Category: Readings & Reviews

Virtues that can change our lives

The world seems to be over speeding, no time for contemplation, quiet time & calmness. Practicing, being still is considered foolishness. Many of us don’t care about virtues and morals anymore. Many of us have rejected the moral law giver and think we can decide what is right and what is wrong by ourselves. Pleasure and comfort are all over the place. Character building is a forgotten subject. Anyway!!

Benjamin Franklin in the year of 1726 developed a system to build his character. At that time he was just 20 years old.

I read this in his Autobiography and wanted to share with you all. These virtues that he had listed down are not universal but for his own life. However, all these virtues are equally important for our lives too. You can add more or reduce, but these are examples which might help developing yours.

He developed this system and dedicated this plan to God and started practicing. He failed many times but never gave up. And we all know, what a wonderful life he lived.

Following are the virtues he listed down for his life (taken as it is from his Autobiography). It is not to follow as it is but an example which can help.

Virtues Explanation
Temperance Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Silence Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation
Order Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time
Resolution Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve
Frugality Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
Industry Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions
Sincerity Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly
Justice Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty
Moderation Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve
Cleanliness Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloths, or habitation
Tranquillity Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Chastity Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation
Humility Imitate Jesus and Socrates

He had also developed a weekly calendar in order to see how many times a day he fails to practice. Following table is the example.

13 Virtues Chart

Character building and developing virtues requires discipline and it takes time and effort. But where there is a will, there is grace also. As seen in the life of Benjamin Franklin, it did him a whole lot of good. So, I hope it helps all of us in our pursuit of character building.

Thank you

God Bless

A Thousand splendid suns – A Review

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,

Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.”

– Persian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi, 17th Century

51jkAgidvAL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The book ‘A Thousand splendid suns’ is another masterpiece of Khaled Hosseini. Some say it is better than ‘The kite Runner’ but I would say both are equally great and cannot be compared.

‘A thousand splendid suns’ describes lives during the cold war and post-cold war, specifically how the intrusion of Taliban had affected lives in Afghanistan. It covers lives during three decades of war in Afghanistan.

The writing is so deep & real that it can give readers an opportunity to experience Afghanistan of that time. There is pain, remorse, fear, hostility, betrayal, joy, love, sacrifice, courage and some more beautiful emotions that can make you cry and admire as well.

I won’t give you an overview of the story but can tell you that ‘A thousand splendid suns’ describes the lives of two women from their childhood to adulthood forced to live almost without any rights. In the midst of suffering they have proved that life is worth living and showed in the midst of hatred, love never abandons anyone. They shone through the dark clouds of hatred because they were the ‘thousand splendid suns’. Like ‘The kite runner’, once again the writer has illustrated pure friendship and ultimate sacrifices.

Khaled Hosseini has described the two wonderful women as “splendid suns”. Women’s strength and their significance in a society have been described skilfully through this brilliant art. It will make you believe that Women are one of God’s most wonderful creations. It has touched my soul and will touch yours.

The story telling ability of Khaled Hosseini is simply remarkable. The way he has portrayed characters and incidents will keep you occupied.

It is a masterpiece and a must read…Before reading these two books I had never thought that I would want to visit Afghanistan in my life.

God Bless…

The Kite Runner – A Review

The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini is an amazing book. I just read it recently and thought to post the review.the-kite-runner-400x400-imadmdqhqxht9qan

It is written with great passion and simplicity and so profound. The author has portrayed the soul of Afghanistan in the book; Afghanistan in its beauty and in its torment.

It is a great piece of writing, with beautiful characters of different age groups. There are wonderful examples of forgiveness and enormous sacrifices. There are characters that have sacrificed and forgiven and being faithful all through their lives. And there are characters who have taken all the risks to rescue a child for life from definite ruin. The abiding faith and loyalty of Hassan towards his master and friend Amir would astound you.

Simply saying, in the midst of misery there is full of hope, redemption and forgiveness.

It is showing the lives during and after the cold war and how the post cold war has affected whole of Afghanistan with the Taliban intrusion. You can imagine every bits of life in Afghanistan through this book. I loved it and my perception towards Afghanistan changed forever…

It is a must read book for all. Written with true spirit and great passion with flow of emotions, you will never feel bored.

I loved the writing and now reading ‘The thousand splendid suns’ by the same author and would post the review soon.

Thank you

God bless…

Dialogue and its 5 fundamentals for true education and transformation

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The Author

I am at my home during this holidays and reading Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. It’s an amazing insightful book, which everyone who works for transformation of the world must read. What I am getting from the book is brilliant and I would also like to share few thoughts from a chapter with you all. I do not want to paraphrase it or change it but I want to put it as it is written by the Author.

I dedicate this post to all my friends who have been falsely accused and charged for raising their voice for what they believed and for asking for a dialogue. I just want to tell them that they were right because their intention was to dialogue for betterment of situation and their means were harmless and kind. So the consequences was not because of them but due to the absence of the “sense of dialogue” in the other party. I just want to say, stay strong, stay hopeful and be good…and pray for the people so that they may understand…

Everything written below is not mine but purely from Paulo Freire’s book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. All the credit is to the author of the book.

Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men and women transform the world.

Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.

Dialogue is the encounter between people, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. Hence, dialogue cannot occur between those who want to name the world and those who do not wish this naming – between those who deny others the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. Those who have been denied their primordial right to speak their word must first reclaim this right and prevent the continuation of this dehumanizing aggression.

He says dialogue will not be possible in the absence of 5 things, namely: Love, humility, faith, hope and critical thinking.

  1. Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for the people. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself. It is thus necessarily the task of responsible Subjects and cannot be exist is a relation of domination. Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. If I do not love the world, if I do not love life and people, I cannot enter into dialogue.
  2. Dialogue cannot exist without humility. Transformation of the world cannot be an act of arrogance. Dialogue, as the encounter of those addressed to the common task of learning and acting, is broken if the parties lack humility.

How can I dialogue if I always project ignorance onto others and never perceive my own?

How can I dialogue if I regard myself as a case apart from others – mere “its” in whom I cannot recognize other “I”s?

How can I dialogue if I consider myself a member of the in-group of “pure” men, the owner of truth and knowledge, for whom all non-members are “these people” or “the great unwashed”?

How can I dialogue if I am closed to – and even offended by – the contribution of others?

How can I dialogue if I am afraid of being displaced, the mere possibility causing me torment and weakness?

Self-sufficiency is incompatible with dialogue. Men and women who lack humility or have lost it, cannot come to the people, cannot be their partners in transforming the world.

  1. Dialogue further requires an intense faith in humankind, faith in their power to make and remake, to create and recreate, faith in their vocation to be more fully human. Faith in people is a prior requirement for dialogue. Without faith in people, dialogue is a farce which inevitably degenerates into paternalistic manipulation.
  2. Nor can dialogue exist without hope; Hope is rooted in people’s incompletion, from which they move out in constant search – a search which can be carried out only in communion with others. Hopelessness is a form of silence, of denying the world and fleeing from it….
  3. Finally, true dialogue cannot exist unless the dialoguers engage in critical thinking – thinking which discerns an indivisible solidarity between the world and the people and admits of no dichotomy between them. Critical thinking contrasts with naïve thinking, which sees “historical time as a weight, a stratification of the acquisitions and experiences of the past, from which the present should emerge normalized and “well-behaved”. Only dialogue, which requires critical thinking, is also capable of generating critical thinking.

Without dialogue there is no communication and without communication there can be no true education.

Trust is established by dialogue. False love, false humility and feeble faith in others cannot create trust.

To say one thing and do another – to take one’s own word lightly – cannot inspire trust. To glorify democracy and to silence the people is a farce: to discourse on humanism and to negate people is a lie.

Thank You

God bless….

Not Finding God in Expected Places

downloadI am currently reading “ Finding God in unexpected places” by Philip Yancey. Actually this is an achievement as I read  only fiction for various reasons. I was convinced to at least try and finally I gave it a shot. No, I am not hooked or nothing has changed dramatically but it definitely has changed something in the way I think.

Well back to the book, Philip Yancey’s books have catchy titles and this got my attention. I wont be discussing the book here but just fragments of my thoughts. Reading this, pushed me to think if God is in any of the expected places. If you see my life, I am a Missionary Kid, working in a mission hospital, surrounded by “mission work”. This should mean that I see and experience God in all the places, own life, office, mess everywhere because these are expected places. But lately, I have been frustrated as I don’t experience as much. I don’t find God in expected places. No offense to missions but honestly including my self, all I experience is a lot of talk but no walk. It almost feels like God himself wont recognize these places.

Just yesterday my friend and I were discussing about Gandhi, who followed a lot of biblical principles but never followed Christianity. He claimed that he liked Christ but found Christians very different. He found the church not inclusive and uninviting. This is just one example, while there might be so many people who turned away because they did not find God in expected places- in our churches, our lives, our hospitals and many other Christian expected places.

I look at my own life and it scares to see the person I have become, when I don’t reflect God and yet make tall claims about being a Christian. I am scared to even recall the number of people who might have turned away because they did not find God in my life- their expected place.

As Yancey put it beautifully, we overlook God’s presence in our ordinary lives and places but its also important that we keep God in the expected places where people actually look and search or they might give up and we lose them forever.

We can only hope and pray that people who are searching find God wherever they are looking both in the expected and unexpected places.

God Bless.

P.S. I am reminded of a song from my favorite band Petra- Rose colored stained Glass Windows , Do check it out

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk_4l44BXew

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/petra/rosecoloredstainedglasswindows.html

 

 

40 years old Sunshine…..

I love old, second hand books, the smell of them, the crackling of the old paper and deciphering the scribblings of the previous owners and imagining the kind of people they were. Well, I am lucky as I live on a Mennonite campus and we have our mess in an old mission bunglow (People who live on mission campuses would know) . The typical western style houses, the charming but unused fireplaces and of course the old broken cupboards with old books. Along with the rats, I too went sniffing around the old cupboards (but not for food like the rats). To my delight, I found old books, magazines. One of the magazines that caught my attention was the “Sunshine Magazine” (Picture Below) January 1971. Hmmm, my parents hadn’t met by then. My curiosity took over the sneezing from the dust on it and I got down to reading it.

Well, I did google it also and according to wikipedia, it is a “feel good” monthly digest, filled with uplifting short articles and anecdotes. I like monthly digests esp Readers’ Digest. So I got down to reading it, wondering how life was in the 70s without mobiles and laptops and limited internet.

It was a January edition and included articles on the struggles of keeping new year resolutions (can definitely relate to that), stress, family issues. It almost had every issue that you could find in a present day “feel good” magazine. It was strangely comforting and puzzling that nothing much has changed and life is as crazy as it was  40 years ago.

So to everybody who blames the fast paced, stress filled life of the present day, life has not changed much. May be we just need to find better ways to cope. I highly recommend a good book, a steaming cup of coffee and a good laugh with your close friends.

sunshine 

 

sunshine (2)
This is one article which caught my attention, hope you like it too

 

 

 

Happy Reading

Rachel