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Archive for March 2008

Gandhi, Jesus and the Vatican

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Excerpts from an interesting article published in Italian weekly newspaper supplement “Domenicale del Sole24Ore” (“A Hindu Saint at the Vatican“, by Gianfranco Zizola, February 3, 2008), about the Mahatma’s presence in Rome at the end of 1931:

[… ] the opportunity arises for a unique meeting between the Roman Church and the Nonviolent movement. Gandhi is encouraged by an article published in the front page of the Osservatore Romano on November 27: “The Way Gandhi Speaks Of God“.

Signed “X”, the Vatican newspaper talks with surprising warmth of Gandhi’s speech at the Columbia Gramophone Company and traces in its language “memories of Aristotle and St Thomas“, hoping that “the voice of Christ may succeed in being listened also by this exceptional man, who shows so much love for the truth that makes free“.

However, Gandhi had met Jesus long time before. On the wall of his mud hut there was a black-and-white print with the image of Christ and the writing “He is our peace“. Reading the New testament, Gandhi felt attracted by the Sermon of the Mountain. “It’s the Sermon that made me love Jesus. Reading the story of his life in that light, it seems to me that Christianity hasn’t been realized yet. As long as we will not uproot violence from our civilization, it will be as if Christ had not been born. It’s the Sermon of the Mountain that revealed me the value of passive resistance. I was overflowing with joy reading `Love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you` “.

In a meeting in Losanna Gandhi confirmed of feeling attracted towards the figure of Jesus Christ, but of finding it difficult to embrace the Christianity distorted by Paul’s Greek mind and then recycled in the West. Once he asked: “What brotherly love can be given by people that believe they possess the absolute truth?

The meeting at the Vatican, unfortunately, does not materialize:

According to reports by the fascist Police the Vatican refusal could have depended on banal issues of clothing… because Gandhi “did not want to submit himself to a more decent attire“. Mussolini, he found the time to receive Gandhi at Palazzo Venezia. Another explanation is that the Pope feared, by receiving the “rebel“, to offend England. One third hypothesis will be formulated years later by Jawaharial Nehru: the refusal would have been motivated by the fact that “the Catholic Church does not approve of saints and mahatmas outside of its own jurisdiction“.

Gandhi obtains in any case the opportunity to visit the Vatican palaces

[… ] he walks several times around [the great Crucifix of the XV century above the altar of the Sistine Chapel], as if executing the Indian ritual of the circumambulation of a cult object. “It is not possible to avoid being touched [by this experience] to the point of tears“.

The idyll between Gandhi and the Vatican abruptly terminates after the Mahatma’s departure, as the forces of spiritual close-mindedness take the upper hand:

Less than two months after the meeting that did not happen, the “Catholic Civilization” magazine publishes two long articles about the pacifist leader, on February 6 and 20, 1932, without signature, as customary when coming from High Authority [… ] the first one explores the main elements of the “nationalist Indian agitator”’s biography and of his “Satyagraha” theory (“firmness in truth“), whose comparison also by some catholics to St Francis is seen as a “deplorable profanation“, while his independence program is defined “nefarious”. The second article criticizes Gandhi’s religious universalism, accusing him of trying to bring Hindu elements in Christianity in order to subordinate it to his nationalist goals, or at best to to dilute the Christian sense in a sea of indifferent sincretism.

Thirty-seven years had to pass to read, in the same “Catholic Civilization” (I, 1969) an article “Gandhi and Nonviolence” that acknowledges that “many of his ideas and methods have been adopted all over the world, becoming part of modern man’s common inheritance, and inspiring the fight for human freedom“. “It’s strange – it’s the conclusion – that while Christian nations resort to violence in order to achieve their goals, and try then to justify the violence, it had to be a Hindu, faithful and convinced, to discover the link between truth and nonviolence in the realization of social change“.

Unfortunately, that’s not strange at all, if the “Christian” nations have followed the example made by the Vatican when it avoided the “Indian nationalist agitator“.

Written by omnologos

2008/Mar/10 at 22:43:12

Very Very Nasty UK and Ireland Weather for Monday 10’s Rush Hour

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With cyclone Johanna forecasted as the worst of the 2007-2008 winter for UK and Ireland, I am worried that the proverbial BBC fixation for understatement will leave people unsure on how bad it can really get.


This is what the BBC Weather warnings page has to say: Sunday 9 March EARLY WARNING An intense area of low pressure is forecast cross the UK on Monday. Both wind and rain will be notable with potential for disruption to transport and power supplies. England and Wales look most at risk at the moment, with gusts of wind up to 70mph, locally 80mph for exposed coasts and hills Further updates will appear here.

There is an article “Flood alert amid storm warnings” but despite the warnings affecting millions of people, it’s not the main story and will be surely and easily missed by most.

They have even managed to give more space to the thoughts of LibDem Leader Whoknows Whatsmyname, and to heavy snow affecting the American Midwest…

BBC UK main page 2008 - 03 - 09 16:42GMT


But enough of the BBC: Anybody living in England should prepare for extremely awful conditions, and as far as I know the areas around Birmingham and on the west/south coast can be hit particularly badly.

There are several indicators in that direction. For example the Icelandic Weather office expects the following map for Monday (lines close to each other indicate strong winds; and the minimum at the centre of the L is truly and exceptionally low):

Let’s read it from other “experts” too:

(a) From the Met Office:

Severe weather warning for most of England

Issued at: 1110 Sun 9 Mar
Severe Gales 0001 Mon 10 – 0300 Tue 11
The Met Office continues to expect an intense low pressure system to move east across the UK during Monday, bringing severe gales and potentially damaging gusts across some areas, more particularly the west and south of England and Wales. Southerly winds are expected to strengthen during the early hours of Monday to give severe gales for a time, coinciding with the morning rush hour in some areas. An additional swathe of severe westerly gales will follow through the morning and afternoon, principally affecting southwest England and the south coast of England. Gusts of 60 to 70 mph are likely with the possibility of 80 mph gusts on exposed coasts and hills. Disruption to transport and power supplies is possible and there may be damage to buildings and trees. In addition high waves and flooding may affect coastal areas in the south. This warning is likely to be superseded by FLASH messages.

(b) From

Give me hope Johanna!
Added : Sun 9 March : 15:50GMT

All eyes are now on Storm Johanna which is set to be the most powerful storm system this Winter to hit the UK.

OK, so how’s the system going to develop and what can we expect? First of all, Johanna is going to have two main parts, the first is the warm front with the heavy rain and strong winds which will sweep East overnight tonight and into Monday. The second is the severe gales which will push into the South-west during Monday afternoon.

A thoroughly wet, windy and miserable start to Monday for many areas. Gales or severe gales will sweep across many Central and Southern areas with winds of up to 50mph inland and even higher gusts which could bring down trees and cause structural damage.

Then a slight lull around Midday as the storm passes over the Irish Sea. Into the early afternoon and the wake of Johanna slams into the South-west with winds of up to 90mph, gusts slightly higher.

The worrying side at the moment for the South-west is the storm co-inciding with the high Spring tides. We are aware that many will want to see the worst of the weather along coastal areas in Devon and Cornwall, however the situation is severe enough to cause loss of life for people who don’t understand the effect of these two components.

Waves of up to 45ft can be expected along the North Cornish coast. This, compounded with high tide around 6pm and the Spring tide at this time of year will result in elevated sea levels and possible breaches of sea defences.

We’ll be following Johanna throughout Monday bringing you the latest on the system, we’ll also be heading to Cape Cornwall to bring updates on the system with real-time images and reports.

Let’s hope all these forecasts and warnings will be shown wrong. But with a little more than seven hours to go before it starts, chances that the weather models are incorrect are very slim.

UPDATE: Weather map for 12:00AM Monday (“landfall” in the UK)


Written by omnologos

2008/Mar/09 at 16:54:12

Posted in Travel, UK

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Ride a Bike, Save the Planet (get killed in the process)

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Fancy “Cyclehero” video on YouTube shows people riding towards sunset in a bid to save the planet from Climate Change.

The metaphor may be more apt than originally intended. As (push-)bike riding kills you 3.54 times more than walking, by switching to pedals you’ll be soon riding into the sunset for good…

…towards an untimely death, that is!

Written by omnologos

2008/Mar/06 at 22:46:30

The Moral Equivalence of Hamas and Israel (and us)

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Another day, another series of reports on tens of dead, dying and injured people in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

I’ll leave the sorting out of who’s to blame to anybody wishing to waste their time.

Sure, there are more victims on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli, indicating an overwhelmingly disproportionate response as if the value of human life really depended on nationality (a consideration unfathomably shared by the Palestinian leadership too: prisoners exchange usually involve a handful of Israelis to tens of Palestinians).

On the other hand what purpose can it be in the launching of aimless rockets by Hamas, randomly towards civilians? Apart, that is, from killing if not terrorizing them on purpose, because they are civilians: as if that has ever won anybody’s war.

The height of mutual stupidity is that people in charge on the two sides are determined to brutalize each other. At the same time, retaliation after retaliation, they have kind of abdicated all hopes of recovering their own humanity…to the sudden appearance of virtuous behavior in the other camp.

It’s fairly obvious that whatever the causes of their madness, they are all directly responsible for untold miseries that will befall on their own children.


What should be done to bring peace to Israeli and Palestinians alike? It’s more than obvious, it’s actually boring. Stop wishing the others could go away. Realize the land is for the two of them, and for the rest of humanity as well. Decouple Israel from the messianic undertones, by getting it into the European Union.

But that doesn’t look like in anybody’s interest. The main hope is that the situation has worsened since the quasi-agreement with President Clinton in 2000, because when everybody knows peace is tantalizingly near, everybody rushes to settle the last scores.


But that’s still too easy an analysis.  

Who else is brutalizing civilians in the futile attempt of getting a military and thus a political advantage in a never-ending war, worsened exactly because and by that brutalization?

It’s us from NATO.

The civilian victims are in Afghanistan, nowadays, and likely but less evidently in Iraq.

And it’s no novelty. Leaving aside the famously useless killings of tens of thousands in Dresden during World War II, just fifty years ago the French Government tried almost casually to defend the bloody bombing of a Tunisian border village, in the Algerian war.

Despite our illusions, things have not changed since. We are still eliminating fellow human beings without much of a thought. Here’s NATO proudly using American and European taxpayers’ money to kill road building workers. Never, or almost never, big news in our media.


It is high time we leave aside idle discussions about other peoples’ business to mind about our own idiocy.

Written by omnologos

2008/Mar/02 at 22:25:00