Saturday, January 5, 2013

Face to Face with One-Track Minds.

Telecommunication technology is revolutionizing the world in ways that are  mind-numbing. The speed and accessibility of high-tech information covering the globe is knocking at the doors of nations that have suppressed their people for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years. But human minds and emotions are sticky things. Humans do not like challenges to traditional thinking, so many will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world.This is inevitable because the world is going through an unstoppable wave of human development and it cannot be turned back. It is like a tsunami of unthinkable velocity, and so those who are fooling themselves into thinking that traditional tendencies could stop the change they abhor are in for a shocking encounter.
 Technology in communication is ripping the covers off other things too, and the cracks and crevices in the thinking of our people are surfacing. Here too, people have lived undisturbed inside these crevices and they are stunned to imagine that there could be anything wrong with being there. Holes do feel like safe places to hide from the turmoils of life, but truth when ignored is dangerous even for those who live inside of cracked-thinking.In the United States of America, for instance, the cracks are being pried into by the media who are asking the American ultra-conservative politicians  some discomforting questions about their traditional beliefs and practices that go contrary to  what is today known about how the real world works. The conservative politicians are squirming in their crevices, causing conservative governors like  Governor Christie to squirm, and almost scream in discomfort when asked his thoughts about evolution and the age of the earth. To these very natural modern-day questions from alert journalists (according to a new your times article entitled New Rules for the New Year)  Governor Christie  fumed, "None of your business", and "I am not a Scientist, man".
 We have not yet been so touched by such deep challenges to our traditional beliefs in the Caribbean,perhaps because we do not produce anything here designed to change the world in any real sense. We have the sun, sea and sand, and these do not require much thinking to maintain, so I predict we will remain, to a large degree, snug in our crevices as the world changes around us. Many of us will glare awe-struck at the changes and  pacify ourselves with the well-worn, awe-inspired expression, "well- Jesus is really coming for his world for true".
I live in a part of the world where people think they are helping  and doing humanity a favour by forwarding holy writings to people like me and others who are unlike I am on our smart phones. Not long ago I received one of these forwarded notes, telling me a story of a young lady who was walking in a dark alleyway and encounterd a stranger in the darkness. She prayed to God for his protection and bravely walked on pass the stranger. Later that night she heard the news report stating that the stranger had raped and murdered a young lady who had passed that way a few hours before she did. She learned that during the interrogation, the man revealed that another young lady had passed him in the alleyway but he did not interfere with her because she was accompanied by a stranger.
 Now, I am expected by the sender of that forward to say praise the lord, and to stand amazed in the presence of the stranger of Galilee. Instead my mind took a swerve and did what any intelligent person aught to. My mind began asking questions; not whether the story was true, but was the man intoxicated or high on drugs when he saw the stranger walking with the girl? Didn't the raped and murdered girl scream to the highest heaven and pray to the very same God that the  one who escaped simply whispered her prayer to?I have no doubt that if she was a Caribbean female she did just that. Why didn't God simply sweep up the man in a whirl wind and slam him into the earth?
But of course I think too much and should not be asking any questions at all. I am simply expected to avoid such thoughts because the forwarded message is about the goodness of God, and I am a awful man for  choosing to think just as I would about any thing else. It is quite safe and acceptable to think when other matters are put before me, but once my smart-tech phone, in an age of smart technological development and learning places these things on my screen, I am expected to have a one-track mind and simply whisper a devotional "amen".
I know the appropriate quotations which follow the readings of articles like this: In the last days men will be so wise that they will become  foolish, and the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. I have no response to those who are incapable of alternative thinking while in the comfort of crevices, in the midst of an increasingly enlightened and changing world.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Explanation by manufacture when needed

It has been quite some time since I have posted any of my thoughts  on this blog. Not that I have  stopped thinking blogs; I have simply been expending those thoughts at other forums. But because I am one who loathes allowing opportunities of any sort to pass by un-grasped, I have decided that I will use every available opportunity to make my feelings, opinions and views known on this blog which is accessible to me.
Since I last posted any blog, I have expressed many thoughts through other writings and speaking opportunities on radio and elsewhere. I have written about carnival in St.Kitts, my home nation. I have traveled to Barbados where I put the finishing touches on one of my books, and I have expanded my small business,Caribbean Examination Preparation Institute. I have developed a new plot to energize the drama groups that I founded and manage, namely, Poinciana Theatre Productions, Laugh Entertainment and Act Alone Edutainment Enterprise.
 Much of what I think and write is outside the main stream of thought in the Caribbean, but I think it is essential to think outside the  trap or traps, that  keep us, as a Caribbean people, living far below our potential and capacity to be happy and free.I am not one to convince myself that I am happy when I am not, nor am I one to deny all evidence that I am really not free.
The strongest bars that restrict us are those around our minds. I have chosen to shake and challenge such bars because I am not afraid to do so. I write much about religion because it is my view that it has been used to frighten, subjugate and exploit millions across the globe, but particularly, Caribbean people, and particularly our female folk who are mainly responsible for shaping the minds of Caribbean  children.
 Some may argue that religion has also helped. They point to the admonishion against evil practices and destructive habits.
Perhaps it has helped, but that is due more to man's ability to develop methods of survival than his willingness to seek evidence of hard truth. Man is a feel good creature. He wants stability and peace that make him feel comfortable and safe. This is a basic tenant of human nature, and it is no miracle that religion emerged.  I have argued elsewhere that it would have been a greater miracle if (given the nature of man) religion, in some form or another, did not emerge among human kind. Religious people argue that this is an indication that God has placed a desire for a supreme being inside man- a god-shaped vacuum, thus his search for a god; but all this does is show  how easy it is for people in authority, (something religion freely tosses up) to supply so called answers, or reason for explaining away the psychology of human nature by glibly coming up with an answer.This is done quite a lot in religious settings because religion lends itself to this type of magical supply of answers and reasons for the, as yet, unexplainable:We don't understand it so it must be god.
This, I am afraid, is the extent of the reasoning capacity with which I, as well as millions of my fellow Caribbean  brothers and sisters were raised with, and dared not challenge, because it come from an authority who has access to the source of supernatural revelations which we challenge only at the expense of having our one immortal soul damned and doomed through all eternity in  a furiously flaming furnace. A frightening prospect indeed and so we behaved.Is this helpful? Did it make us behave? Has it kept us on the pathway of decency and moral behaviour? I am sure some of this resulted in good. Was it the only way this could have been done? We don't know because we dared not attempt to find out.We would first have to find out if any of what they taught us was reasonably and rationally sensible, logical and accurate and thats's the problem right there.

Am Back

I am calling this piece Am Back because it has been quite some time since  I have written a single thing on this blog. I am back with a pledge: I will not stay away as long as I have again.
 Writing is my life. It is a hobby that I am obsessed with. I write about anything and sometimes my writing upsets people because  I am not afraid to  go against the norm. It appears to be within my nature to do so. I do not adhere to the status quo and the conventions of the times.I simply say what is on my mind and the way I see it.
 I write about issues of concern to me, whether those issues be about politics, religion or other issues of human experience and behaviour that interest me.
At the moment I am thinking about tattoos. They are turning up everywhere in the Caribbean, particularly on the skin of our beautiful, well shapes, healthy Caribbean women. They are nearly all  stretching out in some room somewhere off the beaten path, baring their breasts  and their bottoms, and allowing some dude to tattoo their behinds or somewhere close to their nipples.
Why these lovely women are doing this  to their bodies I simply cannot know. It is a mystery to me.So much so that while on the lovely island of Barbados over the Christmas season, I saw a trio of nice-looking ladies walking through Independence boulevard where they have the massive, but splendid monument to Errol Walton Barrow, the father of Barbadian Independence. Mind you, this monument is not in his home village of St. Johns like the bust of  The Honorable R.L Bradshaw in St.Kitts, where if the nation wants to see it, we have to catch a bus and go for a long drive deep in the rurals to see a full scale statue of the great man. No. the Barbadians have placed their national hero in the city of the nation, but in St.Kitts we feel that just because Mr. Bradshaw was born in St. Pauls Village his monument must be placed in St. Pauls Village. But it is a free country so we are free to place monuments to our national heroes wherever we want to. It is ironic that C.A Paul Southwell was born in Dominica, but his bust is at the industrial site in Basseterre instead of some village  across the sea.
 So the young ladies were passing through the Independence boulevard and I compliment them for not having tattoos on their skin, a rare sight these days.It then dawned on me that this tattooing thing has become so prevalent that it was quite possible for them to have tattoos in places I was not able to see. Such is the nature of things today.
 These women tattoo images of animals and flowers, both of a heavenly and  an earthly nature. Who am sorry for are those ladies who tattoo the names of their boyfriends on their behinds. Women well know that Caribbean men are known for one thing and one thing alone, and that is, moving on, and yet they lay on a strange bed or mattress that hundreds of other women have already stretched half naked on, and let some man, whose name they cannot even pronounce, tattoo their present man's name on their breasts and backsides. I want to suggest that any Caribbean woman reading this blog right now who is thinking of tattooing the name of your present man on your behind, legs, belly or breast, ask the tattoo man to tattoo a few columns,  including date and year in each column because, bet your life if the man you have now is from anywhere in the Caribbean, you will need the next column for the next man  when you are doing your next tattoo, because Caribbean men and love are like the Caribbean sun. In the morning they rise in the east, but by evening they are setting in the west.
 Happy tattooing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Dance of Faith

Trying to get answer to questions about matters of faith that puzzle the mind of a curious thinking, honest individual seeking verifiable truth, is tantamount to an attempt at capturing smoke in a knitted bag.It is like trying to fit a large, unruly snake into a small sack.It simply cannot be done.Answers to questions about what people of faith say, teach and believe cause one to sense that no one is offering any response that makes sense, in a world where we all must strive to do and believe only the things that do make sense to us.
My very first real encounter with this confusing reaction was experienced when I watched as very well-meaning, earnest group of saints pray for a woman who was ill.The woman died. Their answer was that God chose to take her to live with him in his kingdom, since she was such a blessed soul.I watched as they grieved bitterly at their loss and God's gain.These people would have encountered numerous experiences of this sort.
 I recall also a similar fervency of prayer and fasting over a child who had been hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. He too died in spite of the prayers. Again, their response was, God knows best.The logical thing to think in these circumstances is: since God is going to do what he is going to do anyway, why fast, pray and weep over the ill person, and why doesn't God intervene telling them clearly so that everyone can hear, that he is taking the suffering one to be with him, and they should save their energy for one he does not wish as yet to have in his kingdom?
 I am just saying this is the type of question a reasonable person must ask even himself if no one else.
 But there is no room in faith for this type of reasoning. In fact, such reasoning is forbidden and frowned upon with rather deep-farrowed brows.
These thoughts came to my mind a few nights ago when I attended a gospel concert staged by a group of Christian brothers, two of whom are blind. They do sing beautifully, and their songs were interspersed with what, for the believers present, may have been some tear-jerking moments of blessing.
The story told by one of the singers was of a grueling poor up bringing of a quiver full of children without a dad. No mention was made of why the dad was absent.
 He recalled a day when his mom, in Cristian fervor, took a belt and whipped the children into prayer, demanding that they prayed to God for food. It seemed clear to me that the children were not being punished for any wrong they had done other than their hesitance, for whatever reason, to pray that God bring them their daily bread. The relater of the story said they had scarcely begun praying when there was a call at the gate. They looked and there was a teacher carrying a basked of food.
 As stated before, this must have been a very touching story for many in the audience. The memory of that incident was so moving to the teller that he broke down in tears. I, on the other hand, only felt pity for a mother who would beat her children into prayer, thinking it the most righteous  of deeds a mother could perform.
 I found myself wondering just how much the teacher knew about the circumstances under which the family lived.It could not be difficult to be well acquainted with such a plight in a tiny village where it was not difficult to know which friends and neighbours were most in need. A teacher and government worker, having a steady income above that of the average villager, would have no trouble occasionally supplying a basked of food to a poor neighbour whose talented and beautiful children attended her school, even without the children being beaten to their knees. There are many stories of God meeting people's need, particularly among Protestant Christian circles, and persons who make other analysis of the factual circumstances that may have led more to the need being met, are considered blind misfits and heathenish fit only for the eternal flames of hell.Even if we are encouraged to think, we must not think such thoughts as the one I allow to enter my mind
.I once heard a woman pray in an unknown tongue. She prayed that an incident about to be undertaken would be completed without anyone being hurt. I asked someone nearby what would be the safest conclusion to arrive at if someone were to be hurt despite the fervent prayer. The answer was that we should continue, nevertheless, to pray for the hurt persons,  as God must have had his reasons for allowing the hurt.
Well,there must be something inside my being that simply does not permit me to doing that intellectual acrobatics that is the dance of faith, and I like it better this way.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Resurrected

This blog has been dormant for a while, but it is being revitalized.
It is necessary for us humans to freely express ourselves regardless of what anyone feels about what we may say,think or believe,
 We are the only coherent, verbally expressive beings on the planet. We developed language somewhere in our evolutionary process and this has worked to our advantage.Language helped smooth the way of human advancement, and it has retained its capacity to do so. It is through language that the human is able to name his tools, give clear directives and settle differences,practices that are vital to the human specie. No other ability of humanity has propelled us as far ahead of other beings on the planet as language has.
 There have been times when  humans have attributed our ability to talk, to other creatures. Humans have told stories of talking animals almost from the moment we learned the use of language:the talking serpent,the talking donkey or horses,the talking tree; name it and man has made it talk. There are humans who talk to trees and lovely flowers. Millions talk to their pets, and some of us even talk to non-living things that have made us angry. Listen to an adult male hammering away at a stubborn stump in his back yard. Hear him  threaten its stubbornness with each swing of his sharpened axe, reminding that stubborn stump of who is man and who is stump. Hear the little girl talk to her doll, and feel the words of those who mourn, words aimed at the pitiless heart of the scourge called death that has ripped a loved one away.
I think sometimes we wish these things possessed the ability to talk back to us, but what if they did? I am not sure we would not like it very much, especially if they are under our influence and use language as a template of what they should say to us.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why Christianiy is not Reaching the Hearts and Minds of Today's Youth.

For the first time in the history of the Western World there is a generation of young people not moved by the preaching of the Old Time Gospel. Frankly, they are simply not interested and could not care less.
This is not to say that many young people are not attending churches, but for the first time in the Western history there are millions of young people who have never been inside a church building, have never had any associated with a religious youth group and are not familiar with Bible characters like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-ndigo.Even the youths who do go to church on a regular basis ( meaning at least once each week) have never heard the Biblical story of king Solomon's threat to take his royal sword and sever the tiny body of an innocent baby giving half of the child to each of two women, each of whom was claiming to be the infant's mother.(1 Kings 3:16 -27).
But why this waning interest in the "Old Time Religion" which the grandmothers of these young boys and girls once lustily sang was "good enough" for them?
What has changed?
Why has Christianity ( in the islands of the Caribbean for example) lost so much of its impact?
Western-style Christianity is no longer reaching the hearts, minds and emotions of the young generation simply because its method of delivery and its very core-story are deemed as being no longer relevant to today's youths.
The church is behind the times. Most of its ministers still do not know how to copy and paste on a computer,this is significant because it symbolizes the inability of too many ministers to communicate effectively with the younger generation, and it is also witnessed in church having a church leadership that is prepared to swear by the effectiveness of the open-air service ( a type of street meeting dating back to the days of Charles Wesley and John Calvin).
The open-air service itself is not the problem; the problem is that the churches still practice the very same methods used by the missionaries who came to the Caribbean on boats and drove around in Volkswagen; they still use the method of: two "hot" testimonies from Sister Paula and Brother Peters, a solo from the Blake Sisters and then the inevitable sermon by Pastor Paulson who bellows for an hour or so about the cruel, bloody death of Jesus on the cross. He then pleads with "sinners" to come forward as the gathered congregation a-back of him sings "Just as I am without one plea" in as mournful a tone as they are able to muster after standing for so long.
There is only one difference between what Pastor Olson has done and what Charles Wesley, Surgeon and Graham did.
No penitent "sinner" is coming forward.
The story of a dying Jesus, suffering for the sins of humanity once drew extremely tearful responses from those who heard those preachers of the past. Millions rushed to the "mourners bench"( the altar) confessing that they were the cause of the suffering of their Lord because, though they had rejected him for so long, they were sorry for causing him so much suffering, were begging him to forgive them for not recognizing how much pain they had caused him, pleaded with him to enter their hearts and change their wicked ways.
This is not taking place today, but why?
Young people are no longer emotionally moved by what they most likely see as a half-naked man languishing on a cross; had it not been for the story of Jesus preached by puritan ministers, many Westerners would not even know what a cross was and what was its purpose.It is no longer possible to easily convince young people that Jesus died because of their wrong doing. As far as they are concerned, even if Jesus did actually die on a cross, it happened an inordinately long time ago, long before they were born. This generation of young people is incapable of relating to times so far removed from theirs. This is a generation weaned on immediacy, and as such see far more relevance in looking forward than looking back, and particularly looking back more than two thousand years to make any connection to their contemporary significance. They do not care about a man who did not even speak their language, screaming bloodied from a wooden cross, surrounded by men dressed in metal-skirts while holding crude first-century spears in their hands.
This generation does not care, not because it is hardhearted and lost, but because it is unable to. They are not moved by such images and cannot be. Today's generation is not going to be drawn to the church and its salvation message by the story of Calvary; they don't even know what Calvary is.
The image of a Jesus whose back is ripped to shred (as depicted in Mel Gibson 's movie "The Passion of the Christ") might appear brutal, and the "Christ" might well be viewed as a sympathetic character who certainly did not deserve the treatment he got, but the notion that they caused it to happen to him, and that he was dying there because of their sins is not readily absorbed by this generation of young people who are highly educated, and are aware that people must no be accused of committing, or of being held accountable for crimes committed thousands of years before they were born, and which took place in a country where neither they nor their parents have ever been.
This will never be understood by the church because sociological changes are not mentioned in the Bible. As far as the church is concerned, it is a non-issue, but in reality it is not. Sociological change is just as real as child birth, but Just as a bloodied Christ does not register in the consciousness of this generation as being of any meaningful significance to them, in a similar manner, sociological change cannot register in the thinking of today's Evangelicals who will forever be baffled by the number of young people who attend church but remain annoyingly "uncommitted"; church, for this generation of youths, is no more than a socialization institution where they go to meet their friends and satisfy their parent. The Evangelical Churches will choke on the idea that this generation of young people simply cannot see things through lenses that are more than two thousand years old.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Religiously Damaged Thinking.

What is wrong with the mind that believes humans would be nothing less than beasts were there not the teachings of Ten Commandments? What is wrong in such a mind, is, that it possesses no regard for, or has no awareness of humanity's social development.Such minds may be inattentive to the history of writing, lacking the knowledge that the human, as a specie, was not always able to read and write, that there was a time in the evolution of humanity when writing did not exist,and so written commands did not exist, yet humans have been governed by unwritten rules influencing what was deemed right or wrong, fair or unfair by human communities.
The animal of the wild do not have commandments, nevertheless they evidently have some instinctive appreciation of right or wrong, fairness or, to some degree, unfairness. This awareness, of course, is not as sophisticated or as ordered as rules governing human behaviour, but it is still observed when food is located and shared,and when larger animals defend weaker ones against aggressors.
It is difficult to imagine there are people who believe that, had it not been for commandments which forbid humans to kill each other, we would simply take lethal weapons and slaughter our fellowmen; that people would be capturing other people's wives had the commandments not ordered us not to "commit adultery", and that we would all be "bearing false witness against our neighbours" if the commandments had not cautioned us against doing so.The implication of this is that without the Ten commandments we would all be savages.
It is unthinkable that some believe humans can only be civil when commanded to be, although it is evident that, (if one believes the Bible) the Ten Commandments came to a tribe of humans who were already living in communities and had already established some type of working social order, and even if there was the practice of adultery or covetousness, greed and theft in such communities,the development of the human brain, and the essential human need for order as an ingredient for survival, (even without the Ten commandments) would have put together their own commandments in attempt to avoid chaos.(Humans cannot thrive in chaos). Believers of the Bible are compelled to see that God's Ten Commandments were therefore introduced to people already governed by rules of their own. They could not have escaped the bondage of Egypt if this were not so.
The passionately defensive religious would argue that the laws of God were already written in the hearts of men, hence, man's sense of right and wrong.The irony is that neither the laws written on stones nor those etched "in the hearts of men" have made any difference in the way man has behaved, because man must command and govern himself, or the laws, written or otherwise would mean nothing to him.
The Bible is full of commandments; many more than ten, and they are not only in the Old testament; they extend deep into the new. (New Testament is a term not recognized by the people who best understand the book, Jewish religious scholars).It is the commandments in the New Testament that pose the biggest challenge for Westerners, because many of the rules outlined by the Apostle Paul, in particular, are steeped in a culture and an era that is foreign to Western Societies of the Twenty-first Century.Many of the teachings are simply not applicable, and when followed, have done tremendous damage to adherents.
Take the commandment in Second Corinthians, chapter six and verse fourteen, where the Apostle Paul admonishes believers not to be "yoked" with unbelievers. it is difficult to believe that the people to whom Paul referred as "unbelievers" in his day, are nothing like what Christians refer to as "unbelievers" in Twenty-first Century Western Societies. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find unbelievers (of the type referred to by Paul) in societies once gripped by Christian Colonialists and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, as well as, Pentecostalist-Evangelical-Protestant influence.
In the Caribbean, for example, an unbeliever is someone who has not "accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior". What this means is that the person perhaps has sex outside of marriage, probably lives with someone to whom he or she is not married, dances in the street during Carnival, uses swear words and basically does not adhere to any of the regulations and teachings of any established religious organization.Such persons would not have been considered "nonbelievers" in Paul's society because a "nonbeliever", as far as Paul and his followers would have been concerned, would have been exactly that; a person who did not believe in nor give any credence to the new"cult" called Christianity. Paul himself rants in the book of Corinthians, about the many "idols" that the "nonbelievers" worshiped during his time. The people who worshiped these "idols" were the people to whom Paul referred as "unbelievers".People who did not believe in the Christian God at all.
But the Caribbean is teaming with "believers"; they are everywhere. Most attend no church at all, but they believe everything those who attend do, including the teachings about adultery, fornication , judgment-day, hell fire and that Jesus died on a cross for their sins. There is nothing that the Caribbean "believer" believes, that the Caribbean "unbeliever" does not. In fact, some "unbelievers" do believe more fervently than many "believers" do.
When a beautiful person, (let's say a young lady) in the Caribbean church is deprived of the pleasures of marriage because she is fearful of breaking the "commandment" forbidding her being "unequally yoked" with unbelievers, when there is an adoring, young, intelligent, caring unbelieving-believer at her workplace whom she is aware would be a beautiful husband with whom she probably could raise a wonderful family had he only been the correct "yoke".It becomes evident that our thinking processes and our effort to build bonds of unity have been damaged by religion.