Normalizing Non-sense

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 22, 2016

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeOne of our problems in Trinidad and Tobago is our attempt, sometimes, to normalize non-sense and call it wisdom. Take the non-sense offered by Joan Yuille-Williams that Patrick Manning called the 2010 election to expand our democracy or that by so doing he expanded our democratic possibilities. Not content with such non-sense she threw God into the mix as if to say, “God make him do it.”

Now there is non-sense, common-sense and in-cense. Non-sense revolves around the proposition that the actions someone takes does not accord with what the average/normal person seems to make, as my sister would say, “any good sense.” Hence, one is acting stupidly.

Common-sense has to do with the ability to judge things in a way that is coherent and worthy of serious consideration. It involves a feeling that a person’s action is reasonable and is likely to result in a good outcome.

In-cense (my punning) is a variation of the same theme. It has to do with the dulling of the senses by any poisonous ology. Inhaled in correct doses it allows one to believe that one possesses a special pipeline to God. It also helps if one has an intermediary through whom one speaks directly with God.

In her recent memorial address, Yuille-Williams argued that Manning “gave voters a choice, and they made it in keeping with their own reading of the facts. Manning … let the voters choose. He was not foolish. He was the ultimate democrat. He believed that God would lead voters to make the correct choice and give him a mandate, just as ANR Robinson had chosen him after the 18-18 election tie” (Selwyn Ryan, Express, August 12).

Given such magnanimity, PNMites should not blame Manning for the loss of the 2010 election. Williams says: “People should blame themselves for not choosing him…. A number of people blame Patrick Manning for the loss of the election. I stand here on this platform and say: ‘No. I don’t. I don’t blame him at all. It worries me all the time when I hear people say it. He was a man of principles.'” (Express, August 12).

Not content with such non-sense, Ms. Emily Dick-Forde went a step farther and “repented on behalf of the nation for the wrongs that were perpetuated on [Calder] Hart and Manning, hoping that one day ‘the light will be turned on and many would be made ashamed” (My emphasis, Guardian, August 12.)

So, “People get ready, there’s a train a comin’/You don’t need a ticket, you just thank the Lord.”

What, indeed, can any rational person make of these heart-rending affirmations of faith? Manning allowed his ego to get the better of him. He felt he was God’s chosen one so he acted in an irrational manner. Anytime one believes that of the 7 billion people on earth, God seeks him out to talk to him exclusively, one knows that such a person is on the road to self-destruction.

Manning had become so drunk by his own foolishness that he really believed he was speaking to and on behalf of God. In 2007, when Benny Hinn, another fraudulent character, came to Trinidad, in the fullness of his in-cense, Manning told Hinn that he had his own seer-woman and didn’t need him to intercede with God anymore.

Hinn called Manning a “foolish man.” (YouTube, August 6, 2009.)

Manning explained: “I take her with me everywhere….God speaks to me through her. She has been a great blessing to the Government. I’m thinking [about Hinn] ‘You foolish man.'”

Benny became incensed. He refused to meet Manning’s prophetess. How dare Manning replace him (Hinn) in this business of his interceding with God?

That incident made many pause. One knew that Manning had imbibed the wrong doses of non-sense and had given himself over to spiritual death.

People knew Manning had lost touch with reality. He had inhaled too much incense, the whiff of which was pulling him in directions they knew would lead to disaster. It does not help to prettify this non-sense in which Manning engaged in his last days.

Those who live by the sword die by the sword; those who inhale too much incense become giddy and thereby betray their God-given talents. While all of us should listen to that still presence within us and follow the dictates of our faiths, we cannot burden the world with our anxieties that transcend rational and commonsensical discourse.

At the end of 2010 Manning became incensed with power for which he and his party paid dearly politically. There is no need neither to blame the nation nor to repent for using our common-sense. Manning’s story might just be the tale of a mortal man who forgot his mortality.

And therein lies the fate of Solomon Gundy.

3 Responses to “Normalizing Non-sense”


  • Yeshua told his disciples: “… Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5)

    Yes, there are many deceivers out there, and it does take discernment to separate the true from the false. That does not mean that true servants of the Most High and true followers of the Messiah do not exist. They do.

    How to sort out who is who? Much of it requires the ability to think rationally, even as one actively seeks the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Scripture says:

    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

    And Scripture is indeed a study. It is a discipline, no less rigorous than allegedly rational science-ism.

    For example, if one has studied philosophy, one would have encountered Hume’s “problem of induction”. The question in a nutshell is, how many white swans would one have to observe, without having observed say, a black one, to be justifying in reaching the conclusion that “all swans are white”.

    In the present context, how many false prophets would one have to observe, without having observed a true one, to be justified in reaching the conclusion that “all who come in my name, saying they are Christ” are liars and deceivers?

    Now as to the particular case of Rev. Juliana Pena, acting as spiritual adviser to Patrick Manning, it would seem clear that in the end Manning was deceived.

    What does that tell us about Manning, and what does that tell us about Ms. Joan Yuille-Williams’ argument? Not much, I’m afraid.

    King Saul was an anointed servant of God, *and* there came a point when God would talk to him neither by dream, nor urim, nor prophet; 1 Samuel 28:6. This drove Saul to seek out a seer-woman, the witch at En-dor; 1 Samuel 28:7; but to no good end.

    Take another example. King David was certainly a prophet, as attested in any number of his psalms. But he also was led astray by lust for Bathsheba, to commit adultery, and then compound it with the murder of her husband.

    My point? One may be a true servant of God, yet be taken in sin, or error. David’s sin was repented and forgiven; see Psalm 51. Saul’s sin was not repented, and led to his rejection by God.

    How does that apply to Patrick Manning? I have no doubt that he was born to the role he played, and was specially “anointed” for that role. Does that mean he was free from error? No and again no. Did he err in the matter of Juliana Pena? I would say yes. Did he pay a price ordained by God? Again I would say yes. Did he repent and find forgiveness? God alone knows. I pray he did; and was forgiven.

    The study of Scripture teaches humility. For it convicts one of personal sin, and brings home to us the need to repent and find forgiveness, as for example did David. And in learning that lesson, we also learn to be ready to forgive others.

    Ms. Joan Yuille-Williams clearly understands that. I think. In any case, Manning’s calling of the election is entirely consistent with JYW’s claim that he acted out of democratic principle. She may know better than any of us. It may be that God sent him a lying spirit as punishment, for inquiring of familiar spirits through his “seer-woman”, like Saul did with the witch at En-dor. (BUt what was Rev. Pena really, I don’t know).

    Those of us who are seedline Israelite get away with nothing. At the same time, where we genuinely repent, as did David at Psalm 51, very often the forgiveness is forthcoming even before we get up off the prayer-mat. That was one lesson to be garnered from the story of Hezekiah, his illness, and the 15 years extra God granted him after he had sent Isaiah to tell him to “get his house in order for he was about to die”; Isaiah 38:1,5; Hezekiah’s prayer was answered even before Isaiah could reach the exit gate of the palace compound.

    I say all of this to say that in this instance, the learned Prof. Cudjoe has gone off the rails with his alleged rationality. His discourse on sense, non-sense, and in-sense will mislead the naive reader into a kind of reflexive atheism that rejects faith, rejects the works of faith, and rejects the uncommon sense given to those who study God’s word, do and keep his commandments, and are rewarded thereby by powers of discernment that the merely well schooled simply lack.

    May the Most High have mercy on all His children who have erred, and do err, and lead us to be ever more understanding and forgiving of each other.

    Shalom.

    “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

  • Manning had no choice but to call an early election and preserve the PNM from scorn. Rowley along with a few others met in Bridgetown, Barbados plotting the fall of Manning’s PNM. The then Opposition would call a no confidence motion on Manning, Rowley and team would abstain bringing down the government. The cunning Manning due to his huge spy apparatus got wind of the plot and decided to take the nation back to the polls. Thus purging the party and retaining the PM position, it was a huge risk facing the rising star KPB. As we all know the rest is history.

    The founder of the PNM Eric Williams once said that the only thing the PNM have to fear is the PNM. He was right the plot so graphically play out in Julius Caesar is a potent reminder of how friends can become foes. “El tu” Rowley was the most painful blow Manning faced. The bad blood between the two play out in a public political discourse that Ralph Maraj could mould into a long running play aptly name “when politicians turn against each other”. Yes it was Ramesh versus Bas, Bas versus Winston, Kamla versus Bas, Rowley versus Manning… A lot of plot material that reminds us from the time to Julius Caesar to today nothing has changed.

    Manning had his failures as well as his successes. His opponents today would focus on those failures whilst his supporters will his successes. From Calder to the Waterfront, such political intrigue will only grow as time passes.

  • You know folks , yours truly often gloat on dis here Trini Center Information Highway , about a woman who played a pivotal role ,in my life- from the age of 8 weeks- in de absence of a mother , and Papa.
    I’m talking of course about …. well … who else , but my Late , extremely wise , Tobago Granny? One of her favorite lines, was given to me , quite a few moons ago, and here it is :- ” Every disappointment , is for a good.”
    Trust me when I say , I’ve had a few, over time- some major , and others not too significant .
    I am referring to failing a pre High School ,Common Entrance Exam at age 11, or loosing said Guardian, due to -what I learned much later was -Cancer ,at age 16 , when she was merely 53 years of age.
    I’ll throw in , not passing an elusive exam in my adult years,that could have bolstered a career,or passed over by less competent others,for coveted foreign postings , or upward mobility, within the work environment.
    How about loosing a 22 year old kid to drowning 4 years ago while living in the Global North,just as you were on the verge of making one of life’s ‘post education,’ power moves?
    The trick to keeping one’s sanity ,or put differently , not to ‘get too bent, and out of shape,’as we like to say on de streets is – finding a way , to turn such negatives , into positives.
    Rest assured , there will be detractors , as one attempts to push forward.
    Resiliency remains a key, for authentic success. What I often remind myself is that our maligned ancestors survived close to 600 years of Euro White Barbarianism – a la dehumanizing Slavery, and so what’s to little speed bump along life’s Highway,hmmmm?
    One must likewise develop a coherent game plan,redefine / restructure where appropriate the end game ,avoid procrastination, and finally execute.
    Often times ,the said way forward , might require some collaboration with like minded blokes, but care must always be made ,to avoid the doom ,& gloom – dream killers-who thrive on finger pointing , escapist , feel good ,idealistic – back slapping-theorization of opaque ideologies, that makes little difference in advancing the cause of overall Humanity.
    Amidst all of the prevailing challenges we are confronted with on a daily basis in La Trinity,I remain committed to making a difference, and yes optimistic that a beautiful lilly can indeed emerge even from that symbolic , dirty pond.
    I did mention in my introduction, that some disappointments are trivial , and here is another .
    I spent close to 45 Minutes to an hour, writing a response to the good Doctor’s wonderful, and poignant blog, only to accidentally press a wrong key , that erased all that I wrote.
    I am glad I did however, as it was vintage ,no holds barred , sledge hammer swinging to de knee Neal.
    I have my own opinions of the Black, post Colonial , Middle class leaders , that we are saddled with ,across the Globe.
    Most of my assessment tend to be a bit scratching.

    Today instead , I prefer to quit such , as it’s an exercise in futility, as many done care , or will not listen , as they instead prefer pursue their own self interest- even as they pander to / appease others, who mean them and their people ‘mucho’ harm.
    These folks that dare to sacrifice their personal lives, should instead be applauded for their efforts- paltry as their contributions may be , towards elevating their own.
    It’s time for your truly , to instead step his game , and hopefully in some pragmatic manner,make a difference, si?
    Stay tuned.
    Ain’t life beautiful folks ?
    ‘Me think’ so!

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