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 Blooming Stars

Theology of Love

             The simple theology for the modern age is one of love, and our religion is also one of love where we take care of each other. We do not live up to anyone’s expectations but only to what is communicated to us in our conscience. A theology for the modern age needs to include the aspirations of every human being. A basic theology needs to go beyond color, caste, creed, gender, and ethnic origin. It needs to specially relate to the plight of the oppressed, the down-trodden, and those persecuted for the cause of truth, justice, and equality. Liberation theology that developed in Latin American countries and the women’s movements that started in America and Europe are of great importance. The world’s religions and scriptures have been greatly influenced by the cultures of their time. When an orthodox Jew thanks God for not being born as a woman, that clearly tells in what esteem a woman is held. When an orthodox Hindu says that a woman has to be reborn as a man to attain liberation (mukti) that tells me that a woman is thought of belonging to an inferior sex.

            When the official, hierarchical Catholic Church tells me that a woman cannot be ordained as a priest on account of her gender, and justifies that theologically as coming from God, I do not accept that theology as right and relevant for the time. There are other misogynic practices that we should look into. A menstruating woman, for instance, cannot go to Sabarimala in front of Ayyappan. Ritual purification or churching of a woman after childbirth is still practiced in Eastern Christianity. For ritual purity priests in certain sections of Christianity abstain from sexual relations with their wives on the eve of major holy days in order to celebrate Eucharist on the following day. We still do not have a gender inclusive language that can help us express our ideas without awkwardness and clumsiness.

            While I respect all the world’s sacred scriptures that do not go against reason, I am rooted in Christian (Bible) and Hindu (Bhagavadgita and Upanishads) Scriptures. To me they complement each other. My mind and spirit are mostly satisfactorily nourished by them. In very difficult and dark moments of my life, I find great solace in them; they calm my perturbed mind and soul, and restore me to serenity. Buddha’s profound philosophy related to all suffering resulting from desiring more than what can be achieved, and the eight-fold path as a solution for desiring only what can be attained are extraordinary contributions to the realm of the spirit. A new theology has to deal with immanence and transcendence of God. While Shankaracharya’s Advaida (non-duality), for instance, aham brahmasmi (I am Brahman), tatvamasi (Thou art That) is very tempting and appealing to me, Ramanuja’s Visishtadvaida (wherein I am of the essence of God but also different from God) makes more sense even as I swing between advaida and visishtadvaida. While Hinduism emphasizes immanence, the stress in Christianity is on transcendence. To keep a fine balance between immanence and transcendence is very tricky. But then again, as no human can comprehend this profound mystery, it is better left alone.

            We can find the needed help in God. Christ said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28-30). “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on (Matthew 6: 25). In Bhagavadgita Sri Krishna whether he is historical or mere creation of Vyasan) says:“Let go off all actions, righteous (or non-righteous), and come to me, the only refuge (Sarvadharman parithyajya mamekam saranam vraj - 18: 66)”. As Christ called us friends (John 13: 13-15), we are children – brothers and sisters - of God. Christ dared to call God, Abba, and dear father, something that was offensive to the Jews of the time. In the greatest prayer in Christianity and the only prayer Jesus is reported to have taught his disciples, Jesus addresses God as Our Father (Matthew 6: 7-15).

 

     
 
 
 
 
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