Tag Archives: essay

disgrace of street preacher

0d380ebe-dcf9-11e8-9f04-38d397e6661cAll enthusiastic street preachers are alike; each passionate street preacher is passionate in his own fashion. One thing is certain that their fundamental guidance of street evangelization is simple and basic: that delivering the words of God incarnate in the bible is their sacred duty and responsible for the love of God. In fact, their authentic religious belief and conviction come straightly from the tenets of Reformation that advocated faith on the basis of the Scriptures alone. That said, Zealots they may be, but street preachers are not fire starters of civil disobedience or religious munchausens, forcing their religious convictions on passers-by. At least that had been a mores most civilized societies kept until a certain street preacher was arrested at a train station in London, England a month ago.

His name is Oluwole Ilesanmi, 64-year old peripatetic preacher who emigrated from Nigeria to England 9 years ago. Ilesanmi has travelled all over Britain, preaching what he believes at train stations where crowds of strangers ebb and flow without really paying attention to Ilesanmi and his words of God because well, for the reason that we commonly have when we come upon the likes of Ilesanmi. But on that unlucky day, Ilesanmi was abruptly arrested by the police because he was being “racist”. The beginning of his public disgrace was Ilesanmi’s disobliging reference to Islam in which he called Allah “idol”. What could have/should have been just an ordinary preaching day otherwise turned out to be his day on the pillory of public humiliation, so to speak,  because Ilesanmi was handcuffed in front of the crowd of people who suddenly paid attention to the preacher and then rudely bundled into a police car. Furthermore, the police then “de-arrested” him by taking him to a remote area five miles away on the outskirts of London without money into the bargain! The poor preacher was finally able to return home thanks to a generosity of a kindly elderly man who paid for his bus ticket to home. It was indeed a humiliating and disheartening experience for the 64-year old street preacher.

SnoopyimageThe police later said that Ilesanmi’s inappropriate remarks on Islam, such as “Idol” and “aberration,” were racial enough to apprehend the preacher. But it still does not seem to constitute any valid grounds of the mocking arrest of the preacher because he wasn’t clearly brandishing any weapon or even a banner in public to shout out racial slurs that would really make any passer-by of the target racial category feel threatened.  In other words, the police should intervene if someone is willfully intent upon harassing people with abusive words and physical intimidation. And Ilesanmi certainly wasn’t. Was he?

The over-reaction of the police seems buffoonish as if it were an episode of Monty Python. If the police intended to exemplify the Ilesanmi’s unfortunate episode for a textbook case of religious intolerance in public, then they were mistaken because it was exactly contrary to democracy, sovereignty of individuals, by which people have right to express what they think about and believe in unless they use willfully physical and mental violence/intimidation with malice to pontificate about it.  What’s more, it was truly shameful of the police to cavil at what the solitary elderly preacher was preaching and poke on him when his presence was part of everyday city landscape. And if by the reason of sheer annoyance or even carbuncles that the police showcased Ilesanmi’s public indignity, then it was their misuse of power and authority because Ilesanmi wasn’t forcing his belief on anyone because his street preaching was always subject to casual dismissal at one’s discretion by the dint of robotic inattention to anything religious anyway. For these reasons, I feel strongly that the police owe the street preacher an apology for the indignities he had to suffer for the day. 

Author’s Note: This essay is based upon my reading of an article “Arrest of Christian Preacher” by Tom Goodenough of the latest issue of “The Spectators” last night. What made me indignant about this article was that the police appeared to violate the old preacher’s dignity as well as his religious faith. Why did the police have to drop him off in the middle of nowhere without money? Did they think it as some sort of joke? It always seems to me that the authority and the powers- that- be like to hector the meek because they can’t touch or mess with the strong. So animalistic, that is. It shows that humans, despite the  intelligence and spirituality ascribed thereto, are not much different from the  other species in the Animal Kingdom. 

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mission impossible

 

It’s the busiest hour at the Union Station in LA. Trains decant crowds of people rushing toward their destinations like toy soldiers winded to the fullest marching forward at war. Among all this hoopla of rush hour actions, there goes Fido, an unlikely K-9 agent from Terra Canina. Fido knows no fear and always accomplishes its missions with fortitude and loyalty. One of the daily missions is to cross the frontline station to make a rendezvous with another  K-9 agent from Terra Canina. With the help of a human ally from Resistance against Confederation of Lumpish Rabble, Fido hurries the way to the rendezvous point with alacrity of speed and a burst of pep peculiar to the species known for fierce loyalty and universal magnanimity. The mission impossible became possible. 

Author’s Note: I shot this video last evening at the station on my way home after work because (1) I loved dogs; (2) the dog was right next to me on the escalator to the upper level; and (3) I felt a sudden feat of venturesome temerity to film the trail of the dog. Watching the dog took my momentary existential worries off my mind. Benjamin Franklin must have felt the same when he said the following timeless adage:

“There are three faithful friends – an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.”
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Here’s Fido’s secret K-9 agent waiting for Fido at the rendezvous point

goodbye mr. lagerfeld

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You would know him if your sense of style strikes the chords with his idea of beauty that seems a curious conflation of the ethereal with the down-to-earth. Or you would know him as a photographer whose world of beauty betrayed linear conformity in the most brilliant way. If none of the above belongs to you, then you would probably recognize him by his signature silver hair tied in the 18th-century man’s ponytail style in urban tight attire that looked strange but charismatic, decadent but conservative. In the fashion and beauty firmament, Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2019), the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel, was one of the principalities whose dazzling collection of creativity formed a legion of cult.

The death of Lagerfeld seems a bit distinguished from those of other fashion designers to me based on my purely subjective taste and reason: First of all, Lagerfeld was a very intelligent man of culture, judging by his display of erudite knowledge on art and literature due to his voracious reading of books. I saw his interview with Charlie Rose several years ago and was delighted in listening to his conversing with the host because of his intelligence and quickness that was never a bore. Also, Lagerfeld’s world of style is not far-fetched and always mixed with individual attitude that looks so cool and stylish and emulative. Although a gorgeous but exorbitant Chanel tweed jacket is like Jason’s golden fleece to me, I can take a cue from Lagerfeld’s feasible but fashionable style to make it my own in everyday life. Besides, Lagerfeld’s controversial but honest opinion on thinness as an ideal beauty chimes with mine. Call me ever so superficial, politically incorrect, or even persnickety, but the emblem of the flesh as a forced common denominator of beauty and fashion is arbitrary and despotic.

Karl Lagerfeld was the only fashion designer I admired, and his death saddened me when I learned it yesterday from this week’s issue of The Spectator. During his reign of the Chanel House, Lagerfeld used to say, “T-shirts for ten dollars are even more fashion today than expensive fashion.” Must I say more? That is why I liked and like Lagerfeld and his canon of style that is timeless and classic.

dare to be an egoist

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Charles Lamb (1755-1834), an English essayist and a clerk in the Accountant’s Department of the East Indies Company, rhapsodized about a solipsistic ritual of mealtime. “Oh, the pleasure of eating my dinner alone!” Seraphina also liked to have lunch by herself. No, she’s not antisocial or misanthropic into the bargain. It’s just that after enduring what with blaring tempers of her lawyer bosses and what with her worldly wayward female co-workers who shared none of her character and interest, a solitary lunchtime was her much-needed lull before the second part of a daily drama or comedy at work. However, these days Seraphina’s lunchtimes had been punctuated by almighty workloads and ceaseless insipid tweets of her co-workers, whereupon Seraphina wrote a letter to Wise Mary for motherly advice and received her heartwarming and feasible reply promptly.

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Dear Seraphina,

What I gather from your account is that you yearn for romantic independence and existential freedom in the sense that this reality of daily life is unbearable to deal with to your introverted self that longs for pure selfhood defined by a proud indifference to social convention, forced socialization. I see your dilemma: whereas professional artists who earn their living by their pictures and letters achieve grace through their oeuvres, you can’t live your life like theirs that seem far-fetched, abstract, and impractical to lead a solipsistic life. Today’s world of hyperactivity and self-promotion has made an outlaw of silence. Hence, the contemporary culture pathologizes sui generis individuality, contriving a perfectly sane person into a classic basket case. Notwithstanding all this public animosity toward your deposition, you can still keep your studied solitude and sovereign independence by keep focusing your creative spirit on your reading and writing and making it as your primary reality, while fulfilling demands placed upon your daily tasks at work as an existential means to your ultimate cause for self-confidence and self-esteem. In this regard, modus vivendi is needful to make your life easier; you compromise your way of life with existential needs of life without losing your personal independence. And think simply and act smartly. Have patience with all things but first of all with yourself. Refrain from anxiety, turn from impatience. Do not fret, for it only leads to trouble. Hope this helps.

Yours in Love,

Wise Mary

fe8e1396fdfe9fd607d647a2fce31842Upon reading this thoughtful and caring reply of advice from Wise Mary, Seraphina’s doldrums were cast away in her emotional course charted in the sea of unknown tomorrows. And her blithe, proud rendering of reclusiveness and independence encapsulated in her refrain of “Let it be me.” She recited that her wallowing egotism and studied aloofness were not toxic traits of punishable narcissism but a manifestation of human nature to glory in the sacredness of solitude to distill things heard, seen, and experienced in the world into her own realm of consciousness to construct a reality of the world from within. Dared to be a proud solipsist, Seraphina would make sure that she would enjoy her lunch alone reading and writing with a cup of coffee no matter what.

three philosophies

images-1Before calling it a day to say hello to a new tomorrow on a hard day’s night, to happen on this comic strip of my all-time favorite Peanuts seems almost too pat. Provident, even. It chimes the bells of my heart and soul that are dented with the shrapnel of existential vertigo in the most impressively elliptical way: that none other than simple tenets of life are needful to live a less stressful life.

As Sally elegantly puts: Life does not end at one fell swoop even if I stumble into an imbroglio of misadventures; any such mistakes or misdeeds betray that to err is human; and that I should not fall into the bottomless pit of worries and anxiousness, for tomorrows are always new with their own unknowns.

What Sally blithely professes strikes the chords of Logotheraphy, a 3rd Viennese school of psychotherapy founded by Dr. Viktor E. Frankl based on existential analysis focusing on ego qua meaningfulness, a purpose of living a meaningful life. With these simple but potent tenets of life in mind, I can say good-bye to this spent day with the alacrity of departure for nightly dreamscapes to rest myself.