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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

Category Archives: readings

I’ve read this wonderful work by George-Orwell way back during my uni days. (Here’s an excerpt):  

…YEARS passed. The seasons came and went, the short animal lives fled by. A time came when there was no one who remembered the old days before the Rebellion, except Clover, Benjamin, Moses the raven, and a number of the pigs…
 

…Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer-except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs. Perhaps this was partly because there were so many pigs and so many dogs. It was not that these creatures did not work, after their fashion. There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called “files,” “reports,” “minutes,” and “memoranda.” These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said. But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them, and their appetites were always good.

…on a pleasant evening when the animals had finished work and were making their way back to the farm buildings, a terrified neighing of a horse sounded from the yard. Startled, the animals stopped in their tracks. It was Clover’s voice. She neighed again, and all the animals broke into a gallop and rushed into the yard. Then they saw what Clover had seen.

It was a pig walking on his hind legs.There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything-in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened-they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of-“Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!”
Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering. “My sight is failing,” she said finally. “Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?”For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

 

 

The memory of reading this story came as I was again drawn to the respected prince, one who resonates hope for the nation, the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah – making calls to young Malaysians to protect the integrity of the Constitution – that being every Malaysian’s way of promoting national unity.

Conversations over the weekend revolved around the damages wrecked by leadership in our community; in our social clusters (and in my context, our christ-clusters). It is disheartening that being right and having the right answers justify the rightful leader today.

Reading Dwight Friesen is a refeshing break. Here’s what Dwight wrote that’s helpful for our self-assessment:

Kenosis is leadership within the christ cluster, it is self-voiding of power. It is God who is self-emptying and invites us to share in God’s own life. Self emptying demands openness more than orthodoxy…a leader is one who lives into the reality of self in a community responding to the invitation to empty self in the loving service of other(s).

Self-emptying (however), results in chaos (not havoc) and chaos is the seed of creation and creation is the act of love. Chaos, though never easy, is an invitation to rely on others.

– Hubbing: The ‘Being’ and ‘Act’ of Leadership within Dynamic Christ-Clusters

 

I continually find it necessary to re-examine our leadership view that has created a serious disengagement between ‘leader’ and ‘follower’. I willingly allow myself to rely on someone not because he has all the right answers. In fact, it is impotant that he acknowledges that he does not. But it is the ability of one to lose oneself in order to find oneself (if it is helpful, in Dwight’s words, that God’s sovereignty is that God empties Godself of sovereignty). It is to hear one say, I am not so sure, but I’ll stick with you anyway!  

A word on chaos: I can’t imagine anything more chaotic than to see a scandalously born ‘son of god’ engaging with prostitutes, lepers, pagans. And chaos it was when Nietzsche announced the death of God. But to imagine the chaos when the hailed ‘son of god’ in fact died on the cross. These chaos, had indeed drawn creation forward.

God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way , in which he is with us and helps us….The bible directs us to God’s powerlessness and suffering; only the suffering God can help. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

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I switched off my notebook. Spent the remaining evening cleaning my fish tank.

 

 

Found this interesting translation:

“In the beginning was the Conversation. The conversation was not only with God, the conversation was God. And nothing that has happened or will happen happens outside that conversation. Then in John’s own time, the conversation sounded in our flesh and not only did we hear it — we saw it! Saw it in all its splendor, new as it always will be in the womb of the Father.”

Justy called over the weekend. I was delighted. Afterall I was spending the afternoon watching Shrek (1&2) and Pirates of the Caribbean (1&2). 

Why I like Shrek: everything in it was, ‘hey! it’s not suppose to be like this!’ Of course, stories are wonderful when told in their ‘original’ forms. But stories that are ambiguous, contradictory and ironical and sometimes scandalous and troublesome do indeed have a way to speak to us.  

But I have also learnt that I don’t have to like, agree with, or defend the stories. I just need to let them speak. And they will tell me something I did not know before, tell me who I am and how I am to be with the others. To enter into conversations for stories to emerge. Story-tellings that  free me from being trapped inside myself and bring me home to God and to others.

In an earlier posting (here) I struggled with the problematic good-evil and positive-negative dichotomy. Kundera opened another perspective to this and presents us with another problem  ; )

“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground.  But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body.  The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment.  The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become.

Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.

What then shall we choose?  Weight or lightness?” 

Lightness and weight. Which is good and which is bad?