Sunday, December 29, 2013

Growing Old

Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 29 2013

It is said that the last period of human life is supposed to be the years after 65. That puts us all into the departure lounge automatically, holding on to our boarding passes
 , hopefully without any shakes

My Mum turns 95 in Feb if she makes it to that date. Skanda's Mum is also in her early 90's. Am not sure of how many other
Randy 8 
Mums are still around. If they are, then they must also be in their 90's, too. Bless them all for having produced peeps like us!

Growing old can be satisfying but also sad. My Mum is losing her memory and forgetting people, places and events. Lately this year she 
showing signs of physical difficulty in moving around and has had two falls already
causing cuts and 
requiring stitches 
 her head. 
et, she still insists that she can manage her affairs by herself. At least she has the ability to convey this to us, her three children, which tells us that while she is being stubborn she still has her free will and open mind to express herself

openly as she wants to

wants to grow old? In our mind's eye we see "old" as being a negative thing...though once you add years to your age "old" keeps getting, well, older. "It's just a number!" 
is what some choose accept and believe in, especially 
those who've crossed the threshold 
Is it necessary 
to retrain ourselves to think of "old" in a different

Where did it start? Maybe 
 conjured up a picture of what "old" looks like when 
 I remember Mr Barrow an d Mrs Spillers
 who lived in and around our neighborhood back in Colombo in the 50's
? They looked as if they were one step from becoming a piece of petrified wood when I was, say, 5 years old. But the older 
the younger they appear
ed, strangely

How old are 
, really? Are there people our age who look older than 
? Are there people our age who look younger than 
? Look at those around who are our age. Are people our age getting around more, doing more, experiencing life more than 

o or what
 want to 
 by the time 
we get to 70, 
80, 90, 
100? "One hundred?" you say? Sure, why not. 
Lets just make sure we get whatever we want done, that's all. No need to huff and puff about it. Life's just a roller coaster ride that takes us up and down. Whether it all started with Elvis Presley sideburns and a brylcream bump of hair on top of our forehead, capping gals, hanging around bus stands, Sunday movies at the Savoy, Sundown Dances at the Coconut Grove, and moving on to professions, careers, fancy cars, businesses, marriage, kids, homes, and even grand kids now, it doesn't really matter as long as one has done it all rightly or wrongly and pulled through the long and winding road of life to where we are at today.

I have stopped attaching myself to material possessions, ownership of assets, fancy cars, designer attire, real estate, and worrying about what to do next with whatever is accumulating in the bank. Shirani and I have transferred all our assets to the girls and only have the clothes in our cupboard plus whatever I make by consulting fees which gets credited to my bank account every month. This suffices us for our day to day living and also supporting the grand kids in many of their academic and personal needs. The girls have their own income and choose to live as they please.

And it is also better not to leave behind, any, "wrongs" that need to be made "right". It's good to set them straight right now before the last train calls at the station to take us back home.

Information is available in plenty on Google. Browse the net and make use of it. Learning something we didnt know before never stops, and is also very entertaining and productive. Helps to stay in sync with the grand kids too when they talk high tech. They also respect us when they know that we also know what they know, especially within the areas of interest in their domain. And surely they have so much to learn from our experiences, too. My grandson listens to all my tall tales, while driving him around, and asks 20 questions all the time. He once even asked me if I ever smoked pot?  I couldn't tell a lie. ;-)

And of course, lets always think positive, share, and stay alive and kicking as best as we can. Helps a  lot when you have crossed 65. Not sure what it will be like, if and when we do get to 69, since it is a nice number as you all will surely agree?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our Valiant Values

Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 15 2013

Moral values are always considered as the highest form of values among all natural values. Goodness, purity, truthfulness, humility of man rank higher than genius, brilliancy, exuberant vitality, than the beauty of nature or of art, than the stability and power of a state. What is realized and what shines forth in an act of real forgiveness, in a noble and generous renunciation; in a burning and selfless love, is more significant and more noble, more important and more eternal than all cultural values. Positive moral values are the focus of the world, negative moral values, the greatest evil, worse than suffering, sickness, death, or the disintegration of a flourishing culture.

Moral values are always personal values. They can only inhere in man, and be realized by man. A material thing, like a stone or a house, cannot be morally good or bad, just as moral goodness is not possible to a tree or a dog. Similarly, works of the human mind (discoveries, scientific books, works of art), cannot properly be said to be the bearers of moral values; they cannot be faithful, humble and loving. They can, at the most, indirectly reflect these values, as bearing the imprint of the human mind. Man alone, as a free being, responsible for his actions and his attitudes, for his will and striving, his love and his hatred, his joy and his sorrow, and his super-actual basic attitudes, can be morally good or bad. For, far above his cultural accomplishments, rises the importance of the man's own being: a personality radiating moral values, a man who is humble, pure, truthful, honest and loving.

Among the attitudes of man which are basic for his whole moral life, faithfulness is ranked next to reverence. One can speak of faithfulness in a narrow sense and in a large one. We have the narrow sense in mind when we speak of fidelity toward men, such as fidelity to a friend, marital fidelity, fidelity to one's country or to oneself.
The course of a man's life contains a continual rhythmical replacement of one impression, one act, one decision by another and different impression, act or decision. We are unable to ponder over one thought for a long time and to keep our attention on one point for very long. Just as in the biological realm, hunger and satiety, fatigue and renewed strength succeed one another, so a certain rhythmical change is proper to the course of our spiritual life. Just as the various impressions which affect us give place to one another, and the stream of events offers to our mind a great variety of objects, so our attention cannot long remain focused on any one object with the same intensity. A movement from one subject to another is therefore proper to our thought, as well as to our feeling and will. Even in the case of a very blissful experience, such as the long-desired meeting with a beloved person, we are unable to dwell permanently in this joyous experience. The rhythm of our inner life forces us to leave the full presence of a great joy and to turn our attention in another direction and to register different experiences.

When we call someone a "morally conscious" man, and another man a "morally unconscious" one, we have in mind a difference which is decisive from the ethical point of view. The unconscious man drifts through life; of course, he grasps certain values, and responds to them, but this process goes on in a manner that is deprived of an ultimate awakening and of an explicit character. His grasp of values remains more or less accidental. Above all, his life, on the whole, is not consciously and expressly lived under the awful sword of good and evil. Even when, at a given moment, he rejects something bad and affirms something good, at heart this attitude is rather an affirmation of his own temperament than a really enlightened cooperation with the implacable demands of values, and conformity to those demands.

The unconscious man behaves according to the impulses of his nature; he has not yet discovered within himself the capacity to direct himself freely toward the objective demands of the world of values independently of what is or is not congenial to his nature. 

Truthfulness is another of the basic presuppositions for a person's moral life. An untruthful or mendacious person not only embodies a great moral dis-value, as does the avaricious or intemperate man, but he is crippled in his whole personality; the whole of his moral life; everything in him which is morally positive is threatened by his untruthfulness, and even becomes doubtful. His position toward the world of values as a whole, is affected at its very core.

The untruthful man lacks reverence toward values. He assumes a lordly position over being, he deals with it as he pleases, and treats it as if it were a mere chimera, a plaything of his arbitrary pleasure. He denies recognition and response to the value which inheres in being as such, to the dignity which being possesses by its opposition to nothingness. 

Goodness is the very heart of the whole reign of moral values. It is by no accident that the term "good" means moral value as such, and also the specific moral quality of goodness. Among the different moral values there is none which embodies more completely the entire reign of moral values, than goodness; in it we find the purest and most typical expression of the general character of moral goodness as such. It is the center of all morality, and at the same time, its most sublime fruit. Its central importance in the moral sphere is, therefore, of a completely different type from that of the fundamental attitudes previously mentioned: reverence, fidelity, awareness of responsibility and veracity. For, apart from their own high moral value, these virtues are accepted as a presupposition for the moral life. 

What is goodness? What do we mean when we say that a man irradiates goodness? We say this of a man when he is disposed to help, when he is kindly, just, when he is ready to make sacrifices for others, when he pardons wrongs done him, when he is generous, when he is full of compassion. All these qualities are specific forms and manifestations of love. This indicates the close connection which exists between love and goodness. Love is, as it were, flowing goodness, and goodness is the breath of love.

Finally, the antithesis to the good man is the cold, indifferent man. He is the man who by-passes his fellowmen with a blighting lack of comprehension; the man who lives for his own comforts and enjoyments; he, too, is a typical egoist, but he has a different complexion from the hardhearted man. He is neither hostile toward others, nor brutally and unrelentingly hard, but he is filled with indifference toward his fellowmen. He may be moved by fearful sights, he experiences disgust and horror when facing illness, he cannot bear the sight of blood, but all this is but a nervous reaction to an aesthetically shocking object. For he flees from awful sights and seeks pleasant scenes, while the good man hastens to help.

On the other hand, this type of man is even more cold than the hardhearted man. The hardhearted man, it is true, has an icy coldness, he does not know the voice of the heart; he is heartless. Yet he does know the fire of hatred, the cold burning of vengeance, of rage. He is not indifferent. He is not invulnerable. He is familiar with the irritation caused by offenses and humiliations, but he does not know what it means to be wounded to the heart by lack of charity, injustice, and, above all, by the sufferings of our fellowmen, and other objective negative values.

Instead of the awakening and openness of the good man, we find him circumscribed and blind regarding values, and instead of the all embracing breadth of the good man we find in him a petty narrowness.


Saturday, December 7, 2013


Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 8 2013

In recent years, the term "information overload" has evolved into phrases such as "information glut" and "data smog". What was once a term grounded in cognitive psychology has evolved into a rich metaphor used outside the world of academia. In many ways, the advent of information technology has increased the focus on information overload: information technology may be a primary reason for information overload due to its ability to produce more information more quickly and to disseminate this information to a wider audience than ever before. 
"Information overload" is also known as infobesity or infoxication, and is a phrase popularized by Alvin Toffler in his bestselling 1970 book, "Future Shock". It refers to the difficulty a person can have understanding an issue, making decisions, and responding, that can be caused by the presence of too much information that becomes too heavy to digest at a single moment in time. The term itself is mentioned in a 1964 book by
Bertram Gross
The Managing of Organizations. “Information overload occurs when the amount of input to a system exceeds its processing capacity. Decision makers have fairly limited cognitive processing capacity. Consequently, when information overload occurs, it is likely that a reduction in decision quality will occur.”
In today's society, day-to-day activities increasingly involve the technological world where Information technology exacerbates the number of interruptions that occur in the work environment.  There has been a study from 1997 that found 50% of management in Fortune 1000 companies were disrupted more than six times an hour by emails they were receiving. Being compared to this decade's use of the internet, management are commonly more disrupted which leads to more interruptions on their decision making and result in more poor quality made decisions.
As the world moves into a new era of globaliz
tion, an increasing number of people are connecting to the Internet to conduct their own research and are given the ability to produce as well as consume the data accessed on an increasing number of websites, blogs and social media groups. Users are now classified as active users because more people in society are participating in the Digital and Information Age. More and more people are considered to be active writers and viewers because of their participation. This flow has created a new life where we are now in danger of becoming dependent on this method of access to information. Therefore we see an information overload from the access to so much information, almost instantaneously, without knowing the validity of the content and the risk of misinformation.
According to Sonora Jha of Seattle University, journalists are using the Web to conduct their research, getting information regarding interviewing sources and press releases, updating news online, and thus it shows the gradual shifts in attitudes because of the rapid increase in use of the Internet. Lawrence Lessig has described this as the "read-write" nature of the internet.
“The resulting abundance of – and desire for more (and/or higher quality) – information has come to be perceived in some circles, paradoxically, as the source of as much productivity loss as gain.” Information Overload can lead to “information anxiety,” which is the gap between the information we understand and the information that we think that we must understand. As people consume increasing amounts of information in the form of news stories, e-mailsblog posts, Facebook statuses, TweetsTumblr posts and other new sources of information, they become their own editors, gatekeepers, and aggregators of information. One concern in this field is that massive amounts of information can be distracting and negatively impact productivity and decision-making. Another concern is the "contamination" of useful information with information that might not be entirely accurate (Information pollution). Research done is often done with the view that Information Overload is a problem that can be understood in a rational way.

Many people do find it difficult to manage this type of information pressure by way of what they receive in their email in-boxes on a daily basis. One often hears of  peeps asking senders to remove them from their mailing lists and stop sending them junk mail. Spammers, Advertisers, and other sales people also gun for email addresses to which they can direct their traffic seeking commercial gain. Religious gurus and other proselytizers use it to spread their faith. Con artists try to lure in people to part with their hard earned cash using very deceptive methods of lure and enticement.

Human beings will always be human beings and many fal, for these traps and suffer the consequence. Some simply cant handle all the garbage that pours in and try to stay aloof and private as much as possible. Suspicion is at its peak cos no one wants to accept another as a "good guy/gal" until he/she has proven himself/herself.

Accessibility is the key factor of this phenomenon that opens the doors of intruding on peoples privacy and time.

At the end of the day what matters is how we manage ourselves in dealing with this glut of information that invades us on a very regular basis. Many dont even look at the way in which this can be done, so easily and successfully, and simply crumble to the pressure.

All it takes a little bit of information management, I tell you.


Are Toy Guns, OK?

Sunday Morning Sermon - Dec 1 2013

Are Toy Guns OK?

What is violence?

Many parents wonder why their child is so fascinated by guns and other similar weapons that usually are meant to kill and destruct. Parents do not want their kids to view weapons as playthings, and many parents do consider prohibiting their child from even using toy weapons.

Most kids show feelings of live and the intent to connect, affiliate, and share with each other. However, they also possess aggressive feelings and the intent to disconnect, hurt, retaliate, and take from others. In fact, human beings are biologically wired to respond with angry feelings and aggressive thoughts to emotional or physical distress. Boys, for reasons that remain speculative, usually have a stronger aggressive response mechanism than girls

All children understand that the world is filled with aggression because they too have had first-hand experience with their own aggressive thoughts and feelings. The rages of an unhappy infant, or the temper tantrums of the toddler or two-year old are examples of times when children experience strong aggressive feelings. Children who are in the midst of a tantrum are often temporarily overwhelmed with urges to destroy or hurt. Children's awareness of violence is expressed in the common childhood fear of "scary monsters." Children develop this fear whether or not they have experienced other people acting in monstrous ways or have seen scary monster movies.

Although children do not have to be taught about or exposed to aggression and even violence in order to know that it exists, they need an environment in which aggression between people is kept within appropriate bounds and disagreements reach satisfactory resolutions in order to successfully master their aggressive tendencies. 

What is the meaning of Play?

The emotional development of children involves their confronting a progression of challenges that progressively rise to the foreground only to recede into the background after sufficient resolution. The need to master aggression is one of the major developmental challenges facing young children. Children must learn, for example, about the appropriate expressions of anger, the difference between aggressive thoughts and actions, and the fact that aggressive feelings are natural and present in all good people.

The emotional development of children involves their confronting a progression of challenges that progressively rise to the foreground only to recede into the background after sufficient resolution. The need to master aggression is one of the major developmental challenges facing young children. Children must learn, for example, about the appropriate expressions of anger, the difference between aggressive thoughts and actions, and the fact that aggressive feelings are natural and present in all good people.

How do toy guns fit in?

Play is the young child's most important tool for emotional growth. From that standpoint, play is quite serious business. Play is a canvas upon which children paint a portrait of their feelings, hopes, worries, questions, and desires. In playing, children can experiment with solutions and thereby make progress with their developmental tasks. 

Naturally, children turn to play so that they can learn what they need to learn about everything in life, which also includes fraternity and aggression. It is necessary to become concerned about children's relationship to aggression only if they appear to be overly pre-occupied with aggression in their thoughts or actions outside the sphere of play, or if the play aggression has an extremely violent or gruesome character. 

Parents should prohibit and hopefully eliminate unacceptable aggressive words, acts, and behaviors. However, children's aggressive feelings cannot be prohibited or eliminated. Children must have access to their aggressive feelings so that they can play with their aggression and develop more mature outlets. Any parental effort to eliminate these feelings through shame, guilt, or fear may even interfere with children's ability to ultimately channel their aggression into assertiveness, healthy competition, and achievement. Therefore, parents should comfortably accept their children's interest in aggressive play. Play is the arena suitable for a contained and controlled expression of aggressive feelings.
Children need time to learn to play successfully with aggression, including learning to play without abusing, scaring or hurting people. Play requires props.  The best recipe that parents can use to support children's healthy mastery of aggression is to permit children to play with aggression, set clear limits about non-play aggression, and offer a family life that models conflict resolution without utilizing excessive aggression, such as corporal punishment.

In addition, the lifestyle that the child grows up has a massive impact on what the child learns what he lives within the home, neighborhood, school and community. If such environments contribute to a very aggressive attitude and nature, then it is automatic that the child will pick this up as a norm and use it effectively in his or her own future, be it planned ot even knee jerk type aggression.

The bottom line here is that, "Children live what they learn and learn what they live". 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Be +ve

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 24 2013

Mike is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Mike was there telling the guy how to look on the positive side of the prevailing situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Mike and asked him, "I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Hey man Mike, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood."
"Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it."

"Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life."

"Yeah, right, but it isn't that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," Mike said. Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. "The bottom line is: It's your choice how you live life."
I reflected on what Mike said. Soon thereafter, I left the country to start a new career as an expat contract worker in the Middle East. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Mike had also moved out of the country and was involved in a serious work related accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Mike was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.
I saw Mike about 6 months after his accident when I happened to visit home and he had returned to recuperate, too. I asked him, "Do you feel better now, mate?". He responded in his same old cheerful manner, "If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds but asked him what went through his mind during the fall. "The first thing that hit me during the fall was the well being of my wife and kids" he responded. "Weren't you scared, did you lose consciousness?", I asked.

Mike responded,"The Paramedics were great, they kept telling me I was going to be alright. However, when I was wheeled into the emergency room and saw the expressions on the faces of the medics I got the feeling that in their minds I was a dead man".

"So what did you say or do?" I asked. "Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting instructions to the rest of the support staff in emergency. She asked me if I was allergic to anything.  I said, 'Yes' and saw the expression in their faces change as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breadth and yelled 'Gravity'. Over their laughter I told them that I wanted to live. Operate on me as if I am alive and not dead", I told them."

Mike lived and pulled through this extremely difficult phase of his life mainly on account of his totally positive attitude. I learned from him, that day, that we all have the ability to choose to live our lives fully.
Its our attitude, after all,  that makes the big difference in life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Dark Side of Environmental Conservation

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 17 2013

Here's an interesting story from a young lady in south America that will interest you Peeps this Sunday.

The Dark Side of Environmental Conservation 

by Katie Black [native mid westerner, human rights lawyer, world traveler, yogi]

Unlike most law school students nearing the end of what can be a less than enjoyable experience, I spent my final semester living and working in the southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica. This experience was life-changing, and led to the establishment of The Rich Coast Project, a community storytelling and collective history project aimed at supporting and protecting the cultural heritage of coastal Afro-Caribbean populations and other communities living along Costa Rica’s Talamanca coast.
In an effort to learn more about the challenges facing communities in coastal Talamanca, I began interviewing people about their history, the precarious state of land tenure, and the threat this poses to their cultural survival. I quickly realized there was a story to be told – one that asks how environmental conservation measures can and should be balanced against the needs and rights of local communities. Better yet, how could these measures include the communities and incorporate the knowledge and best practices they have gained over centuries of stewardship to these lands?
Coastal Talamanca is a place that, until relatively recently, lived in virtual isolation, nestled between the lush forests of the Talamanca Mountains to the West and the Caribbean Sea to the East. English speaking Afro-Caribbean fishermen began settling this coastline beginning in the early 1800’s, and built their communities where they lived and worked: right next to the water. 
Over the past several years, local landowners in coastal Talamanca have been stripped of their property rights and economic development has been paralyzed. Homes and businesses have been threatened with demolition orders and residents have faced criminal charges for pursuing better lives for their families.
Costa Rica has developed an admirable policy imperative to protect and conserve its vast natural resources, and has established itself as an international leader on environmental issues. As this reputation has grown, so have the instability of land tenure and economic insecurity of the people living within the country’s vast protected areas.
What we're doing to help local landowners:
The Rich Coast Project wants to make sure that these communities have a chance to tell their own story. Our goal is to work within these communities to combine storytelling, visual advocacy, interdisciplinary research to update their recorded history, expose their present situation, and explore their hopes for the future of their children and neighbors.
We’re teaming with local residents, socially-engaged artists, and scholars from a range of disciplines to explore better approaches to the competing aims of environmental conservation and sustainable development through the example of this community’s experience.
We’ll be taking our lead from the locals, letting the community drive the development of the project and considering how this approach – combining local storytelling with legal research – can be leveraged to support other communities in different parts of the world.
Lessons we've learned from our conversations, that you can put into practice:
Support local and regional NGOs. See if the big name NGOs you're thinking about supporting have good relationships with local and regional NGOs.
Pay the extra penny and try to be a socially-responsible consumer. Certification schemes like Rainforest Alliance may not be perfect institutions but they are better for local communities than Hersheys or Mondelez are.
Be a responsible tourist. Try to support the local economy when you choose where to stay and what to do. Both of these things can work to crowdsource relationships with communities, empowering them economically and socially.
Support conservation efforts in your own community. Buy local whenever possible, compost and recycle, be mindful of your energy and water consumption. Even small behavioral changes can start a virtuous cycle within your own community.
If you'd like to support our project, you can contact usjoin our volunteer network, or donate to our Indiegogo campaign until November 24 (or to our Fiscal Sponsor after this date). If you’re an interested organization, grantmaker, media outlet, creative professional, academic, or anyone with good ideas, we want to partner with you! Click here to add your support to your To-Do list.
This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good-- our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.
The Rich Coast Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Rich Coast Project must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering the Dead

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 10 2013

"Death leaves a heartache no one can steal, love leaves a memory no one can steal" - taken from a headstone in Ireland.

Poppy day is just around and remembering the war dead from the many wars that have passed before has become a vital part of our lives in November.

Ian Hussein, director for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), states that the act of remembering the dead of the First and Second World War, is an important message in helping avoid future wars. Describing the remembrance period as "highly significant", he said: "It's to pay tribute to those who gave their lives but also to remember this is part of our history. It's very important to understand what happened, why it happened and what can be done in the future to prevent future conflict."

But is this really a fact of life?

We have, surely, seen the Vietnam war, the conflicts in Korea & Cambodia, The Cold War, 911 and its aftermath of the many wars still raging in Iraq & Afghanistan, The Palestinian mess, and now the many upheavals and flies burning around the globe. 

How has remembering the war dead helped to keep these fires from erupting, time and again?

War and conflict are a part and parcel of human society as long as borders remain intact and people think in terms of nationality, ethnicity, and tribes. Even with the emergence of the Global Village concept, massive migrations, and even people seeking asylum and refugee status in many far away lands, the differences that spur conflict still remains.

What is the best way to remove this brainwashed ideology from our minds?

We are all different even if we belong to a particular group, sect or community. Each human is unique in his or her own special way. Even twins and triplets do have teir variances however identical they may look. on the outside.

No one can fathom the soul of a living being. Its only the possessor who will be able to comprehend it fully.

Its time to wake up and live like real human beings.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Desecrating the Holy

Sunday Morning Sermon - Nov 2 2013

In recent days we are hearing more stories and happenings of one religious group desecrating and destroying the shrines and holy places of other religious groups. Such hatred and the ensuing havoc is mostly being generated by radical elements of one religion against another, especially in multi cultural societies.

The problem is rampant in the third world while, we are also seeing some signs of it surfacing in the developed world, surprisingly.

Religious conflict, across the globe, has always been a part and parcel of life on our planet earth since the beginning of time. Many are the wars that have been fought over religious issues. The USA was created because of religious persecution in England and Europe.

It is often that you hear and see many of those folks who belong to these various religions claim that their God, Deity, Goddess, or Guru, will surely take revenge for this kind of carnage on those who perpetrate them. While this may be a psychological way for them to appease themselves and stay calm it truly doesnt make any sense whatsoever from a common sense logical point of view.

The basic question that needs to asked and appraised is why dont these super beings ensure that their holy places are not attacked and take immediate action on the evil oned even before they create their mischief? If they are all powerful, omnipotent, and whatever else that is attributed to them, then surely they must know before hand what the mischief makers are up to, and surely they are able to punish them upfront?

Doesnt make any sense to me at all.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Road Rage

Sunday Morning Sermon - Oct 27 2013

Would you be surprised that road rage can be good for society? Or that most crashes happen on sunny, dry days? That our minds can trick us into thinking the next lane is moving faster? Or that you can gauge a nation’s driving behavior by its levels of corruption? These are only a few of the remarkable dynamics that have been explored in recent times by travelling through the mysteries of the road for almost 5 decades. 

​do ​
we drive the way we do, and what 
​does ​
our driving say about 
​our personality​
? Most of us do think and believe that we are "decent" drivers. Are you sure you are one? What are the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are? Why is it that plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents? Do you know that roundabouts, which can feel dangerous and chaotic, actually make roads safer—and reduce traffic in the bargain. Who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. Why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots.

The car has long been a central part of human life; especially our generation. Whether we see it as a symbol of freedom or a symptom of sprawl, we define ourselves by what and how we drive. Driving is a provocatively revealing prism for examining how our minds work and the ways in which we interact with one another. It is also about human nature. 

The need to move ahead of the car in front of you is something that even psychologists will find hard to unravel. Cutting across lanes without even signalling is another common feature of today's drivers.

Why do they take these risks knowing very well that a small mistake on the drivers part could cause tremendous hardship to vehicles, passengers, and drivers on the road? Some call it an ego trip when a person gets behind the wheel. Some even say its a sexual thing.

How often have you found yourself being bugged by a nagging driver behind you who wants to move ahead even though there is a line of traffic in front of you?

How many times have you encountered a jerk trying to overtake you from the wrong side?

Sure you must have been in a situation where the dude in front of you failed to signal his intent to turn and kept you guessing behind him?

And when it comes to blowing your horn, Oh My God, its a bloody orchestra out there playing totally out of synch with the music.

When I first started driving in Colombo in the 60s, my Granpda called me over and taught ne one simple golden rule. He said, "Son, when you are driving on the road, remember this. Always say to the other driver, 'YOU FIRST'. I have never forgotten his words to date" even though it is not easy to achieve.

Drive safely fellers.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lets Build our Coffee Wall

Coffee on the Wall: A Great feat of Compassion (came in the mail today)

I sat with a friend in a high-class coffee shop in a small town near Venice, Italy.

As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat at an empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, "Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall."

We heard this order with some interest and observed that he was served with only one cup of coffee but he paid for two. As soon as he left, the waiter pasted a piece of paper on the wall with the words written 'A Cup of Coffee'.

While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, "Two on the table and one on the wall." They had only two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time again, the waiter did the same; he pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying, 'A Cup of Coffee'.

It seemed that this gesture as a norm at this place. However, it was something unique and perplexing for us. Since we had nothing to do with the matter we finished our coffee, paid the bill and left.

After a few days, we happened to visit this coffee shop again. While we were enjoying our coffee, a man entered. The way the man was dressed did not match the standard nor the atmosphere of the coffee shop. Poverty was evident from the look on his face and his attire. As he seated himself, he looked at the wall and said, "One cup of coffee from the wall please." The waiter served a coffee to this man with the customary respect and dignity. The man drank his coffee and left without paying.

We were amazed to watch all this when we also noticed that the waiter took off a piece of paper from the wall and threw it in the dust bin. Then it dawned on us what this custom was all about. The great respect for the needy shown by the inhabitants of this town welled up our eyes with tears. Coffee is not a need of our society, nor a necessity of life. The point to note is that when we take pleasure in any blessing, maybe we also need to think about those people who appreciate that specific blessing as much as we do but they cannot afford to have it. Note the character of the waiter, who is playing a consistent and generous role to get the communication going between the affording and the needy with a smile on his face. Ponder upon this man in need. He enters the coffee shop without having to lower his self-esteem.

He has no need to beg for a free cup of coffee. He only looked at the wall, placed an order for himself, enjoyed his coffee and left. When we analyze this story, along with the other characters, we need to remember the role played by the wall that reflects the generosity and care of the dwellers of this town.

What a way to show compassion and maintain human dignity for all.

Can we build a wall at our coffee shop today, please?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

In the Beginning

Sunday Morning Sermon Oct 20 2013


In the beginning there was the Cell.

The word cell comes from the Latin cella, meaning "small room". It was coined by Robert Hooke in his book, MICROGRAPHIA (1655), in which he compared the cork cells he saw through his microscope to the small rooms that monks used to live in. The cell is the basic structural, functional and biological unit of all known living organisms. Cells are the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and are often called the "building blocks of life".

Cells consist of a protoplasm enclosed within a membrane, which contains many biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Organisms can be classified as unicellular (consisting of a single cell; including most bacteria) or multicellular (including plants and animals). While the number of cells in plants and animals varies from species to species, humans contain about 100 trillion (1014) cells. Most plant and animal cells are visible only under the microscope, with dimensions between 1 and 100 micrometers.
And the Cell divided. It was the first ever mathematical function that took place in the Universe. Actually this division gave rise to another math function. Multiplication. Sounds comical, huh?

The oldest cells on Earth are single-cell organisms called bacteria. Fossil records indicate that mounds of bacteria once covered young Earth. Some began making their own food using carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and energy they harvested from the sun. This process (called photosynthesis) produced enough oxygen to change Earth's atmosphere. Soon afterward, new oxygen-breathing life forms came onto the scene. With a population of increasingly diverse bacterial life, the stage was set for some amazing things to happen.
The endosymbiotic theory infers that "Symbiosis" occurs when two different species benefit from living and working together. When one organism actually lives inside the other it's called endosymbiosis. The endosymbiotic theory describes how a large host cell and ingested bacteria could easily become dependent on one another for survival, resulting in a permanent relationship.

All cells contain DNA, the encoded instructions that are used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. Ne of the important properties of DNA is duplication, or making copies. This takes place when cells divide and the DNA within is replicated in the divided parts. DNA is now used to research the origins of living beings and the source of their genealogy.

While debates, discussions, and discourse still plague the human mind about Darwins Theory of Evolution, where one species evolves into another through time using the process of natural selection, the fact remains that cells have always divided themselves and evolved into multiple cells that have given rise to increase in their populations. Hence one can easily conclude from this that the preservation and survival of all species is based on cell division which delivers its multiplication.

And then, we have Creation. The First Man, and The First Woman. The First Chicken, and The First Egg. The First Mother, and The First Child. And so on. Followers of the Darwinian branch of evolutionary science usually ask the question about what existed before Creation? Religionists respond to this by answering "Nothing did except God, The Creator". The Darwinians then counter question with the famous line, "Who Created God". To the religionist, this is a question that treads on blasphemy because he bases all his faith and thought on the simple assumption that God is the Beginning. In fact he even goes further back to deny any beginning at all because God was always there and didn’t need to be born or have started from something else before Him. To the Darwinist or to even most secular modern scientists thinking it becomes a bit difficult to put a blank before God because most scientific facts are based on a "source and object" formula, where the latter is a product of the former with no beginning nor end. I remember my first Chemistry text book during my O levels starting with the line "matter can neither be created nor destroyed". Now if this statement were true then God certainly bows out of the equation. And as for those who choose the other route they have to simply assume that life is a cycle with no beginning or end. What other choice do we have until such time as someone comes up with some solid proof of how it all began? Yes, we do have the "big bang" theory that survives among many pundits these days. Yet, even for the big bang to happen there had to be something in existence before that to make the bang. You can't bang something out of nothing, surely?

The Nobel Prize winning scientist Linus Pauling, aptly described science as the search for truth.  Science does this by continuously comparing its theories objectively with evidence in the natural world.  When theories no longer conform to the evidence, they are modified or rejected in favor of new theories that do conform.  In other words, science constantly tries to prove its assumptions to be false and rejects implausible explanations.  In this way, scientific knowledge and understanding grow over time.  Religious explanations for the order of things are not science because they are based primarily on faith and do not subject themselves to be objectively falsified.  Because of this fundamental difference in the approach to understanding our natural world, the U.S. Supreme Court in effect decided in 1987 that the Biblically based "creation science" is not a science and cannot be taught as such in public schools as an alternative or in addition to the mainstream evolutionary theory of the biological sciences.  However, religious creation stories and the idea of "intelligent design" can be taught in philosophy, religion, or history courses.  Religion and Science provide different approaches to knowledge.  It is important to understand both.

It was sometime in the '90s that the Creationists started challenging the Scientists about the anomaly where it was announced that the Universe was around 15 billion  years old while some stars were thought to be 18 billion years old. Surely you can't have a child older than its mother? The response by the men of science was, that the methods of measurement used then, were not as accurate and sophisticated as it is now with gadgets like Hubble in space. Further the plus or minus factor that plays into these numbers balances the anomaly since 3 billion doesn’t make much difference when you are counting 15 and 18 billion. 15 plus or minus 3 and 18 plus or minus 3 somewhat equates to a reasonable balance. Today, science has a firm foundation on time, distance, length, and space with minimal error. The very fact that scientific probes to the moon, mars and other planets are making their journeys with pin point accuracy goes to prove this beyond any doubt whatsoever.

And so, the Cell divided and grew into multiple cells that flourished across the hills and valleys, rivers and streams, Oceans and seas, on our little planet called earth. Science teaches us that in its 4.6 billion years circling the sun, the Earth has harbored an increasing diversity of life forms. From Cells to Bacteria to Multi Cellular Life, to Animals, Fish, Plants, Insects, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals, Birds, Flowers, Primates, and Humans. Who comes next is a good question to pose? And also when, where and how? Science also teaches s that many species have already become extinct through this long span of time. The Anaerobes, the Trilobites and the Dinosaur. Humans are supposed to have roamed our planet only about 2.5 million  years ago. Taking that as a valid fact of science and looking before to the rest of the 4.6 billion years one begins to wonder whether this era was one of nothingness and absolute silence. How would the religionist explain what God Was Doing during this time? Even if they do say He was simply thinking or resting one would surely tend to ask why does He need to think or rest, anyways?