In a generation so much entertained by the realm of the meme, I am afraid we do not have the time to be serious and have lost the seriousness of life. Login to any social media site, and we often find ourselves caught up in the unending memes and giggling like a hungry baboon. In a world of floating information, I am afraid we are over-flooded with inputs that we lose our introspective reasoning. There is so much reading every day but too little credential information that directs towards a virtuous life. In a generation where the demands of life and our time are at zenith, I am afraid we will be sold out and forget to exist. In an era where happiness comes with the tag “buy me,” I am afraid to be persuaded and succumb to this cajoled culture.
Albert Einstein fears a day when technology will surpass human interaction. He opines that the world will have a generation of idiots. Don’t you feel that vibe today? I think it is now upon us. These days, everyone wants to make the headlines as ‘the one who broke the news.’ Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and you name it are good platforms that allow us to share, connect, stay in touch, and show sides of our brand’s people might not be aware of. But there’s a fine line between being authentic and annoying. It is a sad reality in our generation that social media has become a place where many of us try to prove our worth. Counting on one’s self-worth through the likes and dislikes of a post or a picture is such a tragedy and malady. The young and old cannot deny the fact that we are all prisoners of social media – trolling, posting, and commenting endlessly.
Is social media an addiction in this generation? I am afraid so. There is evidence that social media and other forms of digital engagement may have an addictive effect on the brain as well. A study by researchers at the University of Winchester found that when heavy social media users were asked to stop using the services for a month, some experienced negative feelings related to the ban, including feeling cut off from the world and social isolation. Most psychologists and social media experts also agree that the release of dopamine that comes from online recognition can be habit-forming and may even cause one to neglect important tasks like work and sleep.
I suspect that we are a generation driven by egocentric hedonism – a generation in pursuit of self-centered pleasure and happiness. I imagine an arena where ethics have been contested by the pleasure principle. I visualize that in that arena, somehow, ethics have been overpowered and knocked down; therefore, ethics have become relative. The truth becomes subjective and thereby turns out to be relative but not absolute. In this high noon of ethical relativism, one’s own pleasure and happiness become the watchword. But happiness started acting pricy and blurted, “Buy me.” Therefore, everyone on the highway toward the town of happiness is compelled to have money because mirth is exhibited with price tags. Is it really true that all the fun under the sun has got a price tag? It is not, but it looks like. In order to reach the town of happiness, ethics was surrendered to relativism, and morality was debunked. I am afraid we will not dare go off-limits chasing after the money to buy happiness in this generation.
Stephen Long, in his Christian Ethics, points out that God was contested in modernity for the sake of ethics, and ‘ethics’ is contested in postmodernity. Indeed, some of the great modern thinkers voice out that humans are good by nature; therefore, God is just our imagination. The modern world, therefore, propagated the idea that since humans are good, we have the freedom to make all our moral decision; thus, God was hypothesized. Postmodernity, with its watchword ‘embrace all,’ pushes moral decision-making to subjectivism – a personal view, and hence I feel that ethics was surrendered to egoistic hedonism.
I am afraid now because we are living in a generation where God was contested and relegated to a mere concept. Ethics is shoved into the kitchen corner of subjectivity and left there to decay. It is a blundered generation. In such a time as this, I feel that the voice crying in the desert is “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of the wisdom.” That voice in the desert is wailing, and we are summoned to introspect critically about that voice in this generation.
Article on the KHTS 2023-24 Academic Year Theme "Coping and Thriving"
by Wapangrenba Imchen Academic Dean
In the hustle and bustle of life, we often find ourselves grappling with various challenges and uncertainties. It is during these moments of adversity that we need guidance on how to cope and not merely survive but thrive. In the book of Philippians, we discover a powerful message of hope and resilience in the face of trials. Philippians 4:6-7 offers us profound insights that can help us navigate the storms of life and find inner peace.
The passage begins with the instruction, "Do not be anxious about anything." This command reminds us that worry and anxiety do not serve us well. Instead, we are urged to replace anxiety with prayer and supplication, bringing our concerns before God. By surrendering our worries to a higher power, we acknowledge that we are not in control of every aspect of our lives. This act of surrender frees us from the burdensome weight of anxiety, allowing us to approach challenges with a clearer and calmer mind.
The passage goes on to assure us that when we present our requests to God, accompanied by thanksgiving, His peace will guard our hearts and minds. This promise offers solace and reassurance, reminding us that we are not alone in our struggles. We are invited to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, even in the midst of adversity, recognizing the blessings that surround us. This attitude of gratitude helps to shift our focus from what is going wrong to what is going right, empowering us to find strength and hope.
Moreover, the passage reminds us that God's peace surpasses all understanding. This peace is not contingent upon favorable circumstances but rather comes from an unwavering trust in a loving and faithful Creator. It is a peace that defies logic and transcends the challenges we face. By embracing this divine peace, we can rise above our circumstances and experience a deep sense of contentment and joy.
In conclusion, Philippians 4:6-7 provides invaluable wisdom on how to cope and thrive in the face of adversity. By replacing anxiety with prayer, cultivating an attitude of gratitude, and embracing God's peace, we can navigate life's challenges with resilience and find true inner peace. As we apply these principles to our lives, we discover that coping is not merely surviving but flourishing, and thriving becomes a way of life.
Wapangrenba Imchen Academic Dean
Imagine this scene, the cracking chill wind striking upon the gentle face of that decent young lady who seldom travels a long distance. On an inexperienced gentle arm, an infant baby is cooing uncomfortably, feeling cold on that chill winter night. A young man threatened by the cries of the genocides in Ramah, worried about food and shelter, and nervous about the journey. Following the gasping journey, while the rejection memories in Bethlehem are still afresh, the young family has to find a rented house in a new country. Can you imagine yourself in the shoe of a persecuted migrant? Do you recollect some of the painful migration stories during COVID-19?
“Life was beautiful until one morning they beat up my father to death- the reason being he was the village chairman. Following this with one of my uncles at the age of twelve, I fled to Thailand. I was separated from my mother, and my family was scattered to different refugee camps and places.” That was the story of Kedo (using the name with permission), and like him, many of my students share their painful childhood memories of fleeing and the hardship of a refugee.
We have heard from the Labor and Employment Minister that around 10 million migrants have attempted to return home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown in India. We have seen in the news about thousands of migrant workers heading home walking or bicycling hundreds of kilometers this year. Some died on the way, others met accidents on the road, and a few were beaten up by the police. Do you think that a person becomes a migrant or a refugee willingly? No, but for survival.
Persecutions, discriminations, and genocides of different kinds are the realities with which we are living today. These conditions of the realities and the experiences invite us to retroactively place ourselves with the cold winter night journey of a young Jewish migrant family through Via Maris. Persecution and genocides forced the family of Jesus out of their hometown and country. What was the reason for the genocide in Ramah? Herod suspected and was afraid that the newborn king would dethrone him. Why are we being discriminated against and persecuted? You have a different skin tone, food habits, and belief system, and therefore they have a suspicion that triggers fear in them. This dissenting voice of fear and suspicion is a vicious circle that is hard to tamper with, yet to accommodate this for us is perilous.
Situations and conditions force a person to be a migrant, and this Via Maris narratives challenge us to share our love and be gracious toward the migrants. Secondly, the story of the young Jewish migrant family to Egypt who patiently waits and hopes on God persuades us that in hope lies the power of the human soul to turn to God and live beyond our circumstances.
Prayer: Dear God, give us the courage to stand against the dissenting voice of fear and suspicion. Grant us the serenity to live in hope beyond our circumstances. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Wado President KHTS
The people of Israel were slaves in Egypt and Yahweh sent Moses to deliver them from bondage in Egypt. In short, they set out from Egypt to go to the promised land, Canaan. When they came to mount Sanai Yahweh summoned Moses for a meeting to negotiate an agreement/covenant between Yahweh and the people of Israel. It is a 10 points bilateral agreement between Jews and God. It is called the 10 commandments. The most important of the 10 is that the people of Israel will worship only Yahweh and they will not make graven image for themselves to venerate.
The 10 points Bilateral Agreement Broken
After 39 days and a half, “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1-4.) while on the mountain, God told Moses, I suppose God was angry. God did not say, “My people whom I brought up out of Egypt… anymore. He said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 32: 7,8). At first in Exodus 5.1, God said, “let my people go…” now He said, “these are you people you have brought out of Egypt”. Haha, God thew it on Moses… your people, not mine… “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” 32:9-10
Moses said to Yahweh, “ No way!" But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. The 10 points bilateral agreement was trashed even before it is made official.
Moses is a good negotiator; A great leader of the people
Moses said he will be gone for 40 days, but the people realized that Moses was taking forever in coming down that mountain, probably because Moses was too old to climb up and down the mountain which rises to 2,7497 feet or (2285 meters) above sea level, the 80 something year old Moses did not do so good I guess; partly because he had to carry 2 heavy stone tablets while coming down (According to traditional teachings of Judaism in the Talmud, they were made of blue sapphire stone as a symbolic reminder of the sky, the heavens, and ultimately of God's throne.) we don’t know how many kilos but they were heavy. Also may be the people of Israel miscalculated the days, that is to say, Moses talked to the people today and he went up the mountain the next day but the people in their impatience began to count the day Moses talked with them as the first day. But Moses actually went the next day. But on the 39 days they chose rallied around a new leader, Aaron so Aron can make them a new symbol to direct their journey.
According to Jewish Rabbi Manis Friedman, “the sages who received this tradition from Moses tell us that when Moses God said the Jews made a golden calf or graven image he did not believe it. He heard it from God and he didn’t believe it. Because that’s what a devoted leader does. He or she always argues in favor of the people. A great leader gets his greatness from the people. He is not greater than the people. A devoted leader always argues in favor of the people. That is the greatness. But something puzzling here. Why bring down the bilateral agreement tablets and break them? Why not leave them on the mountain top? But… why bring them down and break them. They are heavy. Why bring them down and break them? It is better just don’t bring them down at all. May be Moses is an angry man who has a tendency to break everything in hands in need of anger management therapy. May be. According to Numbers 12: 3, Moses is called the “meekest man on earth” The story does not make sense to me. Why bring them all the way down and break them on the foot of the mountain? The story needs a deeper dive or it needs some decoding so its true meaning unearthed. Yes, the story needs demythologization.
The purpose in breaking the stones was that the stones were like contracts. The formal agreement. God said orally “thou shall have no other god and make no graven images." But that was not necessarily binding but when it came in writing in axe and stones that will be a binding commitment and then Jews would be unforgivable so Moses said I am not delivering this contract, we are not signing it, the deal is off. Because if he gave them the written word then there will be no forgiving them of idolatry. So to save his people Moses broke the contract. Moses had to cancel the contract in favor of the interests of the people. God actually is happy with the deal. That’s the kind of leadership God wants for his people.
According to the sages that received this tradition from Moses, Moses did not believe God when God said your people messed up. When he came down and actually saw what people did, Moses got angry, but he had to argue in favor of the people. He had to break the contract. He had to stand with the people. That’s the kind of leader God wants for his people. We are told the law of Moses is legalistic but if it did not benefit the people Moses is ready to break it for the sake of the people. Jesus had a good relationship with Moses, he met up with Moses on the mount of transfiguration. He fulfilled the law of Moses and replaced it with the amazing grace. Jesus know human cannot fulfill the law of righteousness, so he did if one our behalf.
Unhealthy Leaders Hold on to the Rigid Unbending Laws
Basic fundamental Christian doctrines are like bone to Christianity. Bones are better kept inside and not outside. Skin and flesh are kept outside.
Pharisees are model citizens, they fast and pray, they give tithes, the don’t commit adultery, they are righteous and zealous for God. they are not sinners.
But I wonder why Jesus can’t stand them in the gospel narratives. Jesus called them “snakes! brood of vipers”(Matt. 23.33), “whitewashed tomb” (Matt. 23.27), “the blind guide” (Matt. 23:16), “hypocrites” (Matt. 23:15), “blind fools!”(Matt. 23:17), “children of hell” (Matt. 23:16), “the unmarked grave,” (Luke 11:44). Pharisee are exoskeleton, meaning to say the wear their clothes outside in or inside out. They keep their bones outside while keeping their sensitive skins and soft flesh hidden inside their doctrinal bones. They are people who see a speck of dust in the eyes of their brothers and sisters but pay no attention to the log that is hanging in their eyes (Matt. 7: 3-5).
Now Pharisees are experts on the Torah, viz., the law of Moses. They hold on to the law of Moses more strictly than Moses himself because Moses would break them if those laws do not serve the interests, hopes and desires of the people. The people may be wrong, at times, but Moses would negotiate in favor of the people. That’s what great leaders do.Remember, no go great leaders are exoskeleton.
Philip Yancey says, “If doctrines and rules are worn externally, as a show of pride in spiritual superiority, the exoskeleton obscures God’s grace and love, making the Christian gospel ugly and unattractive.”
May be these are the reason why Schleiermacher warns church leaders who take the Old Testament too seriously. Schleiermacher insisted that when Christians take OT seriously, their Christianity become infected with legalism and offers negligible support for Christian doctrines. Schleiermacher rejected the notion that Jesus and the apostles set a precedent for Christians to observe by utilizing the OT, to the contrary, he pronounced the “gradual retirement” of the OT on the emergence of the NT and claimed that “the real meaning of the facts would be clearer if the Old Testament followed the New Testament as an appendix. Nowadays, there are leaders who want to hold fast to the rule books, traditions, the constitutions, the agreements, disregarding the needs, interests, hopes, fears, voices of the people. Yes, wanting to hold fast to their power when people are left dead in the streets.
Points of Importance
Finally, Aplastic anemia happens when bone marrow doesn’t produce enough new blood cells throughout the body. Aplastic anemia is an acquired autoimmune disease, which occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. When one member in an institution began to misunderstand the intentions and actions of another and misinterpret those actions as a threat to leadership position, and begin to directly or indirectly attack him or her, weaknesses within the system occur which will result in a dysfunctional institution. So, don’t be legalistic. One thing I would encourage KHTS to be. To be mature, to trust each other, to have faith in humanity and in one another. That is what great leaders do, “they encourage and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).