Christian Youth in the Postmodern World


Christian
Youth in the Post-Modern World.

(Presentation
made at United Theological College, Bangalore at Youth Meet in connection with
the Centenary Celebration of the College)

The term ‘Postmodern’ (1) has to
be a familiar one for us since we are living in that world. While the many fold
tendencies of the post modern world has brought several positive influences on
us humans and on other elements in creation, it has brought certain challenges
too. This is a vast subject; however, I am proposing to deal with just one
area, which is the socio-religious dimension.

We can only raise questions
related to our social and religious existence first, as human beings and second
as Christians. When we address them as Christians, we will be addressing them
as humans too (of course there could be disagreement). To me this is a question
of our faith. We believe that Jesus was perfect human. So any talk by any one
about any thing on the basis of our faith in Jesus can only be human talk.

India, among other countries like
China and Brazil, has greatly benefited from some of the postmodern tendencies.
Bangalore is a city where this is quite evident and visible. I am sure many of
you will have mouthful of praise regarding the changes that this post-modern
world has brought to your lives. These changes have brought great impact on our
socio-religious life today.

One of the major areas that have
seen positive development is the world of communication. I still remember me
going to my nearby post and telegraph office to book a trunk call to my uncle
working in Bombay and going back home in the evening un-successful because
there was no line. Even while many of the telecom companies in the US are
finding it difficult to cope with the change of technology because of the
expense involved in changing the existing 2G equipments, India is already on
the 4 G mobile communication era. Infosis an Indian company that started in
this city (Bangalore) with just 10000 rupees as initial investment  two decades back has grown to become a
multinational company rated as the best Indian company by Wall Street Journal.
TATA known to us for the crude form of all trucks on our roads has recently
bought three major companies in UK and one among them is the prestigious car
company Jaguar. We had to put up with old Ambassador Car that always had to go to
the repair shop even after a short trip on our country road. Now we drive the
most modern cars made any where in the world. A housewife in a small town in
California, USA met with a problem and she calls ‘Dell service centre’. The
girl who attended her call guides her through for a solution and for her
satisfaction. The woman in CA says “thank you for your help” and the girl at
the other end says, “you are welcome, is there any thing else I can do for you
mom”? When the woman replies, “no dear, thanks once again”, the girl concludes
the talk saying, “thank you for calling Dell service centre”. The woman would
never know that she was talking to some one from the other side of the globe in
Bangalore. I can go on like this. This is our incredible India now in the postmodern
world. Aren’t we proud of ourselves? Yes, indeed we are.

The economic
growth India has achieved envy even the US and European countries. Quite a lot
of our young people make a decent living and some times a fortune out of this
shift in the air. To the surprise of most developed countries, the global
economic crisis, that made Iceland bankrupt (Oct. 9, 2009) and Greece and many
other European countries at the verge of it, has not affected our country that
much (Japan’s new Prime Minister warns the country of possible bankruptcy – June
17, 2010). US, which puts itself at the top of the world, has 13+ trillion
dollars deficit and out of that 1.7 trillion dollar, they owe to China (according
to Mr. Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University). Our tourism sector is
another area that had a leap in the past decade. This is, but, only one side of
the story.

In Andhra Pradesh alone more than
a thousand farmers committed suicide, even while the government claimed that
they were on the fast track of development. In Kerala 37 marriages go to
various family courts on mutual agreement for divorce every day. Regionalism
both political and economic is in the rise. Bombay became Mumbai not to
re-establish the city’s self respect which was taken away by the British. It is
only a political move with an eye on the vote bank (Bangalore too).
Corporations are ready to give to politicians and to the high-ranking officers
in the government any obscene amount as commission to get their share in the
Indian market. No prominent political leader can walk causally on the streets
of Delhi any more with out the company of at-least four special protection
force officers with semi-automatic guns. Some time back it was a prestige symbol.
Now it is the symbol of the leader’s nervousness. Terrorist movements and
religious fundamentalist groups threaten our peaceful living. Price of
commodities is rocket high and people find it hard to make both ends meet with
what they earn. This is the other side of the story. Now we may have to
conclude that all is not well in the so-called postmodern globalized world.

It is in this context our young
people are looking for a life that is secure and decent. Here we realize that
we have challenges before us. The development we are talking about has
influenced only certain areas and certain people. Those of who are fortunate to
find a career are faced with a new terminology “human resource management”.
This would consider human just as clay, granite, coal, natural gas or petrol
that are also resources. We have seen over the years how we manage these
resources. The key word “exploit natural resources” is now applicable in the
case of humans too. Use them as long as they are useful and throw them away or
exchange them for new ones when they cease to be useful. Some one who got
educated from India and fond a decently paid job in Silicon Valley the other
day called me up and said, all except 3 out of 32 employees in his unit were
laid off and fortunately he is one among the three. However, he is always under
stress with anxiety syndrome because he does not know when the whole unit will
be shut down to make him jobseeker again. To find another job at this time of
recession is not an easy job. Some times the company moves to a more profitable
location and would hire new personal. This is part of human resource management
portfolio. The other day I was watching a programme on ESPN where American football
players being auctioned like buffalos and bullocks in a local cattle market in
India. Of course, in the case of the players the price will be much higher
(this is what we are trying to experiment in cricket in India through Premium
League Teams). Watch the commercial advertisements that appear on TV during our
favourite shows. Who washes cloths? Who talks about cosmetics? Who worry about
children’s height, weight and future? Of course women, who else? They also try
hard to please their husband through various dehumanizing methods (trying new
fabric whitener, detergent with colour guard etc.). Men appear for commercials
of underwear, cars and stuff like that. What does it tell you? This is the
other side of postmodernism. This is the challenge we are confronted with. Yes,
postmodernism and its product, which is economic globalization, has done so
much good to us. Nevertheless, it has brought its challenges too.

It is in this context we are
asked to consider our theme “Christian Youth in a post-modern world”.  Until now, we talked about post modern world
and few or its concerns. If you want me to continue, I am afraid we may have to
spend days on it. So let me stop talking about it here and take the other part
of the subject.

What is this Christian we are
talking about? Any talk abut Christian should consider some of the fundamental principles
of Christian life and for that matter human life in this world. One of the
passages that immediately come to my mind is the very first commandment of God,
“It is not good that (hu)man be alone” (Gen 2:18. The word used is adam
which means human and not ish which means male person). It is not only a
talk about creating a partner, rather a commandment for mutuality and community
based life of humans in this world.

A relevant question at this point
would be, does the postmodern world help us to be with others? One of the philosophical
positions of postmodernism is negation of communities and emphasis on
individuals. This promotes the evolution theory slogan “survival of the
fittest” carefully implemented through market economy. This can also be
discussed in the context of what was said earlier about the new department of
“human resource management”. But for a person working with Christian
principles, two Biblical passages become important. They are, “Where ever one
or two are assembled I am in their midst” (Matt. 18:20) and “Who ever causes
stumble to one of this little ones shall be thrown in to sea” (Matt. 18:6).
Survival of the fittest philosophy is just the opposite of what we see in here.

Togetherness can be meaningful
and Christian only when it involves participation in the struggle for a better
world or something aimed at liberating form all kinds of slavery. Better can
never be in isolated way where only one or two faculties alone are addressed.
This is where a holistic approach with regard to development becomes relevant.
What we see around us in terms of development is beneficial for just some and
most of the time at the cost of the majority. Take the example of BT cotton
cultivation in Andhra Pradesh. Other examples can be seen in Narmada in Gujarat,
Nandigrams and singur in Bengal.  An old
story from during the time of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in Israel (Samaria –
1 Kings 21) can be compared with these. There we see God taking the side of not
the king, but of Naboth the traditional farmer. Globalization need to be
effected not only on economic life of humans (that itself if every one is
benefitted), rather it should aim at a global village where every one’s welfare
becomes a matter of concern and every one works for the welfare of the other.

Sharing of resources is the only
way to achieve this goal. There are lot of people who think what they earn is
the result of their intellectual and physical exertion. I must say yes and no.
Yes, you work very hard, but the result of that depends on the direct and
indirect support of lot of other people. A pedestrian who removes a nail sticking
under his Hawaii Chappell and carelessly throws it to the street will cause the
tyre of your imported car go punctured and flat. This can cost your job or even
your life. A partner who is not co-operative and supportive can make your life
miserable at home, your mood at work place never pleasant and your output there
no where near the target. So every one’s safety and welfare is closely linked
with the joy and happiness of every one else. “Even if you are an obsessive
selfish person, still you need to take care of others for your to take care of
yourself”  (Dali Lama).

Sharing of life and resources can
only happen when you clearly define your needs and distinguish them from greed
and luxury. Many of the things that are introduced in to the market by marketing
agencies are not quite for our needs. I do not know how many of you have seen
Eddy Murphy’s movie “Holy Man”. In this movie, the owner/CEO of the TV shopping
network (or telebrand network) tells the marketing chief, “Your job is to make
people buy things they actually do not need to”. Today you have access to every
product made any where in the world. It should be you who to consider whether
you really need them or not. When you cannot make that decision for yourself, you
are left as an ever-unhappy person and it will make you become one not able to
respond to other person’s cry. Again to achieve the goal you set, you start
working harder and harder and never be a happy person. This I have seen
happening with Malayalees working in US, especially those in the nursing field.
Of course, some of the things they sell are needed, but not every thing that is
for sure. They say you can use this machine to make you trim. How do you become
fat and sick? Many of us become one because you eat more than what your body
requires or your work does not involve any physical activity that takes away
fat from you. A better solution is either cut down your intake or take up a job
that will help you burn out the extra calories. But this is not what is
advised. You are asked to eat more, less physical work and buy the machine to
make you trim. This on the one hand makes you a slave, and on the other unable
to care for others since your need is never exhausted.

We consider the commandment of
Jesus “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19) as some thing cardinal to our
faith. Most of our Churches relate it, of course reasonably enough, to the
Eucharistic/ Communion service we conduct in our Churches everywhere. But for
me this commandment can not be reduced to just a commandment for the weekly
breaking of the Bread alone. Jesus said this when he was sharing his body with
his disciples. It was also an act of sharing of his own self. So this
commandment can be paraphrased as ‘even as I have shared my self with you share
yourself when ever you are with others or when your are living in a community’.

In this world in which we all are
directed to run, no matter who is around, for our own lives, our success and our
prosperity, it becomes a real challenge to wait for a moment and look around to
see communities we receive support from and communities we are obliged to
support and share our lives or broken body. Body is broken for the sake of
others. Birth of the Son of Man in Jesus was for the breaking of the body and
its sharing. Son or child of humans anywhere and at any time is born for
breaking of the body and sharing of it only. In a culture where you have to
push every one aside and run forward for your success, you become a lone person
running for your life. However, every thing in this world was created to be in
fellowship as seen in the Genesis testimony. In such a world, you can not run
alone and win the race.

This sharing is for abundant life
for every one (John 12:25). When we share, we enter in to the memory of others and
that is eternity for us (a theme from Process thought). We are very good in
copying cultural elements from the western world. One of the positive (there
are several) things that I see among them is those who have, establish
foundations and trusts to share what they earned in their life with others.
Trusts and foundations can be set up not only by big companies and by wealthy
individuals, but also by us, every one of us, how poor that person may be. This
is where the Christian principle of ‘kenosis’ or ‘self emptying’ becomes
important. Unless you sell what is in abundance with you and give it to those
who do not have, you cannot be called a Christian (see Luke 18:22). Aboriginals
every where, before the colonizers invaded them, particularly in Asia, Africa and
Australia believed that everything including humans is part of nature and no
privatisation of natural resources is possible. Now that old colonizing
technique is, back again trying to make, through selective education, our young
people slaves. This enslavement is not to make us happy, but to make them happy
at our cost.

Yes, postmodern world has brought
numerous blessings in to our lives. But it has placed before us some challenges
too. The question is are we ready to share our resources with others or use
them just for us and leave others aside unattended. If you follow this culture
of ‘survival of the fittest’, there will arrive people ‘smarter’ than you are and
will throw you aside one day. So define your life with a Christian perspective
of love, sharing, caring and togetherness. Luxury and lavish life style, which
we are advised to follow, is a myth and will not last longer. Sharing and
caring will sustain our lives and those of others too. This is the message for
our youth of the postmodern world, “Love one another even as I have loved you”
(John 15:12).

1.
Postmodernism

The term was first used in
1870s. In 1917 Rudolf  
Pannwitz (1881-1969 ) used it to denote a philosophically oriented culture. Walter Truett Anderson (The Truth about the Truth:
De-confusing and Re-construcing
) the
Postmodern World identifies it as “the social – traditional in which truth is
found in the heritage of American and western civilizations.

Postmodernism rejects objective truth
that is a creation of modernism and Enlightenment. It questions many of the
traditionally accepted classifications and presuppositions. It has influenced
many cultural fields. Modernism is often associated with identity, unity,
authority, and certainty. Postmodernism is often associated with difference,
plurality, otherness and skepticism. Fredric
Jameson
, a leading American theorist of Postmodernism describes it as the
“dominant cultural logic of late capitalism.” (Postmodernism, or,
The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.
Verso, 1991.)  “Late capitalism” refers to the
post-war phase of capitalism, describes Ernest
Mandel
as a term roughly equivalent to “globalization”,
“multinational capitalism”, or “consumer capitalism”.

Postmodernism can be described as a
set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as
difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to
destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress,
epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Ref.

1.C. P. Chandrasekhar and Jayanthi Ghosh: Market that Filed

2. Michael Amaladoss: Globalization and its victims

3. Joseph Stiglitz: Globalization and its discontents

“We’ve seen generally disappointing results for those
countries that have tried to follow the West’s advice on how to manage the
economy… Globalization does not benefit all of us, even if politicians don’t
mind giving that impression. It is true that the welfare gains from
globalization mean that the minority of winners receive more than enough
surplus to compensate the majority of losers. Instead of watching this happen,
however, we see globalization used as an excuse to remove social protections,
from those who are already on the losing end… Water is indeed flowing uphill, as
we watch money flow from poor to rich countries.

Rather than a rising tide to lift all boats, globalization is
better described as “a riptide that can destroy lots of small, unprepared
boats”… India and China are exceptional – they have not experienced a
financial crisis in the last 3 decades – and it’s probably because they didn’t
follow the standard wisdom.

 

 

 

Beyond Hurdles …


Beyond Hurdles …

(Sermon
delivered at United Theological College, Bangalore During Evening Worship on
Sunday, July 4, 2010 as part of the Centenary Celebration of the College)

Text. Mark 10:46 – 52. 

46 And they
came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great
multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the
roadside.
47 And when he
heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son
of David, have mercy on me!”
48 And many rebuked him, telling him to
be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 And Jesus
stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take heart; rise, he is calling you.”
50 And throwing off his mantle he
sprang up and came to Jesus.
51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you
want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive
my sight.”
52 And Jesus
said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he
received his sight and followed him on the way.

 

The
Principal, Teachers, staff, students, UTC community and friends! Good Evening!

When
I stand here, ocean waves of nostalgic memories fill and overflow my heart. I
have stood on this podium and at this pulpit several times in the past. That
was more than quarter of a century back. When I used to stand here those days,
except for a couple of occasions, people would be sitting on various corners of
the chapel closely watching me deliver the message to find some point to be
raised in the following sermon criticism class. It certainly helped me in my
ministry a lot.

I
am very much indebted to this college for my theological orientation and
personality making. I still remember my first day here. I was taken to the
first floor common room of the old hostel by our seniors like Mr. Y. Moses in
the middle of the night for a formal ‘get to know each other’. It was not that
bad any way. My friend from CSI central Kerala diocese, Kottayam took it a bit
offensive and got a knife and started peeling an apple when he was approached
by them. Those brave seniors ran for their lives. Starting with it there are
hundreds of wonderful moments that I cherish. Dr. Russel Chandran’s question
“what do you exactly mean by that?’ thrown at every statement we made really
helped us critically analyze every thing we thought absolute, cardinal and
important (I still get blamed for copying a bit of that attitude). Dr.
Pithamber’s classical indium, ‘how do you feel?’ helped me to be a concerned
person. Dr. Karl’s dog which takes him for a walk every evening. The cigarette
smoke that goes before Dr. Collison until he enters the class room and his
Greek classes afterward, Rita’s toughness and Jessie’s smile in the library, Ms.
Ponan’s hostel annexe, the noisy general body meetings of the hostel, agitation
we made on behalf of Mr. Babu Rao in front of Dr. Chandran. We threatening him
saying we will boycott the convocation and his reply, I will do it in absentia.
Our life with one bucket of water for a whole week in the hostel, mixed gender
hostel life, Saturday second show movie at the city theatre and return journey
in the middle of the night with eight people in one auto, all are still very
much live with me. There are several other people also who influenced my life,
Dr. E. C. John, Dr. Rudolf Ficker, Dr. Gotfred Rothermundt (who visits my place
with his family once in a while), Dr. Baker, Rev. Dr. Sobhanam my best friend
and several others. I must proudly say, this institution made me what I am now
as a preacher, a passionate student of Old Testament, a socialist, and an
activist. When I visited the college soon after I became bishop about twenty
years back, Dr. E. C. John then principal introduced me as a proud pupil of the
college. In my response I said, “I am happy to present my self as a successful
pastor after the training I received here, or as a successful politician who
was elected to the position in my absence from Kerala (I was elected when I was
a student at Lutheran School in Chicago). Yes, I studied a bit of
ecclesiastical politics also in this campus.

I
do not get to visit Bangalore that often, but I visit this campus inside me
almost every day. I hope and pray it will be like that for you too. This is a
wonderful place of learning.

You
may have noticed a soft drink advertisement where the Big B, Sachin Tendulkar, Sha
Rukh Khan and others shout, “Yah, Dil Mange More”. This has become a slogan for
many people now. Every one celebrates the coming of multinational companies in
to India and all are excited that we do not have to put up with those nonsense Indian
soft drinks any more. Central government and the state governments stood in
line to welcome them in to our land. They started their operation in many
states. People got the refreshing taste of Coco and Pepsi colas and began
forgetting their sorrows and sufferings and every body said, ‘yah dil mange
more’.

In
a small village in Kerala on the outskirt of Palakkad town, a tribal woman told
Coco Cola, “get out of my property; my heart does not echo this slogan at all”.
She said, they take all the underground water and make my field go dry. They
pump out all the waste in to my field and the water in my fresh water well go polluted.
So quit, my dil does not mange any more! She said. People were on their toe
criticizing her for being anti-developmental in her attitude. For some it was a
sin on her part to fight against the refreshing cola. For others it was a
losing fight by a tiny creature, a tribal woman against the soft drink giant.
She was, however, committed and firm. As she continued her fight, people slowly
started listening to her. Local, national and international leaders started
joining hand with her and the local administration had to withdraw the license
granted to the company. Early last week the government of Kerala appointed a
committee to decide on the amount of compensation the company should give away to
the farmers affected by the cola company’s water and soil pollution. It all
started in 2002 by a tribal woman.

Centuries
back, Jesus of Nazareth was passing through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem. As
usual, a big crowd was following him. Certain person, ‘son of Timaeus’ who was
blind was sitting on the road side asking for alms from people passing bye.
People were talking about Jesus and our Bar Timaeus overheard the conversation.
He has heard of Jesus and his divine powers, and was hoping that he would help
him have eyesight. In his hope, he cried out “Jesus Son of David have mercy on
me”. The people walking with Jesus were not happy about this blind, wretched
beggar crying out to such an important person as Jesus, a guru of the community.
They asked him to be quite. He did not stop, rather cried even louder.

Jesus
stopped and asked the people to call him. Probably Jesus sat on the curb and
wanted to listen to him. Bar Themeus approached Jesus and Jesus asked him,
“what do you want from me?”. Bar Timaeus replied, “Rabbuni I want to have
sight”. Jesus replied, “Go your way, your faith has made you well”. Bar Timaeus
received sight “and he followed him.”

In
the first appearance, this is one of the healing miracles of Jesus. But the
section 8:27 – 10:52 is not a section of miracle stories. We have one more
miracle story in this section (9:14-29), but primarily this section talks about
discipleship. Therefore, the intention of the story may not be to talk about
the healing power of Jesus. This is set just before the triumphant entry of
Jesus in to the temple. The event is recorded next to the request of James and
John to be allowed to sit on either side of Jesus (incidentally, this episode
ends with a statement from Jesus which became the motto of UTC). Bar Timaeus
story ends with the statement, ‘and he followed him (Jesus) on the way. Jesus
was going to Jerusalem and he followed him to Jerusalem, the final destination
of Jesus, and for that matter the final destination of any one who follows
Jesus (not as a pilgrim or spiritual tourist, but as a disciple).

The
name Bar Timaeus is not given by the other two Gospels who also follow the
story with minor difference (Matt. 10:29 ff. and Luke 18:35 ff.). I am not sure
whether the author/ editor ever meant it that way when he gave us the name of
the father. For me, Son of Timaeus proves through his attitude that he is truly
the son of his father or ancestor. This could be in contrast to those Jews who
never lived up to what was expected of the children of their fathers/ancestors.
Abraham left his folks to follow the path shown by God. This person lived up to
that heritage and disregarded all objections but cried out for his cause. That
helped him become a disciple of ‘the son of David’.

Bar
Timaeus calls Jesus ‘son of David’. This particular address has its relevance
in the context. The title ‘Son of David’ was used as a title of the expected
Messiah who was the source of hope, liberation and salvation. Through this
address, probably Bar Timaeus was placing an obligation on Jesus to act
according to the expectation placed on him as Messiah. On the other hand, it
was the declaration of the right of Bar Timaeus to be made well by Jesus, the
Messiah.

I
do not have to bombard you with Greek words in my sermon; you all are familiar
with them. However, if I do not use at least one, I may not get good sleep tonight,
as it is customary for us, the theologically trained people to use one or two
Greek or Hebrew words in our sermon. This is an obsession and this is how we
impress people. The Greek usage upase
hepistis su sesoken se
, ‘go your way, your faith has made you well is a
significant one. We have to treat faith and wellness together. Bar Timaeus
expressed his faith in action by ignoring the objections of the crowd, and
pressed his cause until he was heard. When he calls Jesus ‘Son of David’ he
accepts him as the fulfilment of his hope to become well. Hence, he could not
stop crying aloud and no one could stop him. His faith helps Bar Timaeus to cry
out for justice and out live objections. Faithfulness leads to fighting for the
cause and it leads to well being and further to discipleship. Discipleship
itself is wellbeing and it is the outcome of faith in action or struggle for
justice. Faith is not passive; it is active and active in struggle for justice.
It is important to note that Bar Timaeus received not just sight, rather
wholeness. To have eyesight is only one of the things that would make a person
whole. Seswken comes from the root swodsw which means to restore to a
former state or safety and wellbeing. It can also be translated as divine
salvation. Bar Timaeus was restored to his self in all respects. This is the
hope and goal of every creation of God and every creature has to take up the
cross or engage in the struggle to achieve this goal.

While
those who struggle for wellness and cry for a hearing, those who are supposed
to attend to that cry may not hear that in the midst of noises.   To participate in this struggle for
wellbeing is a question of faith. Those people, though were walking with Jesus,
were not able to see the importance of the cry of Bar Timaeus for his share of
justice. Jesus who was spending time with his Father in prayers was so sad to
see his disciples sleeping disregarding their role to participate in their
master’s struggle. There is always an exhortation before us from Jesus, “Call
him, there is a cry for Justice”.

God
appeared to Moses at the Mount and said, ‘I have heard and I have seen and I
have come down to work out wellbeing, you better be part of that with me’. This
historical exhortation is echoed all along and all over. We as his disciples
need to take people and their cry in to serious consideration.

We
on a daily basis hear from various quarters cries for justice. The Church in
general in South Africa, of course with the exception of few like Bishop Tutu,
gave deaf ear to the cry of those blacks who were denied their rights. Today in
India, institutionalized Churches and denominations fail to hear the cry of the
farmers in many parts of the country and those poor people in village in the
midst of slogans like ‘India is shining’ or the ‘Incredible India’ or ‘India is
fast moving forward to become an economic super power. We hear noises like, ‘we
have found water in moon’ while we are not able to provide clean drinking water
to millions of people living in the outskirts of the society. We, Christians,
have so far said nothing, about the women’s reservation bill in the parliament.
We do not hear their cry. Rather with our silence, we ask them to be quite and
watch the movie slum-dog millionaire for a change.

In
my part of the country, Churches and parishes are busy constructing colossal
church buildings used most of the time just for a day or two in a week with the
‘so called’ free will donations of those hard working members in Gulf countries.
But, they never care to listen to innumerable problems they face in Gulf and in
their families back in India. A survey conducted by CDS, Trivandrum shows that
a large percentage of women in the southern districts of Kerala are having
depression syndrome. One of the reasons for this is, they do not get to see and
live with their husbands even for ten days in five years. Those who work in
Gulf have to work extra hours to participate in the finance campaign of
Churches. I can go on like this.

Just
as Bar Timaeus, here in our backyard millions are sitting on the curb of the
road to Jerusalem, the city of Shalom or peace and crying aloud for help. We
just pass bye as if we are truly part of the fold of Son of David. We shout at
those unfortunate people, most of them victims of our own careless life style,
to be quite. Because the bishop is coming bye, the Church president is
arriving, centenary celebration is in progress, be quite. Do not disturb the
grace of the procession with your crude noise! That is what we tell them.

It
was nice of them that those who were with Jesus obeyed him and called Bar
Timaeus saying, ‘he is calling you’. We do not do that either. Jesus is
continuously asking us ‘call him/ them’. We do not hear that voice too. To hear
the cry of those less fortunate, in the middle of all the distracting noises,
we need to have an extra ear, a concerned heart and the Christian spirit. The
question is, while we claim that we have the spirit of Christ is within us, are
we able to hear that voice, just as Jesus was?

Our
world is now going crazy with voices of affluence, luxury and extravaganza. We
disregard the fact that it is at the cost of other people’s and of our mother
earth’s rights. In this crazy momentum, lot of them are getting hurt and are
deprived of their just share in Jerusalem. They are crying aloud and we do not
listen. We need to echo the command of Jesus, ‘call him’, we need to call them
to wholeness. The very situation they are in, itself is a cry as in the case of
the blood of Abel. Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David, and my Lord help me discern
the cry of millions of Bar Timaeuses around me and in this created nature.

I
should thank the UTC community, specially the principal, Dr. John Samuel Raj, Evangeline
Anderson and all of you for this honour granted to me to join my old school as
it celebrates its centenary. Thank you and God bless us all.

Note:

The mortal remains of Mayilamma, 67, a tribal woman who became the
symbol of the anti-Coca Cola struggle at Plachimada, were cremated at the
Sarkarpathy burial ground in Perumatty grama panchayat, Chittur, on Sunday.

Mayilamma who was keeping unwell for the last few weeks breathed her
last on Saturday night at her son Murukaraj’s house near Plachimada.

Mayilamma, a member of the
Eravalar tribe, was the founder of the Coca-Cola Virudha Samara Samiti (Anti
Coca-Cola Struggle Committee) in Plachimada which has spearheaded the campaign
against Coca-Cola. The Anti-Coca-Cola Struggle Committee has held a continuous
vigil directly outside Coca-Cola’s factory gates since April 22, 2002,
demanding its permanent closure which happened 
in March 2004. The plant has remained shut down since

Mayilamma, who was a worker in
the company, joined the agitation after a year of its operation, when the local
people noticed depletion and pollution of water in their wells. She was
directly affected by Coca-Cola’s operations in Plachimada, in Kerala’s Palakkad
district. The water in her well (in Vijaynagar colony in Plachimada) had been
so heavily polluted by Coca-Cola’s operations that it has been deemed unfit for
human consumption.

People from various parts of Kerala and different walks of life filed past
the body.

She was a recipient of many awards, including the Speak Out Award of Outlook.

A book was also written on her and the Plachimada agitation. Her body
was placed near the factory gate to enable the people to pay their last
respects (The HINDU daily,
Monday, Jan
08, 2007
)