Arun Shourie's Column, March 4, Part 3/3
...continued from the last post...
Today, spurred by the new "Liberation Theology," the Church is spurring the
movements among so-called Dalits etc. But many of the leaders you have patro-
nised by way of helping "Dalits" speak with poison in their tongue. They advo-
cate hatred. They have been eulogising Bhindranwale. Now, when you patronise
them, why do you cavil at the charge that you are patronising them? How can
you escape the constructive responsibility for the consequences of the hatred
they are spreading? In a word: if you feel that you just must work among such
groups because as Christian missionaries you have both some special responsi-
bility and some special message for such groups, hold them to the means of
Jesus, of Gandhi.
" Your view that religious questions should only be addressed to those who
can decide, I found patronising," a participant observed. "There is the presum-
ption behind it that the tribals etc. are not in a position to understand these
matters. But in working among them, I find that they get the central point very
Would you concede the same discerment to "Dalits" who have "relapsed" back
to Hinduism - that they too are able to assess things? Or is it that only those
who see the point of Christianity are in a position to assess religious
questions, and not the others?
As for presumptions, look at the premise behind the entire work of the
Church in tribal areas. The tribals are leading a perfectly normal life with
the help of their own religion, are they not? When you go in to convert them,
are you not being presumptuous - are you not presuming that you and the Church
know better than them what is good for them?
"You were educated in a Christian College," Archbishop Alphonsus Mathias of
Bangalore remarked. "What aspects of Jesus strike you?"
That he was prepared to suffer so much, that he was prepared to suffer to
the end for truth. That no bitterness entered his heart even when he had been
nailed to the Cross. That, when he saw wrong, he spoke so clearly - as to the
Pharisees in the temple.
"No, I mean: What is your opinion about the Christian claim that Jesus is
the incarnate God?"
I have not the capacity to judge such a claim. But as, for the sorts of
reasons I mentioned, I am not yet able to believe in God as He has been
pictured to us - All Powerful, All Knowing, All Compassionate - I am not able
to conceive of that God incarnating Himself.
"In one of your recent articles you wrote about nanotechnology and the rest"
said a participant. "What role do you think religious organisations have in
such an age?"
To remind us about, to educate us to the inner-directed search. That is the
pearl of great price which the religious traditions, specially the religious
traditions of India have preserved through the millennia. That is what religi-
ous organisations should direct their efforts to.
As we dispersed for tea, the exchange continued, as did the banter: "He
knows more about Christianity than your students," Archbishop Mathias of Bangal
ore told Bishop D'Souza of Pune, teasing him and me. "He knows more about
Christianity," said the latter who overseas one of the best seminaries in our
country, "than many of our professors!"...
The things I had been saying were hardly the things that the Archbishop,
the Bishops and the scholars assembled there agreed with, they were certainly
not the things that they would find agreeable. But they heard me out in pin-
drop silence, and with unbroken patience. They told me unambiguously that they
did not agree with what I had said. Several of their observations left no
doubt that they were put out by what I had said. But they pasted no motive.
They were courteous and the very models of dignity and decorum throughout.
I left feeling I had been among friends.
If only we could learn at least this one thing from them: If we could only
learn how to disagree, how much better off our country would be.