned about what will happen to their income if they leave the church, and what will happen to the opinion others have of them. And they engage in some difficult and twisty rationalizations for their situations.
One other interesting point is that several of them came to their atheism by way of reading books by Ehrman and Spong, and also Harris and Hitchens. These works do make a difference. Unfortunately, we also learn that while they have received enlightenment, they’re very, very reluctant to share that shameful knowledge with their congregations, and continue to reassure them about belief in god.
Unfortunately, the WaPo couldn’t just put up Dennett’s bombshell on its own: they’ve surrounded it with a confusing cloud of commissioned articles to answer the question, “What should pastors do if they no longer hold the defining beliefs of their denomination?”. Most of them are believers, except for Rebecca Goldstein and Tom Flynn and Herb Silverman, and most of them are making excuses. You just knew that someone would make the inane argument that “doubt is part of faith.” No, it’s not. Faith is the blunt instrument used to crush doubt.
The comments on Dennett’s article are also fascinating. There are people who are quite upset about his revelation. And there is even a Cracker Catholic there, claiming that an atheist priest at communion turned a wafer into a hunk of bloody meat — therefore, god, apparently.
Just watch. This is news that will provoke protests and complaints and lots of excuses. I hope it also encourages more ministers to come out of the closet and face reality, instead of making it their profession to obscure the truth.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

More Military Madness

The intense US military campaign aimed at crippling AQ and The Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials citing the latest assessments of the conflicts in the Middle East. The recent upsurge of ISIS is another bolt of evidence to prove how bad the American campaign has resulted in. While targeted airstrikes may bring home some results in dampening the enemy onslaugt it is virtually impossible to remove the enemy on the ground using this means. The Israeli bombing of Gaza and the West Bank are also shining examples of this failure over the past 65 years.

Such campaigns in troubled nations where tribes, sects, religious groups, and locally manifested differences causes create tensions internally need to be resolved amicably by all parties if one is seriously interested in peace. Unless of course one has the means to destroy and annihilate an entire people who are a part of the problem.

The situation in Iraq is a glaring example of the mess that the Yankees have got into, no thanks to GWB senior and junior. Ironical it is that the present military strikes on northern Iraq against the ISIS are being carried out from the Anti Aircraft Carrier George H W Bush sitting in the Arabian Gulf.

For how long more do the western allies think and believe they can stop the carnage? It looks so foolish in the eyes of the lay people to watch in silence when these campaigns kick off in the name of "Peace" and "Contentment".

What a mess!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

3 Kindness Stories

Sunday Morning Sermon - Aug 3 2014

1. The Old Lady

I was flying back to my hometown and sat next to an old lady in the plane. I could see that she was scared -- she was clutching her bag on her lap and did not want to put in on the floor as the air hostess asked her to do. I started chatting and told her about the birth of my grandson, etc. She started talking about her life and before we knew it the flight was over. I also helped her collect her luggage and she couldn't thank me enough -especially for the chat. She commented that most people ignore old people and that she really appreciated it. On our way out, I waved and she pointed very proudly to the two people with her and mouthed that this is my daughter and granddaughter. She kept on turning back and waving until we couldn't see each other any longer. I believe we have to try and make a difference 
in each and everyone's life that we meet - even if we never see them again! - Phil

2. Nature and its Bounty

As the mom of a child with cerebral palsy (a disorder that causes physical disability), I know that there are not a lot of parks or trails where my son can truly experience nature. Thus, I volunteer at a neighborhood arboretum, where I work with other volunteers to add a sensory garden with raised flower beds. Those confined to chairs are able to touch and feel the plants. The park is full of plants with various textures, scents, and bright colors. This week, we are adding fall plants, mums, tall grasses, and ornamental cabbages. Our special needs program is going to have students craft scarecrows and jack-O-laterns to decorate the park with. It fills me with joy to see so many happy faces filled with pride when they see the disabled people come through and enjoy the festive park we helped create! - Jane

3. Giving

I decided to have a burrito from a local fast food restaurant. I went through the drive-through. I was telling my dad about this 21 day challenge and how a lot of people pay for the next person in line. My dad and I decided that we should try it!  I order my $2 burrito and go to the window. I ask the cashier if I can pay for the person behind me and he asked me if I was sure I wanted to do that. I said yes, and told him to give the next customer a smile card. I asked how much the total is, and he said, “Woah! It’s over $17!” At this point, I’m thinking, “Woah that's a lot!” too. But in that time I also thought - well hey, If I were in his situation and someone paid for my $17 meal, I would be the happiest person there is. THAT would make my day. I told the cashier that it was fine and he asked, “You sure? Think about it... Are you sure?” Even though I was nearly $18 short for a $2 burrito, I've never felt better. My dad encouraged me and my mom was proud of me. - Karishma


Monday, July 28, 2014

Choking under Pressure

Sunday Morning Sermon - July 27 2014

Choking under pressure is defined as performance decrements under circumstances that increase the importance of good or improved performance. Leaders of corporations, governments, and individuals typically make decisions with the expectations that the outcome will be beneficial. However, when faced with a crisis there is always the possibility of knee jerk reactions surfacing and thereby making the situation even worse. Panic, is one of the factors that usually initiates the process of chaotic decision making. Delegation, action, and a conformity to the prevalent contingency plans is the next step that requires implementation under a well controlled and managed mindset.

While the decision maker has in mind the immediate need for correct action to alleviate the issues being faced, he also has the long term repercussions on how his decisions and actions will be seen and critiqued to worry about.

In any emergency situation it is always the victims on the ground who need the first response in order to take them out of danger into a safety zone after which the next steps will follow. Human life is the highest priority in this regard. Property, equipment, data protection and prevention of further disaster to the location and environment comes next.

Contingency plans, based on risk management exercises, need to be effectively executed by knowledgeable and trained staff under the strict control of a predefined marshall for such situations.

Fire, flooding, earthquakes, rocket attacks, crashes, etc are the common forms of emergency situations encountered by large groups of people across the globe.

A key factor in managing such situations is to keep ones cool well above the panic levels that usually can cause total havoc if not under control as quickly as possible.

Risk Management is a vital cog in any form of national, business and even domestic environment. People need to understand the meaning of risk and the  basic steps that must be in place to mitigate them whenever encountered.

Many have been the situations when life has been lost, property destroyed, and hardship caused due to the lack of professionally developed and established contingency plans.

Its always safe to 
be prepared
 as the
​ boy​
 scouts would say.


Thursday, July 10, 2014


sent in by email by SS

What Is Solitude?

Loneliness is marked by a sense of isolation. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness.

By Hara Estroff Marano, published on July 01, 2003 - last reviewed on November 21, 2013

As the world spins faster and faster—or maybe it just seems that way when an email can travel around the world in fractions of a second—we mortals need a variety of ways to cope with the resulting pressures. We need to maintain some semblance of balance and some sense that we are steering the ship of our life.
Otherwise we feel overloaded, overreact to minor annoyances and feel like we can never catch up. As far as I'm concerned, one of the best ways is by seeking, and enjoying, solitude.

That said, there is an important distinction to be established right off the bat. There is a world of difference between solitude and loneliness, though the two terms are often used interchangeably.
From the outside, solitude and loneliness look a lot alike. Both are characterized by solitariness. But all resemblance ends at the surface.

Loneliness is a negative state, marked by a sense of isolation. One feels that something is missing. It is possible to be with people and still feel lonely—perhaps the most bitter form of loneliness.

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is a positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is desirable, a state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.

Solitude is a time that can be used for reflection, inner searching or growth or enjoyment of some kind. Deep reading requires solitude, so does experiencing the beauty of nature. Thinking and creativity usually do too.

Solitude suggests peacefulness stemming from a state of inner richness. It is a means of enjoying the quiet and whatever it brings that is satisfying and from which we draw sustenance. It is something we cultivate. Solitude is refreshing; an opportunity to renew ourselves. In other words, it replenishes us.

Loneliness is harsh, punishment, a deficiency state, a state of discontent marked by a sense of estrangement, an awareness of excess aloneness.

Solitude is something you choose. Loneliness is imposed on you by others.

We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. Some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore and know ourselves. It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy, what allows us to have a self worthy of sharing. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without.

Solitude restores body and mind. Lonelinesss depletes them.