Posts Tagged ‘Jesus!’

Being an atheist from a Christian background, people automatically assume I’m angry with God and dead against the church. For me, I’m indifferent to the whole “God exists or not” debate. While I don’t think Christ was God, I do like him for being a radical in his times. I like him because

a)he didn’t act holier-than-thou & goody-goody like the Pharesees & Sadducees

Remember, the prostitute (or in these politically correct times, I must call them commercial sex workers (CSW))? Jesus didn’t judge her. He didn’t want her stoned to death like the patriarchs of those days & today (name change: In the Middle-East countries & Pakistan they now call it “honour killings”). Of course, whether she was a CSW or an adulteress is debatable, because different versions of the Bible seem to give different accounts. Anyway, when she was brought up before him, Jesus said, “Let he, who is without sin cast the first stone.” A direct reference to men and their own state of sinfulness and also a veiled reference to the fact that all of those present had lusted after her and might have also slept with her. That means, he held the men responsible for adultery also, not just the women, who in most cases are only victims of the system.

b)He wanted women to participate in theological debates & not be mired down by the traditional responsibilities of women like housework.

Jesus says, “Mary has chosen the better part and it shall not be taken away from her.” Mary’s sister Martha is busy cooking dishes in the kitchen for all the men present, while Mary sits with Jesus and talks about spiritual things. When Martha overburdened with the housework wants Mary to help, Jesus gives this reply.

I don’t know if any of my readers have attended Christian religious meetings. But the prayer meetings always used to end with the serving of tea and refreshments. So my grandmother and myself (our house used to be the centre for such church-oriented activities) always had to miss out on what the pastor said and start heating the tea and laying out the refreshments like homemade sandwiches & vada. And the womenfolk also had a lot of cleaning up to do afterwords. If only a few menfolk in my family had pitched in, the women needn’t miss out on the meeting. But then the men had more important things to do like debate about theology. Even in church functions it was the same story.

I feel a lot of blame for this state of affairs, should be laid at Apostle Paul’s feet, who said, “Women should be silent in church, they should not cover their head, etc, etc…”

c) He was a radical. Though by birth a Jew, he made friends with Roman tax collectors, fishermen, Samaritans, prostitutes & lepers

Samaritans in those days were discriminated against and did not occupy the upper elechons of power. In his parable, “The Good Samaritan” Jesus tried to criticise the inhumaneness of the religion some religious heads practise and set a Samaritan’s actions in good light. Roman tax collectors like the tax collectors of today did not win any awards for popularity. But Jesus befriends Romans too. And not being class-conscious, he befriends fisher-folk & lepers.

I remember my English lecturer in MCC, who was a Gandhian, drew a diagram in class to explain Christ’s exemplary behaviour in embracing all communities & people from all religious backgrounds. He asked what was the centre of power in those days. We replied “Ceasar and his Roman empire.” What comes next? “The Roman Senate & powerful noblemen.” Next in the circle? “Roman citizens, tradesmen.” Next? “Jews (the occupied race)” And finally at the bottom of the social structure, you have all of Jesus’s friends: “Fishermen, Samaritans, prostitutes & lepers.”

d) He didn’t like churches minting money in God’s name

How about if someone came to your church, broke all the stalls selling CDs, self-improvement Godly books, drove out all the salesmen manning the stalls and declared that “pastors must not turn God’s house into a money-making enterprise.” Would you not be angry with him? Yet, this is what Jesus did 2,000 years ago, when he saw that the Jews had converted the synagogue into a market. He overturned all the pigeons cages, drove out all the vendors and sellers and declared “Don’t turn my father’s house into a den of thieves.”

e) “Forgive them father for they know not what they do.”

People are nailing him to the cross, after stripping him naked, mocking at him and whipping him mercilessly. And he instead of railing at them angrily, asks for their forgiveness. Truly, a great man! That’s why I guess, people started worshipping him as God. He is the one person, who truly followed his teaching of “Turning the other cheek.”

As Friedrich Nietzsche said and quoted often by Karl Marx, the last Christian died on the cross”

Rachel Chitra

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As a kid I remember I was fascinated with Westerns, and started using swear words just to sound grown-up. What I got in return was sharp slaps from my parents for using words like “Damn, hell’s a fire, Jesus…” Of course, I mended my manners soon. When I asked my parents why I shouldn’t say Jesus, they said “I was not to use the name of God in vain and especially not as profanity.”

I stopped doing that, but couldn’t stop myself from wondering (as a teen) if it was ok for pastors do so. You see pentecostal church sessions are quite long – about three to four hour in length.

So when they run out of ideas on what to pray or preach, they start the chant: “Halleluah! Halleluah! Praise the Lord! God is Great! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Come down Lord! Come down! Move with us! Ur precious Lord Lesus! Precious Lord Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Save me Lord! Halleluah! Halleluah! Halleluah! Halleluah! Halleluah! Halleluah! Jesus! Lord above all! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!”

And for a little fun, try recalling all the Jesus Ministries you’ve heard of

  • Jesus Redeems
  • Jesus Calls
  • Jesus Comes
  • Jesus Cares
  • Jesus Saves
  • Jesus Restores
  • Jesus loves
  • Jesus Works
  • Jesus Youth
  • Jesus Alive
  • Jesus Ministries Trust
  • Love of Jesus Ministry
  • Gift of Jesus Ministries
  • Ministry of Jesus
  • Jesus Driven Ministry
  • Jesus People Ministry

List is too long?

When the Full Gospel Ministry started, a lot of Pentecostals were annoyed.

I remember my grandmother asking in the AG Church Ladies Bible class, “Who do they think we are? We preach half the gospel? Or a half-baked gospel?”

There are also other institutions like the MCC Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chetpet, which actually expands to Madras Christian College Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chetpet.

Even Indian, Christian names are so funny and long, because parents try to strike a balance between Indian and Christian sensibilities. Being Indian, they have to name the kid after some grandparent or some rich guardian so that they don’t risk annoying them. And then they have to give the kid a Christian name or multiple Biblical names.

So my grandfather’s name was Ernest Esudasan Chandran Emmanuel Job.

My grandmother’s name was Mrs Abarahanam Vedavathy Ernest Esudasan Chandran Emmanuel Job. But her name became a misnomer after her marriage. Turning pentecostal soon after her honeymoon, she had to part with all her jewels (Abarahanam in Tamil), as the church patriarchs felt a good Vedavathy (Vedavathy- Tamil for Biblical woman) should not wear abarahanams.

My Dad’s name was pretty long – David Prabhu Dayalan Job. So my Mom, who didn’t feel upto changing her name in her bank accounts and gazette and adding on a string of other names to her already long name, remained – Mrs Sheila Lilian Sundaram. I was supposed to be Rachel Chitra Chinky Job. But since the TN govt and the Matric Board felt all students writing the 10th standard Matric Board Exam should have initials, not sir names, I became Ms D.Rachel Chitra. And being a feminist I have remained Ms D.Rachel Chitra, despite marriage and atheism taking a prominent place in my life.

Also Christian rhyming names are so funny. I remember my friends – Anne, Johnie, Johnny. Their parents had named the three siblings – Anne Gracia, Johnie Patricia and Johnny…(shucks! I forgot)

The other set of rhyming siblings, was my college friend’s melanie’s sisters. The trio was Melanie, Melody and Harmony – a take off on the popular ad jingle for Melody chocolates.

On my mother’s side we have an aunt, who had an ignonimous name and died early in life (I don’t if the two incidents have the relationship of cause and effect). Anyway this trio was named – Violet (the lucky one!), Poilet (Bad enough! worse follows) and Toyilette (Horror of horrors).

There was another Christian friend of ours, who really like the letter R – so in resonance with the rules of alliteration – she named her four daughters – Rebecca, Rachel, Ruth and Rhoda…..the list of all the R-named females in the Bible.

Rachel Chitra

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