Sequel to the earlier Letter to the Editor
“Beyond Gods and Scriptures”
Further to my submissions above on the subject, I would like to elaborate on a few aspects.
In the mostly Christian West, UK , Germany and Europe as a whole including the so called Catholic countries in Europe and US, books critical of religion written by eminent researchers and professors in the faculty of prestigious universities are available. When I visited Stanford in 2010, I found that one of the topics discussed was “the banality of religion”. The country which I visit often and stay for months is UK. Luckily there is the Sutton Public Library very close to the place I stay. There is a large collection of books on civilisation, religion, philosophy, ethics etc. Used books are donated to charity which can be bought at very low rates. Amazon supplies such books priced at cheap rates. Some of them are of rare kind e.g. 1920’s hard cover copies of Will Durant’s 11 volumes “Story of Civilisation” as well as his “Story of Philosophy.”
But the situation in India is quite different. Here Christian believers take exception to any critical evaluation of the religion as has happened in the case of Mr. Joseph Mani’s book. The critics do not seem have had a close look at the contents of the book and presumably have not seen properly even its jacket. Some Christians seem to become unhinged by hearing the very name of the book. Presumably they are suffering from some sort of “prosecution mania”. It may also be possible that the people who raise hell and make huge hue and cry are not sure of their faith. So if some one tries to point out something different from the long held position of the Church, a lot of "sound and fury signifying nothing" is the result.
It is pertinent to note that when Papacy lost its vast estates on the Reunification of Italy in 1870, it seemed to have lost its moorings. The Popes became “prisoners of Vatican". With Vatican I, the Church turned its back on modernity, democracy and stubbornly refused to walk with the world. An oppressive paradigm of suppression and repression seem to have become the way of the Church. Even mild criticism of the Church and the religion, provokes hostility. The claim of “Infallibility” of the Pope, indexing of books and other draconian measures are the prevailing mood of the Church hierarchy. An all pervasive regressive “Conspiracy of Silence – Omertà” appears to be the order of the day.
Permit me to quote further from “A Study of History” by Arnold J. Toynbee.
The myth of Expulsion from Eden and Exodus from Egypt: “In their removal out of the magic garden into the work-a-world, Adam and Eve transcend the food gathering economy of the primitive man and give birth to the founders of an agricultural and pastoral civilisation. In their exodus from Egypt the Children of Israel give birth to a generation which helps to lay the foundations of the Syriac Civilisation. When we turn from myths to the history of religions, we find these intuitions confirmed. We find, for example that – to the consternation of those who ask ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth ?’ — the Messiah of Jewry does come out of that obscure village in ‘Galilee of the Gentiles’, an outlying piece of new ground which had been conquered for Jewry by the Maccabees rather less than a century before the date of Jesus’ birth. And when the indomitable growth of this grain of mustard seed turns the consternation of Jewery into active hostility, and thus not only in Judea itself but among the Jewish diaspora, the propagation of the new faith deliberately ‘turn into Gentiles’. "
“As for the human protagonist’s part, suffering is the keynote of it in every presentation of the drama, whether the player of the part is Jesus or Job or Faust or Adam and Eve. The picture of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is reminiscent of the Yin-state to which primitive man attained in the food- gathering phase of economy, after he had established his ascendancy over the rest of the flora and fauna of the Earth. The Fall, in response to the temptation to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, symbolises the acceptance of a challenge to abandon this achieved integration and to venture upon a fresh differentiation out of which a fresh integration may – or may not arise. The expulsion from the Garden into an unfriendly world in which the Woman must bring forth children in sorrow and the Man must eat bread in the sweat of his face, is the ordeal which the acceptance of the Serpent’s challenge has entailed. The sexual intercourse between Adam and Eve, which follows, is an act of social creation. It bears fruit in the birth of two sons who impersonate two nascent civilisations: Abel the keeper of sheep and Cain the tiller of the ground.” On the above topics historians tend to have different interpretations from what is stated in the Bible as articles of faith.
Since July 2017, my views on the Christian religion are expressed through the medium Church Citizens' Voice, courtesy its Chief Editor and personal friend Dr. James Kottoor and helpful Associate Editors Mr. Joseph Mattappally and Mr. Isaac Harold Gomes for which I am grateful to them.