The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

They wear hats yet are heathens

Satiricus

Satiricus is thrilled. Even the possibility of an Indian Pope fills his heart with patriotic pride. For in his eyes that would be the ultimate triumph of our Roman Catholic secularism. He is sure that if and when the Indian Archbishop reportedly in the reckoning for the Pope's post becomes the agent general of the ‘only true God’, he would enlighten un-Christian ignoramuses like Satiricus on how to save his secular soul. In fact, who better than an Indian Pope to fulfil the late Pope Paul's great expectations about secular India providing a bountiful crop of Christian faith?

Unfortunately, there are communal cusses who misconstrued the late Pope's pious expectations as “Christianity's aggression in India”, to quote the uncharitable expression of N.S. Rajaram and David Frawley. For secular Satiricus, this is surpassingly strange, for how can the faithful followers of the Prince of Peace engage in a war of aggression? To that these ungentlemanly gentlemen have an abominable answer in the remaining portion of the above quote. They actually and absurdly assert that “Christianity's aggression in India is a consequence of its collapse in the West. It has nowhere else to go.” Now this is really too much. How can Christianity be in a state of collapse when the British monarch is the official ‘Defender of the (Christian) Faith’ and the American President invokes his Christian God at the drop of his hat?

Again unfortunately, there are others who also wear hats and yet are heathens. For instance, in his book Psychology of Prophetism, Belgian scholar Koenrad Elst categorically (and cussedly) says, “Christianity is in steep decline. This is especially the case in Europe, where church attendance levels in many countries have fallen below ten per cent or even five per cent.” And if this Belgian is bad, a Britisher is no less so. For England's foremost investigative reporter, David Yallop reports in his book, In God's Name that according to an agreement recently signed between the Vatican and the Italian Government, Italy, for nearly 2,000 years regarded by Catholics as the home of Christianity, no longer has Roman Catholicism as “the religion of the State”.

As for Rome, the very heart of Christianity, Yallop wrote, “Many parts of the city were in reality pagan, with church attendance less than three per cent of the population”.

With an Indian as Pope, some communal Indians may want to ask some more—and more inconvenient—questions as well.

What does Satiricus have to say about these facts and figures? To be honest, they make him ask himself a curious question—If a European Pope could openly claim Hindus of India for Christianity, how about an Indian Pope equally openly re-claiming the Christians of Europe for Christianity? Actually, with an Indian as Pope, some communal Indians may want to ask some more—and more inconvenient—questions as well.

For starters, Satiricus recalls that at the time the late Pope Paul visited India, the India-based French writer, Francois Gautier had written an article to “tell the Pope how Hindu he is”, in which he had listed the many rituals and sacraments Christianity had borrowed from Hinduism. Now communal (and therefore stupid) Indians may expect an Indian Pope to be half a Hindu, and so might ask—does he know how Hindu Christianity is? They might even go further back in time and ask—does this Pope know that his very title ‘Pope’ is derived from ‘Papa’ (‘father’), which was the title of the arch-priest of Mithraism, the Roman Empire's official religion of worship of the Vedic Sun-god, Mitra? Then they may remember that a few short years ago, the late Pope was asking the forgiveness of everybody against whom the Roman Catholic Church had committed inhuman excesses, and ask—will the Indian Pope ask the forgiveness of Indians for the infamous Goa Inquisition?

Some of them may have read recently in this journal about thousands of American missionaries roaming all over secular India and may ask the Indian Pope—would you please tell us how many of them are CIA agents? For, as former CIA Director, John Deutch acknowledged in a testimony before the US Congress, the CIA pays many missionaries to work as spies. Hopeless Hindus among them may even ask him—how many Christianities are there? For a non-Christian, what is the difference between a Roman Catholic Christian and a Protestant Christian? Or between a Roman Catholic Christian and a Russian orthodox Christian?

And finally, if there can be an English national church, called the Anglican church, why can't there be an Indian national church, as—‘God forbid!—the RSS had suggested? Some of them, who may have read press reports about the Indian wannabe Pope, would compliment him on reportedly knowing as many as sixteen languages, and then say—“It goes without saying that Greek and Latin would be among them, as your religion requires you to know them, but do you know Sanskrit, or is that language Greek and Latin to you, as the idiom goes?”

Then again, it also goes without saying that you may be speaking English at home, but do you know the Hindu history of all these three languages? Do you know that both Latin and Greek have borrowed from Sanskrit, especially Ionian Greek, the original Greek? As for English, do you know that, believe it or not, it has a Vedic ancestry, as it has evolved from Celtic, the proto-language of Vedic migrants to Europe, which was spoken in large parts of Europe, including England, in the centuries preceding the Christian era, and even now one-fourth of all English words are derived from Sanskrit? See?

Once an Indian is the Pope, there are so many questions Indians may ask him. And if secular Satiricus wonders why envious communalist Indians may ask such questions, the answer is plain and simple—“because they are stupid, stupid!”

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