Friday, September 08, 2006

Blessing Ganesh, and contemplating the Tiber

Two stories concering our friends in the Anglican communion. The first one, by Ruth Gledhill of the Times (UK), about a CofE priest who is seen blessing an idol of the Hindu god Ganesh. Except, he is a convert to Hindiusm (whatever that might mean!)
This picture shows the Rev David Hart, who has just had his licence to officiate renewed by the Bishop of Ely, Dr Anthony Russell, in The Hindu this week.

He is blessing the four-armed elephant god Ganesh, outside his house in India, before going off on pilgrimage to dip it in the ocean. He converted to Hinduism, before his licence was renewed but without telling poor Dr Russell, and moved to India from Loughborough where he was senior Anglican chaplain at the university.

Mr Hart, an Oxford graduate, believes there will be no problem with him officiating as an Ánglican priest when he returns to visit England, staying in the house he owns in Stretham, Ely. Rev Pauline Scott, Vicar of St James in Stretham, wasn't so sure when I spoke to her yesterday. 'We prefer our priests to be Christian,' she said.
[Ganesh-chaturthi just got over and one can imagine the chaos in Bombay as millions took their neighborhood and household idols of the god for visarjan, to be immersed in the sea. Interesting to recall that the modern celebration of Ganesh-chaturthi has nationalistic origins -- it was Bal Gangadhar Tilak who encouraged this particular form of neighborhood celebration as a means to spread and increase pro-independence fervor. Georgette also shares this hilarious joke related to Ganesh-chaturthi.]

The second is an essay by Peter Brown, a layman at St. Christopher's in Spartanburg, in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina (which is headquartered in Columbia), entitled, "Why I am thinking of leaving the Episcopal Church" (Via Pontifications). [This just reminded me ... Fr. Isaac Hecker also contemplated the Episcopal Church, before he was baptized a Roman Catholic. This is what he had to say about the Episcopal Church in 1844, after he had made up his mind to become Catholic. "Why should one go to a weak and almost dried up spring when there is one equally as near, fresh, always flowing and full of life?" I guess nowadays one goes "ouch." It's the triumphalistic language of a different age ... but still, there it is, FWIW. ["The Yankee Paul: Isaac Thomas Hecker" by Vincent F. Holden CSP. The Bruce Pub. Co. Milwaukee. 1958. p. 97]


assiniboine said...

You know, it has puzzled me for decades that the Anglican (and for that matter, Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational) churches of the west aren't more sobered by the antecedent example of Unitarianism, that previous "featherbed for falling Christians."

Anonymous said...

Conflicting Faiths ? Or ONE FAITH ?

The Christian Ideology is misguided.

For Christians to say that only Jesus is the “only true God” for the WHOLE world is an extremely selfish statement. Jesus in Europe was the experience of Europeans. The statement fails to recognize that other parts of the world have had their own INDEPENDENT experiences. Jesus, as the “only God”, is like saying that man can only come in white color, or that hair can only be blonde (and no other color). Is Europe the only blessed land where God can come? Does God not like other parts of the world? This whole idea of “ONLY Jesus” is also against the European ideals of free thought and exploration of knowledge.

Christians ban the worship of Idols. Why? Because, idols were abused for devil worship in Europe. *** But this never happened in India for Hindus!!!*** How can then Hindus be forced to reject idolatry? Rejecting idolatry is a European experience only.

Now since according to the bible the sin of mankind started by eating an apple, assume that the bible said “thou shall never eat an apple again” (remember a purely European experience). And in India, people were told “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”. What would the Christians do when they come to India to preach their silly logic? They would tell Hindus to stop eating the apple!!! But they fail to realize that apple as a sin, is purely a European experience!!

The only true philosophy in the world is “Sanatana Dharma”, the guiding philosophy of Hindu religion (?). It states that God or the Supreme Truth is ONE, sages approach Him by different paths! This is consistent with the Hindu Philosophy of re-incarnation or “avatar”, which states that God has come to earth at different times and at different places throughout history. Thus, according to this philosophy, Jesus and Vishnu are the same God, the same “ ONE Supreme Being” Since Jesus=Vishnu, a Hindu will get salvation after death because he will go back to Jesus. This is just a play on words.

Sanatana Dharma tells us the “nature of God” and NOT “who is God” – what is his name – Jesus? Why not John?

In Hindu philosophy, God exists in two equivalent forms: “Bramhan” (pure knowledge, no personality) – this has evolved into Buddhism! and “Ishwar”- the Supreme God with a personality ( Remember the wave-particle duality of light or matter – Schroedinger’s equation!)

Thus, by Hindu philosophy, the Supreme Being can be worshipped in any form one wishes as well. If you want, make a picture of Him, else make a statue, or if you want to understand Him as an impersonal being, that is also fine. What is most important is being a good human being, with good morals, NOT whether you belong to this “club” or “that club”. Who would you prefer – a Hispanic Christian gangster or a pious Hindu?

Christians also argue that just by accepting Jesus as “their savior”, the person has automatically attained the highest spiritual plane of the world! This is a pure mockery of spiritual knowledge. Only a westerner can have this mentality of selling spiritual knowledge “by the pound”, like a business. Spiritual knowledge has to be EARNED by each person separately. In Hindu philosophy, we humans have chosen to live in the material world and therefore are born here. Only when we realize that the material pleasures are not the true source of happiness we will again become one with the Supreme Being. This divine knowledge has to be EARNED, by meditation and other routes. Remember – nothing in life comes free, even your daily bread has to be earned by hard work.

If Christians get this message, all this nonsense of “conversion” and killing in the name of religion will stop. We all pray to the “ONE Supreme Being”, who really goes by several names!

Gashwin said...

Dear anonymous: thanks for stopping by. I don't have time to get into this, but essentially, you want Christians to become Hindu. Sorry, no can do.

Just a couple of clarifications:
-- Christianity is not simply based upon the "European experience of Jesus." It claims to be based upon the revelation of God in Jesus given primarily to his twelve Jewish disciples in what is now Palestine
-- the word "apple" does not appear anywhere in the actual text of Genesis. "Not to eat an apple" has never been a command of Christianity. Not to worship idols has. Again, it goes back, not to Europe, but to what was revealed to the Jewish people, in South West Asia.
-- I've never heard it said that "acknowledging Jesus" (which is never just a formula, but really the work of a lifetime) is the "highest spiritual knowledge." Perhaps some acquaintance with the rich Christian heritage of mystics and contemplatives might help clarify that a bit.
-- it might also help understanding the Christian concept of grace, of salvation by grace. No one, in Christian language, earns his salvation.

Peace to you.

Anonymous said...

Ganesha chaturthi - legends and prayers
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesh on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada month of Hindu calendar. It is among the most celebrated of the festivals in India, and perhaps the only one involving general public (others only involve families and friends and are celebrated privately). It is interesting to note that the festival was not celebrated until the times of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who used it a great means to unite Hindus all over India and educate them the evils of colonization.

Anonymous said...

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