On persecution

A powerful lecture from one of the best religion journalists around. It’s a long video (about an hour and 20 minutes), but it’s well worth the time it takes to view it. Though I think it’s of general interest to all concerned with religious freedom throughout the world, Christians will find it particularly compelling (and perhaps surprising).

3 Responses to “On persecution

  • Sister…the photo of the video with the comments on the side ARE incorrect. What happened at Orissa had little to do with religion but politics between the Kandas getting government money by converting due to incentives from missionaries and other Kandas being left out. I am a Hindu , a tenured Assistant Professor in English with further studies at the Papal Atheneum in Biblical Theology and then, psychoanalytic formative spirituality there. I read you at the Chronicle and thought of you as meticulous in presenting facts. It seems to me that here you are way off the mark. I have a non- academic blog at http://www.dailylight.wordpress.com
    I also am visiting faculty to Catholic Major Seminaries.

    Sister India is so vast and Government aid is so slow to trickle down that people do convert out of sheer poverty to Christianity and Catholicism. Yet they neither understand a simple thing like the need for confession, say. If I were to approach these same people, they’d happily turn Hindus if I promised them just some rice. As you know, but I know it from novice directresses here, that they just want numbers and not quality. So many of the nuns today are from tribal India. This in turn is announced to the world that Christianity is obliterating caste etc. But these same tribal women feel they are in palaces in their convents and out goes the option for the poor…sorry saga. Unfortunately I think you are being taken for a ride.

  • acavender
    11 years ago

    My apologies for my slowness to respond, as I’ve been traveling quite a bit the last few weeks.

    I realize that the situation in India is quite complicated, and that people convert for all sorts of reasons. Some people convert out of genuine religious conviction, some convert for less honorable reasons, and still others convert for a mixture of good and bad reasons. That doesn’t surprise me, as mixed motives seem to be characteristic of human beings generally. I’m also aware that there are economic and political issues intertwined in this story of religious conflict. Again, that seems to me to be fairly typical of most religious conflicts; rarely is the conflict about religion alone.

    However, I don’t see how I’m “being taken for a ride” based on what Mr. Allen has to say in a four-minute segment of a talk that runs for more than an hour. What information on the slide behind Mr. Allen (in the still shot in the post) is incorrect? What does he say about Orissa that’s inaccurate? He claims that:

    • In some parts of India, thee have been assaults on churches, clergy, and ordinary Christians.
    • In Orissa in 2008, Hindus attacked Christians, killing over 100 and causing grave harm to many others.

    Are those facts in dispute? Mr. Allen does not claim that theological concerns motivated the attacks. In fact, he doesn’t directly address the issue of motivation at all. He simply notes that the attacks happened, and points out the religious affiliations of the attackers and the attacked.

    As far as I can tell, your claim seems to be that the Christians in question aren’t really Christians (because they don’t know what they should about their faith), or at best, they’re bad Christians or Christians of questionable conviction. Perhaps so, perhaps not—I have no way of knowing the depth of Christian conviction of people I don’t know. But even if the claim is correct, does it change the facts that (a) the people in question identify themselves as Christians, (b) they were attacked, and (c) the fact that they identify as Christians is connected to the reasons they were attacked?

  • Dear Sister,
    Before I reply to you on religious and social issues: I must speak of strictly academic stuff. I was defending Mr. Beall, the librarian which some idiotic Indian publisher wants to sue for reporting their plagiarism. The Chronicle has these slew of articles and my fellow country wo/men forging rubbish to defend the predatory publisher and I replying to both: the American for making racist comments and my own country pseudo-scholars who are busy pulling down academic standards. So that kept me quite busy. I don’t know how to write regularly for the Chronicle of Higher Education on issues of wider interests. Like I profit from all of you and you folks have changed and altered my perceptions of serious academics through your blogging. But you see in my part of the world, net is slow; and we need to have serious digital humanities done from here and have more webinars. For example, the issue of the MOOCs. To me they are useful, but for philosophy Professors and others they seem to be threatening. I want to write on these issues fortnightly and put in a perspective which is not that of an Indian in the US, or one who is seeking to go to the US, but one who wants to discuss and engage both with academics and Religious like you through webinars to put forth a certain vision of the world which may not be at the moment acceptable. The day of the independent scholar is back because of the internet. Today dialogue at all level: academic and theological are possible because we have digital tools. But I’d want you as an academic writing for digital advocacy, to think of many scholars who would not want to deplete US tax payers’ money and nonetheless would want to present papers in conferences wherever they are held for the sake of furthering knowledge through webinars. A guy like me does not have the money to pay for a great many of the services that you write in the Chronicle, nor do I want US grants to go the US. I’d be happy to write, teach and learn and collaborate as an academic through the internet. Webinars are so good. I am ever literally searching for a spiritual directress within the Catholic tradition. I have my reasons for gender choice and religion choice. I’d want to also mentor those want mentoring through say, Google HangOuts etc. May be we can in our generation have true dialogue which the likes of Thomas Merton wanted through the internet?

    Now my objections to your reply and to that PowerPoint:

    You know as well as anyone else being an academic yourself that things have a way of appearing to the public at large when they are indeed entirely different. Conversion is an inner process and I agree with you entirely that none can judge the interiority of a contingent human person (I prefer the term dasein of Heidegger since this term locates us within time). The problem is not the interior lives of people, religious communities etc. The problem is that the whole episode of ethnic cleansing at Orissa was do NOT because the ethic group were Christians. It was done because of the fact that certain bigots chose to entice through false promises of money some others who fell prey to these promises and converted solely to receive special government grants. Huge sums of money changed hands. So the ethnic cleansing was done by fellow Kandas to their own ethnic group not because they were Christians. It was done because the latter has abandoned and even insulted those who were left behind financially. So it was NOT Hindus killing Christians: that is the propaganda of the Church here. The reality is: the Kandas killed their own because their own when they became rich, chose to forget their families. Reductionist views like the one on the slide breeds hatred. How? You see there is a very fanatical fringe Hindu group active the world over as there are fixated Catholics who feel that the whole world should become Catholic. Likewise these Hindus feel that the whole world should become Hindu. But the problem is that neither religion speaks of hatred and ethnic cleansing: they both acknowledge clearly and without ambiguity the primacy of love ( I refer to Catholic saints since you’d be more comfy with them: Bernard of Clairvaux; in our times St. Edith Stein and much nearer to us: Gustavo Gutierrez etc.) The fact is that in India both Hindu monks and Catholic celibates have been successful in dividing the ordinary people. And for their own ends they are willing to act out their own agenda by associating religion to purely non-religious issues. It will be of some interest to you to know that the whole thing started there because a Catholic seminarian was kicked out of the seminary and this chap somehow became a Hindu monk. And then the Catholics murdered this weirdo. This sparked off the whole massacre in which many Hindu Kandas were killed by their Catholic brethren. So nutcases on both sides are waiting to show how the Catholics started it all or the Hindus started it all. And sadly India is poised for more ethnic cleansing.

    You see, the convents in Calcutta, I am a Jesuit product, do not take girls who are poor, from non-business class families and whose parents cannot donate to the convents. I know since I counsel people including those who give the donations and those who receive them. I have a three and a half year old daughter; I have a huge network of friends who are vowed Catholic Religious in India; they are more than willing to admit my daughter in any school I choose ( since these confer status and prestige for both the parents and the child) but I chose to put her in a private school for rich kids since I owe it to my daughter that she receives a good education and she does not learn to hate nuns from childhood. Our Hindu monks and Catholic celibates preach hatred in the name of God and live like feudal lords. They do not have the time for the poor. And this is the cause of all our problems here. When Pope Francis speaks of the cardinals living with the poor he is speaking of those who are slum dwellers; who don’t have any conception of anything but hunger. So I see it for a fact that Catholic missionaries in India are more often than not dislocating people’s psychic apparatus and are giving negative-witnesses to Christ. The same goes for our own gurus. Both are hated by the Indian middle classes for misrepresenting India. The hatred is real since a spectre haunts India. Why do you think we have Maoist terrorism in India? Because the state has failed to deliver and the poor have called the bluffs of do-gooders: both Catholics and Hindus. India is a war zone: not between Hindus and Catholics and Muslims. Not between castes: you have castes in Christianity too. But because the poor want their voices heard. Neither the Christian leaders nor the Hindu gurus are willing to even give them a morsel of bread. I saw it with my own eyes; the Missionaries of Charity literally kicking the poor for disturbing them during Adoration. I have seen it with my own eyes the monks of the Ramakrishna Mission misbehaving with poor adults. And thus we have these ethnic cleansings: the rich want to wipe out the poor. It has nothing to do with any religion. The poor are abject; if they exist they will not let the likes of I be at peace within the confines of sanitized scholarship, so I’d rather be a Catholic bashing Hindu. There is money in it, funding from madmen and women. And the opposite too is true. Bash the Hindus, ingratiate yourself to Christians of the developed world, catch the vulnerable moneyed Catholics, fund your own kids’ education at Boston University and voila: we have Hindus cleansing Christians. And we have huge palaces for rewards for our xenophobic actions; we have politicians bending over for votes using false propaganda and logic. The process of Othering as you are well aware is at work and one of the best discourses of power is that minorities the world over are being persecuted. It is true for some cases but false in other cases. There are no simple reductionist answers:
    Did people get killed in Orissa? Yes.
    Who were killed? People (both Christians and Hindus)
    Are Christian clerics attacked in India? Yes (but many of these clerics use/d their power of providing shelter etc. to rape, abuse and exploit those in their cares AND Hindu gurus are routinely doing the same. No difference when it comes to evil. All religions agree about the universality of evil. No problems there). And Hindu clerics too are being killed by Hindus as catholic clerics in orissa have been attacked not only by Hindus but by Catholics as well. Since the local clergy tortured many Catholics for simple things like a baptismal certificate. So I repeat both Hindus and Catholic murdered there own leaders since both groups are equally hated not for their religious zeal but for their lifestyles and way of functioning. They are not exactly Don Boscos playing soccer in the oratory with their boys.

    So I am surprised at your acceptance of political events at face value and missing the whole point that all ethnic cleansings are same in as far as they are all harbingers of death; but their structures are all different from one another. I expected this slight rigour from you since you are a political scientist. I am only a literature guy.

    Now ending on some academic notes: can we think of having our own MOOC targetted to Catholics and Hindus on mutual respect and not tolerance. Like we can collaborate on a book/ an open project which involves interested academics of comparative religion. For example, I am a fan of sister joan chittistser (?), Benedictine. I find it strange that the Pope asks you all to be motherly; why not sisterly or even like a peer woman friend? Why is it that catholics choose to often now disown thomas merton? what about celibacy? Is sublimation a phantasy? I’d want to write/present papers etc.

    As i said I’d be obliged if you can personally help me find a nun who is willing to spiritually guide me: looking for someone above 50, someone with an Ignatian bent of mind and a professor. And also would really want to write about digital humanities from the perspective of those with slow 2G connections . I could blog about them on my own but the reach would be small. But if I get to blog at the Chronicle at least once a half year, i’d be able to address to a much wider academic audience with leverage power in their academic fields.

    Sorry, for this long long letter; but I like your blog posts over there; the other day you wrote of manuscript editing thought markup language etc. found it very enlightening. You see I can’t even afford to get a full subscription to the Chronicle on my pay; I won’t accept one from you or the Chronicle, neither can i afford expensive software or books, but you guys through your strong advocacy have done a lot. Sister, as a nun see that we have MOOCs on say spiritual counselling. And I don’t know your age or academic standing; I haven’t Google you, wud want to collaborate with you on issues which interest both of us, if you are free someday or are just looking to pursue a dialogic hobby.
    And don’t please forget to have a look at my blog today, it has new posts, a new theme and share it with others who may be interested in it. Thanks.

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