All about 101 Christian Intellectuals!
“We all live in hope and die in despair”, it is said. The more high and intense our hope, the more powerful, joyful and confident would be our leap for the moon like a rocket to reach it. What happens if the rocket does not reach the moon but explodes half way? That will be ‘death in despair’ the second half of the saying. Since no dead person speaks, it is next to impossible to find out what it is to die in despair, until someone who has gone through it tells us. Has something similar happened?
We are not facing such a hopeless situation here. None of us are dead. All of us are alive and kicking, fired with hope and sky high thanks to the all powerful rocket that send us up here to float around. Only we are still looking for the promised moon on which we shall land soon. Because it is also said: “Seek and you shall find." So be confident, ‘you shall find’, we will. That is the confidence we have.
It was on this August 4th CCV received the “101 Christian Intellectuals” report from Dr.John Dayal a reputed Delhi based journalist, human right activist and our friend. Already some 67 concerned retired public servants with no affiliation to any political parties had signed themselves and sent a report earlier about the atrocities and inter religious conflict in India, which we published. It was followed by a CBCI sponsored meeting of “some 40 religious leaders and intellectuals in the national capital on July 16”(note the repeat of ‘intellectuals’) urging all “Indians to check an environment of hate, violence” which also we published. (see both in CCV)
After this when the present news came it had a special flavour and meaning to convey: 1. It was sent by 101 not just 65, 2. The people behind it were the Christian community in India though they make up only 2.5 % of India’s population. 3. They had projected themselves as the “intellectuals” or the cream of that community. So CCV published it as a follow up with an editorial comment on Aug. 5th and we got a pat on the back on 6th itself from Dr. Dayal himself:
Elated at this encouragement our Associate Editor, Sri. Joseph Mattappaly himself took up the translation work and got it published in the widely read Kerala Malayalam portal (blogsot) and its monthly ‘Sathyajwala’, also in “joychenputhukulam,” Chicago internet portal. With all these international global publicity, CCV received several reactions from India and abroad asking for so many legitimate details.
See reactions from CCV readers, Aug.15th .“Dear James,Thanks for value adding (editorial comment) to the Open letter. Can this be translated into Malayalam? Perhaps the local media and international Kerala portals may be interested. God bless,John Dayal.”
29 Priest Intellectuals &…
Struck by the phrase “Christian intellectuals” one asked “Where is Chottebhai, I could not find his name” and rightly and many other questions. See: Readers react in CCV. Prompted by this question we just checked the list of signatories and found there were some 29 priests, 10 sisters and 2 Rev. among the signatories, although it was wrongly assumed by CCV that it was a gathering of lay “Christian Intellectuals” and the list itself contained only 100 names, not 101 which we had pointed out in the editorial itself.
Already in our editorial of April 5th, appreciated by Dr. Dayal, we had asked for all the background information about this meeting of ‘intellectuals’, where, when, how, its programme, speakers, how signatures were got etc. When the CCV editor was asked to put his signature he refused, as he did not consider himself as an ‘intellectual’ but just a “know-nothing” belonging to the “Cattle class” of Jesus only,
No Emails received so far
But we were not lucky to get any reply or emails from Delhi, may be due to heavy work and lack of time, we still think. But we could not keep our readers waiting too long whom we had promised the emails and phones. So we had to wrote again to the Delhi reporter Dr. Dayal on Aug.17th, as we were still left in the dark about the main brain behind, organising the event. In the letter we asked and listed the following:
“So let me have from you (Dayal) some clear answers and information:
1. Who was the actual organiser of this meet? Where was this meeting of the 101 held, for how many days, its theme, speakers, highlights of the discussion, what prompted you to organize an inter- denominational meeting, were any bishops present, how were the signatures collected, on the spot? who gave the body the name "Christian Intellectuals" etc.
2. You must have taken some photos, nothing is more telling than photos.
3. In case you are not the organizer, but only the reporter, please his name and address for me to write and get these and more details.
4. Already many people are pestering me with letters and queries. To day we have published some of those letters. Please read them and respond to all those queries, either you or any of the 101.
5. I hope to receive answers possibly by return post or at least in two day’s time.
6. How many denominational Churches were there, name of those churches and number from each church
7. Please tell me more about Catholic Union whose president you have been. When is its centenary? How many card carrying members has it now and what are its present activities and office bearers – Pan Indian?
Looking forward to your speedy reply and conveying you my kindest regards and thanks in advance. We three of us share all our correspondence as a Technic to practice transparency. So copies to my associate editors.
With good wishes and kindest regards,
james kottoor, editor-in-chief, CCV”
Aug.14th letter & the Ws & H
Simultaniously or even before on 14th, we had written to one of the known participants in the list. He said it was “first organized at a Jesuit House in Delhi, (no name or address) under the leadership of AC Michael, former Minority Commission.” So there was more than one meetings and the leader was “AC Michael”.
Though he started his reply asking: so the “Ws and H you are interested in”, as though we were searching for something they were hiding. That may be why, he did not answer all the Ws and H. It is very very important for readers to know what these 5 questions are, to judge if a reported news item is genuine or bogus, fake-news, Alt-right or Alt-left, manufactured or even just a “bastard of a news”, as some call it, that is, one without proper paternity, downright lies.
Basic journalism rules
The basic rule in Journalism is that the reporter, writer should give answers to 4 Ws and 1 H (What, where, when, why and How) of the reported event. Possibly all these information should come in the first para of the report itself, which is called the ‘lead’ and it is also called the “inverted pyramid style reporting. Professional schools of journalism give a full course on “Lead writing” (first para of a report which is the bait to drag readers into reading the full report) and equally “Head line writing”, action headlines, label headlines, howling headlines etc. to provoke readers to pick up and read a daily. “101 Christian Intellectuals” was indeed a howling headline!
Since our first friend didn’t reveal much more we had to write to another to try our luck. Just read:
James Kottoor firstname.lastname@example.org Aug.17/17
I saw your name in the list of 101 intellectuals. Were you at the meeting? Where was the meeting? Who organised it? How did you give your name and sign it? We journalists have to go by facts. Just clarifying doubts. Thanks. james
“Dear James, I was not at any meeting, nor did I know about such a meeting; I saw my name in that letter which they sent to me; they never asked me, either. I really do not know who is behind the whole affair. Joe.”
Incidentally his name was not listed as a Fr. But intellectual, he was and is, all know it. His response to our post came by return post, complete with facts and frankly speaking. So the question is: Could there be more Catholic priests whose names were not marked as Fr. or did not know anything about this whole affair? Could be. Perhps it could be a profitable pastime for our readers to write to ‘intellectuals’ in the list of – priests, Srs. Rev. or lay – they know and ask how they got in there and if they want to continue there as one of “Christian Intellectuals”.
The editor of CCV was asked to join the group of intellectuals and he flatly refused for very good reasons, for being and wanting the editorial group to belong by choice, to the Cattle Class, which is pregnant with meaning for them. Their tallest ambition is to be just followers – near or distant — of Jesus who emptied himself and delighted to be borne in the dirty surroundings of a cattle shed also because there was no room for Him in the Inn.
Even otherwise what is central to being a Christian, if not one’s readiness to be last, least like the leaven, to be humble and never to lord it over? The last will be first and those who extol themselves will be humbled. Therefore those who parade themselves as “Christian” and “intellectuals” could be all “intellectuals” but not Christians at all. It would of course be wrong for us to make such a judgement if there are too many in that list, like our friend Fr.Joseph Mattam sj, who knew nothing about it. For such people this is the time to redeem their good name by writing to us, and CCV will publish their names.
Sebadi sons John, James
When we first saw the troupe of “101 Christian Intellectuals” marching in, we naturally thought of Sebadi sons, John and James who took their mother for support and pleaded with Jesus: “Lord when you come to your Kingdom allow my children to sit on your right and left,” and you know what Jesus replied that it was not for him to give those posts to them. That incident made other apostles envious of these two who wanted to be too smart.
Similarly it is very noble to aspire to become a bishop, as said in the bible, but they should remember what Francis told the aspirants to bishopric in substance: “You take all the trouble resorting to motherly recommendation, imitating James and John. But once you become bishops, instantly you start “peacocking” putting on all kinds of colourful royal regalia to parade yourselves like Princes of the Church, to lord it over everyone.”
Jesus was more blunt in telling James and John, it was not in his power to give what they asked for and so to forget about it altogether. We have a great deal to discuss on this all important topic of Christian discipleship which is not “Preaching equality and practising inequality” as Sr.Chitterson roared at the first world conference in Dublin on ‘Ordination of Catholic women to Priesthood” which this scribe had the fortune to attend and write the book: “Woman, why are you weeping?”
Women in society and especially in the Catholic Church are treated like “Cattle Class” in the derogatory sense, that is, condemned to be slavish to do all dirty work for their male masters, the priestly class. Cattle class is a phrase of contempt and ridicule, first brought up by Sashi Tharoor into public parlance to refer Sudras or untouchables at worst, and at best to Gandhij’s ‘Hari jan’(God’s children). For true Christians it means or ought to mean: Those who glory in the “cross of Christ which is foolishness to the worldly wise” but true wisdom that conquers as it did for Constantine.
This is not a judgement on any of the 101 Christian Itellectuals, none of them may not have even known the wise guy who put on their heads this thorny title. So we at the CCV humbly confess that none of the harsh observations are directed at any of them for parading them with “funny fool’s cap” by some one, who also may have done it with good intentions. Way to hell is paved with good intentions, they say. So we are extending our research for one more month, till September 25th to publish names of those who appeared in the list without their knowledge, as it happened with Joe Mattam.
He likes to be addressed as Joe, without any of the ecclesiastical decorations, as Bishop Alex Dias of Portblaire. He wrote in Indian Currents that he wants to be addressed as just “Alex” only and this scribe wrote another article in reply calling him “Dear Alex”, also to congratulating him.
Who can belong to Cattle class?
Pope Francis told his young friends in Milan who called him on the phone: “Just call me ‘tu” and not ‘Lei, your honour, your Excellency etc., because Jesus was addressed by his apostles Thomas and Peter, as just “Tu”and not “Your Holiness”. So our first duty is to be a member of the “Cattle Class” only then of any other classical class. It is to remind him of his ‘cattle class’ status that the editor of CCV always signs himself in the lower case.
But this has serious consequences for all of us, due to various controversies it will raise. So just one more small point in the form of a question, which will serve as the solid foundation, for ever so many constructive and destructive future debates, namesly: Who can and cannot become part of this “Cattle class?”
The Syro-malabar church cannot. Even the Catholic church and other churches with a heavy accent on a pyramidal hierarchical structure cannot. Why? They all will have to answer a straightforward question: Among the thousands of Churches competing among themselves, would you not say that the church you belong is the best? Whether your answer is “Yes” or “No” you are in trouble.
If ‘Yes’ you are like the Pharisee praying in the temple looking contemptuously on the publican and therefore you are a counter witness to Christ. If ‘No’, you have no reason for existence. For this reason the editor of CCV at 83 now, thinks he cannot be follower of any of the churches in conflict, without being a counter witness to Jesus and so he is at peace with being just a follower—distant or close — of Jesus only, which he announced long ago. Surely you will have counter questions which we shall discuss for mutual benefit. james kottoor, ccv.