Words are bricks to construct a sentence and yet passages giving shape to ideas are built upon treacherous foundations. Some of the words are likely to go out of fashion and change their cultural significance; some are thought in a particular language but has no equivalent word in another. How one thinks in the east can easily be misunderstood by one in the west. Take a word like Wabi-sabi is a Japanese term that describes our appreciation of transient and imperfect beauty – such as the fleeting splendour of cherry blossom. What a millennial in Bronx would make of it unless given a thorough grounding in the mystery of language? In whichever language the mystery remains as in a Gothic tale the building reeks of doom and foreboding. Words erect sometimes barriers for great many to breach unless they are tuned to their nuances in any language.
When we read a novel we are not reading words for themselves but in context of other words. We create literary spaces. From great writers for example Balzac the words are so laid out the decrepit Boarding house has a literal space: so pervasively decay fills it. When we see Père Goriot through the medium of descriptive passages you can be sure it is merely a subjective feeling and fools you to think in a manner than the character really is. So literally taking the manner a sentence is constructed to be true is error. It is compounded by cultural sensitivity of the reader who is primed to take it in a certain manner.
We see the egregious folly of some theologians impose strictures how to interpret the prophet. What are their credentials? What makes them think they can speak for the prophet since he is not there to defend himself? Literal interpretation is a veritable minefield. When laymen are ready to raise battle cry over a word or idea it is a give away of mischief. When mother feeds a child with milk it is solely knowing there is no allergic reaction to it. The bottom line of Peace is peace and not imposing it by force. Look at Islam as some have interpreted it to mean imposing religion at the point of sword. Given so many centuries what do we see? Peace or conflict? When a religion which is of peace and tolerance by any reading, becomes synonymous with religion of hate we need ask who is the villain?
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Reading a news item about Glenn Close and Rose McGowan who were reared in a cult group made me think of a cult group that I had known. In the US it goes under the name The New Testament Church and it had its beginning in Sri Lanka when it was called Ceylon. The group Ceylon Pentecostal Mission was a mongrel church alright. They drew from so many sources, Armstrongism, Church of Rome to name a few. They lived and preached two different things. They chose ministers from members who were to practice celibacy like the Catholic Church. They preached grace and yet made works as their cardinal virtue. They like pharisees made outward observance of prayers, fasts abstaining from alcohol, tobacco as proof of their holiness. They claimed they were totally separated from worldly affairs but always found members whose filthy lucre bankrolled their faith life. They insisted on their recruits full immersion baptism and speaking in tongues. The latter was the means to ensure their hook on the congregation. If anyone wanted to leave the two elders or pastors would buttonhole and ask him or her by wanting to leave they must have been speaking tongues ( not of Holy Spirit) but of devil.
They knew how to control minds of their congregation in spending hours in shrieking and blabbering. They made tattle-telling a virtue and made attempts at believers to ferret out how others lived at workplace or at home. They came between husbands and wives in telling ‘the weaker vessel’ what to watch out in the other. Sunday service for example the joy of Christian spirit was the ‘holier-than- thou’ Yahooism. Let me explain what it is. Gulliver speaks of Yahoos in his travels and these were brutish in body and mind. In these Pentecostal group there were believers who made a virtue of cheeseparing and leanness in their spirit as ticket to Zion! The Mission called special meetings whenever they could and these were mind numbing sessions as waiting for the Spirit. Innocuously enough they made him/her toe the line having got control over his/her emotional and mental reserves.
In order to be counted as part of the group how members lied through their teeth before taking communion!How they made some pillars of the community shiver in their pants! Those who drank(social drinking) skipped it and made virtue of their lack of consideration for others by crying and making a show of tears only to repeat the same ad nauseum.
The Mission made the members read only passages they wanted them to know- Nothing more. Most of the elders are iliterate whose knowledge in the Scriptures ( as far as I know) was limited and calculated to serve the purpose. Typical of Catholic church that they discouraged private interpretation!They rearranged emphases of OT and New Testament in order to reimpose the rule of Levites in the Church! They discouraged reciting Lord’s prayer giving reason it was only for the nominal Christians! ‘After this manner pray ye’ (Mt.6:9). In their view there was to be a hierarchy and they were to be part of the select few 144,000 souls meant for Zion!
The pastors and elders are those who have left all or burned the bridges after them so to speak. All their sermons are taped and sent for screening. They are put charge of ‘faith homes’ anywhere and are liable to be sent on short notice to anywhere decided by the Mission HQ. There are fat and lean areas the latter being assemblies that do not have many members to provide for their necessities. One may judge what it would mean. In such a controlled atmosphere with sisters and brothers bound by invisible handcuffs the Alwin controversy was bound to happen.
At the time of marriage I joined this group. I was a sunday school teacher and wrote hymns etc. For me reading Bible was not merely for reading. ‘Truth shall make you free’ it is said. One fine day I had enough or rather I saw their pernicious doctrine and decided to quit. The pastor asked if I was speaking in tongues under Holy Spirit or was it something else. I admitted I was mistaken and that made me get out of their hold.
I have never even come across these rascals after that day. It was as phony as my marriage which had to stop somewhere. The Pentecost Mission must be still around and never more I got entangled with the group.
Nov.9 2015: With regards to speaking in tongues, it was seen and heard on the day of Pentecost. As Jesus promised to his disciples it happened. He had to go to his Father in order to found the Church. This speaking was therefore a sign for all. There were many gentiles present on that momentous occasion. The Holy Spirit gave several abilities for building up the Church. I believe speaking in tongues accompanied with interpretation do serve any local church if it were done properly and the counsel has some grain of truth to benefit the assembly. . In the Pentecostal Mission bad faith of the pastors to differentiate the ‘holy’ and ‘nominal’ on the basis of speaking in tongues has already debased their ministry. Each member of the Body of Christ is part of that Church by faith. No longer he has to prove others by making noises. Such tarrying for Holy Spirit as insisted by TPM is an useless exercise. Having mastered English to write this post I did not set out to recite alphabets first. Similarly faith in the salvation offered by the blood of Christ has made it unnecessary to prove my life before some.
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