Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Blind Men and the Elephant

We've probably all heard the story of "The Blind Men and the Elephant." It has been used to appeal for greater toleration amongst religions and as a parable in the cause of pluralism. But what is the real point of the story?
In the famous story of the blind men and elephant, so often quoted in the interests of religious agnosticism, the real point of the story is constantly overlooked. The story is told from the point of view of the king and his courtiers, who are not blind but can see that the blind men are unable to grasp the full reality of the elephant and are only able to get hold of part of the truth. The story is constantly told in order to neutralize the affirmation of the great religions, to suggest that they learn humility and recognize that none of them can have more than one aspect of the truth. But of course, the real point of the story is exactly the opposite. If the king were also blind there would be no story. [emphasis mine] The story is told by the king, and it is the immensely arrogant claim of one who sees the full truth which all the world's religions are only groping after. It embodies the claim to know the full reality which relativizes all the claims of the religions and philosophies.

Lesslie Newbigin in The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (pp. 9-10)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Singapore Takes on Crows; One Down, 34,999 to Go - New York Times

I'm always fascinated when Singapore makes news in papers around the world. However, this article from the New York Times on the culling of crows in our ultra-urban city state really tops them all for me!

"“Garbage bin! Garbage bin!”

The men with shotguns tumbled from the Land Rover in a crouch and trotted along beside it like marines taking cover behind a Humvee.

“Don’t let them see your gun, they know about guns!” whispered the leader, Dennis Lim, a 20-year veteran of this kind of thing.

He jumped from behind the van, whirled and fired, “pop!” But his prey — seven or eight crows sitting on a trash bin — were gone.

“They’re smart birds,” Mr. Lim said. “One of them saw us and alerted the others. He started flying and the others started flying.”

Mr. Lim, 54, is on the front lines of a battle for his country’s territorial integrity, a member of the Singapore Gun Club who has been enlisted to help reduce an infestation that at one point climbed to 150,000.

The club is one of the few places here that permits private weapons, though owners must lock them up before they leave. In 1982 the government asked the club to take on the crows, and Mr. Lim has been hunting them down almost from the start.

Now he is standing by for a new challenge, the possibility of bird flu and the need to secure Singapore against migrating birds, perhaps by shooting them out of the sky."

Read the rest here...