Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The innocence of None [255/365]

Religion in movie can be a tricky preposition. I remember how the Mel Gibson movie 'Passion of the Christ' got the churches talking. For those who saw the movie, it was clear Mel tried really hard to portray Christ and Jews as 'non-controversially' as possible. That in itself was a huge triumph.

Movies must depict the truth. It must move the viewer into thinking. Movies must be a medium to transmit the emotions of its characters more than its makers. The debate could go on.

Last week, provocative trailers of Innocence of Muslims, an Anti-Islam movie that was shot with American actors, has flung shit into the fan. Made by an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and promoted by Qur'an-burning US Preacher Terry Jones, the movie showed the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, homosexual and child abuser. The trailers of the movie uploaded on video-sharing site YouTube were 'designed to enrage' and 'anti-Muslim'. The actors and crew behind this movie has since told the press how they were misled about the intent and purpose of this movie when it was made a year ago.

Why would anyone make such a movie and release a provocative trailer online? Tough question to answer.
But the violence that this movie has caused is unspeakable. The losses unthinkable. Several people unrelated to the makers of this movie have since died as a result of this movie.
Where the f*ck is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula? Is he ever going to be held responsible for this atrocity?

By creating a movie like this, Nakoula has erred. But we can't deny the invaluable PR- millions of dollars worth of advertisement- that he got for free. He has got people googling for him and his movie. I can't imagine any other movie in recent memory which has got the kind of publicity the way 'Innocence of Muslims' have. His actions and this movie will be banned and in any country that has a sizable number of Muslims. He would probably be investigated and indicted for creating worldwide protests. But this is only going to make it really tough for genuine Indie film-makers in the future. Hollywood has taken a rap on the wrist, but America has lost much of the goodwill that Obama and Ms Clinton has struggled to create. Six American ambassadors have died and if the radicals have their way, this count could go up. Scores of civilians have died the bloodshed does not look like its going to dry up.

Now, I am no lover of radical Islamism but I agree they had a right to protest but by targeting the Americans, Israelites and Germans (!) aren't they, I dont know, vindicating the violence shown in the movie? None of the victims deserved to be killed for a movie they had nothing to do with.
By killing the innocent they have made naught any of the benefits of the Arab Spring uprising. While not all Muslims are violent, the spate of violence has proved that it only takes a dozen imams and a hundred radicals to undo the good of a million Muslims. If any consolation, had a Bollywood director made this movie, our primitive censor board would have stopped this right in its tracks.

Ironically, YouTube has still not taken the videos down and you should be able to see clones of the original upload online. Some of them High Definition. Countries where violence has broken have been grappling to contain and reassure their Islamic population.
While I know this will pass in a few weeks, I wonder how many Muslims really think what is portrayed in the movie is indicative of what they and their religion really is. Today's Muslims have much bigger issues to worry about than a movie made by one cowardly lunatic.

Whatever Sam and his Qur'an-burning compatriot wants to accomplish, I doubt if they will ever find forgiveness for the violence and hatred they have promoted. I surely wouldn't want to be in Sam Bacile's shoes today or any day soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

...and the meek shall inherit the Heaven

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. 

Looking at the picture on the right, how many did it speak to you?

In an age where violence is both condemned and glorified and where there is no dearth of bad news, this picture may not shock a modern reader. Insensitivised, our numbed conscience won't even register a protest. 

Christianity's greatest verses teach it's followers to show the other cheek and to suffer for your faith. The meek shall inherit the Heaven. And the poor shall have riches above.

What I've seen is it is easier to teach a person how he/she should live in a way that would honor the Lord, but would he/she resist the urge to temptation? 
While we consider ourselves blessed when all is fine, when we aren't suffering and when we have the money/resources that give us all the material comforts that define good living, we rarely correct ourselves or introspect when we are stuck.

I know people who have been struggling for many years, stuck in careers that aren't taking them where they need to be, or with people who are pulling them down. While we are quick to shrug off a short patch of 'bad luck' as a passing phase, when the 'phase' gets longer, they give up hope. They resign themselves to the fate. They simply give up.

Having been on both sides of 'luck'; where at one point I hit the lowest point a human being could hit, and then being able to 'settle down', I see how important God is in our lives. 

Our perception of God is fish-eyed.
We come closer to Him, when we want something.
As toddlers, toys. 
As students, before exams and when the results are about to come out.
As young adults, before interviews and for a good partner.
As an employee, for a bonus or before an interview.... 
I could go on.
He is our genie in folded arms.

While I've already mentioned how the rich consider themselves to be blessed just by virtue of their wealth, the faithful rarely consider themselves lucky when they are meek, poverty stricken and persecuted. What I see all round us is how eager and earnest our poor and meek are to climb up the social ladder. To earn many lakhs, to build an incredible house, own a good car, lots of jewelry, clothes... But when it's their time to go, none of them are really meek, are they?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Of false swamis and falser doctrines

How ironic that a man who proclaimed to be divine died on very day that humanity celebrates the resurrection of the Son of man.

Sai Baba, shrewd businessman, conman par excellence and among the most controversial godman in India, is finally dead.
As the rat race for his $9.10 billion empire heats up, I have the nasty feeling that we've not heard the last of these fake swamis.

Controversial for the corny sleight of hand tricks and 'miracles' that he has performed, I am surprised that millions fell for his tricks.
For a generation that is craving to fill its God sized hole in their hearts, such god(wo)man will continue to be wolves in sheep clothing.

Outraged at how he described himself as a reincarnation of Jesus, I'm surprised at how he got his date of death wrong! Struggling to live, reluctant to leave and absolutely zero plans of succession. Wow! He really didn't think that he would make such an inglorious exit, dying as he did. All the other false swamis and swaminis must rethink their reincarnation announcements. However, I wouldn't be too surprised if another takes his place, proclaiming to be his reincarnation!

And I was foolish enough to believe the scandals and the false doctrines of the Sex Guru would've have wizened up humanity.
It is our complacence that makes scamsters like Swami Nityananda and like scum thrive like fungus on a five day old bread.

You don't need a supercomputer to figure out why we are the only nation where you can rake in the millions just by learning some magic, quoting the scripture and give charity. Poverty that appears to envelope entire generations, and where awareness of your right to information is scarce, scamster swami's and swamini's hold a iron grip over entire populations.

Amma, next in line and most alike Sai Baba, with her vast empire of business and charity and false prophets sully the name of a nation that cradled civilization.
We must awake to rid our country of the scourge of the opportunist who prey upon the weak and the superstitious.
Maybe we need to show them the episodes of 'Magic's biggest secrets revealed' and then they'll stop following these billionaire scamsters.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bhopal, Football, Politics, Religion and Sex

Unless you have been buried alive, there's slim chance you would've missed the Top News..
Bhopal: I was around 4 years old when this happened and growing up in an Indian community abroad, you tend to get biased views about India. For many many years since, I dreaded the place Bhopal and thought it would be India's Chernobyl. The reality is not too far. In what is typical of how Indian Democracy functions, the real losers have always been the Victims. The government appears to be reluctant to work for the very people it swore to serve. Why do they have to form GoM's when there has been a clear travesty of Justice here? Well, the story does not change anywhere, in India.
We have ZERO disaster recovery and rehabilitation plans in place. Do I hear a Nuclear plant being commissioned?
Football: Arguably one of the most charismatic games ever played. I've played the game growing up in the Middle East and know how the game can grow on you. A game that is so simple yet complex. It is a game that would require true Team work and the highest levels of consistent training and fitness. Which is also why India can be ruled out!
Our athletes are neither consistent nor fit. If there is any semblence of football as a growing sport it is because many of the nation's best footballers, mainly from Goa, take this as a ticket to greener pastures in Europe.
We have the best (or so they claim) Cricket team in the world. But honestly, we have less than a dozen countries to compete with. It is almost like the famously qouted misqoute : World famous in India!
We play half the year with the same half a dozen teams and the rest of the year battling poor health and scandals. And while all the Football mania thankfully took up a lot of media coverage, our National Cricket team managed to loose to a 'lesser' team in a 3 nation tournament. What does this mean? That even when we can be 2nd place, we are so bad in our game that we....
Well, that is for Dhoni and Co to ponder upon. I wish them well.
Politics: If you are in Bangalore, I am pretty sure that you would've by now been assaulted with the ruling party's 'in your face' gloat campaign of having completed 2 years. WoW! It is almost like that was a feat in itself. Maybe, it is. With all the hit wickets and self goals that the BJP had in the past 24 months, I am surprised that they lasted this long. I wasn't aware that they had major celebrations planned in a ground near my home but I got stuck in a massive ground on my way to work and that's when it struck me. And MJ sang it well: 'They don't care about us'. But again, I think they deserve to celebrate. Like a brat who through the year didn't obey his parents gets to choose his celebrations on his birthday. I'm pretty sure there will be a slew of initiatives and schemes and a lot of projects announced and even more gloating and bragging that will be done. And in a week's time, when the pandals and the last polythene bag and litter has been evacuated to the most distant dumpsite, our politicians will get back to doing what they do best, which is corrupting and gathering.
Religion: Of false Swamis and every falser doctrines, language is a wonderful thing and in India, if you have great oratorical skills, you can be a rich man. You can skirt and skim across issues like it is a puddle in the ground. But I've observed that no matter how many scandals or wolves in sheep's clothing, there'll always be millions of followers for that swami or guru. It is our innate need and thirst for divine peace and solace that drives us to these swamis, who by the way, end up with our money in their pocket. Grow a beard, read a lot of literature/philosophy, appear calm and mystical and wear simple clothes that resemble loin clothes that shepherds wear and bang! You have all it takes to be the next big Swami.
Sex: Can you have a day go by where you don't have a sex scandal? And if you think men and women would be more cautious and prudent. No, we all fall for the apple. And one would think that people would be bored to read any more? Never. The human need for voyeurism is fed by the almost continuous onslaught of men and women being exploited by a human process that should have been so natural and divine, but has been sullied by temptation and greed.

A potent mix of news.
With all the vital ingrediants that are required for a potboiler, this year like most years since the advent of vicious journalism is turning out to be The Year of the Newspapers!
Never mind all the trees that are being cut down. Sensationalism can't wait.

The Religion of Hate

England recently banned radical Islamic preacher and founder of Peace TV, Dr Zakir Naik from entering their countries.
Couple of thoughts that sprang to my mind was, 'What took them so long?' and 'How hypocritical?'
I have a dear friend of mine who follows his speeches very carefully, and I am pretty sure the good Dr has a long list of followers.
So curious and having heard a lot about the charismatic doctor who gave up his practice to follow his calling, I decided to hear him on Peace TV.
First impressions, he definitely needs to fire his costume designer or whoever the heck it is who is in charge of his attire. He looks atrocious in the tuxedo.
And why are his trousers always 4 inches short??
However, once you struggle to move past this visual tragedy, he does come across as a fanatic who has amazing oratorical skills.
Most of the people in the audience looked disinterested and bored. Many of them kids with the Muslim skull cap.
His speeches are filled with logic that appears convulted and barbaric and suddenly I am able to understand why Islamic radicals have been able to run entire societies back to the middle ages in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
As a rule, I believe religious leaders and preachers should not touch politics even with a barge pole, however this guy loves to dabble in pointing fingers. It escapes my understanding how blaming George bush for the 9/11 can help in religious harmony among the brotherhood religions of Christianity and Islam. He supports polygamy and stricter regulations for Islamic women.
However, as much as we like to hate people and ideologies that are opposite ours, the Countries that banned Zakir and the Preacher that got banned must understand that what goes around comes around.. To ban a person or an ideology is a knee jerk way of stepping around the real issue.
Most Western Countries would not dare ban Christian preachers who are radical and 'outspoken'. They would dare not ban artists and politicians that promote religious strife. A case in point is how the West treated the Danish Cartoonist with kid gloves instead of convicting him for causing communal discord. I personally cant imagine any artist going Scot free if he/she were to humiliate Jesus or even less, the Pope the same way.
Zakir Naik, in his true form, protested the British ban in a fit of moral outrage.
But he conveniently forgot how he would ban anti Islamic books, practices and people with a whiff of his fist. So, going by the same measure, he shouldn't complain when the British government is trying to banning him.
He is upset his freedom of expression is being stifled. He calls his television network 'Peace TV'. A complete misnomer, since it has nothing that promotes peace nor has anything that resembles harmony among humanity in any of its programs. Of course I can understand that Dr Naik needs to play to the galleries but how can a channel that is a platform to portray Islam as the most divine of religion promote peace. Of the half a dozen Christian channels that are broadcast, not one of them trashes other religions the way Peace TV does. This channel is nothing but a Muslim supremacist media. By questioning the legitimacy of other religions he is not doing Islam any favor.

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His views on freedom are outrageous and this would be an understatement. He is all for equal rights for Muslims in non Islamic countries but not the reverse. Why? Because Islam is the right religion. Or so, Dr Naik professes eloquently. And if you think otherwise, he would muffle your debate with Islamic rhetoric.
As an Indian, living in India, if not for all his education and the many many liberties that he enjoys and could be taking for granted, he forgot that there are many reasons why India has survived several centuries of oppression and occupation is because we as a Civilization believe that there are many paths and different ways to get to our common goal; Eternity.
In a planet that is armed to the teeth and baying for blood, we can do without preachers and politicians that are hypocritical and can steer clear of each others profession.
We've had far too many fundamentalist and great orators that have created enough divisions and strife in humanity and its not even a century since all this happened ! At the rate things are going, we are heading to a nuclear showdown. And none of the Islamic BS Dr Naik preaches is going to immunize all the Islamic brotherhood from the same destruction that humanity will face.

We must do away with preachers of hate rhetoric. Religious Tolerance and Unity. Is that too much to ask?
Religion was supposed to bring in Harmony and Peace. Where did we go so wrong?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Living the Live-in

Woke up to a heated discussion on a popular News channel.
'Is Live-in a Sin?'
As predicted, 4 quasi experts plus the Anchor engaged in bitter battle for the sake of their nation.

The root of this heated debate is a recent Supreme Court judgment terming 'Live-in relationships and premarital sex legal'. The court contended that since Krishna and Radha of Mythology lived in, it is legal and hence Indian. Since when did the highest court of our Nation, start quoting Mythology.

Nonetheless, I bet all those teenagers and 20 somethings are celebrating with wild romps in their beds since.

Religion and Mythology are very often used as crutches when authorities lack the will to do the right thing at the right time.

But this decision shocked me.
Of all the major religions in the world, none of them advocate premarital sex.

Personally, I feel sex is more than the carnal and lust filled moments of passion. It is about 2 adults coming together to show their love for each other. It is about 'making love' work.

Modern media have sensationalized sex, to such a tantalizing point of no return that some of them are simply soft porn. Men and women are encouraged and tempted to experiment. Peer pressure does not make things easy. The Media glorifies Sex and Promiscuity. Hollywood rules the roost, Bollywood is catching up, TV channels use them to increase TRPs.

Though living in appears to be straddling the best of both worlds, I still believe in the sacrament of marriage. I wouldn't have it any other way.

While I still think it is possible for a man and a woman to live under a roof without any sexual relationship, are we so prudish to think that a live-in couple who profess their love for each to abstain from premarital sex? If the love was true, they would have rather married each other.

There could be many reasons why a couple in love decide to live in. Convenience and a fairly economical way of managing the household is a primary reason. But put sex outside of marriage and you have just opened a pandora's box of social ills.

Unintended pregnancies, abortions, sense of failure, intense feeling of vengeance and the vicious cycle just goes on.

I know a certain girl who lived in with her boyfriend who professed undying love for her that would last an eternity. She believed him. They took an apartment together. Had sex, got pregnant and his promise of eternity ran out. He dumped her, would not respond to her emails or calls. He changed his number. Bitter and disillusioned, she is juggling boyfriends just to overcome her growing sense of insecurity. She knows where she went wrong, but is too scared to admit it lest the world ridicule her.

Safe Sex is a myth. The psychological, physical and emotional scars that women, in particular go through take a lifetime to heal.

Live in, but do so only when circumstances disallow you to marry.

When a couple in love starts to live in, there is a lot of anticipation and optimism. Our body plots against us too. Endorphins block our ability to look beyond love.

The truth is love does wear out. We wake up to bad morning breath and body odor. We open our eyes to crusted lip corners and pillows with our drool.

But the fact is, that is when we need to make love work. More often than not, we believe that love is about talking sweet nothings for many hours, telling things that we know the other person loves to hear. But the real trouble begins when you start living in with a person only to realize that the person you loved is not the person he/she is.

Legalizing premarital sex is akin to allowing Men to exploit Women under the guise of love.

The women in the live-in relationship have a lot at stake; their chastity, their safety and well being. Most of the time, men who live-in see this as an opportunity for regular sex sans all the responsibility that a marriage would bring.

If only we removed that gene inside us that would stop us from cheating the person we profess to love abundantly and unconditionally...
If only we could respect our lover's body and soul just the way God does...
If only we saw making love as the physical act of a cognitive emotion and not just humping...

That would be the day that we can finally say, we are Humans. That is when we can truly understand why having sex is not the same as 'making love'. That is when we can truly understand how marrying can be many times more fulfilling than a many night stand.

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