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Errr… Could we stop the conversions please?

Pic: courtesy 123rf.com

This post has been in my Drafts folder for a whopping 20 months. I use ‘post’ loosely because when I picked it up today, it was just a collection of interesting story links and a provocative title. The original article that inspired this post was A Hindu America? — in no less a publication than National Catholic Weekly. The author’s (Francis Clooney) own inspiration was her friend’s article in Washington Post – A rich and strange metamorphosis: Global Hinduism. As is often my wont, I quote below the most interesting excerpts.

  1. In her piece, Bernacki recollects Lisa Miller’s essay in Newsweek a few months ago, on how Americans are becoming Hindus ideologically: “[Lisa Miller] tells us that an astounding number of Americans now believe in reincarnation. This conceptual, indeed cosmological, importation from Hinduism is seeping indelibly into the American psyche. Even a percentage of self-identified Christians have little difficulty incorporating this Hindu notion. Similarly, the word and concept of ‘karma’ is so commonly parlayed in everyday conversation that its Hindu origins no longer even register, as the concept finds its way across wide ranges of socio-economic circles and in all sorts of milieus.” Biernacki speculates that Hinduism — Hinduisms — is uniquely able to be “glocal” — present across the globe, but yet still local in a multitude of particular identities. Alas: before our present era of over-centralization, the Catholic Church too excelled at being glocal!
  2. In this sense, the future of Hinduism suggests a kind of opening to a global world in a way that sidesteps the vision of a one-world government or one-world ideology. It proposes instead a world model without hegemonic center, linked by a thread of cosmology, multiplicity instanced as network, a seamless interconnectivity that echoes a conceptual cosmology from Hinduism’s past into our own global and glocal future.”
  3. If our neighbors are practicing yoga (even Christian yoga), meditating, visiting gurus, and enjoying the prospect of multiple deities and multiple births — then we have to bear down, and think more deeply about who we are and how we speak, act, live.
  4. But no, it is not enough to broadcast our faith without listening, or to insist with open mouths and closed ears that Jesus is the way and that Christian faith is superior to religions such as Hinduism, when we — the Church — seems not understand Hinduism except in a most superficial way, and have no clue why Americans might embrace reincarnation.
  5. So — to turn on its head the old notion that yoga is navel-gazing — we would do well to be more yogic, more Hindu — less into Catholic-navel-gazing, and more attentive to the very interesting spiritual cultures flourishing around us, and unafraid at a diversity that we cannot control yet that does nothing to harm the uniqueness of Jesus. Attentiveness will help us to see better what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the world we actually have, in the one life given to us.
The same week that I read the aforementioned articles, Orissa’s churches were in the news — it was the first time I had heard of India Evangelistic Associaton (IEA). A brief perusal of their website yielded this statement –  The primary vision of IEA is to reach the Unreached People Groups and Areas and plant churches among them. hmm.. if tree planting is for the tree huggers, then church planting is for.. evangelicals?

Against the backdrop of the soul-searching of Catholics in America, surely the time has come to stop the conversions in India?

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