Tag Archives: Christ

On Pondering Christ

“Monday Musings” for Monday December 23, 2013

Volume III, No. 51/155

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To  Ponder  the Birth,  Life,  Death  and  Resurrection of  Christ

 By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally written and published in the Fayetteville Observer on Christmas Day 1966. It has been reprinted every year since then.]

From the nostalgic days of the Sorbonne where I was a student of arts and literature, a memory stands out. A professor assigned to our class to visit the Louvre Museum and report to him, in written form, our impressions.

One morning I went to the museum and spend many hours looking at the masterpieces for which the Louvre is so well-known.

Naturally walking through the aisles and various levels of the Sully building, where old masters were displayed, appropriate notes were made to report to the professor. At the end of the day, somewhat enchanted, somewhat tired and thoroughly bewildered by the majesty of so much collected beauty and august artistry under one roof, I packed my notebooks and set out to leave the door.

Near the exit of the Mezzanine level there was a simple portrait which was partially hidden behind the curtain and the hanging branches of a plant.

I approached the painting, exposed it to my sight, and began to study its content.  After a few minutes of scrutiny and concentration, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of power, awe and respect.

The painting was done by a 17th century Eastern European artist who had never gained worldwide fame.  The very position of the painting in the museum was reminiscent of this fact.

The content of the picture was just as simple and unassuming at its frame and the place where it was hung.

It showed an emaciated man whose cheeks were hollowed, whose eyes were sunken, whose ribs could be counted one by one with clarity, semi-clad and semi-naked.

This man the portrait showed was struggling diligently and arduously.

An observer could see the burden of time and the pressure of public opinion written across his furrowed forehead.

His lips were dry, but pursed and determined his arms were naked and the flesh was pushed through with the gripping huge fingers of two Roman soldiers who were, holding the picture, holding him?

The Roman soldiers were enormous, steady, and through the masterwork of the artist, conveyed an air of contempt and hatred for the man they were holding. On the right side of the tableau, the artist had drawn the picture of a cross. So far, this work of art, like any other, is nothing unusual to chill the spine and overpower the observer. It was indeed the picture of Christ being carried to the cross.

This is a known historical fact, and depicted by thousands of artists in various ways. But the thing that made this pictures so powerful and different from any other concept of crucifixion was that the artist with his transcendent imagination, and I am sure, realization of the devotion of Jesus, had inserted a basic difference in this work, the difference was in this picture Jesus was struggling to go toward  the cross, not as one would expect to struggle to get away  from the cross. The propitious occasion of Christmas, the Lord’s birth, makes the recounting of the memory as a gift to our reader that much more meaningful. In His birth, death and resurrection. He exemplified love, hope, reason and commitment to all mankind.

May we all be good learners and Merry Christmas to everyone.

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 *The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.

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Remembering Mrs. Thatcher

Monday Musings for April 15, 2013

Volume III 14/117

Mourning Maggie

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*

 (Editor’s Note: The passing of Lady Thatcher was a blow.  Condolences to all. In observance of the occasion, we are re-running “Monday Musings” below for your reading enjoyment, and the link for your viewing pleasure. 

 Link on WRAL:

http://www.wral.com/news/local/video/12318911/#/vid12318911

Vol. 2 / No.20

Thatcher

From left to right, Dr. P. Geoffrey Feiss, Lady Margaret Thatcher, Dr. Assad Meymandi.

Lunch with Maggie

I recently saw the movie Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. We are not big movie fans, may be go to one or two a year, and often if the subject is disappointing, I leave after the 10-15 minutes but not this movie. Iron Lady is a movie depicting the biography of Lady Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of England (1979-1990). It was on her watch, and that of the late President Ronald Reagan, that the Soviet Union crumbled. Throughout the movie, I had a hard time keeping my composure.  It was hard not to cry.  I was weeping for Lady Thatcher, I was weeping for losing her warm, but elegant friendship, I was weeping for losing the promise and possibility of her accepting the invitation of the National Humanities Center to become a Distinguished Meymandi Fellow and give lectures to the RTP audiences. But above all I was weeping for the world losing a remarkable woman, another Lady/Empress Matilda Maude (1102-1167) who pre-wrote Magna Carta (King John, 1215).  The history of our relationship goes back to many years ago.  Below is a reprinted account of our initial luncheon meeting, first published in Wake County Physician magazine.

Seven other people, my wife and I were privileged to lunch with Lady Margaret Thatcher in the Plumeri House of William and Mary College. Our host, P. Geoffery Feiss, Provost of the College, seated me at the left side of the Iron Lady, because that is her “good ear”. The lunch and conversation went on at a leisurely pace. With the after-lunch-picture-taking-and book-signing ceremonies, the Lady stayed around for a good two and a half hours. Nonetheless the entire experience was an extravagant moment, but too short and too fleeting…Her trip was a hush-hush affair.  She was the mystery guest at the commencement ceremonies of the previous evening. The principle speaker was Ms. Halaby (Queen Noor of Jordan).But with the Lady Thatcher’s sudden appearance in the academic procession; the crowd erupted into a spontaneous ovation.  The Lady gave a fifteen minute unrehearsed speech.

Conversation around the round dining room table started with prosaic platitudes, and gradually escalated into an intense exchange of ideas. Of course, most of us listened while the Iron Lady spoke of the Falkland War, her friendship with Ronnie (President Reagan) and Nancy. We also spoke of the former (now the late) NC Senator Jesse Helms and Gorbachev.”The gentleman was devastated when his wife Raisa died”, the former Prime Minister of England informed us.

Thatcher sees no use for the United Nations. She abhors indecisiveness, appeasement and unprincipled diplomacy. She insisted that in our global collective and diffuse culture, individuals do make a difference. Our host invited me to tell the Lady my opinion on this thesis. I politely and dutifully suggested that the Lord, in order to provide Neolithic man with role models, sent Zarathustra to bring us enlightenment; Abraham to give us faith; Moses to demonstrate the possibilities of discipline; Christ to teach us love; Prophet Mohammad, peace be with him, to show us structure and system approach to problem solving; Mozart, to give us the gift of music; Thomas Jefferson and the framers of the US Constitution, the fresh concept of a working, living, breathing Republic where the rule of law is supreme. And then I added the name of Margaret Thatcher to this pantheon of deities who showed us how conservatism, private enterprise, and individual initiative elevate the majesty of human achievement. The lady seemed to enjoy the discourse. She indicated that she is willing to come to NC at a future date, perhaps as a Meymandi Distinguished Fellow at the National Humanities Center.

On a personal note, Lady Thatcher showed a bit of disdain for sensation seeking journalists who emphasize her “grocer” father, but neglect to say that the gentleman was a civic leader, chairman of the town library board, a civic leader and prominent in the cultural life of his hometown. It was her father who inculcated the love of books and reading in the future Prime Minister of England. Thatcher went on to study Chemistry at Oxford, because of the possibility of a better job. For a while a student she actually made and sold ice cream… I asked the Lady what force has been most influential in her rise to prominence. Without hesitation, she named Winston Churchill, and went on to extol the Gentleman’s virtues including his military career and becoming Prime Minister when he was well into his sixties.

The Lady gave me two autographed books which occupy a prominent place in my private library. And in my heart.

State Anniversaries for the month of May:  Wisconsin, State number 30, joined the Union on May 11, 1848.  Motto: “Forward“.  South Carolina, original colony number 8, May 23, 1788.  Motto: “While I breathe, I hope.”  Rhode Island, original colony number 13 (the last one), May 29, 1790, Motto: “Hope“.

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.

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