God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Gratefulness and compassion

Sometimes it is time to sit down and simply reflect on the work one is doing day by day – holding in, letting the world stand still for a moment. For me such a moment was after hearing about the Erawan Shrine bombing in Bangkok, one of my favorite places in Bangkok to go and sit for hours and just doing it: sitting there, observing, praying, just “being” in the presence. In our world it seems that even such places are not protected anymore from the madness of sick human minds, and adding the cruelty and abuse of Islam by ISIS, the streams of refugees running away from civil war and dictatorship and corruption, exploitation and diminished chances of living their human rights in Africa it seems that the world is upside down in the moment. And we easily forget that there is also a counter stream, a stream of goodness, a stream of unsung heroes of humanity, decency and compassion.
And we only have to look into our own lives to acknowledge this goodness. Where would we be without the kindness of others, of parents, family members, friends, colleagues, co-workers, yes, when I look at my work with HOPE Cape Town –  sometimes completely strangers who just support what one is doing, a touch of humanity flowing from one to another without having the chance to meet the person in person.
Dresden in Germany is in the moment often in the news for all the wrong reasons – protests showing little signs of humanity but rather ignorance and hostility against refugees. But for me it is countered by all those actions making those running for their lives made feel welcome and of course not to forget the HOPE Gala in Dresden. For 10 years there are people caring for those less fortune in South Africa with incredible efforts, tons of love and compassion. For 10 years people from all over Germany flock to Dresden to enjoy an evening of entertainment and joy and doing good at the same time. It is up to me to choose what I want to see, what stream I want to follow, what I want to support, to cherish, to be grateful for… And I am sure if more and more I see the good in people, more and more I appreciate the bond of goodness and compassion, and more and more I can develop my own compassion and in return strengthen those strengthening me. Does it make sense? Yeap, for me it does and it is the only way to change the world for the better- against all odds.

Filed under: Reflection, , , , , , , , ,

17.01.2010 “Allah” = God?

Yesterday evening I watched a discussion on Asia News about the question, whether the word “Allah” may only be used by Moslems and not by Christian believers and others. In the studio a politician of an opposition Moslem party, a liberal Moslem woman and the representative of an Moslem Youth organisation which leads the protests against the use of the word “Allah” by non-believers.

One has to know as a background, that all Malay people in Malaysia have to be Moslems, so faith is bound to race in this country and the since more than 40 years leading party advocates this. One also has to know that the word “Allah” is used as the word for God since a long time without any problems. The word “Allah” exists before the Moslem faith was founded and means only “God”.

Listening into the conversation I have to say, that if someone would be cynical, he would have said that the arguments of the representative of the youth were pure rubbish – there were no arguments besides a Fatwa ruling from an organisation, which seems to be at best dubious. Otherwise no argument – pure racism and ignorance as well as intolerance came out of this persons mouth.
As I don’t want to be cynical, I think one has to say, it was an example per excellence to show, how faith can turn into an ideology. An ideology one blindly follows even if the there is no logical reason for it. This is indeed very dangerous – and the petrol attacks on churches in Malaysia have shown that this ideology don’t care about lives when it comes to push through their blind thinking.

I admired the two other partners in this discussion, who tried to bring some seriousness into the debate. No chance – ideology is blind to all arguments, but as they both have been Malay and Moslems, they had to put a brave face to it.

Turning faith into ideology is the temptation of every religion and we as Christians are also not free from it. Surfing some so-called “catholic websites” there is no difference between this Moslem youngster and those publishing the aforesaid websites along a line of ideology, which contributes the devil to everything, which is different from their strict believe system. To confuse ideology with faith is indeed a temptation of this time – as many feel, the well-known basics of life disappear and instead of asking, what this means for our religion, they cling to the old and known one and so turn faith into ideology.

This can be dangerous because it suddenly brings a black and white scheme into our world which does only exists in the minds of people. This world is not black and white, was never black and white and will never be black and white. Religion has always to do with all the grey areas – and it has also always to do with translating the core elements of faith into the language of today. People must understand what they believe in – there is no magic in turning back, in creating barriers in who is belonging to God’s flock or not.

There is also no merit in telling people what words to use, or to tell them, whom to worship and how to worship. Faith is always also an individual story between God and the single person – it is an intimate story – a personal story. And only those, who have understood this, who are knowing that they are indeed also in search of God, can show humility and tolerance towards others.

All would not be so difficult, when ideology, blind ideology turns people into crusaders who ignore the personal relationship of somebody with God. Often force is used to bring another person into a system of believe he or she likes it or not. And this force does not has to be a corporal one – there are so many ways to force and manipulate somebody against his will.

The danger faced by all world religions is that they want to survive as an organisation – and that the temptation is there to prove this with “the will of God” or the will of the founder figure. I am convinced that believer of all faiths have to be aware of this and that is indeed our duty to resist such temptations. God is always bigger than what we can comprehend as humans, and for this little bit of openness which we can find in any religion we have to stand in, again and again.

For Malaysia I hope that race will be separate from religion and that reason wins over the hearts and minds of the people there. For us in the rest of the world it is again a lesson to be aware, how fast it can happen that faith can serve an ideology  or turn into an ideology which blinds people.

Filed under: General, Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

29.08.2009 Sometimes I ask me…

.. why I really want to live in South Africa… Seriously, then my bloodpressure is going up. And it is not only the traffic, those impossible ways of driving a car, especially while raining…
This morning I wanted to buy a desk for my new home – went to a furniture store – Lifestyle living –  in Claremont – got my desk, all forms filled out, delivery agreed.. and then the company refused to take my European credit card from LH Miles & More. Their policy, so the manager and later the lady from the headquarter in Ottery, would say: no European credit cards.
I will on Monday contact my lawyer to get this company….  Why do I have a credit card? To pay worldwide without needing cash. What does MasterCard advertise? Being able to shop worldwide without hard cash. Why the hell do South African companies discriminate against European cards? It is a chip card, the most secure system we have in the moment.

I also heard today, that DSTV is refusing payment via internet with a foreign credit card. Computermania has the same policy. It is time to stop that. I guess,  I lawsuit and a nice compensation, payed towards a charity like HOPE Cape Town teaches those companies a lesson.  The arrogance and ignorance of those companies, managers etc is incredible. Which reminds me that Incredible Connection also has the policy to photocopy all foreign credit cards – both sides… nice way of opening fraud all doors.

And LH Callcenter South Africa does the same. I spoke to the LH Miles and More Credit Card legal department and they confirmed that the practice of Lufthansa Callcenter Cape Town is unlawful. Nevertheless, the call center continues to act in this way.

I must admit that I am sick and tired of such attitude and unlawful behavior, but first this furniture company on Monday..  time to stop that nonsense.

Filed under: Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

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