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Posts Tagged ‘church’

The tyranny of misplaced christian victimhood

In Political, Religion on April 1, 2015 at 9:08 pm

India is going through major socio-economic-political flux and I am delighted to see it all unfold. Like you, I have waited for a very long time for this day. Like you, I think of myself as an Indian first. My christian faith opens another charming window to view this world from. Lately I find myself attracted to the political dimension of our respective faiths. It gets ugly when we mark ourselves with a faith-based identifier. It gets uglier when we mark our territorial jungle trees with squirts of righteous pride. Instead of a faith based inclusion, we now face-off with a faith-based exclusion. In direct contradiction to the spiritual dimension stands an ugly political dimension of our respective faiths.

Unlike the west, Indian democracy has a unique blend of secularism. Instead of a constitutional separation between state and religion, we have a kludgy joint-family with resident cousins from all faiths. The state takes pride in your faith-based practice. Which is remarkably beautiful in itself. It is expected of us to actively participate in a state-sponsored orchestra of beliefs and non-beliefs, tooting our own horns.

This harmony sometimes threatens us with random cacophony. At times team work fails, and at other times the state actively promotes or passively mutes, one tooting section over another. We are familiar with our past histories and we do everything to not invite it.

It is in this light that a few events caught the media’s attention. This time around, the unlikely minority candidate were the christians. A string of mostly light stone peltings that can be best termed as vandalism, were termed as “church attacks”, and a few grunts of dissaprovals became “huge outrage” on social media. Rupa Subramanya discounted each one of them, to make sure the integral was never greater than the calculus.

I adore what social media is doing to the public discourse. As a loop-back mechanism to our governance, we are to be proud of what we have created. But there was dissonance here. It was not only a percieved threat that was amplified, it was false to begin with. And many took that argument at face value. NDTV and it’s anchors lost no time in weaving a popular narrative and my christian brothers consumed it like cola going out of stock.

As a Christian, suddenly I am a stranger in my own country, writes Julio Ribeiro, blared The Indian Express. He expresses his grief for his people thus:

“…the attack on Christian churches and schools in Delhi, all added to a sense of siege that now afflicts these peaceful people”.

An article in The Hindu “Being Christian In India” by Mari Marcel Thekaekara, attempts to sustain a narrative that I find faulty. She says:

“And I, too, as retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro said in a recent article, feel threatened for the first time in my life, in my country.”

Reading these reactions, I had a momentary lapse of bearing. I did not feel the same way as some of these fellow-mates. I can dismiss the media hype, but can I discount my fellow christians? I asked myself:

1. Am I doing something wrong?
2. Am I a lesser christian than Ribeiro?
3. Is my identity less dependent on my faith than on my nationality? Should I be reversing it?
4. Why is there such comfort in christian victimhood?
5. Who among us takes refuge in it?
6. Why does media love it when I take refuge in minority victimhood, than if I do not?
7. Why is it that this is not a simple law and order issue and is being treated as a clash of disparate faiths?

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Will Vatican II ever be Vatican 2.0? – Part I

In Religion on October 31, 2012 at 1:42 am

What is Vatican II?

After World War II, the Vatican under the leadership of Pope John XXIII, convoked in 1962 a meeting of over 2500 Catholic Bishops from across the world.  This meeting is commonly referred to as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II for short.  In the last 500 years, there have been only three such ecumenical councils of such magnitude and importance:  Council of Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II.  Needless to say, Vatican II was an important gathering of bishops.

Last month, October 11th, we celebrated Vatican II’s 50th anniversary.  I reflect on what the fuss was all about back then and it it had any desired impact on Christendom.

Why did they meet?

Pope John XXIII did not have a specific crisis to solve.  They were not meeting to solve any particular burning issue of the day.  In the words of John XXIII, Vatican II aimed

…to open the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air.”  

The world was rapidly changing in front of them.   New divisions, alliances gave rise to new boundaries.  The church had to go through a tectonic shift in ideology to be relevant to a globalized citizen.  Vatican II wanted to reach out to all people in a new way that has never been done before.  Pope John XXIII called this updating of church ideology as aggiornamento.  A remarkable change in attitude, considering it’s previous rejection of modern, liberal life as heresy. 

What did Vatican II accomplish?

After three years of deliberations, Vatican II came out with some new directions.  Some of the documents developed new directions and underscored these important ideas for a modern world:

  1. building ecumenical bridges, especially across the  Christian-Jewish faiths
  2. permitting Mass to be celebrated in regional local languages instead of only in Latin
  3. defining the church as the people of God. Emphasis on the active role of laypeople
  4. make the church more effective in proclaiming the Gospel to the modern world.  Bring to light the positives in modern culture
  5. all Catholics to remain effective messengers of Gospel values in a pluralistic public square.

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