Monday, March 31, 2014

A phenomenon called Bruno Mars!

I am probably late to the party and I know that I am using the term 'probably' rather loosely. I just discovered this phenomenon called Bruno Mars. I don't care for music much. I hate how playing music in the car seems like a normal thing to do or how it sneaks in from my neighbor's house some mornings. The rare times I do enjoy music are when the lyrics resonate with me or when the voice shares more than technique. Old Hymns move me and that has to do with the words and not music. I love 'Les Miserables' for its content.The exceptions are Bob Marley and Michael Jackson and the occassional Nate Reuss. There is something haunting in their voice that reveals their inner persona. After listening to 'Grenade' I added one more to the list : Bruno Mars! Intense!




Sunday, December 15, 2013

What are the top 5 things that you have learned in life so far?


These are mine

1) Understand the concept of standards. If you are considered good/bad at something, always remember 'according to these standards'. Success, talent, beauty, intelligence, concept of strength - nothing holds the same standard across cultures or time. There is no point in feeling superior or inferior to anyone.

2) Never waste the power of words on white lies, mocking people or making promises that you don't mean to keep. 

3) Be an open book. If you have to hide something, you shouldn't be doing that in the first place. But keep the secret of others if it's not your story to tell.

4) Never resort to revenge. Let God be the judge. If that person deserves mercy, you would have erred by resorting to revenge. If that person deserves discipline, you are not the right person to discharge that. 


5) Learn where to use anger. Don't get angry at incompetent people. There is a difference between incompetence and indifference. It's not someone's fault if their intelligence doesn't fit the prevailing standards. Anger is best directed at hypocrites and bigots.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Anne Askew

Thinking of Anne Askew this Sunday. She never got her due in Church history. She was a protestant executed by the protestant King Henry VIII (who separated the Church of England from papal authority) because he found her ideas 'too protestant'. He executed both Catholics and protestants alike. (Bloody Mary executed less than 300. Henry VIII killed around 17000 Catholics+Protestants for religion)

Anglican churches tend to tone down that history when they talk about their origins. She is also not the kind of role model that they can be proud of because this was a woman who refused to take her husband's surname in the 16th century and asked for a divorce because she found him ideologically incompatible. She also preached openly at a time a woman on pulpit was unthinkable. Apparently, the author who compiled her autobiography edited a lot of portions to conceal her aggression.

She refused to recant and was the only woman to be tortured before execution though the law was against torturing women. The torture in a rack broke her limbs and she had to be carried to the stake to be burnt. Her life would have been spared if she had said that she accepted the theory of transubstantiation. She was asked again on the stake if she wanted to recant and she refused.

She believed that the Lord's Supper is not literally the body and blood of Christ, but rather a sacred symbol of it. She said "But as touching the holy and blessed supper of the Lord, I believe it to be a most necessary remembrance of his glorious sufferings and death. Moreover, I believe as much therein as my eternal and only Redeemer, Jesus Christ, would [that] I should believe. Finally, I believe all those scriptures to be true [which] he has confirmed with his precious blood." She was executed for that. It wan't a case of having to deny God. She believed in something and she died because she didn't want to lie. She was only 26. Apparently, even John Foxe, who was against women leaders admired her courage.

What's interesting to me is how much 'words' meant to these people. Honestly, I have never worried about the technicalities of the Lord's supper. Whenever I partake, I imagine partaking the Lord's body and blood but I also know that it is symbolic and no scientific transformation actually takes place. Is it his body-yes. Will this bread grow moldy if it is left somewhere- yes for that too. It's not a belief that I find a 'make or break' to follow Christ. I can accept both. I guess that's what separates us from the Heroes.

This is a ballad written by her.

Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight
And Faith shall be my shield.

Faith is that weapon strong
Which will not fail at need.
My foes, therefore, among
Therewith will I proceed.

As it is had in strength
And force of Christ's way
It will prevail at length
Though all the devils say nay.

Faith in the fathers old
Obtained righteousness
Which make me very bold
To fear no world's distress.

I now rejoice in heart
And Hope bid me do so
For Christ will take my part
And ease me of my woe.

Thou saist, lord, who so knock,
To them wilt thou attend.
Undo, therefore, the lock
And thy strong power send.

More enemies now I have
Than hairs upon my head.
But fight thou in my stead.

On thee my care I cast.
For all their cruel spite
I set not by their haste
For thou art my delight.

I am not she that list
My anchor to let fall
For every drizzling mist
My ship substantial.

Not oft use I to wright
In prose nor yet in rime,
Yet will I shew one sight
That I saw in my time.

I saw a rial throne
Where Justice should have sit
But in her stead was one
Of moody cruel wit.

Absorpt was righteousness
As of the raging flood
Sathan in his excess
Suct up the guiltless blood.

Then thought I, Jesus lord,
When thou shalt judge us all
Hard is it to record
On these men what will fall.

Yet lord, I thee desire
For that they do to me
Let them not taste the hire
Of their iniquity.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why do I support gay marriages as a practicing Christian?



I thought of posting why I support gay marriages and better still why I feel the need to talk about it. My husband subscribes to the Christian church’s ideology and I understand where he is coming from.  We agree to disagree on this topic. I have  respect for individuals who are honest to their faith. Faith is my reason too.  I talk exactly for the reason you are silent.

It’s a bit of a lonely road because I am not an atheist or an agnostic. My reason is not ‘freedom of choice’. I believe in the sanctity of life and that exclusivity in sexual relationship between two individuals could be broken only by death.  I don’t even believe in divorce other than caused by adultery or abuse. I am not for open relationships or polygamy. My reasoning is based on the golden rule and how I perceive Jesus Christ.  I wrote about this in a previous post here

It doesn't concern me that standing for gender equality or homosexual marriages would pigeonhole me among Christians. I am not ashamed of my stand. My theology is not based on 'fear for the soul' or 'hell' that talking for a fellow human being needs to be done with caution. 

When slavery was abolished, many Christians were against it because they didn’t consider the revolt Christian. Some even argued that equality was against the nature of humans. I am glad most Christians agree today that the golden rule just doesn’t give any provision for slavery. Did Jesus talk about slavery in general? No. Did he even preach to the gentiles? No. But he did give the golden rule on which Christian ideologies should hinge on. He spoke against divorce but never against homosexuals. Preachers won't step down from the pulpits on those grounds but are eager to condemn homosexuals to hell. 

I see an evolution in terms of understanding of God when I read the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament.  I don’t believe that God gave the commandment to take in multiple wives, divorce at will, annihilate enemies or take in virgin plunders. The human understanding of God evolved.  Jesus Christ explicitly mentioned why Moses permitted divorces. He broke superstitious rules that were once meant to be holy. That’s why it’s dangerous to quote verses that are the opinions of people with limited revelations.

If I stand for commitment, I should encourage commitment. If someone is born with a different sexual orientation and desires commitment, I don’t have any logical reason against it. Why should we drive homosexuals out of churches, refuse legal commitments and then point fingers at an immoral life style. It’s up to a church to decide whether or not they want to conduct a homosexual marriage. But lobbying against legal equality is unreasonable. Should someone be punished for the way they are born just so that we could feel righteous?  

I talk about this openly whenever I get a chance because however inconsequential it is, that is one more voice added from the Christian crowd.  If this encourages one homosexual person who is depressed because of the witch hunting by some Christians, it's good enough for me. I am glad there were people who were not afraid to voice out against slavery, racism at a point such inequality was considered a safe Christian ideology. If they had inferred that any social cause is inconsequential since Jesus Christ did not actively support an anti slavery movement,  this world would not have progressed.  If Paul had confined himself because Jesus Christ did not preach to the gentiles, I would not have found a friend in Jesus.

“Matt 7: 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

This verse is not about being safe on the conservative side. It transcends race, religion, social standing, intellect, sexual orientation or any other identity out there. There is no other law against love.

37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Prajwala co founded by Sunitha Krishnan, a gang rape survivor - Rescued 3000+ and houses 600 sex trafficked victims



We all know about the brutal rape that happened in Delhi. Six men raped a 23 year old in a moving bus, beat her up, inserted an iron rod in her vagina, tortured her and left her naked on the streets. Her male friend was also savagely beaten up. She lost 3 litres of blood, had to undergo an intestine transplant since her's were severely damaged but despite medical intervention succumbed to her injuries and died. This has shaken up the conscience of the general public.

What happened to her was heinous. She held a mirror to the nation. Her justice is not in how those rapists would be punished. It's about how such crimes against women could be subverted. Please listen to this TED talk by Dr. Sunitha Krishnan 




For those who want to do something about sexual crimes against women - you could donate to Prajwala - co founded by Sunitha Krishnan who was raped by 8 men when she was 15 and has been fighting relentlessly against human trafficking for the past 16 years despite getting beaten up by goons more than 15 times. She has rescued 3000+ victims and her rehabilitation centre homes 600 sex trafficked victims.

It would make a huge difference if we pledge to donate a small amount every month or make a one time donation to support the work of people like Sunitha Krishnan who have put their lives on the line for this cause. 1000 INR per month or 100 INR pe rmonth won't make a dent in our household income but it could help save lives. 



Accolades:

  • Prajwala is a member of various national and state level committees to combat trafficking. For its efforts in the sector the organization has been recognized by various national and international bodies like Government of India, World of Children, UNFPA and Ashoka Innovators.

  • Anamika - The Nameless a film produced by Prajwala won two international awards in De Cine De Granada and Action Cut International Film Festival. 

  • Of Freedom and Fear a film produced in collaboration with Andhra Pradesh AIDS Control Society was screened in the New York Film Festival, Mini DV International Festival.

  • Dr Sunitha Krishnan the founder general secretary and the chief functionary of Prajwala has been recognised for her efforts in the anti trafficking sector by the following national and international bodies

  • Prajwala won the prestigious AGFUND International award in April, 2008 for its pioneering work to Combat Trafficking of Women and Children through Community Partnership. Prajwala was adjudged the best project in the world for its outstanding efforts.

  • Dr Sunitha Krishnan the chief functionary and co-founder of Prajwala won the ‘Real Heroes Award’ constituted by Reliance Industries Limited and  CNN-IBN Network in April, 2008.  This award is meant to recognize the unsung heroes of independent India.

  • Dr.Sunitha Krishnan, Chief Functionary of the organization was felicitated by Intelligence Business Network, Malaysia in March 2009. This felicitation has had a great positive impact as an entry point was created to sensitize women corporate leaders to be sensitive on the issue of trafficking.   

  • Prajwala received the National Award for Child Welfare from the Govt. of India in February, 09 for the exceptional services it renders to prevent child trafficking and its outstanding efforts to rescue and rehabilitate child victims of sex trafficking.

  • Dr.Sunitha Krishnan has been featured as a Real Hero in the Trafficking in Persons Report, released by the US Department of State in June, 2009.  This is an acknowledgment of activists fighting to end modern day slavery – Nine persons from across the world were chosen as 2009 TIP Heroes.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

Melting Standards



Nets aimed at shooting stars
Heart lusting its glitter and spark
Naïve for Greatness, Glory and Fame
Minions march to make a name

Barbaric hunters with a pile of skulls
Artists flaunting mastered skills
Emperors, Cardinals from different times
Modern entrepreneurs hoarding gains

The world looks up in need of a purpose
Craving a promise of dreams in surplus
Like the moon drunk on light it borrows
Aspires to be the sun every night and morrows

The play of chance, the hand of times
Distract our eyes from what it hides
Hunter in an Industrial Age
Writer facing the Dinosaur's rage
Flip the centuries, the Heroes fall
Yet the world is snared by illusion's trawl

All we know is the scale of standards
Pity what’s different, judge what threatens
Fear the outlaws or discredit with slanders
Worship the Heroes, scorn the strays
And continue till time tilts the scales

Done with muscles, intellect and wealth
Brink of another change peers in stealth
What would be tossed and put to rest
What could signal greatness  next?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christianity and the Homosexuality issue

     This is something that has been in my mind lately. More so because of how the fundamentalist and evangelical churches point at Homosexuals as the culprits for any disaster - natural or otherwise. If there is a hurricane, prominent preachers don't waste any time in accusing them as the cause of God's wrath. There is much outcry against Homosexual marriages. As a practising Christian, this disturbs me a lot. If we have to go by the Jesus Christ portrayed in the Bible, I am sure that if he were to walk as a human in this century, he wouldn't refuse a party invitation from them.

 All creation is beautiful. If someone is created that way, perhaps there is a reason to it as Christ rightly said in Matt 19
 "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake"
It's funny how people quote Leviticus to condemn homosexuals ignoring other chapters and verses from the same book. Leviticus has rules that prohibit shaving the side burns as well. The Laws were given because of the hard heartedness of the people. But at any given point of biblical time, those laws were redemptive than the culture around them. Jesus Christ broke some of the laws and yet said that he was fulfilling them. He could see the spirit behind the law. Sometimes following the very law means breaking it. Context is the key.

The old covenant was based on law, the new covenant is based on grace . All 613 laws of Moses were replaced by a simple commandment from Jesus ( Galatians 5:14 - For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.") If we are prejudiced against people who are different from us out of fear of the church and the preachers, how can we say that we honour the new covenant. 

Christ stopped people from stoning a woman charged with Adultery. He didn't keep the Sabbath when that meant helping people. And when He taught about the judgement - Love was the only reference. 


Matt 25 31-33 “When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,I was homeless and you gave me a room,I was shivering and you gave me clothes,I was sick and you stopped to visit,I was in prison and you came to me.’37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.


It is a medical fact that some are born with that disposition. How can we expect them to follow the rules meant for men and women. Shouldn't they be able to enjoy Love and companionship. ( 1 Cor 7: 9 It's better to marry than to burn with lust.)

We don't get to judge anyone unless we are 100% sure that we would have done a better job than that person even if we were born with their disposition, faced the circumstances that they faced, met the kind of people they met in life etc. Because while judging, we are setting up the standards with which we will be judged later. 


Matt 77 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

That's why the kind of people Christ admonished were Hypocrites and Religious teachers. He dined with the 'sinners' because he didn't merely see the choices, he saw the inner person that made those choices despite their disadvantages. 

Christ did not pile up rules for people to follow. He gave the ultimate golden rule to take care of every aspect of life. His formula was simple - Love God, treat others the way you would like to be treated, be tolerant about personal insults but don't be a wimp - use anger and fight against hypocrisy/injustice. He never started his day thinking about how he would be perceived by others. If that's the case, he wouldn't have been caught speaking with the Samaritan woman, dining with 'sinners' or rescuing a woman from getting stoned for adultery. He took the whip when needed - but that was not to admonish someone's transgression from the norms. It was to thrash religious Hypocrisy. 

If we call him our Father, we should not forget that he is the Father to everyone -irrespective of religion, race, gender, social standing, intellect, sexual disposition... And he Loves everyone the same.