Monday, 8 December 2008

How to Deal With A Message from God?

Can an e-mail stop you in your tracks? 

Last week I got a very exciting e-mail. 

Dear Friends,

Due to the current financial crisis facing the world at the moment, the light at the end of the tunnel will be switched off to save on electricity costs, until further notice.

Sincerely,
God


How does one react? The first reaction is to be amused by the ingenuity of it. Lovely humour, very witty! 

Much of everyday humour is at someone else’s expense. We make fun of other people’s characteristics, mishaps, or doings. But, this message is laughing at a situation without insulting anyone. 

I have been fortunate to know some people who have this crispy and delectable kind of humour. You can experience this also in the Dalai Lama, who puts people at ease quickly by bringing out the funny side of things.


My hilarity was very short-lived when I decided to share this e-mail. Humour is not a universal quality shared and appreciated by all. As the American doctor and author, David Seabury said, “Good humour isn't a trait of character, it is an art which requires practice.”

Now, I don’t know of anyone getting divine communication by e-mail, so I forwarded this to some religious people of different faiths I know, and tried to anticipate their reactions. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, New Age, Mormon –a colourful bunch of people were forwarded the “divine” e-mail.

One person, who had lived years under a repressive regime, chuckled with delight as he explained that humour is a coping mechanism when things are really bad for people and they can’t do anything about the situation. 

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The English philosopher, statesman Francis Bacon 1561-1626 got it right 

Imagination was given man to compensate for what he is not, and a sense of humour to console him for what he is.” 

This chuckling gentleman also said that after moving to a rich welfare state, where many of the things he could dream of before, are provided for, he has become dour and sullen and is often depressed. He tried to find jokes about depression, but noticed that this wasn’t much appreciated. 



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Blasphemy, they yelled when they saw the e-mail from God 

20% of the people got very angry yelling “Blasphemy,” and gave me a piece of their mind for sending such a thing to insult their faith. Out came different religious versions of the third commandment 

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” Exodus 20:7.

Now, this is rather serious and heavy stuff and I started visualizing flames licking my feet as I was tied to the burning stake. 


Fortunately, I had the words of an American preacher Henry Ward Beecher,  

A person without a sense of humour is like a wagon without springs-jolted by every pebble in the road.” to console me. 



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Many other people who got the e-mail from God wouldn’t comment anything. They just refused to “be drawn in” as they try to live according to the dictates of political correctness. 

Humour seems to be a sworn enemy of PC or political correctness.

Messages of Hope Abound

The best thing I experienced was with three unlikely non-professionals. By non-professionals, I mean that they did not have jobs as priests or preachers or positions to defend, only their personal faith, life experience, and vast learning to guide them. 


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With them, I had very invigorating discussions about the current financial crisis, how one nourishes hope, especially in situations when divine e-mails or other signals don’t appear. 

Divine messages abound in our everyday lives, e-mail or not; we just choose not to notice these signals of hope, they taught me. 


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