Sunday, 27 September 2015

Can God leap over the wall?

"Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable." (C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed”). 

I recall this unanswerable question a believer is often asked: "If your God is omnipotent, can he build a wall so high that he cannot leap over?

Mm...I can imagine 33 different replies to that "wall so high" question. Strap up and here goes...

CS Lewis:
Nonsense! Poppycock!

Who's leaping over? The Father, the Son or the Holy Ghost?

Hindu priest:
I have about 330 million will take eternity to decide which one.

Catholic priest:
The Pope is way too old for this.

I prefer to stone it.

Orthodox Jew:
Isn't that the wailing wall?

I think I can nail my protest on the wall and piss it off big time.

Well, I’ll consult the Book of Common Prayer to see whether there is a prayer for it.

I'll just wait here for the next rotation and you can ask the new guy.

Mm...should he jump over on the right, on the left or do it in a progressive manner? 

Sure, nothing is impossible for my God. But first, I need a few days to set up the sound system and the lightings, rehearse with the band and choir, and then blitz the neighborhood with tracts.

He might jump over. But he’s not having any fun doing it.

There's no's all in the mind.

Liberal Christian:
There's no's all a matter of interpretation.

Unitarian Universalist Pastor:
Which wall? They all look the same to me.

Gay Pastor:
What wall? I thought we tore it down recently.

Dalai Lama:
I see only the great wall...and it's only getting higher.

Prosperity Pastor:
Mail me the seed money of US$400, and I will say to this wall of yours, "Be thou cast into the sea".

Megachurch Pastor:
If you donate enough money to the church, we can Crossover the wall.

Radical Grace Pastor:

For you, God will leap over a thousand walls.

Religious fundamentalist:
I'll bomb the wall down! That’s what I’ll do.

New Age Practitioner:

In the ocean of oneness, you see a wall. I see infinite energy.


(whispers)...did God's spirit just tell you to ask me to answer that question...?

I’ll ask my wives to form a pyramid with me at the top. Then, I’ll jump over.

Moonie (Unification Church):
Our Father is a leader, businessman, social activist, media mogul, the messiah, and the second adam...the wall is nothing to him. (And he’s also dead at 92).

End time preacher:
I might just be taken up...mid-air.

Street Preacher:
Repent now...for the wall will fall on you tomorrow!

If I am the elect, the wall will bend over for me.

If there's a will, the wall will make a way.

I will ask him when he returns...if he returns.

Agnostic: you have proof of that wall? Something tangible?

Imaginary wall?

And finally...

Eliminate the desire and the wall will disappear.


* Image from

Friday, 25 September 2015

A Perfect World.

I wonder what a perfect world would look like? Will it be patriarchal or matriarchal? Will men rule and women submit or vice versa? Or will it be a good mix of both? How about us? What will become of us? Perfection is such a loaded word.

Imagine that everyone you meet on the street is perfect. How would a perfect person conduct himself? You know for sure he would not say the wrong thing. Not even his demeanor would be disagreeable to his perfect, choice words. The body sync is perfect. The dialogue with such a person would be flawless. He would make you feel good about yourself. He would inspire you. He would even make you feel energized, renewed, empowered, encouraged and revived - even bursting at the seam with excitement all poised to take the world.

He can therefore do no wrong even if you say all the wrong things. He can turn your sneers, insults, sarcasms and double-speak into "aha" moments of remorse, self reflection and transformative meditation. In the end, you would want to change yourself for his sake because he has the perfect self-help and self-improvement pitch and the positive vibes will endure way into your future. If such an ideal person should exist, his influence would be no less  convicting than speaking to God himself. 

Imagine the perfect world where such
 perfect dialogue with the perfect person exists in great numbers. No less perfect than heaven, this world would have the perfect marriage - a partnership where the marital promises at the altar would come to pass, with no exception. No misunderstanding, not even a hint of it. No quarrels. No anger issues. No regrets. No mood swings. Not even morning bad breath. And no woman's neediness or manhood problems to taint the marital union.

Needless to say, without all that extra emotional and mental baggage, 
the sex would be out-of-this-world. And the offspring would naturally be great in a perfect world. Children would grow up following the exact social-epigenetic footsteps of their parents, perfect in every conceivable way. Old age would not be an issue in such a world. Perfect knowledge is presumed in everyone. Schooling and learning are thus made redundant. Everybody will live to a perfect age and all will die in their sleep peacefully.

Wow, I think I have captured everything essential in a perfect world; everything necessarily quintessential. Of course, the perfect government and policies, the prevalence of world peace, and universal philanthropy would be expected from such perfect world. It is therefore not hard to imagine this perfect world with perfection oozing out from every nooks and crannies, every cracks and crevices. It should be everyman's dream come true, right?

Then, as 
the thought experiment ends, I return to my reality: the imperfect world. I don't need to say much about this reality that we are all too familiar with...the corruption, the wars, the sufferings, the starvation, the hunger, the premature deaths, the religious hypocrisy, the economic misfortunes, the cheats, the lies, the death, the broken relationships, the get the drift.

Here is where I give pause for a while and turn things 
philosophically around. I compare the perfect world I had imagined earlier and the imperfect world I am currently living in, and I come to this conclusion, however unnerving. Here goes.

I think I would not recognize myself in this perfect world. Since I can do no wrong, my thoughts and actions will be devoid of the personality that defines me, that is, all my perpetual flaws and screw-ups, and the occasional moments of rightness that only I can make. I can't imagine myself being born into a perfect world and being perfect in every way because I simply can't help it.

Personally, I believe that an imperfect world gives me more choices and therefore more freedom to be who I want to be - good or bad, but never beyond redemption. It is inconceivable that I should no longer require to learn anymore in a perfect world with, well, perfect knowledge.

Imagine a world where there is nothing to learn - neither from my mistakes nor from my infinite ignorance - because perfection bridges all the gaps for me. 
Imagine a world where I have "arrived" the moment I arrived on earth and I literally spend my living days doing nothing but proceed in the mechanical fashion expected of a  perfect being. There are no growing pains, no thriving after failures, no overcoming trials to make me stronger, no resiliency to be gained, no enduring love with all the scarred experiences, no need for forgiveness, or to ask for one, no hoping amidst the gloom, and no struggles towards virtue, purity, purpose and truth. Nothing to live for and to die for, 
so to speak.

What would joy be in a perfect world then? In fact, most probably, the joy in a perfect world would have no memory. It would be a joy without gradation, without depth, without nuances. We might very well be a bunch of smiley people with no reason to smile in the first place (or with all the reasons to smile made completely redundant since we are already perfect for god's sake).

Our happiness would be universal, parceled out equitably, and fairly distributed. In fact, no one would be happier than another. Without ever 
experiencing pain, hurts, disappointments and suffering in a perfect world, I dread to think how one truly experience the feeling of being overjoyed, the euphoria of an epiphany, the joyful tear of an uplifting encouragement, and the savoring moments of the inspirational "eureka". In a perfect world, isn't everything done for us and nothing is needed from us?

So, my imagination cuts both ways then. I can imagine perfection and I can also imagine the "imperfections" in it. Maybe it is oxymoronic to imagine imperfection in a perfect world 
and I guess this is the flaws and limitations of my human imagination. For how can an imperfect mind embrace perfection in the first place right?

But I guess my point is not so much about getting perfection right, which may be conceptually possible but in practice impossible. What I think is more important in this overreaching mental experiment is to imagine how perfection can be a two-edged sword, which eventually cancels each other out.  A perfect world is both everyman's dream and 
nightmare, at least from my limited human understanding.

If the price paid for such a world is that I will lose myself, enjoy without experiencing its depth, learn nothing as there is nothing to be learned, savor no character-building struggles, and live in mechanical bliss, then maybe, the price paid for living in such a perfect world is simply too high for me. Cheerz.