Olympic Spirit

I felt reading about the ‘adjustments’ that happened and the astounding opening ceremony for the Olympics in China. First it was that some part of the fireworks were animated for the folks to look at in the screen. And secondly more jarringly the pretty girl who sang was the same pretty girl who didn’t really sing.

The reaction to this has been relatively muted. For example see this

There is an interesting comment in there how Chinese culture would like to present what looks best rather than the true thing.

I think this is true across the world.

The image has completely taken over.

Truth is sacrificed for honour.

Advertisements

wrangling with genes

families are complex. You love em. Well… a lot of us do. Some of us can’t. And others aren’t bothered. But you got to admit they have a lot to do with who we are. The inheritance of genes is something that is rather baffling. In a choice driven world we end up looking like our family. And a lot of scientists say that we behave like them as well. Is that genetic? well it seems that studies done among people who are adopted pointed towards the fact that there were stronger likeness of characteristics towards the biological parents than the adoptive ones.

Complete pointless digression.

Ok so families have a lot to do with us. so what happens if we tire of them? or we don’t get along? should we try to sort it? or is it just too much bother? what if we were adopted? how would we react then?

Let’s add some more complexity to this wierd scenario. we’re part of this massive joint family. so we don’t like our immediate family but don’t want to completely leave the old family name so what do we do? should we just hop from branch to branch of the family just to see what suits us? hmmmmmm.

That’s what the Bangalore Christian does. While their beer guzzling companions hop pubs in the precious little time before the cops arrive, equivalently the brethren hop churches savouring the best that churches have to offer.

‘oooh feel like a loud sermon today’…. ‘feel guilty today I could do with a good going to hell sermon’ ‘feel happy today need some rocked out music!!!’ ‘feel prophetic today I shall pronounce 7 people to be worship leaders today’….

Now I’ve got to be careful. People do move churches sometimes for good reason. There could be a God given sanction to move. There could be genuinely wrong things happening which prompt a move. But in my experience for someone to move church in Bangalore it is not such a big deal. We go where we feel like reveling in the beauty of choice.

Why DO we move around like stupid goldfish jumping from bowl to bowl?

1. ‘Good’ preaching. (Aargh!)(Where in the bible does it say that a sermon is a necessary part of Christian worship?)
2. cool crowd
3. great music
4. big crowd
5. even better music
6. Dramatic preacher
7. signs and wonders
8. powerpoint
9. good coffee (not that milky crap I got in the other place)
10. parking space

But I think there are even sadder reasons why we move. We don’t know what church is. When was the last time we heard a memorable sermon about the church? In Bangalore I don’t remember a single one. We have so many sermons a huge chunk of them useless and we still don’t know why we are sitting like schoolchildren in a building in front of somebody rabbitting on.

We don’t feel like a family because we have no teaching about it. We just sit there listening to all these self help mantras and tiring psychological endeavours. at the end if we’ve been emotionally titillated we give a tick mark to the service. ‘Good’.

I think for Jesus it’s like sitting with a gazillion bored teenagers. He’s adopted all of them and most of them just want to be entertained. We really need to be genetically modified so that we can be rid of horrors of the old genes and live with Christ’s genes. But guess what? we’re so happy to be adopted by the Big J that we think it’s all about access to him and sitting on his lap. Well, actually he’s done a rather wild thing as well. He’s grafted us into this family, a bunch of whining, complaining back stabbers some of whom who truly love you and really resemble him. And we’re family because he did that rather scary thing of going through the scariest darkness of alienation and death. So we’re family.

Personally it means I have to love one of the few persons in this world I’ve truly hated. I know it to be true. I have to. I will.

But Bangaloreans.
Stop the Hop.

We are family.
It’s not just Jesus and me.

air duckin’

Bright pukey yellow. Ummm it doesn’t exist but that was the colour of the shirt of the air dukan employees. We experienced our first experience of that experience which experienced the ridiculousness of this sentence. Some of this is fantasy but the ones in quotes (fore fingers bend up and down) are true real live reports of the most amazing and rare decking.

Check in at air deckin’ was relatively straightforward but after going through security we were a bit disconcerted to find that our flight 174 which was clearly printed on our ticket as destination Trivandrum was actually heading to Mumbai. Hmmm… maybe it was a short detour. Or maybe a couple of teutonic plates had shifted in that taxi ride. Now you can check in any time you want but you can never leave. Unless of course you’re airlifted. That’s what an airport after all is meant to be. I digress. You tiger? So here we are waiting sitting in badly stained seats while Kiarna talked to the local dustbin and Luiza drank a coffee she hated.

Waitin’….

Restless feet. Kiarna’s wriggling hers too. We found our way to one of those bright yellow people. When do we board? It’s not as though we aren’t already with all this waiting. titter.

‘Flight delayed by 100 mins. 1600 hrs to 1740 hrs.’

The half apologetic half this-always-happens-so-why-did-you-come-so-early-you-dumbcluck statement made me realise an important thing. These guys were really into cutting corners. You have to go and ask them stuff so that they don’t have to hire a horrible american accent boom out distorted announcements. Ingenious.

100 mins later we walked towards a shiny new bus. It was Jet airways. we walked past the shiny bus and walked the three mile trek to the airplane. No we didn’t. We had transport. In it’s past life probably a cattle truck. In it’s present life as well. The airplane became visible over the horizon. It was Kingfisher. OUR plane was… well… a bit plain. I mean… it had… good God… PROPELLERS! Those 2 Khaitan fans are going to keep us in the air? Maybe we shouldn’t have packed so much stuff in our suitcases.

Luiza and I have a good laugh. It’s been a while. Kiarna joins in. It’s fake. The laugh. But very sociable and fetching.

‘All air deccan personnel to leave the aircraft immediately.’

Woah! They’re really scrimping now. So there’s no pilot for these 2 fan contraptions? My wife assured me that this wasn’t the case. They had to get out in order to push the plane on to the tarmac and then a couple of their cattle trucks pull the plane while it glides into the air and with a good wind we might glide all the way to Kerala. Saves money. good for the environment. can’t complain. But as an economizing measure if they asked US to push the plane I would. Promise. Complain I mean.

‘Sorry for the delay Ladies and gentlemen, the plane to Goa developed a snag (don’t trust these Khaitan fans) and so this plane had to take all the passengers there and so we arrived here late.’

That’s how they do it. They actually own only 4 planes. They say they operate from all over the country but these four planes are doing all the work.

‘We try and cut costs so we can pass on our savings to you.’

Really kind of you mate. Will it be in cash or property or gold?

‘We’ll be taking off shortly and then taking a left and at Coimbatore we will take a right and be at Trivandrum’

So we aren’t going to ‘take off’ at all. They’re just going to put this cabin on a Volvo bus and drive down. Why else do we have to take left and right and all that? OR as yet another cost saving measure the pilot has no navigator or navigation system. So he has to follow the good old National Highway. Makes sense.

The Khaitan fans did the trick. We’re in the air now. We buy a sandwich. I ask for a microscope and a few surgical tools. I need to take the cucumber out. Yes it is THAT small.

Ladies and gentlemens, I hope you have brought your own parachute as we won’t be actually landing in Trivandrum. Thank you.

Ho Ho The Indian church which Ho

One of my greatest frustrations in recent years has been church. Now I realise i’m judgmental and biased and actually not prayerful enough to get a bigger picture but my experience of church in India really winds me up. There is are many problems of course with churches around the world. But for the church in India I think it comes down to one problem.

Honour versus Honesty.

This is a deeply ingrained aspect of culture which the church should’ve wrestled with instead of which the church merely promotes. While I was working in a church I expressed at a bible study my inability to have a quiet time daily or read the bible daily which I DO think is important. I was told afterwards that I shouldn’t say such things because it would reflect badly on me and it would be discouraging to the people I was ‘ministering’ to. Similarly I and my wife were told to be very careful about what we say for fear of being misunderstood.

Essentially it is far more important to maintain your status and honour than be honest and express a problem. This has never helped and in effect allows problems to fester to manifest themselves in ways which are horrifying. This preoccupation with honour and status ensures that our churches remain as communities of competition and fear instead of love and trust.

And so the real issues of the people and the community never get addressed. And so people land up at church for one thing. Blessing. And if church doesn’t bless me then I shall go else where to get blessed. This is another topic which I hope deal with later. Due to the lack of honesty that would truly allow a community to grow we need a substitute. And what is that?

Entertainment.

So our sermons are massively dramatic or slickly powerpointed. We have plays, loads of music, dramas etc. Now the Spirit does his work through them because he always does. thank God. But due to the lack of true community we need entertainment to get all the drifting fish back in. We need good music to get the youth back in. We need this that and a fancy accent for our preacher.

And this honour fixation means that the church remains horribly fragmented. Churches in kerala are divided into dalit and syrian congregations.

If for some reason there is a disagreement with the church there is ostracisation. When I left my job in the church where I wasn’t allowed to be honest and others with me, I made an effort to try and still contribute. I was immediately censured. After that there was a wall of silence from the church. No one really talked to us and no one wanted to even find out why I had left the job. Pastor knows best and his honour is upheld. But it’s not that pastor is an emperor of all he surveys. If steps out of his line everyone knows how to sit on him.

As far as we were concerned I think we were considered not honourable. After all the church invested money in me and one should live with the ‘burdens’ of ministry blah blah blah. I wasn’t honourable. I would like to think that I was at least a bit honest. Well I had a sensible wife and sensible former lecturers who interestingly were ‘outsiders’. their view was crucial to achieving a sense of honesty towards the issues surrounding us.

the honour fixation can be seen in the way guest speakers are introduced. The longer the titles and the more of them the better. The ideal would be to be a director of Christian International something, with a US or UK PHD in handshaking ministry, with one wife, two lovely children studying in again US or UK, an international speaking tour, an international ministry, and associate director in 3 other international ministries. A few television appearances would make the cake richer and more blessed.

Now I cannot claim to be honest. I have intense prejudices. I do have pride about my status. The worse thing is that I can see them and I can’t force myself out of them. But I feel lonely about what I see. Not many others see. If others could see with me maybe we could collectively get out with the Spirit’s transformative power.

Jesus was honest. Brutally. His honour was connected with his honesty. His status was based on what kind of a person he was. Because other than that he didn’t have much going for him. He was from some small halli (village or slum or somewhere equivalent) doing some low level job, didn’t always wash his hands before eating. How do we follow this guy?

How? another ho there. Because of the demand for respect I have very little respect to the church life in India that I’ve experienced. Forgive me. I’m an angry Christian. But the need for honesty drives me to this. Honour can crawl.