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Sunday, 14 February 2010

A borrowed glitz

PAT BISHOP, speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago last week, lamented the loss of the individual spirit in our Carnival, the loss of “our sense of local capacity to do and to be”.
This dumbing down of the imagination is a disturbing feature of Carnival in recent times. Ms bishop was rightly critical of its borrowed glitziness and sameness from season to season.

Carnival, though, never ceases to communicate, even if what it communicates at times is a loss of imagination. Still, it is not so in every case. There are bands that aim to do more than fit in, and then there are calypsonians who by their social commentary give voice to what is in the hearts of the people.

But our Carnival as a cultural phenomenon, in today’s shrinking world, will not easily preserve itself from external influences.

This will require a conscious effort on the people’s part to safeguard what is true, what is particular and beautiful about Trinidad and Tobago Carnival.

Carnival is the expression of a people on a journey who are all called to conversion.

Carnival, therefore, must concern us as Church and cause us to question how well we are leading our members to conversion and to a proper sense of Gospel values.

What is being tested really is our ability to lead our people to differentiate the values of the Gospel from those of the world.

One of the challenges of today is to convince the society that the values that Christ preached are what give life, that what the heart longs for, ultimately, is God. The threat that Carnival poses is its suggestion that the Gospel values are irrelevant. This show in the now annual attempt to reduce Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, to nothing more than the day after Carnival Tuesday and the beginning of a “cooling off” period.

The Archdiocese has embarked on a set of pastoral initiatives to help us as Church to contribute to the building up of our society.

The first major initiative, the New Evangelisation, which sees the family as the core element in its implementation, actually began on December 8, 2009 and will run to December 8, 2010. It is driven in part by a need to reach Catholics who are no longer practising their faith but it is, in the first place, about proclaiming Christ in the present culture with new fervour, methods and creativity.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the proper order of things, of what is required to put things in their right perspective. “Fixing his eyes on his disciples”, Jesus says “How happy are you who are poor; yours is the kingdom of God . . . Alas for you when the world speaks well of you!” (Luke 6: 20-26)

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