Friday, July 19, 2013

About this Book/ Summary

PAYAK is a collection of narratives and reflections by a pious Catholic Christian that evolved from attending an ultra-Orthodox Jewish marriage ceremony in Chareidi Country, the invitation for which was under the auspices of a beautiful friendship with an American-Jewish family.  Mystical insights  accrued which led to the development of the thesis that durable PEACE in one's self, in one's locality and in the world is achievable  through vital piety, the mojo of which is humility.  If every person, place, object and event, no matter how unfamiliar or diverse, is encountered in a stance of openness and innocence, violence in all its permutations can be averted. Holding our differences in reverence can antecede religious literalism.   Communication will be fluent even without words,  appreciation of the dignity of fellow human beings in their local contexts will make cognizant similar needs and longings,  good deeds become the currency of piety,  and every healthy goal will be possible with the audacity of Faith.

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. As a simple person with very little literary skills I feel unqualified to make any commentary on this book. However, I know the author personally and have had many meaningful exchanges and conversations and I believe that she also knows me so that even if I am not able to express what is in my heart and mind that she can actually read through my lines. I admire the author’s articulation of her views and the way she relates her observations as they unfold in particular the Chareidi wedding.

    As a simple person (or payak na tao) I like that the author has titled her book, “Payak”. Simplicity can be equated with humility and humility is one of the attributes of a pious person. I happen to know firsthand the simplicity or if you will the “payak-ness” of the author’s lifestyle and how pious she is even though in her humility she might admit she has not yet arrived. There are a lot of things that I can glean from this book, things mentioned that I agree with and a few statements that I may not disagree but may state differently. For example, I like the story on tithing and giving and the fact that the author herself practices and encourages others to tithe and give. Indeed, everyone has received and must therefore give back a portion of what one has received.

    This book is not a novel or simple narrative of an actual event but rather a mix of short but true stories, commentaries, reflections and recollection of some past events of the author’s life and therefore one should not expect the read to have a natural flow. Actually, what I like about the book is that I can go into one chapter and read it by itself or simply move around the book and not get lost.

    The thesis of the book is “that durable PEACE in one's self, in one's locality and in the world is achievable through vital piety, the mojo of which is humility. If every person, place, object and event, no matter how unfamiliar or diverse, is encountered in a stance of openness and innocence, violence in all its permutations can be averted.” The question is where or how can one obtain such humility to achieve peace? Are we all by ourselves capable of producing such humility? The author also wrote, “Holding our differences in reverence can antecede religious literalism. Communication will be fluent even without words, appreciation of the dignity of fellow human beings in their local contexts will make cognizant similar needs and longings, good deeds become the currency of piety, and every healthy goal will be possible with the audacity of Faith.” Indeed many wars broke in the name of religion and one religion had persecuted other religions because they could and if only each religion would be good to one another, there would be no war. What if one religion defines peace in terms of having completely subdued others and does not want to be good to others or have a perverted definition of good? Having asked what I asked, I am in agreement with the author that peace can be achieved when people practice humility. I am also reminded of a passage in the Bible that says, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” True and lasting peace within oneself and with others can be truly achieved if one has the Prince of Peace and have the Spirit within.

    I applaud Ate Noli for writing this book. Her courage to write her first book is inspiring and I encourage her to write more books in the future that we can all enjoy reading. This book is short enough that it can actually be read in one sitting, which I did not because I wanted to reflect more of what I read. I recommend getting the book to read, share and keep.

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  3. Thank you so very much, Kuya Willy, for posting a well-thought out, responsive, and eloquent commentary on PAYAK. More importantly I trust and respect your critique knowing you as one whose staunch Christian Bible-grounded piety is the well-spring that informs your perspective and your way of life which I find healthful and peaceable.

    Piety when animated by humility is more than perfecting worship practices within the confines of a religious system. It becomes a way of life whose only morality is compassion because it recognizes that every person is created in the image of God which is what humility is. Compassion is the core value of all major and minor religions and spirituality. For me, the most graphic example of this compassion is the parable of the Good Samaritan as told by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Luke. This parable also shows Jesus's departure from anything that smacks of religious literalism and expectation. And so in my book, I tried to avoid confining piety (as I belabored defining what I believe it must mean) to a particular religion because I, a Catholic Christian, discovered an all-inclusive loving God while in the midst of ultra-Orthodox Jewish praying and chanting which is totally unfamiliar to me. I assumed a stance of stillness that enabled me to be humble enough to immerse myself in the rich spirituality of that moment out of time. I wondered then why peace can't begin with pious people who purportedly are believers of God instead of them being the instigators of wars, the latter to me are faux-pious. Religions and ideologies and cults with a perverted view of what is good ultimately become EXTINCT no matter how "great" they might have been at the outset. Our world as created by God cannot sustain depravity/debauchery/ungoodliness for long - it just can't because God will destroy it. Longing for all that is good and healthful and pacific is inherent in our human intuition no matter where we come from just as we know in the ground of our being that bad actions have bad consequences. In the book, I pulled experiences from my past that exhibited for me the many ways different peoples uniquely express their faith in a good GOD, how their beliefs are manifest in their actions which are the final arbiter of faith. Actions are the final arbiter of Faith.

    After the publication of the book, I realized that there is so much to be desired as far as elucidating what I mean - words are so inadequate to completely contain that which I want to put across. And choosing the proper words to hold my meaning is a challenge because often, embedded in the word is the very bias I wish to avoid.

    I am happy and grateful for your questions because it opens up opportunities for learning and meditation and, in looking for answers with fellow pilgrims, we get deeply related to our God and to one another. It is my hope that such an endeavor will be healthful, balanced and peaceable.

    Thank you again, Kuya Willy.

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  4. This is to respond further to the question - "What if one religion defines peace in terms of having completely subdued others and does not want to be good to others or have a perverted definition of good?"

    I have been mulling this question over and over in my mind - it seems that my response above does not perfectly satisfy the question but by the grace of God, I think I found it in the conversion of Saul to Paul which is somewhat akin to my "extinction" answer.

    On Saturday, 25 January 2014, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and for the first time, I paid close attention to it. And the homily by Fr. Clayton Thompson did an amazing job of elucidating what this "conversion" means and it satisfies completely the answer to the question posted above.

    This "conversion" is NOT like the conversion of an alcoholic/addicted/abusive person who changes his ways from illness to health and is changed from "bad" to "good".

    Saul's "conversion" is an absolute transformation, a total turnabout, a radical change of mindset. Saul was a good Jew, a pious Pharisee who in his sense of righteousness was zealously persecuting the early Christian believers thinking that they were heretics. He was doing what in his mind and soul and religious belief was considered good. Yet it was not in accord with a goodly God so he was blinded ("Old Saul" becomes extinct at this point) by a dazzling LIGHT which is the revelation of Jesus Christ who actually spoke to him during this mystical event. When he was unblinded, he did the exact opposite of his old ways, was radically transformed to Christianity (I think this is what is referred to as a "rebirth" by Protestant Christians), and proceeded to evangelize/proselytize in obedience to a goodly God.

    Paul himself wrote about his "conversion" in his letters to the Galatians.

    Thank you again for this important question.

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