Enigma variations – a dispatch from the front

I was thinking about how to begin this post, or what to say in it, for quite a while since I left Ateneo at about three p.m. My agenda for my Ateneo visit was not only to continue the registration process which began on Monday. It was also, as part of a promise to a friend, to pay a visit to the Philippine Schools Debate Championships, which started this afternoon and talk with people from the Ateneo Debate Society about the National Debate Championships, which they won for my university. 

With almost 120 teams of two, this year’s PSDC could be the largest one to date. It will, I am certain, prove to be a challenge (or a nightmare, depending on one’s perspective) for the organizers. I am brought to mind of the tournament against which I benchmark Ateneo’s capacity to host a debate tournament, the 19th Worlds, which remains very memorable. However, unlike the PSDC this year, Worlds was a really big event, with the finals being held at the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo in the CCP, and it was at a time when things were, um, much cheaper. I recall New Year’s Eve, where I rode back to the EDSA Shangri-la Hotel with an Australian law student on the bus, as the fireworks started going off in the subdivisions we passed on the way there. But I digress.

Perhaps it is best to heed the advice of a Chinese sage who said that in the process of making wheels, what is left unsaid is most important.

After all, anything I have to say about my visit will remain variations on a personal enigma.


Meanwhile, I am reading Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy, this time a little more slowly. It is a book which speaks to my sense of how Christianity ought to be, one which overcomes barriers towards the central goal of following Christ. I particularly enjoyed one part in which, explaining why he is catholic in a liturgical sense, he laments the supposedly spontaneous “prayer of the ‘just’” which brought me to tears with laughter!

But on a more serious note, what McLaren suggests is something meaningful for me; I think this book comes at a point where I have to clarify what I mean by being a “post-denominational Catholic.” What I have in mind is close to McLaren’s idea of generous orthodoxy; how this will unfold in my life is exactly as McLaren characterizes it—something unfinished.

As I said recently, humans can make sinners out of their fellows, but only God can make saints.


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