Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rev V.G.Asirvatham in the Arunodayam

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Among some old books, I found the June-1966 issue of the Arunodayam, a Tamil Lutheran publication.

For many decades my paternal grandfather Rev S. Gnanamanickam was the editor of this magazine, although he was not the editor in 1966. But I can see why this issue has been preserved all these years. This is because of a one-page article about my maternal grandfather, Rev V.G.Asirvatham.

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The Chooks: #5 Taking a walk

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I let the chickens out for the first time. 

After standing huddled together  for a while, they began to explore a little.  I was glad to see Oprah, who has been unhappy these last few days, perk up; her tail came up by quite a few degrees. 

They flapped their wings and I wasn’t sure about their capacity for flying over the fence. And I wasn’t sure of how Mia would react if she came by. So I put them back into their coop after 15 minutes. 

In these cold and wet cooped-up days, hopefully their 15 minutes of garden time  did them good.

The Chooks: #4 Making them go up to roost

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For four nights, they have hunkered down under the roost house for the night. How was I going to get them to go up into their roost house for the night? Yesterday, I had a bowl of feed there to see if that would coax them to climb up their ramp and into the house at least to check the place out. But they seemed singularly uninterested. 

Today before I left for work, I moved their feeder to the house, ensuring thar the area had enough light. 

When I returned home I wasn’t sure if they had actually eaten any of the feed. They were already huddled underneath ready for bedtime. 

Determined not to allow any bad habits to set in, one by one, I picked them up, fluttering and reluctant, and placed them on the perch in the roost house. I’ll keep at this every night till they get it.

They are locked in now, and hopefully sleeping.

[Notes: The next evening after dark, it was raining and I found the chooks under the roost house and was disappointed that they had not learned yet. I picked Susie up and shoved her up the ramp and through the internal door into the roost room. Curious to see what Susie would do in there, I lifted the roof of the roost to look in from the top. I was in for a big surprise. There on the perch, good as gold was clever Barbara the Barred Rock. The next evening, they were all in there when I returned, and I just had to slide their door shut. One battle won.]

The Chooks: #3 Welcome my darlings

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Oprah, Barbara, Susie, and Little-Dot

Oprah, Barbara, Susie, and Little-Dot

My pullets have arrived. Lydia&Benny and Joe Prakasa my nephew came with me to Poultry Valley in Waiuku to get them.

 

We have named the birds. Their first names were decided by Prisy and me. However, the young men in the house, including my son have given the poor things Biriyani names as middle names.

  • Susie Paradise the White Sussex
  • Oprah Thalapakatti the Black Orpington
  • Barbara Kairali the Barred Rock
  • Little-Dot Anjappar the Gold-laced Wyandotte.

Susie is clearly boss.

Am I dellusional?

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A very decent Indian friend of mine in the US posted this video on Facebook. I was unable to make a simple quick comment, hence this post.

He isn’t telling it as it is. He is telling it warped.

Frank Schaeffer has his dad’s keen mind but has sadly charted another course for himself.

I am not going to even try and counter what he says here, because he has cleverly taken facts, arranged them into a tidy package and  then warped the whole thing. I would need to unwarp his statements and then explain. I can only say ‘God help us if people start believing him.’

Let me list some of the tenats of this Biblical worldview that he paints as “delusional.”

** That the Bible is God’s word and true.

** That God is the Creator of the universe

** That evolution is still only a theory as no new genetic information has EVER been known to have been naturally produced. Without new genetic information, evolution is not possible.

** That marriage is sacred and between one man and one woman. (And we treat those who think otherwise with respect.)

** The child in the womb is a person created in the image of God. The mother’s right to her body does not supercede the child’s to life.

** We must pray much for our leaders.

I can see that to some this Biblical worldview may all sound very old fashioned. But delusional? Isn’t that rather . . . delusional?

The reason I listed the tenets down is because maybe this will help people remember  mentors and teachers who would have had this worldview. Maybe that would make it more palatable.

If you believe these tenets, who would you have voted for, if you were in the US? Now with elections next month in New Zealand, what options do we have?

Without an absolute unchanging standard, how we know what’s right and what’s wrong anymore?

Those with the Biblical world view never change in our moral stance. What the Bible tells us is right (by inference or precept) is right, and what the Bible tells us is wrong is wrong. It’s as simple as that! What was immoral 1000 years ago is so today and will be 1000 years hence.

The other world view, which is referred to as progressive, does not recognise anything as absolute. So the way ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is determined is by concensus. So what is wrong today may be right tomorrow.

I think that a society that takes this ‘Progressive’ path is setting itself up for disaster. But I do not think that holders of either worldview  are “delusional.”

These are two different worldviews that are impossible to reconcile with each other. Most of the time we will continue to talk past each other. But we must not give up trying to make sense to each other. That is the sole reason for this post.

And I wish Frank Schaeffer would quieten down.

DNA testing for ethnic Indians, Table of Nations in the Bible, etc.,

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I think interpreting DNA test results for a country like India with an open, no-axe-to-grind approach will bring to light exciting new information. To be unafraid of what we may learn of our past and to acknowledge the fluid nature of the premises on which we base our interpretations are both important.

Imagine if we had sufficient studies from every community in India, what a lot of information we would have that would help us to peer into the past. Of course, we would interpret based on different sets of assumptions. And as we learn more, we can modify and add to our knowledge.

Doing both paternal and maternal testing would perhaps show us various times when our ancestors first came to the Indian subcontinent as invaders/settlers/captives etc.

It is sad that people fear that such studies might strengthen divisive forces. On the contrary, I feel that truth is liberating and satisfying. In fact nothing else will do. But to find what actually happened, we must be careful about the assumptions and premises on which we base the results. The DNA will not lie.

My concerns about DNA testing are to do with the assumptions for and subsequent interpretation of DNA test results. Why? Because the Bible is being ignored. Why on earth is this concerning or even relevant?

The Bible is a very important historical document that, having been proved accurate on hundreds of counts archaeologically, must be taken seriously when it comments on ethnicity-related matters.

And it does. The most important passage is the Table of Nations from Genesis 10, which is a very ancient historical list of nations in the repopulated earth after the flood. It is the earliest recorded list of nations on earth available to us! So when assumptions are made based on various theories, without considering Genesis 10, I feel that we cannot possibly get the best value out of these studies.

THE TABLE OF NATIONS Genesis Chapter 10 (Earliest recorded list of Nations)

1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.

The Japhethites

2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer Magog, Madai, Javan,Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.

3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.

4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites.

5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)

The Hamites

6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.

7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.

8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth.

9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.”

10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar.

11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah

12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.

13 Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites,

14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.

15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites,

16 Jebusites, Amorites,Girgashites,

17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites,

18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered

19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.

20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Semites

21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.

22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.

23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.

24 Arphaxad was the father of[j]Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber.

25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.

26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,

27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,

28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba,

29 Ophir,Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.

30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.

31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons,according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

Isn’t that an amazing text? Every one of us is included in that passage. One human race initially branching out into three families. 

After that account, the Bible focusses on the family of Shem and from there zeroing in to the family of Abraham and then to the Jewish people till the coming of Christ. 

The Old Testament thus starts with ancestors  common to every one of us and zooms in on one people group the Jews. 

The New Testament on the other hand starts with the Jews and leaves us with the picture of some wonderful Jews sharing the good news with the world.

For this very reason I hesitate to be part of a public-participation project like the Genographic Project, which has closed itself off from the Biblical view. 

For example, the website states:

“The test also scans 250,000 markers from across the rest of your genome that were inherited from both your mother and father, revealing insights into those ancestors who are not on a strictly maternal or paternal line. Included among these markers are a set that will also reveal if you are carrying DNA that came from our hominid cousins, the Neanderthals”

I wonder how many today know that Neanderthals as being a species or subspecies of archaic humans is only as yet a theory. 

In fact even the idea of human beings having  a gone through a ‘hunter-gatherer’ stage is without basis, although many have accepted it as truth. Just looking at the pyramids and other ancient marvels makes the Biblical model seems far more plausible. 

How you can have a report purporting to be scientific include something like Neanderthal DNA, beats me. In fact, if the interpretations flowing out of a project like this come to be assumed as actually true, I am afraid that we will go back to the old notion of races among people. The Bible is very clear that there is only ONE HUMAN RACE.

If only those in charge of projects like the Genographic Project could be as open to the Bible as they are to other theories, I would be more confident about their credibility.

I do not hope for people to believe in the authenticity of the Bible as truth. But the world must face the unique authenticity of the Biblical text, and the unique way in which it has been preserved. As a historical document it is unparalleled.

Ideally, these major projects should offer various kinds of reports for their good data such as Evolution-based, ExtremeEvolution-based, BiblicalOldEarth-based, BiblicalYoungEarth-based and any other assumption set that we can come up with. The DNA data itself is unchanged and true.

Or different agencies, specialising in particular kinds of reports could be provided access to a global database.

But for now, I would like to do a DNA test to find relatives from say the last 20 generations. I cannot tell you how thrilling the prospect is to me. I think any DNA-testing lab, even ones looking for Neanderthals and Hobbits, with access to a good and growing database would be able to do the job.

The internet is choca with sites claiming to be the best. Which site should I use? Who has access to a database with a large representation frpm those of Indian descent?

What child!

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I caught sight of this homeless girl who emerged from the shadows in this leafy part of Browns Road in Manurewa, Auckland. The bushes and the particular kind of small pebble under my feet reminded me of some place in Bangalore. The girl was light complexioned but very dirty. And she was just a child, about thirteen or so with a little squint. I would have normally walked away, but I felt that she was far too vulnerable to be alone in this city. So I struck up a conversation with her. I finally decided to take this matter to someone, maybe the police.

This office was on the third floor of a very old building, reminiscent of an official building in an Indian palace complex. I went by myself initially and was asked to produce the child, so I went back down to get her. As I reached the bottom of the stairs, I felt a bit disoriented in the dark. I tried to push the large door open. I could see the rays of light through the opening. That’s when I turned around and saw my daughter Lydia. She looked so lovely as she came down the stairs, offering to quickly bring the child in. She must have been with me upstairs, I think. She has always been good at finding out just what is needed in a situation. She was gone before I could see if there was another way out. She must have passed over the few people sitting on the bottom stair and taken another flight of stairs going down into the basement. Clever.

I tried to open the large door again, and it did budge a little, but it did not smell right, and I soon found out why. Just outside the door were large garbage bins. While I was wondering what to do, Lydia was back with the girl, almost apologising for the delay. Funny, I had not noticed the time passing. Apparently the child had wanted to be more presentable and had been resolutely determined to wear a dress that she had with her. It was a nice long dress with a jolly floral print. She still had a dirty face and the endearing squint. We went up, and in a very short time, her family was present.

This is where it gets really weird. The family did not address the issue at all, but instead they wanted to have a little celebration. They did not seem to know that I was a part of their story now. When you give up a certain responsibility, the mind has to go through a winding-down protocol of sorts; it has to be done with propriety. But I was being ignored and the protocol was being stymied.

For some unreasonable reason, I found myself with said obnoxious group in a little restaurant, a gracious old Muslim place, the kind that would have meat samosas and ruddy cardomom tea in the evenings and mutton biriyani for lunch. The group was noisy, and it was getting to be too much for me. I went up to the lady who I assumed was the child’s mother and told her in no uncertain terms that she had to face reality, her child had been in a dangerous situation and it was I who had taken the child to the authorities. “Don’t you have the courtesy to at least ask me what happened?”

And then I woke up in disgust.