Jesus as A Story Teller

“The greatest miracles Jesus did were his stories” says Nigerian author Ben Okri. Stories were Jesus’ weapons against oblivion and death. He resurrected world through his stories and miracle of new thinking. Perhaps he came only to say stories. One cannot become a story teller without seeing things intimately and thus feeding his imagination. Jesus might have spent hours looking at a flower, fallen leaf, dispersing clouds, folding sea. In turn, they revealed their secrets to him.
 Jesus stories have a deepening reactive aspect. The Old Testament sometimes acts like stories which despise stories. The law is an anti-story. So Jews abandoned stories in order to become a religion of law. No law can contain God and they are dogmatic. Law and dogmas can be anti-human as Wittgenstein observes, “Dogmas tell us what happened and what will happen but, the don’t tell us what happens.” Stories which are told hundred years back have ingrained strength to lay hold of what happens. Laws are rigid and they rule out exceptions. So Jesus stories were full of exceptions and perhaps, they speak only about exceptions that love creates mysteriously.
While reading his stories, we come to know an another way of seeing things. They compel us to change our perspectives and take up eternity instead. “Everything that looks from the perspective of eternity is eternal” says Spinoza. Jesus stories this perspective of eternity. This why they are not logical nor brainy. What sort of shepherd will leave his ninety-nine sheeps and will go in search of the lost one? What land owner would be so foolish as to send his son after his servants had been killed? The story of the prodigal son even makes a paradoxical claim that in order to be awaken into true love one must be lost. The story ends up as a praise for one who is lost and then back than the one who is always with the father. And the story is not so much about the prodigal son but prodigal father who squanders his love. Jesus’ stories are fearless, they don’t mind what they are going to lose. They are in search of that which should not be lost. Being fearless, they do impossibles.
Paul Ricoeur makes an enigmatic remark about parables of Jesus that “The kingdom of God is not what parable tells us but what happens to the parables”. Ricoeur compares miracles to parables: “If we consider that the success of Jesus the miracle worker on the bodies of those he heals at the beginning of his ministry leads to the defeat of his body in death”. In the same way the parables Jesus tell what happens to him. He became the grain of wheat, prodigal father, shepherd in search of lost of sheep, net that is cast into the sea, son sent to cruel vineyard keepers.
However, to become a parable one has to go over normality of reality. Man is half real and half dream and this reality is that make us mundane preventing is from from flying. And normality is an imposed terror. In his introduction to Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita, Richard paver makes this observation “There are those who belong to parable and those who belong to reality and there are those who go over and those who do not. There are those who win in parables and become parables themselves, and there are those who in reality.” One who tries to win in parables will not win reality. Reality will defeat him. In the novel Masteer and Margarita, Woland, who is actually the devil is the one who wins in reality. In the first chapter, there is a dialogue between Jesus and Pilate. Pilate takes Jesus for an innocent young man who has lost his ways to become a loafer. Jesus looks a simpleton  and full of follies because he has won over reality and become a parable. But “Pilate breaks off dialogue with Yeshua and does not ‘go over’ and afterwards must sit like a stone for two thousand years waiting to continue their conversation.” Parable of Jesus cut through the normality of this world and invites the reader to enter in to a parable of which this world looks like a folly. Why should we enter into a parable because compared to the hugeness of our desire, reality is not enough. That’s why Jesus says man is not lived bread alone but on every word that is issued from the mouth of God.” which is always a parable.
K.P Appan, noted critic if  Malayalam gave a beautiful testimony of his faith in Jesus when he said “ I don’t know whether Jesus is God or not but i am sure about one thing that if God happen to live on earth, He would like Jesus”. This is perhaps the best way to say that Jesus is God. Theres are some serious questions regarding the historical accuracy of the Gospels. Especially about his miracles.  I too don’t know whether they happened or not. but one thing is sure that they all fit in to him. He is worthy of all the miracles that are attributed to him. They must have happened. “Events have spiritual weight, that has nothing to do with weight of history” says Susan Sontag.
The greatest miracle that happened in the life of Jesus was the resurrection. In resurrection Jesus got over reality and turned himself into a story. Life is not what one lived, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” says Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Now he is not a slave of reality. Reality is subjected to him. “I have overcome the world” He himself says. He is both far and near, graspable and elusive, matter and spirit. No book, theory, philosophy, theology and gospel can contain him fully. He is truer than truth. He is the story that must be told and retold. And one who becomes a parable creates his past.

Things I Learnt from Haruki Murakami

Reading Haruki Murakami changed the way I look at my life and body, especially his “What I talk When I Talk about Running.” Murakami is uncanny in bending reality to dreams, pulling their pitted strings together. What he gets out of this is a mastery over reality that is subjective. He doesn’t dive into our remote unconsciousness whose elements we share with others. His domain is consciousness which is our sole reason to be lonely. Unconsciousness has its way of surviving by feigning or by being mad. But how consciousness withstands its trauma of loneliness? Murakami answers that it creates fictions where reality is blended. So fiction becomes a removal and landing.
Man is a being that waits up on his chances, luck, alluring moments and ultimately on death. When it’s going to happen? if not today, perhaps tomorrow. But when actually? Murakami wrote in his ‘South of the Border, west of the Sun’, “’For a while’ is a phrase whose length can’t be measures. At least by the person who’s waiting.”
Do we gain an understanding of anything? What we call understanding, is not a misunderstanding from a different perspective? How should we have an understanding? Murakami has an advice, “understanding is but the sum of misunderstanding”. Nonetheless one should have a talent to do so, to put together his misunderstandings.
Man learns the strange lesson of life when he is sure that he has footed in death. Death grows up to be a measure of our regrets. So we should look closely at others death and learn to dissolve our regrets. Then we may be able to weep for our dead ones, dissolving their regrets. This is what Murakami tells in “Dance Dance Dance”, “People die all the time. Life is lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets, fairly, and if possible, sincerely.It’s too easy to not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person who dies.” In ‘Norwegian Wood’, he also wrote that “death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of life.”
I love Western philosophy more than Indian philosophy due to its hammer effect. If Indian philosophy is a gentle breeze, the Western philosophy is a whirlwind. If Indian philosophy settles us, the Western philosophy unsettles us. Murakami perhaps is a man who loves storms more than gentle winds. He wrote in ‘Kafka on the  Shore’, “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person walked in. That’s what the storm is about.”
Our biggest problem is that we expect too much love from life and we consciously probe whether the person whom we love deserves our love. Murakami ask us just love even those who don’t deserve our love, “If you can love someone with whole heart, even one person, then there is salvation in life. Even if you can’t get together with that person.”
Our poignancy about life is quite pointless. To be human is to be imperfect and sometimes worthless. We need to embrace this pointless things about life and laugh away the foolishness that is to be human. “remove everything pointless from an imperfect life and it’d lose even its imperfection”. We should not uproot our failings, when we do so, we are uprooting our instincts.
Man’s head is positioned upward, still its greatest utility lies in looking back. There is no use in going to future if we can’t look back to our past. Perhaps we move forwards to look backward. “A person’s destiny is something you look back at afterward, not something to be known in advance” writes Murakami.
Dreams may not become reality but reality can become a dream! This is something Murakami discovered, “When it’s all over, it’ll we seem like a dream.” After everything there is still time to dream.
I am comfortable with the person who has beliefs which are contrary to mine. But I can’t stand people who have convictions which are my beliefs. Nobody can fool a fool because he is already a fool.  But we can make fool a man who thinks he is intelligent. “Nobody is easier to fool, than the person who’s convinced that he is right.”
According to Philosopher Heidegger the greatest possibility of man is death. We need to order our life to become worthy of that possibility. Modern technology has  provided man with so much possibility that has rendered man oblivious of his destiny. Murakami points to this exhausting nature of possibilities when he wrote “possibilities are like cancer. The more you think about them, the more they multiply and there is no way to stop them”
The proverb says that those who live by the sword will die by it. We all have specific forms where in lies our particularity and individuality. We are going to die because of this particularity embodied in the from we possess. “No one could say that how long that life would last. Whatever has form can disappear in an instant.” How to deal with ephemeral quality of life? Murakami advices, “Life is so uncertain: You never know what would happen.One way to deal with that is to keep your pyjamas clean.”
Are you that sort of person who easily get irritated? Murakami is against you, “To get irritated is to get lose our ways in life”
I enjoyed his book on running, ‘What I Talk about When I Talk about Running’ as much as his novels. This book is about his passion of running. He prides himself in becoming a marathon runner. He says it has shaped his life and his writing.
From a physical activity like running, Murakami creates an ethic exploring its philosophy like Somerset Maugham who wrote, “In each shave lies a philosophy”
Running especially  marathon is an exhausting activity, it can leave cramps all over body. Murakami pushed the limit of his bodily enduring following the advice he got from a fellow runner: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”
Why he is passionate about running? Perhaps it helped him to evict the driftness of life, “sometimes when I think of life, I feel like a piece of driftwood washed up on shore.” I became envious of the way he was absorbing the surrounding while running, “As I run, the trade winds blowing in from the direction of the lighthouse rustle the leaves of the eucalyptus over my head.”
Running defies gravity. But everything that runs out of gravity falls into a void,”I just run. I run in a void. Or may be I should put other way: I run in order to acquire a void.” It is in this void that our consciousness makes us aware of the fact that we are lonely. Loneliness is a remedy as well as sickness. Its a double edged sword. So you must have mastery over its use, if not, it will hurt you badly. One cannot write without being solitary and solitude is painful like death. Murakami uses his daily running to his stride to put solitude in context, “That’s what I basically believe, and I have lived my life accordingly. In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is , more or less, inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like an acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away the person’s heart and dissolve it.” I think it can happen to priests and nuns. If they don’t manage their loneliness well, they can turn out to be quite heartless.
The Soliude which able to write also cut him away at his inside. In running he heals his wounds, “By running it’s like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent.” I may not have any share in Murakami’s genius but I am definitely in par with his vice. I always thought that I have a special talent to make others to dislike me. So when I read his confession that “I just can’t picture someone liking me on a personal level. Being disliked by someone, hated and despised, somehow seems more natural”, i felt relieved of finding a kindred spirit.
In running Murakami is not seeking a physical strength. More than his muscles, his mind becomes active through a kind of relapsing. “As I run I tell myself to think of a river. And clouds. But essentially I’m not thinking of a thing. All I do is keeping on running in my own cozy homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is pretty wonderful thing. No matter what everybody else says.”
The best thing I can do in this world is reading what others have written. My greatest fear is dying without reading books like The Man without Qualities. I also write some things. But compared to reading, writing is very hard, Perhaps more tougher than any physical activity. Thats why I’m not up to it besides my being not talented. What I admire in Murakami is his sincerity. Murakami in his sincerity both comforts and startles me. I’m facing myself when I read these words of Murakami. “I look up the sky, wondering if I’ll catch glimpses of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably should not be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative, often self centred nature that still doubts itself-that when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in sports. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.”
Murakami is not in the rank of Kafka or Robert Musil. Murakami’s success lies in is ability to make things visible, in transmitting his ideas clearly and without any fuss. He is unusually accessible. He surprises us with his ordinary gestures. And this is the greatest lesson I have Learnt from Murakami: “To be able grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts.” Perhaps, that’s what I do now.

Jesus and Eating

Jesus loved food. That’s how he came, eating and drinking. Did people call him a glutton?
They might have. He brushed aside all their accusations and enjoyed what was set in front of him. One of his temptations was concerning bread. The tempter asked him to turn the stone into bread. The hungry jesus refused it because he loved bread and knew changing stone into bread is an insult to bread. If Jesus had changed stone into bread, devil might have changed man’s all breads into stones. Jesus prevented that catastrophe.
His first miracle is related to drinking. He changed water into wine. He did it to save a family from public shame. When we put someone in shame that will change our wine into water. Actually there is no miracle in this miracle. Nature changes water into wine at every hour. The water that runs in the river becomes the sap of grapes. We call this miracle as natural. Here, Jesus is a grape, in him all water will change into wine.
Jesus always made a pay back. He ate and drunk. At the end, he gave away his body to be eaten and his blood to be drunk. He became a food. Now goes on not by eating but by eaten. He just reversed his existence.
After the resurrection He always demands food: “Children have you caught anything to eat?”, “bring some of the fish you caught”, “come have breakfast”, “Do you have anything to eat? They gave him a piece of broiled fish. He took it and ate before them.’
Eating was the way he showed them that he is still a human and not a spirit.
Jesus, after his resurrection remained corporeal and material. Perhaps, now for Jesus there is no distinction between body and spirit. He is too bodily since he has given it up. Whatever you have given up is yours.
Perhaps, nothing is material as God.

On Resurrection

Eliot gracefully captured the message of Easter when he wrote “The Dead is not Dead” Death could not annihilate Jesus, His life was bigger than death. D. H. Lawrence brings home this fact when wrote that we are falling into a great chasm which is death but Jesus alone stooped into it, came back and spoke about it. Even after the ferocious onslaught of death on him, he remains. he remains because he was not there! He was already distributed, his powers, dreams, miracles, stories, body and blood, everything was shared and gave up. How can death kill such a man? Every time when death devoured someone , it was justified. But for the first time, death became a culprit by killing him who no way deserves death. Jesus tricked death to attack him at its own peril. Ultimately death died drinking a poison called Jesus. Jesus trampled death by death. Resurrection is Jesus’ cheating of death.
According to Peter Berger, the three Aramaic sentences that were transported into the Greek text of the New Testament contain the entire message of the Gospels. The first are words spoken by Jesus as he raised from the dead the twelve year old daughter of Jairus: “Talitha, cumi, “Little girl arise” (Mark 5:41) The second are words spoken by Jesus from the cross: “Eli, eli lama sabachtani?”, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me” (Mathew 27:46) And the third is the conclusion of the last book of the New Testament: “Maranatha”, “Come, Lord” or possibly, “Lord is coming”. These sentences comprise everything that Gospels want to tell us: With Christ an immensely powerful process of redemption has been released into the world. In Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross, at the extreme point of God’s humiliation, God both shares all the pain of creation and inaugurates its repair. And Christ will return as victor and restore creation to the glory for which God intended it.
Still resurrection is not a comforting event. It conceals some dangers or threatening premonitions!Its danger is that it can easily escape from us. Another danger concerns the name of the Resurrected Lord. Mary comes to the tomb of Jesus crying “Rabbi, Rabbi”. Why she came to the tomb at this hour? Perhaps she could not believe in the death of her Lord. Nobody believes in the death of her loved one. She believes that such a man who is full of love and God can never die. It is to such believe that Jesus rises up. But she could not recognise him, she supposed that he is a Gardener and asks “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and calls him, “Rabboni”. Thus resurrection becomes a call and call back.
In the second episode we see two disciples are going to Emmaus, and a resurrected Lord is joining them as a third man and he asks “What are you talking about as you walk, and are sad?”. One of them named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things which have happened in these days?”
So who is resurrected Lord? He is either a gardener or a stranger! Which means that the resurrection has not made him more God but more man to the extent that his own friends could not recognise him. Our Easter celebrations and liturgies somehow miss this point. We make a conscious effort to make him more Godly and divine. But resurrected lord is human and too human.
 This episode also tells us that resurrection is an invitation to strangeness. The Lord abides in a stranger. He may nt look anything we usually associate with him. He may not stand out in a crowed. So we have to treat every stranger as Him. So “when you did for least of these you did it for me”.
Resurrection is against sensationalism. The resurrected jesus is very ordinary. It calls us to pay attention to the ordinariness of life. We should be flooded with when we see that a white flower is white. Bonhoeffer wrote that “the belief in resurrection is not a solution for the problems with death” He is reminding our christian duty to continue the fight of Jesus against death and its adversaries. We should not lose ourselves in the astonishment of resurrection.