Friday, March 6, 2009

Some questions...

A casual conversation with an old friend spurred a myriad of thoughts in my mind. The friend went back to my good old college days when liberation and feminist theology were in and traditional mores of evangelical Christianity and patriarchal establishment were questioned. Those were the days when a small bunch of young Christians like us questioned everything that came our way—from English education to addressing god as father. Many years have rolled by ever since…with years, it seems as if the very structures that we questioned have caught up or are at least threatening to catch up, if we didn’t wake up!
Establishment that seemed too simplistic and hollow seems almost insurmountable today! No wonder they call it establishment. In no time, we have become arm chair intellectuals, earning fat salaries from a globalized economy, designing our profiles on, enjoying MacD dinners, attending some ‘powerful’ churches, sponsoring ‘missions’ in the ‘unreached tribal areas,’ and many things that we so furiously dismissed and swore never to do! It seems like establishment is having its final laugh! There are some of us who have joined the church to ‘serve’ and be more in touch with one’s ideals. Today, they talk the talk and walk the walk of the establishment, having become its guardians. Do we realize how we have lost the gospel of liberation and freedom for all?
Today, I hear young people praying for India, not for her millions to be fed and clothed, but to make Christianity her state religion! I don’t know what appalls me more: the ignorance of what constitutes a state religion or the sheer stupidity of such a prayer…do they even realize the actual meaning of state?
Today, what’s more appalling is the ease with which young Christian people take to patriarchal and traditional bindings like fish to water. Where is the passion to question…the life blood of rebellion and salvation? Where is the spirit of Christ in today’s youth? Doesn’t it even strike as odd when strong, educated, and intelligent young boys and girls go in for arranged, casteistic marriages within the church? There are worse practices where the girl wears the thali (mangalsutra) with her husband’s name inscribed on it! Why are we not even questioning these? If not now, when? Women, at the peak of their careers and youth, are saddled with hundreds of gynecological complications and ill health! Why don’t they question it? Just because you are biologically different and have the ‘capacity’ to bear the fetus, does that also mean that you necessarily sacrifice your health, intelligence, equality, and quality of life on the altar of marital pleasures (sic!), which infuse you with an obscure sense of security. Well, after landing up with so many health problems and house and car loans, you would definitely ‘need’ security!
Do we see how establishment is making inroads into our lives and blunting our intellects? Every day, establishment reinvents itself! If it was the dwijas (the second birth, signified by wearing of the sacred thread, for the high born within the caste hierarchy among Hindus) yesterday, it’s born-again Christians today! Didn’t Christ question this very hierarchy among people? Where is the love that Christ preached? Did we lay it by the wayside as we climbed the ladders of social hierarchy where we can ascertain our ‘rightful’ place by the very tools of the erstwhile establishment—the hierarchical order of the Hindus? Why should we have hierarchy in Christianity? Especially, when the basic tenet of the religion is: there shall be no jew, greek…male, female….etc? How did the rot of establishment make its way? Was this the sin that we were born with? Was Paul talking about this thorn in the flesh? How do we get rid of this? Do we even want to get rid of this in the first place? Do we want to root out class and caste in our churches? Do we want our women to be equal beneficiaries of the good news and salvation? Do we want to even talk about reinventing the institution of marriage, reinventing priorities for young Christians, setting priorities for the young, discuss tolerance, study and analyze the contemporary realties? How do we differentiate ourselves from the vast majority, which we conveniently term as casteistic, idol worshippers?

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