Review by George Nedumparambil, 11 Sep 2019
My heartfelt THANKS to my frankly-speaking Younger Brother, George, Kochi, for taking his precious time, to pen the lines below, to help me become, less of a KNOW-NOTHING. My only wish and fond hope is, many younger or older brothers, come forward to do similar service to help me become more knowledgeable.
If the saying “You have to learn even from a grave digger” is true we have all the more reason to listen and learn from well-read learned personalities like George. I know and you the readers of CCV know more than me, that there are many more learned personalities among you. Therefore, I humbly beg, all of you, to come forward boldly (“Fear not” remember the words of Jeus) as did Jesus to speak out, even to the High priests of his time without mincing words. Your servant is listening with docility to learn from all of you.
In the article below George gives his answers to why, we are in Constantine church, why pope is a caged bird, Why laity in sad plight, why we are not in a poor church for poor, why Christian beliefs in God, Jesus’ divinity, heaven, hell, biblical truths, have to be questioned. Please read and let us know your take on thse points. God bless if there is as GOD. james kottoor, editor CCV.
James Kottoor begins by dropping a shocker by saying (if there is a god). I think that he said it, so that anyone from the audience may have an opportunity to make up his or her mind whether to sit through or leave, concluding that the speaker is going to speak of ungodly things challenging their beliefs.
For sure, more 'ungodly" things follow through which may not be entirely palatable to status quo adherents but music to the ears of reformation minded change seekers, like this writer. I suppose that all of the audience fell into latter category.
He quotes Lady Burton containing lot of word play but plenty of wisdom that requires lot of shuffling around to digest. It is not the kind of things expected of a “KNOW-NOTHING” guy. Whoever bestowed on him that title was looking for an exit route for the pent up jealousy and envy that were building up inside by listening to james’ speeches and reading his writings over a long period of time. God bless that person or persons (if there is god).
His reference to present church as a book with loose pages flying all over is amusing, sadly represents the pitiable truth, and made more so by his taking indirect pot shots at the “business” of born-again groups who are here today and gone tomorrow. Yes, it is a fact that faith is big business regardless of denomination and individual entrepreneurs.
Business interests makes it impossible for church to dismantle its structured set up. Is it really necessary to have a pyramidical structure to Catholic faith with pope at the top? I would think not. Hindus do not have one. Neither does the Muslims. Both have not only survived but thriving and growing. On the contrary, having a pyramidal structure has not saved Catholics from having many groupings who cannot see eye to eye in the matter of racial, cultural and caste considerations and worship modalities.
Nor its collapse in developed countries could be saved by the central authority. But the hunger to centralize is so very deep in Catholic church for the simple reason that it is an extension of history where emperor Constantine handled the political side while the church took control over the moral and spiritual life of the people with judicial authority. Catholics, despite many prejudices among themselves, have acknowledged the pope as the head but there ends any semblance of unity.
Different factions have their own cardinals, bishops, priests, churches and bank accounts and vestments and a Mass service. Mass service at a Latin church is like a quick fix to Syro-Malabar believers while for Latins attending one at Syro-Malabar church can turn out to be a trip into testing of endurance patience. Latin Mass service is like an antibiotic based treatment where cure is immediate while the Syro-Malabar one is like Ayurveda where cure is a long drawn out process, if indeed there is a cure in both. One group prides over as Eastern while the other as Western but both call themselves as Roman Catholics. The confusion is so much so that a good majority of Syro-Malabar believers think that Roman Catholic mean them and not the other. So much for unity in the church.
James wails that he is not going to see any change to this set up during his lifetime. Neither do I who is 15 years younger to him though age is no guarantee that a younger person will outlive an older one. But changes are happening slowly but surely. This writer ,for one, spent his first 60 years of his life believing in the official story told to me by the church. Now, after gaining some insight into the contents of the Bible, I have began to question everything including Trinity and the divinity of Jesus. I have come to the conclusion that Catholic church has deviated so far away from the contents in the Bible so much so I would think that it is time that it came out with new Catholic edition of Bible complete with its catechism, beliefs and rituals. Alternatively, it must dump its escape route that comes in handy when short of answers that their faith is a mystery that could not be understood by human intelligence, logic and reason.
Laity’s Sad Plight!
The saddest part is that the laity allow their brains to be filled up with clay and shuts out their mind and refuse to critically examine the beliefs and challenge the validity of those teachings. The clerical class has succeeded extremely well in holding the believers hostage by injecting into their minds the fear of hell and the reward of heaven such that even doctors, engineers, professors, mathematicians, nuclear physicists etc. are completely bought into it fold, blind folded and made their otherwise brilliant mind to go numb and fill up with clay once in the presence of god that is kept locked up in the tabernacle and whose earthly manifestation the priestly class represents.
The believers become mere toys in the hands of the clergy and it is mind blowing to see them queuing up before the confessional to have the sins forgiven by the one sitting inside who apparently has hot line connection with god to recommend to the almighty that sins of the ones confessing may be forgiven. Is such beliefs compatible with 21st CE? This absurd belief that, I think, evolved sometime in the middle ages, may have served a purpose when everybody suspected everybody else and those in power in the church was eager to get wind of it by twisting and churning of certain biblical verses to give currency to this belief. I am unable to believe that there was any other reason for it.
If there is a god, that god would feel thoroughly insulted to know that certain mortals have appropriated to themselves authorities that vests exclusively with him. Is not forgiveness the remit god? I think that it is what Bible says. This human invention has outlived its utility and must be consigned to history. Priests' time is much more valuable in community service than in the confessional. Jesus was a wandering prophet. He did not build any church to sit there and reign as a monarch but spent his time talking to people.
In the changed political condition in the world, especially in India, going to people carries with it certain dangers as Catholic priests could be accused of trying to convert people. Therefore, let the priests maintain contacts with believers at the grass root level and become catalyst for bringing in succor for the poor believers with the assistance of well to do parishioners and also those volunteers who have time and inclination to accompany the priests. What have Catholic church in India achieved other than palace like residence of bishops and church buildings?
Poor Church for Poor
True it has built many schools, colleges and hospital when there was hardly any of these in the country. But then somewhere along the way they discovered a thing called 'money' and these institutions that were originally meant as charitable have become commercial enterprises. Has the lot of the Catholics become better with the progress in Church's institutional enterprises. Sadly, no. Poverty among Catholic is as wide spread as among other communities. Church is rich enough to take care of its poor members.
My opinion is that this can be achieved if parishioners refrain from wasteful expenditure during church feasts, weddings, 7th, 30th and 40th day observance of the death all of which have become grand affairs. If instead, the money could be channeled, through St Vincent de Paul Society, to build houses for the poor, educate their wards and render assistance to the sick with church putting in a portion of their income to this initiative. Poverty among Catholic could be eradicated in this way so much so the other communities will look at us and say "Look how well they take care of their own". This is where the Catholic church must invest its future and make its relevance felt by all poor believers.
Pope a Caged bird?
James moves on to take shots at a helpless pope, whose position appears to be similar to that of a caged bird, with the retinue of cunning and scheming cardinals surrounding him calling the shots. The current pope wants to bring out reform but is unable to do so. Clergy sex abuse, their opulent life style and clericalism have all attracted the attention of pope as possible areas for change. These are inherited from the times of Emperor Constantine. Catholic celibacy is a farce as many priests (and popes too in the past) have been caught with their pants down, all across the world sex scandals involving homo and heterosexual encounters get reported all too frequently. In my opinion, a change to celibacy rule is needed for both priests and nuns. Those who cannot bear the cross of sexual deprivation but yet want to serve the Lord must be permitted to marry rather than made to lead Jekyll and Hyde type lifestyle. In the eyes of god marriage is not a sin as otherwise what is the big idea of creating man and woman.
Dust of the Empire
The promise of Vatican II when the Pope John XXIII was said to have declared of his intention to have the accumulated dust on the throne of Peter since the times of the emperor cleaned out remains tall talk even today while the hierarchy regale themselves in robes fit for kings and their deputies.
Vatican II had apparently promised or alluded to great many reforms for the better of the church happening. But it is not going to happen in his life time, laments james. But he knows that what he spoke in Chicago would have not gone worldwide in the days of Vatican II; but not so anymore, thanks to internet of things, and so my hope is that he and I will be around to see changes sweeping the church. He has some good words to say of Pope Francis. The Pope truly deserves them. I remember reading a cover article about him in National Geographic Magazine. There was a picture of him traveling in suburban train sitting pensively among ordinary people. At that time he was cardinal in Buenos Aires! Apparently it was his routine mode of transportation. Compare that life style with those of the cardinals that we know of. “Poor Church of the Poor” will remain a distant dream for now, at least in Kerala, where church is more into commercial activities than spiritual.
Questons Christian Beliefs!
James then moves on to take digs at the concept of Christian beliefs and practices. Everything from God to Trinitarian God is plainly spoken by him. This writer is of the opinion that the divinity of Jesus and the concept of Trinity are not justified by the contents in the Christian holy book called Bible. (This writer was so unconvinced about the divinity of Jesus that he wrote an article on it recently which James was kind and bold enough to post it on Almayasabdam.com,Curch Citizens’ Voice). Thank you, James.
One point that I have a different take than him is on India being a lychistans. It is that there has been some killings and other arbitrary actions in the name of cow. But, it is to be remembered that the present dispensation in Delhi had not passed any new law on cow slaughter.
These laws were there in our Constitution and was reported to be dear to the heart of Mahatma Gandhiji. But they largely remained unenforced. What changed with the arrival of present dispensation is the taking of law into ones own hands and implementing them on the streets by overzealous people while the administration looked the other way. I am of the opinion, the issue was an opportunity for the church to turn the negative publicity that it had earned by Gujarat, Goa and Delhi bishops issuing pastoral letters which were nothing but veiled appeal to believers not to vote for a certain party.
I am of the opinion that these bishops should have issued pastoral letters asking Christians to respect the feelings of Hindus. They could have ended the bad blood that was created by the three infamous pastoral letters if they had issued another one citing what St Paul had said. He wrote 1 Corinthians 8:12-13 "Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, I will never eat meat, lest I make by brother stumble" (1 Corinthians 8: 12-13). Again in Romans 14:15 St Paul writes " But if you hurt your brother or sister because of certain food, you are no longer walking according to love. Let not your eating cause the loss of one for whom Christ died.
And to Jesus love was the second most important commandment! Hindus are our brothers and the bishops reaching out to them on the basis of these exhortations from St Paul would have placed the Catholics on the high pedestal of tolerance. But then who cares. They gambled that the present administration would not come back and failed and find themselves in the dog house having to eat humble pie.
In concluding, james presented a very thought provoking and insightful talk. Please keep going on being the lead voice for change, my good elder brother. I love your work. It is very refreshing to read you even if lot of people may be hurt by your no-holds barred style. But, then it is better to be honest than dishonest in expressing thoughts. Regards!