Ravaged – A Bible study on 2 Samuel 13

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Conversations (Questions prepared by Samuel Thambusamy)

1) What is this passage about?

2) Who are the characters mentioned in this passage? What do we know about them?

3) He (Amnon) was stronger than she (Tamar) and he raped her (v14). Rape is the forceful violation of another person’s body. Why do you think Amnon raped Tamar? What are the contemporary stories of rape in your context/s? Why do you think rape happens? Who are the victims?

4) Absalom said: “Be quiet my sister…Don’t take this to your heart”(v20). David was furious when he heard about what happened to Tamar. Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad (v21) Why do you think they did not do anything about this? Do you think victims of rape get justice? Why do you think rapists escape punishment? How do we contribute to the perpetuation of injustice?

5) The gang rape in Delhi was a horrific tale. How did you feel when you heard about the incident? What do you think needs to be done in order to get justice for the girl? What do you think about the spontaneous protests across the Nation? How can the Church connect with the voices of protest? What can we as a group do to bring justice?

6) What is God telling you through this passage? What are you going to do in response to God’s Word?

India Unbound, Introduction (Summary)

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The movement from poverty to prosperity is a fascinating journey. The economic and social transformation is one of the themes of India Unbound.

Why did an Industrial Revolution elude us? Marx had predicted that the Railways would usher in an Industrial Revolution. Nehru, along with this planners, did attempt an Industrial Revolution. They did not encourage private enterprise. Instead they built public enterprise.

Gurcharan comments, “ they failed and India is still paying for their follies”. Interestingly, we had an agricultural Revolution, and we were not able to usher an Industrial Revolution. Gurcharan points to six things that have contributed to this failure.

  1. We have inherited an inward looking, import substituting path.
  2. We have set up a massive inefficient and monopolistic public sector
  3. We have over regulated private sector
  4. We have discouraged foreign capital and denied ourselves the benefit of technology
  5. We have over pampered organised labour
  6. We have ignored eduction, particularly girls/women who make up 50% of our population.

Gurucharan Das rightly contends, “ When Individuals blunder, it is unfortunate and their families go down. When rulers fail, it is a national tragedy”.

Hundreds of entrepreneurial successes have been born after reform. The new entrepreneurs have risen on the back of their talents, hard work and professional skills. This is reflective of the spirit of the age.

Liberalisation and Information economy work to India’s advantage and raise the hope that it may finally take off and transform the country.

Gurucharan Das contends, “India is like an elephant that has begun to lumber and move ahead. It will never have speed but it will have stamina. India might be more stable, peaceful and have a negotiated transition into the future. Although slower (than China), India is more likely to preserve its way of life and its civilisation of diversity, tolerance and spirituality against the onslaught of the global culture. If it does, then it is perhaps a wise elephant”.

Is beauty skin deep?

Beauty and the beast

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a young prince lived in a shining castle.  Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind.  But then, one winter’s night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away, but she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress.  The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart, and as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast (- Narration that introduces the film Beauty and the beast)

Conversations

1) Media primarily informs our notions of what is beautiful. Our idea of beauty is (re)defined by what is (re)presented and promoted in the Media. How is beauty understood in our contemporary world? What do you think about these?

2) Would you agree that beauty is to be truly found in the inner self? Why?

3) Would you agree that we are increasingly being defined by our looks? Why do you think so many girls and boys are undergoing cosmetic surgery to improve their looks?

4) There are many people who are not happy about themselves, particularly about the way they look. In what ways do we contribute to their low self-image?

5 ) The prince was turned into a beast because there was no love in his heart.  It symbolizes his loss of humanity. Why do you think ‘love’ is such a key aspect of being human?

6) What do you think makes us ‘repulsive’ to the idea of good, true and beautiful? Why can’t we see ‘the good’, ‘the true’ and ‘the beautiful’ when it stares us in the eye?

7) How do we (re)capture the idea of ‘beauty’ in a world that (mis)understands it purely in physical terms – ‘good looks’, ‘great body’ and ‘winsome persona’? How do we grow love in our hearts so as to reach out to those who don’t make it to our ‘bold and beautiful’ list?

8) What is the one thing that you don’t like about yourself? What is the one thing you wish you had?

9) What is the one thing you learnt about what is true, good and the beautiful from our conversations ?

Personal Reflection

God has a radically different idea about what is ‘beautiful’.  For God, beauty is not skin deep. He looks deep into  our hearts.  The LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7).  We must challenge the ‘look-good, feel-good’ understanding of beauty.

We must let love grow in our hearts so that we would embrace those who don’t make it to our ‘bold and beautiful’ list. To challenge popular notions of beauty is easier said than done. It is really a formidable challenge.

Which way forward?

Yogi Adityanath, a monk of the Gorakpur temple is the BJP’s choice for the UP Chief Minister. Read three articles this morning about the political significance of the Yogi’s elevation to the post of CM for Uttar Pradesh. Here’s a short summary:

Swati Chaturvedi contends that Adityanath as Chief Minister will put the Hindutva agenda centre-stage in UP. She writes, ” the Bharatiya Janata Party has now transformed its win into an expression of complete majoritarianism as Adityanath is a radical along the most delicate fault lines that bedevil UP. It seems that the “Mukhota” (mask) is well and truly off”. Chandan Mitra feels that Yogi’s elevation to this position augurs well for the BJP. His reasoning is: “If Narendra Modi is to repeat his 2014 performance of winning 73 of UP’s 80 seats barely two years down the line, he would need an efficient, authoritative leader who can help the consolidation of Hindu votes”. He further relents, “The English-speaking elite of this country has a deep-seated derision for those who don saffron robes and insist on religion, or rather dharma, having a place in politics”.  Amit Shah has probably ensured that the BJP will contest the 2019 election with an even bigger focus on Hindu consolidation because he sees a Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance of opposition parties combining to fight the BJP. Akilesh sharma feels that like PM Modi, Yogi has to do nothing further to reinforce his Hindutva image to hardcore supporters. It is now for the SP, BSP and Congress to fight the Modi wave? Will they even try?

Modi Effect – Big Mo: Chapter 5 (Summary)

Lance Price

In Chapter 6, Lance Price’s contends that Modi had the much sought after ‘Big MO’ – the momentum to carry him forward and upward.

Although the BJP had lost two elections, the prospects of winning 2014 appeared bight.

  • Firstly, the Congress lead government looked vulnerable more than ever before. The disenchantment with it was that it was poor in delivering on the promises.
  • Secondly, it was associated with corruption. In fact, the lists of scams and scandals was bewildering The 2G spectrum and Coalgate did a lot of damage to the image of the Congress party, and in particular  Manmohan Singh.
  • Thirdly, Anna Hazare’s tirade against corruption and Baba Ramdev’s protest against black money spread the spirit of dissent across the Nation.

To the growing fanbase both within and outside the BJP, Modi was not merely the favourite but the only candidate to lead the party into the general elections.

In August 2013, the RSS threw its support behind Modi. In 2013 the BJP parliamentary board formally announced Mod as thePrime Ministerial candidate.

Making a difference! Are we ready and willing?

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(A discussion on Michael Jackson’s song Man in the Mirror)

Watch the Youtube video

Lyrics 

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not
Alone?

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With
Me
(Starting With Me!)

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror…

Faith Commentary

MJ’s Man in the Mirror is in the top ten charts again. I absolutely adore this song. There are needs all around us and sometimes we pretend not to see the hurts, cries and needs (or may be its easy to look the other way). We are victims of selfish kind of love that is obsessed with a ‘me-my-and I’ perspective.

But… if we can make that extra effort and look, we can see people with no home, not a nickel to loan and all alone. Perhaps, it time to make a difference in the lives of people. And we need to ask the man in the mirror to make the change. If we wanna make the world a better place, then we need to take a look at ourselves and make that change. Today. Everyday.

I have been looking (actually browsing) for information about child soldiers this week. It was really sad to read about their hapless lives, their aches, their cries for freedom, their trauma and the horror of war. Can we/I make a change? Is there anyone who make a difference.

I was personally touched by the story behind the documentary Invisible children. See http://therescue.invisiblechildren.com/

Back in 2003 these three young filmmakers Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole discovered the reality of child soldiers when they travelled to Africa in search of a story. After returning to the States, they created the documentary “Invisible Children: Rough Cut“, a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda’s night commuters and child soldiers.

The story of the invisible children has sparked a grassroots movement mobilizing thousands to get involved in rebuilding war-torn schools in northern Uganda and providing scholarships to African youth.

I guess there’s so much we can do (if only we want to). We can make the change. We need to look around. Get involved. We need to look at the Man in the Mirror and say…

I’m Gonna Make A Change,

For Once In My Life

It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,

Gonna Make A Difference

Gonna Make It Right . . 

The world needs to be a better place. Mahatma Gandhi said, “I want to be the change that I want to see”. Well… it takes courage to be the change. It takes more courage to look at the Man in the Mirror and ask him to make that change. MJ’s gone.

But… these words will be long remembered, “If we wanna make the world a better place, then look at yourself and make that change”.

Are we ready and willing?

Quesstions for further discussion ( Prepared by Samuel Thambusamy)

  1. what is this song about?
  2. What do you think is wrong with our world today? Why is it important to make a difference? Can we make a difference in our world today?
  3. what are the contemporary stories of people making a difference in our world today?
  4. What are some things around us that we can change and make the world a better place? Why is important for us to start with the man in the mirror and ask him to change his ways?
  5. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see”. Comment!

India UnBound – Summary of the Introduction to the 15th Anniversary Edition

 

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In his introduction to the 15th Anniversary edition of INDIA UNBOUND: FROM INDEPENDENCE TO THE GLOBAL INFORMATION AGE, Gurucharan Das points to the significance of Modi’s victory

A) Modi’s victory helped us attain dignity

B) Modi’s rhetoric during the campaign made people believe that anyone could aspire to middle class status and thus he has invited us to be more imaginative in thinking about the nature of human dignity

He appeals for a correction of our misguided notion about what constitutes a dignified life.

He writes, “If Indians won their political freedom in Aug 1947 and their economic independence in July 1991, they attained dignity in May 2014. This was the significance of Narendra Modi’s landslide victory”.

No political party has bothered to explain the difference between “pro-market” and “pro-business”.  This has led many to believe that the markets makes the rich richer and the poor poorer and leads to corruption and crony capitalism.  This is the REAL reason for the slow pace of reform. What we is glossed over is the fact that India experienced a golden decade of growth from 2002 to 2012. The GDP growth averaged over 8 percent a year and lifted millions out of poverty. In fact, this falsifies the Leftist view that markets would impoverish the working class.

Sadly,  the congress party concluded after its 2004 victory that India’s free market reforms were not helping the poor and instead changed its focus to spending on welfare. This strained the economy and lowered investor confidence. The hopes of millions of people were dashed.

We need to correct our misguided notion about what constitutes a dignified life. Gurucharan Das points that the typical voter who elected Modi in 2014 was NOT a Hindu Nationalist. Rather, they were young, middle of the road person who had migrated to a small town. Modi’s call for Vikas became a code word for opportunity.  Modi’s landslide victory invited us to be more imaginative in thinking about the nature of human dignity. Modi’s rhetoric during the campaign made people believe that anyone could aspire to middle class status. Gurcharan Das is more than hopeful. He contends, “ India has in Narendra Modi an outstanding salesman of ideas who could transform the master narrative of its political economy”.

Ours is the age of rising expectations in the East. The big story of the past fifteen years is the story of continuing rise of China and India based on the liberal economic idea of the market. The rise of a third of humanity is good news for the world. It proves that free trade and multiplying connections to global economy are pathways to lasting prosperity.