November 14, 2016

An Open Letter to My Social Media Friends

Dear Social Media Friends,
A few notes on my birthday, which occurred just yesterday. First, let me say a huge thank you to all of you that have been kind enough to stop by at my Facebook page and other social media, and leave your birthday wishes! All included—Facebook (timeline and chat), Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.—I received as many as several hundreds of birthday wishes from almost all over the world, especially from the United States of America, the UK, and the European Union. Let me just let you know that I appreciated each and every one of them and that I’m both grateful to you for your friendship and happy for the wonderful opportunities the new information and communication technologies offer to us. Especially for people of my generation, the state of the art of the ICT—which I consider a true blessing and a gift from God—is a continuous source of wonder and excitement.

However, I must say that what amazes me most about yesterday, is that my presence in the social media, and on the Internet in general, is not of the common kind, my most frequent posts being about political, philosophical and cultural issues: a bit boring for a lot of people, I’m afraid. At the same time I cannot but congratulate myself for choosing the right people to be friends with!

Of course, as always happens, birthdays are a great, if not unique, opportunity to unfriend and be unfriended... this time they were half a dozen, in addition to those—at least another half a dozen people—who have unfriended me in the last few weeks. But I don’t complain about that: I knew that supporting Donald Trump would have some consequences. Well, in a sense, I am grateful to them: I have never unfriended anyone on Facebook for political reasons, and never will, that’s contrary to my beliefs, but perhaps they were right in doing so. In other words, as we say in Italy, they pulled my chestnuts out of the fire.

Also, ever since I started supporting Trump things have cooled down with some of my best friends. No surprise at all, but then again every choice has a cost. I’m sorry about that, but I did what I had to do, and I’m proud about that. Do what is right, not what is easy. That’s integrity, I presume, or at least as much integrity as possible.

By the way, I want to point out one thing about the recent presidential election: Hillary was absolutely right when, in the immediate aftermath of her defeat, she said, “I want you to remember this: our campaign was never about one person or even one election…” That’s perhaps exactly the reason why so many people in America and around the world (including me) have spent their time and energies in fighting against her, her supporters, and what they stand for—the “values” they share, and the vision they hold—with all means at their disposition. The lesson is: whenever and wherever it’s needed, we’ll be there. ūüėŹ

That being said, thanks again, dear Friends, the special ones—those whom I have a certain degree of intellectual and/or spiritual affinity with—and all the others, which I deeply respect and appreciate. And may God continue to bless you and keep you in His loving hands forever.

November 5, 2016

The Craziest Sermon I Have Ever Heard

The Prodigal Son (Orthodox Icon)

Yesterday afternoon I attended the funeral of a neighbor—a 80-something-year-old man, and a very kind and good person. I didn’t know the priest who celebrated the Funeral Mass, the only thing I know about him is what he said about himself in his homily, namely, that he is 74 and that in the long-ago he had lived in that parish, that he was a lifelong friend of the man and his family, and that he was familiar with most of those attending the ceremony.

It was one of the craziest, most unpredictable and memorable homilies I had ever heard. He talked in spurts—as many basically shy but very intelligent people often do—with sudden and vivid flashes of lightning, so to speak, rather than complete sentences, as if he was trying to say something pretty profound and at the same time a bit too difficult to put in words. So he danced around the issue the whole time without saying anything explicitly “religious.” He talked about “backing home”—his own’s and his friend’s. He talked about friendship, work ethic, dedication to the family, but the true meaning of the whole speech was, “hey, your friend, husband, father, etc., isn’t really dead, because he simply can’t die..” He was uttering the most touching and profound Christian truths without ever appearing to do so. A homily full of faith and hope without ever pronouncing the words “faith” and “hope,” as if there were no need to explicitly mention what everyone already intimately knows. Because hey, you folks know how things really are.., don’t you?

A poet, a humble but great man, a street philosopher and a man of God. I regret not having the opportunity to listen to his homilies every Sunday, but thank God for having had the chance to listen to him yesterday.