Tag Archives: T. V. Antony Raj

The Millennials


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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In the late 1980s, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe developed The Fourth Turning theory, also known as the Strauss–Howe generational theory or simply the Fourth Turning, describing a theorized recurring generation cycle in American history and global history.

In their book “Generations” published in 1991 which discusses the history of the United States as a succession of generational biographies, the two authors coined the term ‘millennials‘ to describe the generational comradeship of people born between 1982 and 2000. One of the reasons behind the term is the fact that the oldest millennials were graduating high school in the year 2000 – the beginning of the new millennium.

Over time, with more and more young people coming of age, the term millennials has become popular to refer to this generation.

Until 2013, the word ‘millennials’ was not commonly used online and became increasingly popular as psychologists and sociologists sought to understand the millennials as individuals and advertisers targeted them as consumers.

In mass media, newspapers and journals, some people older than the millennials use the term disparagingly to refer to any young person, accusing them of over-sensitivity, an addiction to smartphones, destroying traditional industries, and much more.

Some millennials themselves often use the term as a form of self-deprecation.

Turning 38 this year, the oldest Millennials are well into adulthood.

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HOW PIOUS CHRISTIANS PRAY


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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Prayers recited mainly by Christians are generally brief, rhyming, or have a memorable tune. They are usually said to give thanks before a meal, before bedtime, or as a nursery rhyme. Many of these prayers are either quotation from the Bible or popular traditional texts.

Now I lay me down to sleep is a classic children’s bedtime prayer from the 18th century. Here is the orignal version:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen

The following is a recent version of Now I lay me down to sleep:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
There are four corners on my bed,
There are four angels overhead,
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
God bless this bed that I lay on.

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Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862)

.Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862), the American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, yogi, historian, and transcendentalist was right when he said that “The modern Christian is a man who has consented to say all the prayers in the liturgy, provided you will let him go straight to bed and sleep quietly afterwards.”

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Joseph Addison (May 1, 1672 – June 17, 1719)

On March 8, 1711, Joseph Addison (May 1, 1672 – June 17, 1719), an English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician wrote an essay that appeared in The Spectator in which he says:

When I lay me down to Sleep,
I recommend my self to his Care;
when I awake, I give my self up to his Direction
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All the prayers of the modern pious Christians begin with one of the variants of this classic children’s bedtime prayer from the 18th century. This prayer and its adaptations are sometimes combined with the “Black Paternoster”, one version of which goes:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.

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Frontispiece of Thomas Ady’s A Candle in the Dark.

Thomas Ady in his witchcraft treatise “A Candle in the Dark, or, a treatise concerning the nature of witches and witchcraft” (1656), tells about a woman in Essex who claimed to have lived in the reign of Mary I (r. 1553-1558) the queen of England, blessed herself every night with the “popish ( Roman Catholic) charm”:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
The Bed be blest that I lye on.

In 1685, George Sinclair, in his”Satan’s Invisible World Discovered” wrote about a witch who used a “Black Paternoster”, at night, similar to Ady’s rhyme:

Four newks (corners) in this house, for haly (holy) Angels,
A post in the midst, that’s Christ Jesus,
Lucas, Marcus, Matthew, Joannes,
God be into this house, and all that belangs (belongs) us.

A year later it was quoted again by John Aubrey, an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer, but in the form:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless the bed that I lye on.
And blessed Guardian-Angel keep
Me safe from danger whilst I sleep.

So, we find the typical pious Christian does not wish to be bothered. He looks forward to a future of inactivity. Any effort, especially intellectual effort, is distasteful to him and is apt to offend and unsettle him. Hence for him, the intellectual life must not be real but sleep should be real. Sleep seems to be his quest, “and he is forever looking forward to the time when he shall go to his ‘long rest.

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Having a Homosexual Relationship Is Not Wrong in India


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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The Buggery Act 1533, formally An Acte for the punishment of the vice of Buggerie (25 Hen. 8 c. 6), was an Act of the Parliament of England that passed during the reign of Henry VIII piloted through Parliament by Thomas Cromwell.

The Act defined buggery as an unnatural sexual act, “the detestable and abominable Vice of Buggery committed with Mankind or Beast” against the will of God and Man. This was later defined by the courts to include only anal penetration and bestiality.

It was England’s first civil sodomy law, such offences having previously been dealt with by the ecclesiastical courts. The act remained in force until repealed and replaced by the Offences against the Person Act 1828, and buggery remained a capital offence until 1861, though the last executions were in 1835.

The Indian Penal Code introduced in 1861 during the British rule of India. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533,. It makes sexual activities “against the order of nature“, illegal.

377. Unnatural offences: Whoever voluntarily has carnal inter­course against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with impris­onment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section

All over the world many still consider homosexuality as a “deviant behaviour” and not merely a question of one’s sexual orientation or preference. In India, too many consider homosexuality as taboo, and opinions are divided on this controversial issue but the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender or LGBT community and some freedom-loving people want homosexuality de-criminalised.

On July 2, 2009, in response to a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalized consensual sexual activities between homosexual adults conducted in private, the Delhi High Court struck down portions of Section 377 concerning gay sex as unconstitutional. The judgment held that Section 377 infringed upon fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15, 21 of the Constitution of India, and declared the section unconstitutional to the extent that it criminalized private consensual sexual activity between adults. 

Some religious bodies challenged this judgment of decriminalizing Section 377 in the Supreme Court of India.

On December 11, 2013, in Suresh Kumar Koushal vs Naz Foundation case, the Supreme Court of India held that Section 377 providing punishment for gay sex was constitutionally valid and overturned the judgement of the Delhi High Court, thereby shutting the small window for gay rights opened by the Delhi High Court. The Supreme Court held that amending or repealing section 377 should be a matter left to Parliament, not the judiciary. 

On Saturday, November 28, 2015, speaking at the Times LitFest, late finance minister Arun Jaitley of BJP and his predecessor P Chidambaram of Congress came out in support of gay rights. 

Arun Jaitley is the first leader from the BJP to have supported decriminalization of consensual sex among gay adults. Speaking in his capacity, he said, “When millions of people world over are having alternative sexual preferences, it is too late in the day to propound a view that they should be jailed. The Delhi High Court’s view appears more acceptable.” 

Speaking just afterwards, Chidambaram, who was also speaking in his capacity, said that the Delhi High Court verdict decriminalizing gay sex was a wonderful one and the Supreme Court should have stayed with it.

On February 6, 2016, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court reviewed curative petitions submitted by the Naz Foundation and others and decided that they would be reviewed by a five-member constitutional bench.

On August 24, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the right to privacy as a fundamental right under the Constitution in the landmark  Puttaswamy judgement. The Court also called for equality and condemned discrimination, stated that the protection of sexual orientation lies at the core of the fundamental rights and that the rights of the LGBT population are real and founded on constitutional doctrine. This judgement was believed to imply the unconstitutionality of section 377. 

In January 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition to revisit the 2013 Naz Foundation judgment. 

On Thursday, September 6, 2018, in the judgment given by a five judges bench comprising the then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R F Nariman, D Y Chandrachud, A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra, the Supreme Court of India pronounced the much-awaited verdict on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 377 of the IPC which criminalises consensual gay sex. It ruled unanimously in Navtej Singh Johar vs Union of India that Section 377 was unconstitutional “in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex.” 

However, other portions of Section 377 relating to sex with minors, non-consensual sexual acts, and bestiality stay in force.

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School Children Seated on a Live Bomb


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BT. V. Antony Raj

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School Children Seated on a Live Bomb (Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

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Any fuel, including those used in motor vehicles, can be dangerous if handled improperly. Fuels contain energy, which is released when ignited. Gasoline is a potentially dangerous fuel and the same is true of natural gas.

At a compressed natural gas fueling station the gas is compressed before being provided to vehicles at 3000 to 3600 pounds per square inch (psi).

In India, many parents prefer to send their children to school in vans, some of them powered by natural gas because monetary wise it’s cheaper than official school buses; these parents do not object to overcrowding in the vans because their children can be picked up and dropped closer to their homes.

Whenever these vans are checked for safety and action initiated against them for failure to comply with the norms, it is the parents who come forward in defence of the errant van owners.

The River of Sand in Iraq


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BT. V. Antony Raj

In November 2015, a rare weather phenomenon brought extra-heavy rain for a few weeks in Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The freak weather led to the death of thousands of people in Iraq also brought excessive rain and hail storm to an otherwise hot and dry desert area in Iraq.

This video footage captured on November 16, 2015, shows the incredible sight of the river of sand and round uniform hailstones, some the size of golf-balls, moving at a rapid pace through the desert in Iraq.

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The Tamil and Sinhalese New Year


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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A food treat for Sinhalese and Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka (Photo: Amila Tennakoon)

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The Tamil and Sinhalese New Year, generally known as Tamizh Puthandu (Tamil: தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு) in Tamil Nadu and among the Indian worldwide Tamil diaspora, and as Sinhala Aluth Avurudda (Sinhala: සිංහල අලුත් අවුරුද්ද) in Sri Lanka, is a major anniversary celebrated by the Sinhalese and Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

The festival date is set with the solar cycle of the Hindu calendar, as the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai. It, therefore, falls on or about 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar. The same day is observed by Hindus elsewhere as the traditional new year but is known by other names such as Vishu in Kerala, and Vaisakhi or Baisakhi in central and northern India.

The Sinhalese New Year / Sinhala Aluth Avurudda has a close semblance to the Tamil New year / Tamizh Puthandu and is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. It is generally celebrated on 13 April or 14 April and traditionally begins at the sighting of the new moon.

On January 29, 2008, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led Government of Tamil Nadu enacted the Tamil Nadu New Year Declaration Bill 2008 which declared that the Tamil new year should be celebrated on the first day of Tamil month of Thai (14th January) to coincide with the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal. However, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Canada continued to observe the new year in mid-April.

The law enacted by the DMK-led Government of Tamil Nadu was met with resistance by the majority of Tamils in the state and elsewhere. It was also challenged in court, questioned by Hindu priests and many Tamil scholars around the world. Many in Tamil Nadu ignored the DMK government legislation and continued the celebration of the traditional Puthandu new year festival in mid-April.

The then opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) in Tamil Nadu subsequently condemned the decision of the DMK Government in that state and urged their supporters to continue celebrating the traditional date in mid-April.

In an effort to placate popular sentiments the DMK-led government renamed Tamil Puthandu as “Chithirai Tirunal” (the festival of the Tamil month of Chithirai). It maintained April 14 as a public holiday purportedly to commemorate late Dr B.R Ambedkar, who was the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Indian Constitution even though all the television channels in Tamil Nadu continued to telecast festive “Chithirai Tirunal Special Programs” on April 14, 2010.

In April 2010, the Governor and the Chief Minister of the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry, which has an ethnic Tamil majority, wished and greeted the public for the Tamil new year 2010.

Subsequently, on August 23, 2011, an AIADMK majority-led government rescinded this law legislated by the DMK majority-led government by a separate act of legislation in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

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When I lay me down to Sleep, …


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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John Brown by Augustus Washington

John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was an American radical abolitionist who believed in and advocated armed insurrection as the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. He had 20 children of which 11 survived to adulthood.

In mid-October 1859, John Brown and 21 other men seized the federal armoury at Harper’s Ferry, the holding place for approximately 100,000 rifles and muskets, with the hope of arming slaves and start a violent slave liberation movement that would spread south through the mountainous regions of Virginia and North Carolina.

Within 36 hours, the revolt was suppressed by local farmers, militiamen, and US Marines, the latter led by Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate States. The raid resulted in thirteen deaths – twelve rebels and one U.S. Marine.

John Brown was hastily tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, the murder of five men (including 3 blacks), and inciting a slave insurrection. He was found guilty on all counts. He was the first person convicted of treason in the history of the country.

Henry David Thoreau.

On Sunday Evening of October 30, 1859, two weeks after John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862), the American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, tax resister, historian, development critic, and transcendentalist read to the citizens of Concord, Massachusettes, “A Plea for Captain John Brown” and repeated it several times before Brown’s execution on December 2, 1859. It was later published as an essay as a part of Echoes of Harper’s Ferry in 1860.

In his “A Plea for Captain John Brown“, Thoreau vents his rage at the scores of Americans who have voiced their displeasure and scorn for John Brown. Thoreau says, the same people, who say their prayers and then go to sleep aware of injustice but doing nothing to change it can’t relate to Brown because of their concrete stances and “dead” existences.

Joseph Addison by Sir Godfrey Kneller

About 148 years before, on March 8, 1711, Joseph Addison (May 1, 1672 – June 17, 1719), an English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician wrote an essay that appeared in The Spectator in which he says:

When I lay me down to Sleep,
I recommend my self to his Care;
when I awake, I give my self up to his Direction.

All the bedtime prayers of the modern pious Christians, then and now, begin with one of the variants of this classic children’s bedtime prayer from the 18th century which is sometimes combined with the “Black Paternoster”, one version of which goes:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.

In his “A Plea for Captain John Brown“, Thoreau criticized contemporary Christians by saying that “The modern Christian is a man who has consented to say all the prayers in the liturgy, provided you will let him go straight to bed and sleep quietly afterwards. All his prayers begin with “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

In plain English, the modern pious Christian does not wish to be disturbed. He looks forward to a future of inactivity. All effort, especially intellectual effort, is distasteful to him and is apt to offend and unsettle him. Hence the intellectual life must not be real; what must be real is the sleep. Sleep seems to be his quest, and in the words of Thoreau “he is forever looking forward to the time when he shall go to his ‘long rest.’

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mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa!


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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Last Sunday, during the sermon, the village Pastor told his congregation that one should always embrace his/her mistakes and say “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa” meaning “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”.

Now the Pastor wonders why his pious gardner hugs him every day and utters “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa!

Do You Believe in Prayers?


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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The following story is a modern-day admonition to many “I’m holier than thou” churchgoers to not allow transient secular needs to get in the way of their belief and faith.

The tale prompts the readers to assess the true contents of their hearts and find if they aren’t at times engaging in a bit of religious distancing by setting aside their faith when faith becomes inconvenient or whether they stand up for their beliefs and proudly proclaim them even when doing so is to their disadvantage, financial or otherwise?

The judge in the story points out, that there is something wrong about the congregation that puts worldly matters first and doubts its belief in prayer.

A Tavern Owner Sues Members of the Baptist Church

In the early 19th century the Goshen Road was the main road in Mount Vernon, the county seat of Jefferson County, Illinois, United States. The Baptist settlers built a church on this road and had a good following.

In 1860, Pierce Drummond after getting a permit to open the first tavern in Mount Vernon bought the building opposite the Baptist church and launched his business.

The members of the Baptist church who strongly opposed the opening of the tavern appealed to the authorities to shut it down. The officers, already bribed by Drummond with liquor and money turned a deaf ear to their appeal. So, every day, the members of the Baptist congregation prayed to God to intervene.

Four months later, the building that housed the tavern was struck by lightning and a fire broke out. The members of the Baptist church rejoiced and praised God for hearing their prayers. Their jubilation was short-lived because Mr Drummond, the tavern owner sued them.

In court, Mr Drummond contended that the lightning bolt that destroyed his tavern was the result of the prayers of the members of the Baptist church. The members of the church, nonetheless, denied all responsibility for the destruction of the tavern.

After the preliminary hearing, the judge warily remarked, “It’s difficult to decide the case because Mr Drummond, the tavern owner, believes in the power of prayer and the church people don’t.

Precautionary Measure


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By T. V. Antony Raj

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After dating for six months, Antonio and Sophia finally decided to marry. It took such a long time for Antonio to propose because of Gina, the voluptuous unmarried elder sister of Sophia, who from the day he met her was tempting him by offering spectacular views of her braless breasts whenever she came near him.

A month before the wedding Gina phoned Antonio and asked him to come over to their house to check the wedding invitation.

When Antonio parked his car under the porch of Sophia’s house. The usually noisy house was calm. When he rang the bell, Gina opened the door and he could feel a hint of trepidation in her mien as she pulled him inside and shut the door. Embracing him she said that she was alone in the house and had been waiting long for such a moment to express her feelings and desires for him and wanted to sleep with him as many times as she could before he married her younger sister.

When Gina said, “Let’s go upstairs to my bedroom and ...”, he just stood there stupefied. As she climbed the stairs, he rushed out of the house. He froze in his tracks when he saw Sophia and all the members of her family standing near his car, and Sophia’s father was holding a gun. They all smiled and cheered.

With joyful tears streaming down his cheeks, his future father-in-law gave the gun to Sophia. He hugged Antonio and said, “You have passed our little test. We don’t think we can find a better man than you as a faithful husband for my younger daughter. Welcome to the family!

Just then Gina came out of the house and joined her family members. They all went laughing into the house with Antonio. After dinner, Gina accosted Antonio and while offering a view of her gorgeous braless breasts, whispered, “My offer still stands even after you marry my sister!

He smiled slyly as acceptance of her offer and silently vowed to keep his condoms always in his car as a precautionary measure and never in his pockets!