Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fanaticism - or Fans - at their Best

Last Wednesday, around two hours before heading off to see the Inter vs. Barcelona game, I was speaking to a friend of mine (ahem, before she rudely abandoned me in mid-conversation!) who asked me if I was going to the Red Carpet Event later on that evening. I promptly replied that I had opted to see the match instead and while she seemed to be a bit disappointed that I was going to watch football instead of spending a night out with friends, she then pondered why it is fine for someone to be a football fanatic and not fine for them to be a God fanatic. This got me thinking a bit.

First, however, before moving onto my arguments, I would like to set the record straight slightly. This argument, I believe, was not intended for me but was very much a generalisation. I believe that in such scenarios, we have to distinguish fully between events that are completely intended for God, such as Youth Meetings and the Mass, and social events that are designed to spend time amongst your friends, even if the majority of these form part of a community. In the case presented here, we are clearly speaking about the latter. It is clearly wrong and irresponsible, especially if you are building up a relationship with God, to abandon Him to watch a football match or do some sort of social activity that would overlap one's participation in getting closer to Him. It goes against the grain of making God the centre-focus of one's life; by doing something such as the above, one is simply placing materialistic items before God. Furthermore, to also close a point that has been lingering on for quite a while, not going a community-based social event does not mean that you are choosing other things, such as football, over Jesus. While the latter point was not a problem with my friend, who didn't even bring this argument up, I have heard it one too many times from certain people in the past to not mention it; so doing so now will indefinitely clear things up.

Having said that (and that indeed was an argument in itself, and probably part of my argument too for that matter), I will tackle the argument of fanaticism. For a start, I'm not of the school of thought that fanaticism, is positive. Fanaticism shows that something is needed in excess; you cannot live without this something in life; it leads you to do things that you might not even want to do. Of course, there is something that we cannot live without in life, and that thing is God. Actually, the word 'thing', I believe, is incorrectly used - I'd rather use the term 'entity' instead. Anyway, some people, in all fairness, opt to do so and survive accordingly, but as practicing Christians, we cannot live without God at any moment in our lives because otherwise our lives will be empty and void. Our lives, in a nutshell, would not be worth living at any moment, any time, and any day. Hence, by elimination, we can say that being a football fanatic is something that is not even a tenth as critical as being a fan of God*. Indeed, nothing is as critical as that.

Therefore, why do we seem to be fine with being football fanatics and not fine with being fans of God? It ultimately boils down to the same issue as always - God seems to be a taboo among people in general, and when people openly admit that they are Christians and that they love living in the Christian way because they really do experience God fully, then they get condemned, criticised and often emarginated for it. Placing football ahead of God is ultimately that that I mentioned earlier - giving an increased level of importance to something materialistic as opposed to giving that increased level of importance to Him. It seems as if for the most part, the general societal perception is that God is not 'cool' enough for such people, and hence society finds it easy to take the mickey out of the segment of society that really does make an effort to be better Christians and incorporate Him more in their lives. While this isn't right, it's unfortunately reality - and as we all know, reality is something that we have to live with.

We, as Christians, must try to change this perception as much as we can; but while it isn't impossible (as nothing is impossible for God), we have to acknowledge fully that we have a major battle on our hands to do so.

God Bless You all!

*Following an important distinction between 'fanaticism' and 'fan', it is important to realise that I have been referring to the latter all throughout. The context has been edited to reflect this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back to Reality...

Summer is finally coming to an end, and that means that winter is going to start rearing its relatively ugly head sooner rather than later. Special times lie ahead for us all as the majority of us start another scholastic year, about to venture into the unknown with regards what our new - or old - subjects will consist of. Us law students, for instance, have the horror of having to endure the Law of Obligations (which is a fancy term for Contract Law) and the difficulties associated with the subject; while others, for example those doing European Studies or History of Art as their principal area of study, have to write their thesis with a view to graduating at the end of 2010. We too will graduate, but our degree sadly counts for nothing in today's world.

I can't deny that overall, barring a couple of blips here and there, it has been an outstanding summer for myself. This has been pretty much the first summer ever where I could do what I feel like doing and not be judged for it; it has been a summer which has practically always been surrounded by many a friend. Adventures here and there, a trip abroad at the end of June, two weekends in Gozo... that's just a taster of what it's been like. It's pretty much been better than I expected. I've been able to overcome a barrier that I built up about being extremely conscious of my image and bulging stomach and start going to the beach with more regularity; I managed to get out of the house on a daily basis to go and work and get some hard-earned cash; I managed to understand the true meaning of combining work with leisure. It's been a summer of experiences, of which I do not regret any one bit.

At the same time, I also believe I managed to maintain my relationship with God and not abandon it, as it would have been mightily easy to do so with such a packed timetable. Having friends that bathe in His presence all the time has also managed to help me fulfil this. Also fantastic is the fact that the older youths from the Marana Tha' Community and us youths from Y4J have grown closer as time passed by; to the extent that we're now practically always with one another constantly. This can also be seen through the fact that these people are now coming to Y4J meetings on a regular basis; indeed, I feel the need to reciprocate and start going to Marana Tha' as well in order to experience how they experience God over there, and to try and grow further closer not only to them, but also to Him.

But now, it's almost time to get back to the reality of things - not seeing one another and being in each other's company on a daily basis, not doing what we want to do... just getting back into hardcore study mode. And boy is it needed this year, of all years. It's been great while it lasted though... and as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end!

God Bless You all!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Just Feel Sorry!

In football, we often say that own goals are an unfortunate circumstance. They're things that don't happen extremely often, but when they do, they leave the culprit very much embarrassed, having in no uncertain manner helped the opposing team towards a (more) positive result.

The most sinking feeling, though, is when an own goal leads your opponents to victory. You feel completely at fault for your team's loss, are vilified in the press afterwards and probably grilled by the team coach for being so lacklustre. You know that had you not intervened at that particular moment, then you wouldn't be faced with such problems; although you might be criticised for slackness in defence, letting your marker free etc - all the technical details behind a game of football.

So imagine how Kakhaber Kaladze is currently feeling after scoring not just one, but TWO own goals in Italy's 2-0 win over Georgia. Both were rather aesthetically pleasing goals too, might I add - the first being a bullet header into the roof of the net, while the second was a sliced half-volley which the keeper could not parry due to him in part being crap and in part being stunned at the howler that his team captain was having.

Rumour now has it that AC Milan patron Silvio Berlusconi is thinking of awarding Kaladze with an honorary Italian citizenship for his exploits and telling his coach Leonardo to play him in his preferred position of central defence for the rest of the season. If he continues like this, the next time Inter and Milan meet in the derby, the nerazzurri will probably run out 6-0 winners!

God Bless You all!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stop, Think and Write

The weird thing about of all this is that when I update my blog, I normally have something to blog about. By elimination of all the logical things that you would associate with blogs, that would probably be THE most logical. Alas, this is a time where logic doesn't really fall into place, as it's one of those times where I really don't have anything in particular to write about. Indeed, at the moment, I'm writing just to say that I'm writing something; for no reason other than that. I don't need to write, I just want to write. I don't need to update my blog, I just feel the need to - even if it is with some useless crap such as this.

Anyway, I'm realising that as time goes by, I'm perhaps becoming more and more impatient and also more easily irritable as a person. It's as if 'old age syndrome' has really set in on me, judging on the way that I'm talking at the moment! I don't know why, it's one of those mysteries of life, I suppose. Patience is a virtue, my mother always tells me, and it's something that I tend to lack. I'm finding myself getting more and more ticked off at when people, including myself, make ridiculously stupid mistakes, for example. Not that I was ever patient in that regard, but anyway.

As contradictory as this sounds though, this summer has taught me, to a certain extent, to control my 'impatience' levels. You see, when you're teaching students who, for the most part, do not know a word of English, you really do have to be patient as the probability is that you'll have to explain various points twice, thrice, four times or even five times until they remotely understand it. I suppose that that patience arises from the fact that 99% of the time, such students didn't know any better - after all, they were here to learn the language and not irritate me with their visible lack of knowledge of it. That's not to say that I lost my temper once or twice with some of my classes this summer, especially with those at Spanish School, who sometimes seemed as willing to learn as much as a wooden spoon would.

It's obvious that it's not the above that bugs me, as otherwise I wouldn't have taken up the job in the first place. It's obvious now that it's something more along the lines of grossly stupid comments or a grossly irritable character that sends me driving up the four walls of my room. And unfortunately, there are so many of these people that it isn't even funny. Granted, you have to grant concessions and be lenient as occasionally, stupidities emerge from all of our mouths; but when these are constant, you have to wonder whether the IQ of the person in question even surpasses a measly 80 or is on the level of George W. Bush.

The solution to all this? There isn't really. I suppose the best thing would be to try and avoid these people at all costs, before I explode into a million smithereens. Anyway, rant over.

God Bless You all!