Archive for January, 2009

Representational dispensation when  transcribed in secular idiom works differently. Nature has a way of balancing the disproportionate demand by life forms collectively on her resources. Natural calamities and wars are all part of her game plan.  Take the case of Santorini island. ‘The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions the planet has ever seen: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete’.(ack:wikipedia) This could have led to the flowering of language, arts and crafts in the Greek Mainland.  A cosmic impact may wipe off the dinosaurs but it is a push for species who are precariously trying to get a foothold in the evolutionary ladder. Thus Oneness of Things sees to spread the good and evil alike. In 2006 Israel engaged their troops to fight Hizbollah who were holed up in Lebanon. While many were shedding tears for the Lebanese civilians who are caught up in the war there was a little known matter of  some 20000 Filipino girls who were stuck there. These girls from poor families were promised higher pay by their Lebanese /Arab masters and when they were brought in their papers and passports had been confiscated. But for the war these maids would have been continuing as slaves. The war at least liberated these maids from their wretched lot to find their way back home. War by itself is despicable manifestation of greed and ambition but if this conflict could bring about relief to those who are subject to unmitigated horror of slavery as described above let us not waste our tears for the ways of Oneness of Things.

In one of my earlier posts  ( Love makes the World Go round- Dec8,’08)  the analogy of pollutants being carried around by tides is apt in case of our lives. Human civilization is like man made effluent.
We benefit from several areas as marine birds, bivalves do and how we put our strengths to use also differ. Since Oneness of Things is impartial in letting the results, both good and bad in human civilization, to spread around no one can conclude that Oneness is unjust to allow what we consider as an evil to live on.
If one finds evil has crept in what he or she holds as dear it is the duty of that person to do whatever in his or her power to fight it. Sympathy from one who has allowed knowingly evil to prosper (by silence) is from the lips and does not go any deeper.

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When we are saved our names are recorded in heaven(Lk 10:20).  Soul is my essence whether clothed with a corruptible body or out of it. It  is a record of events signifying my life on earth and hereafter.

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Rabbi Benn Weiss had to visit an ailing aunt who lived three days journey from our town. I volunteered to keep him company throughout the trip and my friend and counselor agreed. On the first day as we broke the day’s travel at a way-side inn he had company of travelers who had been to Jerusalem. From their animated tone of talk I guessed they were Zionists and were telling my friend about the advent of Messiah.
“He is the prince of peace,” Rabbi Benn Weiss explained to me. I asked, “ A fine prince of peace, to keep away while brothers are at each other’s throat”. Seeing raised eyebrows all about me I explained, “ Prince of peace must not only settle peace but also see that there is no room for the Children of Israel and of Ishmael to quarrel. ” The Zionists heard this part of conversation and they laughed loudly. “O Rabbi, your companion seems not to know anything of the complex issues that we must grapple with.”
“Yeah,” I snapped, “ You laugh as though the whole land is yours. You remind me of a burglar who the night before burgled my house and before the judge defended with an impassioned plea that he had owned the goods all along!”
The rabbi tried to change the topic but his friends went on lecturing me as to the way God had picked out Abraham for His blessings. Even before one could recite the verse I preempted the move by citing that I was quite familiar with it. I quoted the verse without an error and added,“ You were kicked out of Jerusalem by the Romans. What for?” I explained that the Jews were scattered to far corners of the earth because they had rejected the Messiah. It is God’s judgment.”
Later I told my friend that God had promised the patriarch that he would bless all nations through him, “ Does it not prove then that God scattered Jews so when Christianity spread, it would find a ready soil for conversion?”
The Rabbi was all for changing the subject and I said, “Jews were blessed so Christianity may be spread throughout.” He at last could say, “ I cannot think except as a Jew, Jake, nor can you except as a Christian. So let us not discuss or intrude into the office of God.”
Useless controversies can only be a waste of breath. God’s judgment is representational dispensation. Why? We represent God’s love here on earth and any dispensation we attribute to God has to be then representational in nature. Lack of peace only means we are imperfect beings. Advent of Prince of Peace is merely a standard for us to take measure from.

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Dispensation is a theological term. In American Heritage dictionary dispensation is defined as divine ordering of worldly affairs. Israel has conveniently cobbled an aggressive policy of laying out the extent of their territory on their perceived rights: their ownership as derived by God’s promise to Patriarch Abraham. “I will make of thee a great nation…” Gen  12:2 Ishmael is also of the seed of Abraham. Is it not? If Israel can use this as an argument cannot Palestinians also claim equal rights considering they are also of Abraham?
Suppose we adopt Israel’s argument that their nation was singled out for His blessings let me cite one passage from the  Old Testament. The story of Joseph traces his rise from prison  to be the counselor of the Pharaoh. He was cast out by his brethren and sold into slavery to Ishmeelites. Before long he found himself in the land of Egypt. As with so many who have been thrown into abyss of despair do find their feet to make a comeback Joseph also made a spectacular comeback this time to be the advisor of the Pharaoh. Because of his closeness to the Pharaoh he could save his brethren when famine in their land was at its worst. Let us only consider the divine providence at play here. Unless God had not blessed Egypt with abundance of grains and food will not the seed of Abraham have perished at that period of time? From this we can see that God blesses the Israel as well as other nations.
Do I hear someone saying that Egypt was blessed because of Israel? In the opening chapter of Exodus we read that ‘the land (of Egypt) was filled with them (Children of Israel). Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph..’(Ex. 1: 7-8) If God wanted to bless Israel at the expense of other nations He need not have made what seemed a blessing at a point of time, work like a curse at another time. They have suffered and also prospered owing to the simple Truth they are interconnected with other nations.  All these ups and downs are natural working of every nation coping with others so all the good and bad are absorbed by all. The challenges when faced and learned from prove to be our strengths. With these strengths any nation may confer a blessing to another nation when they are down.
This is how Oneness of things works.

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Great Scenes from a few movie classics are discussed here. The first is All Quiet etc.,

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) is one of the early sound films that can truly be classed as the first major anti-war film and anticipated La Grande Illusion of Jean Renoir by seven years. The film was based upon the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque who had experienced the war first-hand as a young German soldier. This landmark epic film, made on a large-scale budget of $1.25 million for Universal Pictures was a critical and financial success – the grainy black and white film is still not dated and the film hasn’t lost its initial impact. From four Academy Award nominations, it won the Academy Award for Best Picture (the third winner in the history of AMPAS) and Best Director (Lewis Milestone with his first sound feature), and it was also nominated for Best Writing Achievement (George Abbott, Maxwell Anderson, and Del Andrews) and Best Cinematography (Arthur Edeson). Smarting from war wounds naturally the Nazi government of the 30s denounced
The film for its anti-militaristic tone and till 1956 it was banned in Italy.
This story is neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war…

Unlike Remarque’s novel that begins with the young men already at war, with flashbacks to earlier times, the film is told in a logical, chronological fashion. The content of the film can be divided into four distinct parts:

1. the pre-war education of schoolboys, and the enlistment of the young German recruits
2. the soldiers’ arrival at the front of World War I
3. the experiences of the cruelties and horrors of war in trench warfare
4. the hero’s homecoming, return to the front, and ultimate death

The film is episodic and in a series of vignettes and scenes we are given a soldier’s point of view which conveys the senselessness of war. We have quite a few war films, including Platoon (1986), Full Metal Jacket (1987), and Saving Private Ryan (1998)  from the point of view of the cannon fodder who shall find no glory on the battlefield, meeting only death and disillusionment. The soldier sums up his view poignantly,  “ And our bodies are earth. And our thoughts are clay. And we sleep and eat with death”.
This film is singular in giving it from a young German’s point of view and not from grandstand of the Allies. Whichever point of view you take will not make the war smell any more fresh than the blackest heart of the warmonger. Kaiser and Hitler sent raw recruits to the eye of the storm and they held consultations with generals over maps, and do you think they ever gave a thought to the common soldier?
Tjaden: “Me and the Kaiser, we are both fighting. The only difference is the Kaiser isn’t here!”

Finally let me give one of the most memorable scenes from the film. How shall one give a soldier’s untimely death its grandeur? Would a pool of blood express it in proper measure?  There is no heroism that can adequately express his life when it is taken from him. He obeys higher authority to kill and if he is killed it is only bad luck.  Even in final scene just before Armistice is declared the soldier shows us he has been subjected to the most wretched experience any man can impose on another, and yet he has not lost the purity of his soul. It may be as fragile as a butterfly enjoying a brief moment of sunshine. In his reaching out for it we know it is so. For one brief moment of clarity he is connected to it as an equal : both are vulnerable and not proof against the hazards of life.
“ In the unforgettable final moments of this film, just before the “all quiet on the western front” armistice and with all of his comrades gone, soldiers are bailing water out of a dilapidated trench. The faint sound of a harmonica can be heard. Paul (Lew Ayres), a young German soldier, is sitting alone, daydreaming inside the trench on a seemingly peaceful, bright day. He is exhausted by terror and boredom. Through the gunhole of his trench, he sees a beautiful lone butterfly that has alighted just beyond his reach next to a discarded tin can outside the parapet. He begins to carefully reach out over the protection of his bunker with his hand to grasp it, momentarily forgetting the danger that is ever-present. As he stretches his hand out yearning for its beauty, a distant French sniper prepares to take careful aim through a scope on a rifle. As he leans out closer to the fragile butterfly and extends his hand, suddenly the sharp whining sound of a shot is heard. Paul’s hand jerks back, twitches for a moment and then goes limp in death. All is silent and quiet. The harmonica tune stops”.(ack: tim dirks-filmsite.org)

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The Fall Guy ©

Walk In Interview. You could be our new CEO.”
The flyer was dropped out of the sky and there it settled on the hat of Mr. Lazybones. He was lolling in the park on a bench with two others.
He was nattily dressed but he had no place to go. There the flyer had come out of the blue! His companion who was feeding the pigeons knew luck was on his side. “Just as you were complaining you were too well dressed for sitting out, on a park bench!”
Another who worked for the Sanitation Department in the City Hall, Joey by name, sniffed, ”Your Versace gives out a distinct smell of success.” Mr. Lazybones knew luck was indeed in his favor. For didn’t he only think that morning of working from the way up?
He remarked to the pigeon-fancier,”Yes I have plenty of steam left. How do I move up? ” The guy just went on feeding the birds. So he asked the other, ”Say “Joey, you have some idea of the office culture. Haven’t you?”?
Joey modestly weighed what he had to say. He prodded,
“You work for the mayor. So whatever happens in the city cannot escape your notice?” Joey had to be careful so he took his time.
”Stop stalling! You must know something?”he was getting slightly annoyed. “Come, Joey. You oght to know what happens when one is called to be CEO.”  Joey said, ”Shenanigans, that is what a CEO is good for. Believe me I have seen plenty in my time.” He paused and added,” Well I always came at the end. To clear up the mess.”He shrugged helplessly.
“So some CEO made a mess. They sent out flyers left and right to replace him.” Mr.Lazybones could well understand. But it didnot entirely satisfy him.
So Mr. Lazybones persisted,” Tell me where do I go up if I were to work my way up?” “Dunno,”he said helpless, ”You are on your way up. How high?”he shook his head and said,”You must ask those CEOs who are going down. They can well give you the benefit of experience, I guess.”
Mr. Lazybones thought it was reasonable.
Mr. Lazybones knew if he got to be the next CEO he would never settle for the routine: Joey and the likes of him had no goals in life. So they stayed on a park bench. Whereas he was reasonable and had luck on his side. He took out the rabbit foot from his coat pocket. As he moved a few paces he found a horseshoe and he exclaimed, ”Luck is raining on me rather. I shall go as high as any man can go.”
He went over the flyer once more and located the office, all marble and glass. He took elevator to the penthouse. A smart girl in a cubicle looked towards him. He strode resolutely into her office. He played the part of a CEO-on-the-making and cheerily said why he was there for. She asked if she could have his calling card. Jauntily he took out a card and said,”it is just me.” It was the ace of spades.
Poor girl took a double take. He knew he was original. She asked him confused.”business card?” “Yes dearie, just tell them I am here.”
She went in and came pronto. “You may go in now.”Mr. Lazybones knew the card always gave a shock value in his favor. Those conglomorate czars when it came to deal on one to one basis turned out to be so ordinary. Yes, he was before one. He was ordinary but he was seated on a chair so plush that spelt something to him. And the polish of the table gave Mr. Bam’Beau’Zell some respect. On his side was a bottle of brandy and two glasses. And a box of cigar. That got him more respect.
He checked himself and thought his tie was a little out of place. Quickly adjusting it he glanced once again the name. Bam’Beau’Zell. “You may call me Bam” the man said affably. He was the chairman and in him was vested with the authority to choose the next CEO. He was powerful but he had covered well his awesome power in his rollicking and affable person. He looked more like a Buddha in pinstripes.
After shaking hands and exchanging names the interviwer waved his hand to the vacant chair. “You may feel free to ask any thing you would like to know. He held up the ace of cards and sniggered in good humor.”It is n’t often that one comes to face an original.” He also assured he wanted him to feel at home. Mr Bam settled back and kept his feet on the table and Mr. Lazybones knew a laid-back style was what expected of him.
Global Investments, Inc. He cursorily looked at the Company manifesto and brochures all glitzy and facts hidden away with colorful graphs. The pie chart looked so yummy. While intently digesting the diverse operations all across the globe Mr. Lazybones felt he was a CEO already. He put his feet up even as the chairman did. Lazily he reached out for a cigar and asked if he did mind smoking. “Oh no we do well encourage our CEO to set an example.” Mr. Bam’Beau’Zell explained his corporate philosophy and Mr. Lazybones listened to it politely. “Well what do you think? ”
The candidate was very articulate though he never held a job for more than a week or two. He explained what he believed in succinctly and with care. He said thus: ‘Money stashed under a mattress earns no interest; but instead gives you a poor sleep. But being able to spread other people’s money around gives money its run.”
Mr. Bam nodded his head in approval. Mr. Lazybones did not refuse him serving some refreshment. A bumper of brandy he received with a smile and he sniffed it and sipped it with utmost satisfaction. He asked blowing smoke rings,”Come, as a CEO what future holds?”
He could see the founder of the company was rattled.
“I am willing to work my way up.”said the candidate smoothly,” Being a CEO has its pleasant moments. Best quality cigar and brandy so full and fruity, as this,- I could always down. But I am looking for challenges.”
It was the turn of Bam’Beau’ Zell to become very nervous. “CEO moving up!” He was sure there was some mistake. “I do not quiet understand what you mean?”
“ A CEO can do whatever he wants. He can throw parties and meet the rich and famous and entertain in style. So why would he want to move up?”
“But a CEO who cannot rise any higher stays frozen on a block of ice’so it seems to me.” the candidate observed. Mr. Bam’Beau’Zell for all his high flying life had never seen a CEO in that light. It was all new and shocking! Never before he had interviewed one and heard anything like it.
The idea of it! It sent shock waves throughout the wellfed frame and he looked as if he was ready to crumble. Mr. Lazybones asked, ”Is there anything the matter?” Mr. Bam ‘Beau’Zell regained his composure and shook his head.  Mr. Lazybones said, ”Just as I came up a little bird told me, ’Watch out mister. Higher you go harder you fall!’ Well what do you think it could mean?’
The man just stared on. “I was also told by some well informed sources that I could ask CEO’s on their way down.” Mr. Lazybones drew himself up and said,”Thanks for your time.”
“Won’t you reconsider?”
“I smell a rat!” Standing up affably he reached out to shake his hands and he said,” Any company who bents backwards to impress me must be God-only-knows-what.”
‘Looney’ was the word he had in mind. Since the company didn’t offer him scope for going higher he left it unsaid. ‘Why waste time?’
Just as he reached the door he said, ”I shall go down on my own steam. Good day sir!”
The End


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Analysis: Divisions complicate Gaza truce efforts

(By Lee Keath, Associated Press Writer- Thu Jan 15)
Cairo, Egypt
‘The Arab divisions have erupted most clearly in a dispute over what would appear to outsiders — and even many in the Arab world — an enormously petty issue: where to hold a summit of Arab leaders to discuss the Gaza crisis.

For the past week, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been trying to thwart an attempt by Qatar to host an Arab summit Friday. They fear the summit would turn into a platform for Syria to boost Hamas and undermine Egypt’s cease-fire efforts.

The bickering could have a serious impact on the ground. The multiple divisions could mean any deal reached will be short lived.

Syria and its ally Iran have enormous influence with Hamas. Iran funds the group to the tune of millions of dollars and is believed to supply it with weapons, though Tehran denies arming the militants.

In another complication, Israel holds elections on Feb. 9, and a change in its leadership could mean an even tougher line toward Hamas and Gaza.

A top Israeli envoy on Thursday delivered to Cairo his country’s demands for a stop to Hamas rocket fire and guarantees the militant group won’t be able to rearm. After returning home and meeting with top government officials, the envoy was ordered back to Egypt for more talks Friday.

More broadly, Israel hopes Hamas will be crippled by the offensive, boosting Abbas, with whom Israel hopes to eventually negotiate a final peace agreement.

But Hamas could emerge stronger just by surviving the Israeli onslaught and winning the opening of Gaza’s borders. The movement hopes any resolution will give a tacit recognition of its rule in Gaza. That would force its rivals to deal with it on nearly equal footing with Abbas in the future — an outcome Israel, the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Abbas himself want to avoid’.
Isn’t ironical that each faction approaches with a fine comb to unsnarl any knots that the future may hold for it while Israeli pogrom of civilians and children goes on unchecked? Whatever Hamas may now lose in terms of their ‘martyrs’ is compensated by their reserves the same unfortunate victims of the present conflict. Politics, as I have said in many posts before, is the art of the impossible made to appear possible.

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What connects McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber to Thomas Jefferson? Jefferson believed that each individual has “certain inalienable rights”. That is, these rights exist with or without government; man cannot create, take, or give them away. It is the right of “liberty” on which Jefferson is most notable for expounding. But what was his remark concerning the Shays Rebellion after he had heard of the bloodshed? Jefferson wrote to William Smith, John Adams’s son-in-law, “What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” Several anti-government groups have pointed to these words of his to justify their violence. Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt when arrested bearing the words, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Do you think the reputation of  Thomas Jefferson suffers because a bloody murderer like Timothy McVeigh had plastered the quote on his t-shirt? Merely because blatant injustice has been done on the earth in the name of God by some rogues and butchers ( and they also quote appropriate verses from their ‘holy books’,) Is God dead or has He become irrelevant?


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Title:An eye for an eye…’ quote from Mahatma Gandhi
‘The horrendous events of the past few weeks have been foremost in our minds over the last few weeks…The disproportionately brutal attack on
Palestinians in Gaza is a humanitarian disaster affecting defenseless
schoolchildren and civilians and undertaken taken in  the name of
self-defense?. It is obvious that Israel has turned into a rogue
state impervious to the suffering of  innocents, aided  and abetted by
the Bush administration… The British government’s position
under Gordon Brown  is even more pathetic and the less said about it
the better.

How can we sit back and allow our Government under Brown to remain
silent onlookers while  other countries in Europe and Asia are making
faint noises  to bring this brutality to a close? What are the Quakers
who profess non-violence and peace doing about this tragic situation ?
Will it again be ‘useless marches’ alone to Number 10 as it was
against the Iraq invasion and the elusive WMD?

Who will speak for us if we don’t speak for our brethren? We should
make no distinction between brethren in Israel or Gaza or Iraq or Iran
or the United State or the United Kingdom. This inaction by us in the
United Kingdom and other parts of the world is tantamount to us
colluding with terrorists (in the literal sense of this word)?… Are we again taking on  the accustomed role of the American poodle?

This massacre should stop and we should help to do so.  What can we do
as individuals? We can of course join protests, vigils and
demonstrations in the true Gandhian mould. We can join  groups  engaged
in mounting an economic boycott of Israel. We can write letters to our
MPs and other politicians.  We, i.e., those of us who profess to be
academics, can support and join in an academic boycott. For example,
you may wish to write an Open Letter to the director of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Professor Paul Webley, who have decided to  celebrate the foundation  of Te Aviv  by initiating a lecure series shortly.

Many years ago as a student at Leicester I (George) met two remarkable Palestinians from Gaza who became in time good friends. Unfortunately, I  have lost contact with them. After hearing their experiences, I made a vow to myself that I would never go to Israel (the other country was South Africa under
Apartheid) until the Palestinians were allowed into their own country.
I have kept that promise despite some invitations in recent years to
lecture there.

For someone who comes from Kerala which offered  sanctuary to a number of groups and religions (including Jews), it has  been a source of great puzzle  the extent to which European guilt complex has played such an important part in pandering  to the Zionists and providing them with material and military support. The word ‘holocaust’ is sufficient to silence any doubts or reservations.  But of course, we are told by better informed friends that there are  more substantial reasons for the continuing support that Israel as a state enjoys from the United States and other Western powers…’
The above letter was sent to me by a friend of mine and it speaks for itself.

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