Skin Chooser

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The post that was - A visit to the church

After almost 2.5 years, I went to church this Sunday. The motivation was primarily my recent craving for choir and gospel music. However, it was the first time I've attended mass. Though the visit didn't do much to satiate my cravings, the sermon did leave me surprised. The verse being dealt with was from Matthew 15: 21-28. I understand that I might be quoting (drawing meaning) unpardonably out of context.

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon". But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us". He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me". He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs". She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters". Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed from that hour.

But some rudimentary googling confirmed that I was not alone in my surprise and that several, more knowledgeable others had experienced similar doubts. For someone who does not have any prior knowledge of biblical literature, I found Jesus's statements strongly discriminatory. As the pastor was explaining how the verse demonstrated that true faith was rewarded, I was sitting partly shocked at the reference to a canine. I was surprised that such strong discrimination should be ratified by quoting it as having come from Jesus himself. Several explanations have been proferred on numerous websites that try to explain this away by saying how it was God's will that the descendants of Abraham be shown the way first. Though not wholly convinced, I atleast sense that there are, perhaps, other interpretations to be drawn. After all, most relegious literature is open to such widely varying interpretations. However, I found portions of bloomingcactus's explanation simple and captivating. Perhaps someday I'll run into somebody who will come down to my wavelength to resonate this empty cavity.

I am sure one can find such discriminatory parallels in Hindu literature and folklore. As I've become too lazy to even pause and think, I'd be glad if someone could point me to specific instances. What would really interest me is to see if the Hindu myths and scriptures portray such statements as coming from one of the many gods, saints and sages that we revere. And how such speech (action / behavior) is explained away. Do they fall back on the omni-science/potence of God as the reason for such statements. Do they attribute it to God wanting to teach the world a lesson-by-example. Having grown up in the midst of Hindu beliefs, traditions, myths, scriptures and folklore, I wonder how it will sound like now. And if any kind of an explanation might make such statements even sound agreeable. I also wonder if I will find myself upto the task of equivocally criticizing both religions for ratifying such discrimination. Whether I will sit back satisfied that religion is just a hallucinatory account of human history and emotions. And if my faith in a supreme being will withstand such and many more rationale-founded debates.

Fine print: Just to make sure that I do not rub anyone on the wrong side, let me state that what I have written here is a snapshot of my thoughts as I was in the process of thinking them. They do not, in any way, reflect my complete or crystallized opinions. I do not intend this as a tirade against any person or religion. Phew...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do not have much to do with faith that's why you call something puposeful, "myth".

Myth has been clearly demarcated, for eg. no one doubts the mythic puranas or the greek myth.

Thu Aug 25, 08:15:00 PM CDT 
Blogger RamV said...

i am not sure i understand what you are trying to say, anon.

Fri Aug 26, 12:10:00 AM CDT 
Anonymous Srikanth said...

I was thinking about this for sometime. The first thing that came to my mind was the treatment of Sita by Rama:
1. The Agni Pareeksha, and
2. The Sita Parityaga.

Interesting discussions took place here and here.

Often when I come across the "I was testing you" justification, I go "Yeah, right."

Sun Aug 28, 12:02:00 PM CDT 
Blogger RamV said...

hey srikanth, thanks for the links. those were interesting reads. will take time to percolate into this numbskull, though

Fri Sep 02, 12:57:00 AM CDT 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly shows that u aint got 'faith'............

Fri Sep 23, 01:13:00 AM CDT 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly shows that u aint got 'faith'............

Fri Sep 23, 01:13:00 AM CDT 

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