Sunday, March 24, 2013


Today we shall read from the Gospel of the Rev Abbod Thumber


1:1 In the beginning was the Vibration, And the Vibration took off, And life had begun.

1:2  A Sine Curve appeared, There was a rise and a fall, Life began to grow.

1:3 Sound was heard, Light began to flash, The Wind whispered, Water flowed.

1:4 A Date was born. It was Monday. The Moon was high.

1:5 There was work to do. Or there would be no pay. HR was tough.

1:6 So the mountains grew. The trees were tall. Fish were swimming.

1:7 And it was Evening.

1:8 And the Waters spread bringing life.

1.9 Man was born. So was Woman. They indulged. What other choice did they have?

1.10 And thats when all the trouble started.


Thursday, March 21, 2013


Most often, in these trying, yet, modern times of technological advancement, scientific discoveries, and massive development, it appears that compassion is a virtue that is slowly slipping away from human minds, across the globe. Times may be tough in terms of the downturn of global economies, political conflicts, ethnic divides and social upheavals. People are also working longer hours to barely make ends meet. Tired, frustrated, and a bit apathetic, when an opportunity arises to show compassion, some folks just don't have it in their heads.
Life was never a bed of roses. Everyone has a cross to bear. It's just part of being human on this earth. Whether it is emotional, mental, or a physical hardship, most people are simply doing the best they can with the resources that are available to them.
But where has all the compassion that we used to see in the days gone by all disappeared to? Is there a way to make it rise again? Keeping in mind that most everyone do suffer with something or another, to hold premeditated judgments or turn a blind eye when faced with a calamity popping its head in your presence is not virtuous at all. It's plain downright selfish.
People do have a tendency to conclude their judgments about others without trying to figure out the why's and what's that may have caused their difficult situations. More often than not there is a mind set that usually blames them for their predicament and walks away unperturbed about the conditions that they may be faced with.
Showing some form of attention and care towards those who may be in difficulty does have the potential to lift people up while it may also put them in a position of being able to misuse the kindness taken to be a weakness.
Compassion is basically a feeling of empathy to see another suffering or in difficulty. Do you think you are a compassionate person? Does your mind go out to those who show signs of struggle and suffering? Do you actively engage in compassionate acts or do you pass judgment or hope that someone else will help them?
It is written that those who look the other way are worse folks than those who perpetrate hatred, violence and evil upon others.
is the world churning in a melting pot of a moral dilemma where humanity is losing its ability to care for others and concentrate mainly on bettering themselves?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thinking Loud

It is only when we are constantly struggling with all those mixed feelings of inadequacy, that we never really enjoy the present moment of our lives.
It took my wife and me forever to decide to buy a house back in Colombo, since we came to live and work, here, in Saudi Arabia in 1979. Actually, I should say that it took me forever to decide to buy a house; my wife had come to the conclusion that it was the best thing to do, based on what every other expat family in the Middle east were also doing, long before I did. I know that buying a house is a huge decision, but we weren’t stuck on which house to buy; we were stuck on whether or not we wanted to buy one at all. 
My father had a large 65 perch bungalow at Bambalapitiya, of which I was one of the 2 inheritors according to his will. I had already built a smaller house on the same premises at the rear end which we occupied for sometime after we married in 1974. My wife had a house she inherited from her mother in Wellawatte. My Mum had a whole block of land on Barber Street in Kotahena, comprising a "watta" of several tenements and businesses which she had already gifted to my sister, from which income she survived, being a single mother. So the mental need to go out and buy a real house, for me, was never a priority or a necessity at all.
In any case, this really should not have been bothering me at all. All of our family were born and raised in Colombo, and have always had relatively steady and stable jobs, homes, cars, and a decent means of living, so buying property didnt really hit me as something I should be doing to have as a home or even as a nest egg for the future.
So what was holding me back? Honestly, I wanted to do something more interesting with my life than develop software and manage computer systems, live in a cookie-cutter house in the middle of the city while raising kids and pets and growing old with my wife. All of my friends were in the midst of doing really awesome things like migrating to the western world to follow love, a peaceful home, or even a perfect job, or they were writing books, doing research, or getting second master's degrees or PhD’s. I was just settling down in the Middle East with my wife and two young girls, on an interesting yet regular job with Citibank Technology, and it didn’t somehow feel like that was really enough. Was I on the right path then?
The funny thing is, though, that a lot of my friends who are doing the things I perceive as awesome are wishing that they were living the life that I was living, then. My friends who were PhD candidates were wishing they could finish so they’d be able to get a job in the Middle East and have enough money to buy a house. My friends who were writing books were wishing they had more free time. My friends who were planning migrations were wishing that the saga was finalized so they could stop feeling like they were in limbo all of the time.
I guess the grass, really, is always greener.
This feeling of inadequacy—maybe even envy of each other—that my friends and I were feeling seems to be an epidemic among most people in their late early 30s. It seems that, no matter what we do, we feel like we should be doing something else. Nothing we do is ever good enough, no matter how fantastic other people think it is. Being at peace with our choices is next to impossible, especially when we see other who we think and believe are so happy doing something else that we’ve had on our own bucket lists for a long time.
We also seem to always be looking forward to the next thing rather than being happy with where we are. Part of that is society’s fault. When we, finally, bought our own first house in Colombo, people immediately started asking us what we were going to do with it since we were not living permanently there yet. When people have a baby or write a book, we ask them when the next will be along. When students get close to finishing their degrees, we ask them what they plan to do after school. And so on. We can never just decide we’ve done enough because people won’t let us.
To this end, Gloria Steinem wrote, “I’ve always had two tracks running in my head. The pleasurable one was thinking forward to some future scene, imagining what should be, planning on the edge of fantasy. The other played underneath with all too realistic fragments of what I should have done. There it was in perfect microcosm, the past and future coming together to squeeze out the present, which is the only time in which we can be fully alive…These past and future tracks have gradually dimmed until they are rarely heard. More and more, there is only the full, glorious, alive-in-the-moment, don’t-give-a-damn yet caring-for-everything sense of the right now.”
People spend so much time “squeezing out the present” with hopes and dreams for the future or regrets about choices made in the past that it makes it difficult to just enjoy what is for as long as it is and then move on to the next thing, whatever that may be.
Personally, as soon as my wife and I moved everything we owned and possessed back home in Colombo, into the new house that we had bought ourselves, I did feel an immediate sense of calm as well as achievement. There is a permanence that goes along with property ownership that doesn’t come from much else in life. Especially when you've done it with your own hard earned cash. Once we bought the house, it felt like a million other tiny decisions had been made for us. Sure, I did think that I’ll get a PhD or write a book at some future point in time, even now, at this late stage of my life, but I’m in no rush. The path my life was taking then would have been different had we not moved out of Sri Lanka or had I started another educational adventure in Sri Lanka, but instead of feeling regret for what could have been, I’m actually feeling relieved.
Finally, I am happy with the way my life has rolled on to date, and I’m really comfortable that it will allow me to enjoy the present while letting the future come at its own pace. I just hope my friends can find this same peace, too.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Religion, Sex, Politics and Money

Sunday Morning Sermon - Mar 17 2013

They say that the three topics you should avoid in polite conversation are sex, politics and religion, yet, those are the only interesting things to talk about! With money added to make it four, of course.
It’s difficult to have much of a conversation without talking about sex, politics and money, and it’s pretty hard to preach a sermon worth anything at all without talking about sex, politics and money. Why is that?
Because sex, politics and money are the basis for three topics that are actually vitally important and therefore vitally interesting: love, power and wealth. Everybody wants to be loved. Everybody wants to be in control. Everybody wants the security and pleasure money can buy. This is the way the world turns–everybody obsessed with the “P” words: pleasure, power, prosperity.
The intriguing thing is that this is the way the world revolves –everybody running after the power, the pleasure and the loot, and yet they know that these things don’t last and even if you have them they do not satisfy, forever. There’s a deeper need, and people know there’s a deeper need, but they cannot give up their lust for the power, the pleasure and the loot.
Furthermore, the love of these three: sex, money and politics–engender most of the conflicts, most of the arguments, most of the heart breaking, marriage wrecking, family smashing, life destroying things in life. In spiritual life, as in family life, the ultimate conflicts are over money, sex and power. What’s the answer?
Celibacy, poverty and obedience. The three Franciscan vows bash the love of sex, money and power on their head. Celibacy turns away from sex. Poverty turns away from wealth. Obedience turns away from power. NOT because sex, money and power are in themselves evil, but because the love of them is the root of all evil. 
So in a radical act St Francis and his followers teach us that all of us can put sex, money and power in their place and say, “I’m in charge here. Sex, money and power?” That’s the way of the world and I don’t walk that way.
So who am I to say this? I am not a Franciscan friar. I’m a married priest. I have a wife and four kids. I have a decent house in the suburbs and as many cars as any other suburban family man. That’s why we don’t judge by appearances. The real, underlying question is not whether one has these things, but whether we’re attached to them.
A conversation that a father had with his son while driving along in their car ine day went like this.
Father: “You know all this stuff we have? The car, the house, the motorcycle, the computers?”
Son: “Yeh.”
Father: I don’t care about any of it. Honest to God. I could walk away from it all tomorrow and be a missionary and live in some jungle hut.”
Son: “I’m like that too.”
Nice on paper.
Now look who'se pretending to be what he is not?

Even the Vatican cannot uphold these sentiments anymore, not forgetting the Vihara, Kovil and Masjid.

All that has changed is the Head of the Crusade.

Good Luck to the Fransican in charge, in Italy!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Learning to learn

Sunday Morning Sermon Mar 10 2013

The System of Education

Education has been on-going from the beginning of civilization on the face of this earth. In the beginning, it was acquired by experienceand mutual understanding, sharing, and trial and error. Subsequently it has developed into many forms and systems that now prevail across the globe.
In the old days, it was a case of mucking up books, books, and more books. It hasn't changed much since then, The books are still around, although in different forms of publication and accessibility with the advent of technology, the digital era and the internet. However, the mucking up phenomenon hasn't still gone away for good.

Students still need to cram and answer question papers for lengthy hours using long and explicit paragraphs of text. This is absolutely boring and useless. It only cultivates the ability to memorize and remember so that one can actually answer a set of questions which are also somewhat pre-defined based on previous examinations across time. I believe it has very little value for money.
Of course, everyone wants a piece of paper in his briefcase to supplement his resume in order to prove that he or she is capable.

I think we should change, completely, the way we teach and assess our generations.
Let there be a curriculum and syllabus established for each discipline.
Let there be prescribed texts, comprising of books, websites and other means for students to access and learn.

Let them be tested using only multiple choice questions and answers.

And most of all,

Let the student be able to utilize, fully, the books, the internet, the PC, and any other available educational material that is available to him or her during the examination.

At the end of the day, when the student passes out with his Bachelors or Masters he surely will have access to whatever he pleases in order to execute his/her tasks.

So, why not let them have the same access during their examinations, too?
Think about it?

It makes good logical and practical sense...

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Wednesday Short Story - Mar 6 2013

Just imagine that one morning you wake up from a good nights sleep and find yourself in a strange room that's empty except for ceiling to floor cupboards on all four walls containing little index card drawers only. They are like the ones you used to find in the old RC library, neatly marked and arranged in alphabetical order.

You walk up to the drawers and find one titled "People I have Liked very Much". You open the drawer and flip through the cards. They contain names that you immediately recognize as those friends and family with whom you had the best of times, as you can possibly remember. You close the drawer and move to another one. Its titled "Friends I have betrayed". You open the drawer and flip through the cards, read the names, and you know exactly who and what they are.

And then you find more with titles like "Books I have Read", "Dames I have screwed", "Movies I have seen", "Cars I have owned", "Countries I have visited", "Lies I have told", "Jokes I have cracked", "Lustful Thoughts", Songs I have loved", and so on.

You are amazed and overwhelmed at the recollection of all the people, places and things that you have been associated with all your life. Its more like a memory spasm hitting you from the front. It is difficult for you to even imagine that all this has actually transpired through your life. You wonder why you are being shown this now and where you actually are?

Who else could see these cards, you wonder. It seems scary that the cat would be out of the bag since only you knew most of the stuff that was on the cards.

And then you come to the drawer marked "Things I have shared and taught others". You think about the other drawers and compare the number of cards inside this one. Are they more, equal or less?

You wonder. Have I accomplished my mission in life?



Monday, March 4, 2013

Traditional Father v Modern Father

Sunday Sermon Mar 3 2013

The traditional father was always the family head, who stretched out his love of spouse and children having them always in his minds eye to be taken care of and nurtured in every possible way. His goals were always centered around his family and their future.
Driving the kids to school and back, taking them for swimming and tennis in the evenings and even watching every game of cricket they played was a part and parcel of life back in the good old days.
And his only payback was the welfare of the family.
This tradition paid back well in the hearts and minds of our parents and grandparents.
In return the children always cared for their parents and grandparents and lived in extended family formats  until the final call. Life was full of great living in those traditional times.
The Present Day Father seems worldly wise, spends for his kids as a social duty, yet doesn't sacrifice his own interest. If one asks, why it may be because he doesn't feel comfortable that his children will actually care for him in his dotage. The fear of ending up in an Old Folks Home seems to be the worry most are having in these troubled times.
There certainly seems to be a paradigm shift in the thinking of parents and elders over the past 50+ years.
Children too seem to be moving away from parental love and control at a much earlier age and fending for themselves in a more independent manner than what we came through 50 years ago.
How will this play out when these kids become Fathers of their own children? Is the massive increase in divorce rates seen in recent years one of the outcomes of this inability to stay a Father through a long and strenuous family life?
Change has come no doubt but what will it throw up?