Saturday, April 12, 2008

Juxtapostion of Jenny Te Paa and Satyagraha

Didn't plan it this way but yesterday involved listening to addresses on the proposed Anglican Covenant at the Tutu Center including an exceptional keynote from Jenny Te Paa (blogged by Susan Russell) -- followed by Eucharist --followed by lunch with a glorious company of people including John Dart from the Christian Century (who talked about his book Decoding Mark) --followed by responses to said address by Bishop Drexel Gomez and more talks including one by Prof Kathy Grieb (Virginia Seminary) on centripetal and centrifugal NT texts--followed by Evensong--followed by Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera (thanks to the generosity of others).

“Satya” is the Sanskrit word for “Truth.” The word “Graha” means “holding to.” Satya Graha, commonly translated as “Truth Force,” is the name that Mahatma Gandhi gave to his movement of social change through nonviolence. What we are seeing in our tiny Anglican world is the hope for exactly this. Not coercion--not punitive measures--but social change through non violence.

Tomorrow April 13, at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, free and open to the public is an event co-sponsored by the Garrison Institute: an interactive discussion, reflection and music, the event will explore Gandhi's concept of satyagraha or "truth force" as a non-violent method of social change, its American lineage connected with Thoreau's civil disobedience, Emerson's self-reliance, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s agape, and the current relevance of this tradition as we confront climate change and other deep environmental problems.

For a flavor of Phillip Glass' Satyagraha, go to the front page of the New York Times and scroll down until you see video with an image of Mahatma Ghandi. Play the link for excerpts and images. The staging is captivating. The music is mesmerizing and the chant of Sanskrit almost hypnotic. Social activism -- if that's what we are intended to see-- is a little bit different, however.

2 comments:

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I love Philip Glass!

Although, as a cellist, I'm just glad I don't have to play his compositions!

Tobias Haller said...

It occurred to me over the weekend that Mahatma is the etymological equivalent of magnanimous, which has like other praise words been rather shop-worn by overuse. I was trying to think of an English phrase to encapsulate Ubuntu, which is to be the theme of the next GC, and was dwelling on and toying with "reciprocal magnanimity" when Gandhi came to mind -- no doubt the South African connection was at work in my subconscious. Funny how the synapses work sometimes.