Coincidence or Purposeful Juxtaposition?

Sometimes, you do have to wonder if IT is on purpose.  I opened the Herald Tribune yesterday (Sept 15, 2010) and, as is my wont, turned to the world news section (page 4).  Below is the spread of the top of the page.

Take a look and see if you see what I saw!

International Herabld Tribune - International News

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When Religion Meets Philanthropy

Whenever I go visit a historical church, there is generally some kind of fund raising action going on for the Church. I tend, thus, to think that the Church is in need of funds. In today’s world, therefore, it’s quite an interesting concept that a Church should be in a position to donate to charity organizations. Generally, I assumed that the collection(s) were only for the Church & its operations. Anyway, that may just be a reflection of my religious ignorance. What amazed me, however, was the decision announced today from the Vatican to no longer sponsor Amnesty International (BBC report) based on the abortion issue. It almost sounds like politics. Next, we should not vote for candidates that give to Amnesty International?

Text versus Image

Went to a seminar held by ANVIE in Paris. We discussed in general the changing landscape of the new media. Joseph Jaffe’s book “Life after the 30 second spot” was cited at the beginning, along with the Ries’ and Zyman’s book on the end of advertising (as we know it), to set the stage. You have to enjoy how the internet and the new media options are pushing the traditional media to be more inventive. This McDonald’s ad in Chicago tells you what time of day it is (sundial) as well as what you should be eating at that time. Among the many debates along the day, the one I enjoyed the most was the preeminence of image over text. What stirred people’s attention most was that it was positioned as a break with Judeo-Christian background which was more text-based than image–the Bible being central to that concept. One person in the room, departing from the core presentation, needed to express dissent as she felt Catholicism is replete with image. In any event, the interesting component to the discussion was that, while image is clearly a dominant element on the web and that we are working in an abstract, imaginary community-seeking world, there is some return to the value of text — text as content. Naturally, without playing to the mediatic strength of the format in which the text is presented (i.e. adding pictures or video, etc.), the audience’s reach and captivity will be diminished.

Getting Strung Along… String Theory II

I heard a segment out of a Robin Sharma podcast that struck a chord, as they say. It was about a poem, written in sanskrit, that goes like this:

“Spring has past, summer has gone and winter is here. And The song that I meant to sing has remained unsung. I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument.” And it makes me consider, once again, that we are all, in substance, strings.

Some of you know that I have been pondering what it would be like to create a new religion … from scratch. So, I must admit that I haven’t yet pushed it to the end result, but I do like the concept of creating and building a “religion;” that is, in an environment that allows the freedom to do so. In the end of the day, in line with my personality, I don’t really want to create a religion per se as that’s not part of my gestalt. It is more like I want to create a new philosophy. A philosophy that sets out to answer some unexplainable questions and, possibly, helps guide us in our daily challenge to understand life. And, in this mind of a marketer, it is not unlike the concept of creating a brand . However, I am fundamentally interested in the process as much as the end product.

The Action Plan is as follows:

  • Some groundwork: know your competition. analyze all existing and past religions (to be sure to create a new territory).
  • Formulate thesis
  • Develop comprehensive writings
  • Qualify to anyone reading this that you are not entirely nuts.
  • Consider roll out plan
  • Find accolytes
  • Develop franchise concept
  • Sit back and retire

From the instant I came across the String Theory, I became a profound, if laic, believer. The String Theory — and the light it sheds on who we are [or could be] — goes along with Ayn Rand’s determinism as two pieces of the puzzle that have brought much enlightenment in my life. I’ll need to develop this philosohpy which, perhaps sadly, may only represent an updating of the masterful “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjof Capra. Nonetheless, when I get some spare time, I would like to develop further this philosophy, that I shall baptise for the moment as stringism theory. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the issue remains as to what religious instruction we might want to give to our children. As atheists, we (my wife and I) don’t subscribe even to the need of a religion. Nonetheless, religion represents an integral part of history and is an essential part of our culture. As an atheist, how does one pass along a substitute to religion? What strings do you think need to be pulled to provide a spiritual education? I look forward to your comments.

Alain Delon on stage

Yendi (my stunning wife) and I went to see “Sur la Route de Madison” (French version of Bridges over Madison County) at the Marigny Theatre. I’d explain it more as: I went to watch Yendi watch Alain Delon… and, as it turned out, it was also about Alain looking at Yendi on more than one occasion (at the curtain call). Ok, I got to see Mireille Darc (in the buff at one point) who did a fine effort. Alain’s natural aging (71 years old, no tucks at all) gives him an authenticity in the role of Richard Kinkaid, the photographer of the covered bridges. It’s a great story told by a couple with a lot of history. One could not help smiling with Delon (as Kincaid) says “and yes, there have been a few women in my past.” And, given the setting of the play in Iowa, with references to places like “Des Moines,” there were several lines that could have been interpreted as commentary, if not criticism, on the US broadly speaking (e.g. Francesca [Darc] given her European heritage complaining about the lack of culture…). All in all, more a walk down memory lane than a great performance.

Freedom — another view?

Furrowing through an old newspaper lying about (“thelondonpaper” 21 Feb 2007), I read an article entitled “Pupil loses veil battle.” This polemic subject (integrating Muslims in Western cultures) is certainly grounds for much heated debate and one feels that one has to tread very lightly. This particular situation in London involved a 12-year-old Muslim girl who went to court, aided by her father, to overthrow her school’s ban on the right to wear the niqab full-face veil. The court rejected her plea. Interestingly, the article said that the girl’s identity has been protected – not that the accompanying photograph was particularly revealing (the attached photo is not her, but is more or less similar to the one in the newspaper). She argued that the ban “breached her right to freedom…of thought, conscience…” A perplexing view of freedom in my opinion.