Lost In Translation

. . . makes us stand
like wonder-wounded hearers.
– Hamlet, V,

Bible is the book yet to conjure with. It is the book of shadows and twilights. It is in whispering portal of nights we return to its faith and reason. It is not an infallible book, but even its mistakes are gifts. It is not facts that the authors care about but what Harold Boom calls “facticity”: a kind of brute contingency by which an author’s strength blinds and incarcerates a tradition of belated readership.

Now it is the most violated book, crisscrossed and full of canards, all its mystery is being sort out. It’s shadows which fell upon the reader as lights are blurred. Twilights lost its cantor and color and thereby lost its own unique profile, a profile which lets it survive where the elevated, the universal pale into nothingness. The book that gave birth to indefatigable visions of Shakespeare, Milton, Tolstoy, Dante and Dostoevsky is now rollick toys is in the hands of those professional interpreters.

Everything is solved and put into light by the interpreters armed with prudence and great scholarship, those enemies of myth. Who will tell them that without those myths man will be an animal without soul, Soulless wanderer on a sullen surface?

What is the interpretation? Or what is happening now in the name of interpretation? Interpretation is actually plucking a set of elements (the x, the y, the z and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is A sort of translation. The interpreter says, look, don’t you see that X is really or, really means A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C? To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world, in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world.
Why Jesus called his mother, ‘woman’? a perennial question for the interpreters. One of them said it is because in the Old Testament God called Eve, ‘woman’ so in the New Testament Jesus is making his mother the new Eve by calling her ‘woman’. What a fabulous ida!! But what is the use of this moving from one impertinent position to another impertinent position? Other than surprising some minnows.

These sorts of answers say that text is troublesome. So they are prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text, but why an open aggressiveness, and an overt contempt for appearances. The older style of interpretation was insistent but respectful; it erected another meaning on the top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates and as it excavates, destroys, it digs behind the text to find a subtext which is the true one. These sort of behind the text interpretation is trying to prove that Jesus was an opportunist and a machine full of Old Testament corrections and correlations. He cannot move an inch away from his prescribed route, cannot be overtaken by an instinct, an impulse. All the more he cannot make a mistake.

Does he not dance? Some times out of tune, out of feet? Nietzsche said “I cannot believe in a God who cannot dance”. Many matinee prophets and salvation-peddlers turn the deeper rhythm of life implicated words of Jesus in to comforting trivialities. A great mass flock to hear them. They become the victims of a weak nostalgia which give rise to the pathology of hope and false reconciliation.
Interpreters are afraid of the silence and nights of the text, so they, insomniacs of the Day, put everything into voice and the daylight, thus into the deceptive trap of the day. They make this headlong long fall because of their morbid belief in the content and in meaning and forget about the value of form. William De Kooning in an interview said:
“Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny, very tiny, content.” In modern interpretation this search for content and meaning become a hindrance and nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism. I don’t think our interpretation is hermeneutical, if one is to follow the definition of hermeneutics. Martin Heidegger defined hermeneutics as the “understanding of understanding” which means already every narrative contains an understanding, an interpretation. The interpreter’s duty is to help to see that understanding rather than reading off the sense that is already there. Form is then is the right aural to get in to this understanding than content. Because all narratives in virtue of their form are fictions, yet it is through these fictions that we give a narrative form to our experience, be it individual or communal. If the interpretations which rely up on the meaning and content is right , every sort of interpretation will become right because every interoperation contains some sort of meaning which will make Nietzsche damn correct who said, “There is no truth but only interpretations of truth”. It is the cornerstone of his nihilism. Our construction of meaning with many myriads of pin points actually does not result in meaning but often in meaninglessness. It is like the believer becomes unbeliever by reading the five proofs for the existence of God. Matthew Arnold clearly diagnosed the cancer of this cult of truth when he said, “Our religion has materialized itself in the fact, in the supposed fact; it has attached its emotions to the fact, and now the fact is failing it”. Are we not failed by this cult of truth, facts and dogmas? They have become too weighty a burden upon us, making us unable to move. It is interesting to note the way Luther justify his interpretation of Bible: “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience” . Through these famous words Luther brought subjectivity to the forefront of Christian thinking.The last sentence expresses the conviction that conscience and truth are the same, the consequence of which is that the concept of truth becomes internalized and has been addressed ever since as certainty. But how can one solve the alienation between the objective sense of truth and the expression it finds within the subject’s certainty?. According to this thinking, the self which has absorbed Gospel becomes a guarantee or certainty of knowledge. The danger of this risk free life is that it will turn in to individual despotism, deploying Gospel for its purpose, turning every belief in to its enemy, convictions. It is what inquisitors believed, when they are killing the unbeliever for the sake of God and Bible. They were full of self and its convictions. They lacked belief, if they had it they would have doubted. More often they enemy of belief is not disbelief but these rocky hard convictions.

The catholic thinker Paul Ricoeur is a revelation for me. it is in him I found answer to these struggles. He speaks of ‘the letting go of the self’: “The letting go of the self is the overthrowing of the guarantee, it is the risk of a life placed under the sign of the cross” again he says, “To take up the cross is to renounce the representation of God as the locus of absolute knowledge. It is to accept knowing just one thing about God, that God was present in and is to be identified with Jesus crucified, God who took up the cross”.

Biblical text is not only a religious text but Literary and mythical. There are many many instances when the literary takes upper hand in the old Testament. The sublime and uncanny Yahwist tradition, the most poignant of all is unusually literary. Because of the literary estrangement, ‘J’ (Yahwist) exceeds all other writers and achieve maximum force. This teller of the tales of joseph, Jacob and of Moses and the Exodus is written in more inescapable than Shakespeare and more perversive in our consciousness than Freud. But we will never be accessible to the actual test of this sublime writer because we lost much of it due to the replacement tactics of redactors and interpreters.

Who can approach this harshest and monitory of writers without fear and trembling? He is the greatest creator of ironies (problems out or interpreters is that the approach them without knowing that they are ironies). ‘J’s most striking characters is that he is not a religious writer though all his revisionists and interpreters presume so. It is surprising to see that many interpreters sort out morality in ‘J’ while ‘J’ does not care morality but personality. He didn’t seem to care cult either. Her forms of worship are poetic tales whose originality is too radical to be absorbed. They cannot be dwindled down into the nominative Godhead of Jews, Christians and Muslims. ‘J’ is extremely proud and self-contradictory (nobody is self-contradictory as the God of ‘J’) and as such beyond any interpretive ken.

It is quite sad to see those charismatic and non-charismatic muddle with sublime and uncanny realms of ‘J’ without knowing her taste, interpolation and literary pursuits. We cannot even ask questions to Self-contradictory and multi-conscious-full ‘J’ because ‘J’ is a sun and sun kills all the questions. We can only just listen with fear and trembling. It is through this fear and trembling that we reach to what Schopenhauer calls “the feeling of the sublime”. Standing as threatening and terrible to the will, they elevate the beholder, the reader to the realms of exaltations. Kant called the sublime a ‘bitter-sweet feeling’ because they reduce us to nought, they remind us that our entire lives are but a blink of the Divine eye. Kafka share this aesthetical vision when he said “A book should serve as axe for the frozen mind within us, it should fall upon the reader like a misfortune”. The ‘J’is the clear example of this writings which humble and make us feel small, in turn taking us to the absolute equanimity where we achieve bliss and delight. It is this double transformation Spinoza has in mind when he wrote, “The mind is eternal in so far as it conceives things from the standpoint of eternity”.

Taking the old Testament together one can still pose a question: Are they really pious stories? “They are not pious stories, they are stories of cunning and murder, the rights of the primogenitor is scoffed at and where the election of the hero depends on the oblique managers of an ambitious young man such as Daniel” (Alter) many of us we don’t recognize Israel’s national consciousness which is darted through the texts, which Jesus cleverly repudiated by telling “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. There is not tested evidence to show in New Testament that Jesus was co-operating with Jews arrogant claims of Jews for a collective wholeness. More than anybody Jesus was conscious of the fragmentary nature of most men who wants to arrange a society of power in which man naturally fall into a collective wholeness since they cannot have an individual wholeness. In these collective wholeness they feel fulfilled. But if they make efforts at individual wholeness, they must fail for, because of their fragmentary nature (we have clear example of this fragmentary nature of man in the acute groupism which prevail in religious orders, we don’t have much to offer to humanity than our own fragmentariness). Jesus knew it very well, that’s why he said “ For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath them”. Are we left with anything?, even that will be taken away. D.H. Lawrence makes a wonderful reading of it and said “but Jesus had forgotten to reckon with the mass of the mediocre whose motto is: we have nothing therefore nobody shall have nothing.” Having said that, is Jesus is harbinger of a collective Christian consciousness?. This is the impression those Interpreters of the book of Revelation give us by showing Christian in morbid hostility to the state, to the world and to the cosmos, at the end willing the end of all. I fear that the Benny Punnathara and his Shalome project is doing an apocalyptic reading by stressing a Christian individualism and by making an isolated Christian kingdom. Thus unnaturally resisting out connection with the world, with the mankind, with the cosmos. They say we must break away from all these and isolate. This Christian self-glorification is suicidal. Without any shame they took up the ‘sealing’ business of Apocalypse. Apocalypse is a single book which requires a ‘reading against’. By wishing the destruction of everything actually apocalypse earns for the Sun and the stars and scarlet and gold splendor, for a passionate love. I cannot remain in an argumentative mode, I need to make a recourse to the original source of my inspiration, D.H Lawrence, “We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos. I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. My soul knows that I am part of the human race, my soul is an organic part of the great human soul, as my spirit is part of my nation. In my own very self, I am part of my family. There is nothing of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surface of the waters. So that my individualism is really an illusion. I am a part of the great whole, and I can never escape. But I can deny my connections, break them, and become a fragment. Then I am wretched. What we want is to destroy our false, inorganic connections, especially those related to money, and re-establish the living organic connections, with the cosmos, the sun and earth, with mankind and nation and family. Start with the sun, and the rest will slowly, slowly happen”.

The interpretation and reading is no the same. Interpretation presupposes a subtext, interpretation is digging to that text. As such interpretation is a minor art. You require more skill to be a reader than an interpreter. “Reading is an activity subsequent to writing, more resigned more civil, more intellectual”, writes the great reader of those labyrinths, Louise Borges. When we read we know that someone speaks, someone speaks to me in the text, someone addresses himself or herself to me, a voice, which is an instance in the text, but which tells me like the voice to which Augustine attributes the origin of his conversion, “Tolle lege” (take and read).
By interpretation, I always meant a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain rules of interpretation. I am against this interpretation which kills the reading. Instead of aiding the reading interpretation has replaced it. The interpreter is trying to surprise the reader by showing that things are otherwise, which is a fake surprise. But the reader will be surprised by seeing things as they are, which is a real surprise. He will be flooded with happiness to see a ‘white flower is white’. The magical realism, however great it is, does not reach to the precinct that Tolstoy’s steadiness of the vision creates. As Romain Roland noted in his journal for 1887, “in the art of Tolstoy a given scene is not perceived from two points of view, but from only one: things as they are, not otherwise”. He does not sacrifice his vision to the needs of the pathos. Reader can only marvel at his ability to communicate the utmost of grief and terror in perfect evenness of tone.

What about the miracles about which Paschal wrote “miracles are there not to make us to believe but stop us from believing”?. In order to get the clear vision of them, in order to be surprised by them, the reader first of all, must remove the ‘God’ tag from Jesus. If the ‘God’ Jesus is doing those miracles what is there in it to be surprised? Miracles are not extraordinary nature of God but natural. But the reader who meets the Jesus the man, doing those miracles will be at awe and he will ask “How could he do it?”, “How those five breads turned into thousands of loaves at his hands? These will take the reader to the real source of the miracles, sympathy, that heaven encompassing compassion of Jesus and in turn the reader will know that the miracles are not prerogatives of Jesus but of everyone who believes in him. Everyone who believes in Jesus must do those miracles, must multiply the breads. With a saturated heart the reader will recognize that when his mother fed him and his brotheren with a small income which their father brought in, she was doing a miracle with her half filled stomach, she was participating in the multiplication miracle of Jesus.

Interpreters also dig deep into the stories of Jesus believing that the truth of them lies somewhere underneath. Truth lies in the appearance, periphery. Heidegger knows it very well to say “Truth is to walk on peripheries” It is easy to believe in a facts but difficult to believe in stories. Jesus, the sublime storyteller, invites the reader to believe in stories and continue his or her accounts, the itineraries of reading. It is the narrative quality of experience. It is those stories which enable the reader to ask questions to the stories: “what a landowner, in effect, would be so foolish as to send his son after his servants had been killed?” In the end the reader will come to know that all the stories of Jesus signifies the destiny of the one who tells the parable and whose life is told by the Gospel. The Kingdom of God is not what parable tells us but what happens to the parables.

Not any interpreter but only a literary genius of Ben Okri could say, “The greatest miracles Jesus did where he stories”. Jesus is bigger than any truth, dogma, fact because he is a story in which impended all the stories told and all the stories to be told.

Accusations and Consolations

Dear friend,

I am happy to hear that my article caused some stirs among you, theology students. I wish if I could cause more ! Now there is a widespread contempt for speculative thinking. What people needs is just entertainment which will take them away from their worries and will make them not to think. Such kind of life will not be life but mere vegetation. Heidegger called it the ‘forgetting of being’. Our aim is to have a bigger life and bigger death. Those who have more life will have more death. Jesus said: I have come so that you may have life in abundance. Since Jesus had life in abundance his life was very deep, profound  and immeasurable.

“Find a great idea, marry it and bring forth your children”, this is the great advice I received from Unamuno, the author of  ‘The Tragic Sense of Life’.( this book is available in our library, a rare collection.) A concept in a certain sense, always has more sharply defined boundaries than any actuality we may ever meet with in experience. Man needs something to fight for. Those who fight for certain ideas and die for them are called martyrs and those who fight for power and money are called  despotics. Let us fight for some big ideas. This is the promise I made to myself at the presence of that martyr saint Bruno. It was night time when I went to see the square where they burnt him to death, yet there was rare light around his statue. I could not look at his face, under his hooded  head his eyes were blazing, probing my soul. I was overpowered by that ancestral guilt, making powerless not even to ask him a pardon. We killed him because he said something that we all believe now. He never rejected the existence of God but said: He is beyond human comprehension. He was the first man to have conceptualized the universe as a continuum where the stars we see at night are of identical nature as of sun. The killing of Bruno was the saddest episode of our mad history. Napoleon said, “the ignorant priest is the greatest curse of a community”. It is an ignorant clergy which created the ‘dark middle age’.

I would like to know whether God made Paul capable to be his messenger or he found him capable to be his messenger? If you read Paul carefully, you will know that the second way is right. He was quite well versed to deal with all sorts of prevailing philosophical systems. History will tell that no religion would remain without intellectual possibility. The religion which is founded up on emotional possibility alone will die somewhere. The revelation came to Paul not only from God but also from Greek Philosophy. When he said, “it is in Him we move and have our existence,” he was echoing a Greek philosopher.

The first  lesson of pneumatology is this: the spirit does not alter the nature of man but work on his nature.The holy Spirit is not an absurd or arbitrary commandment, it is discernment as it addresses to my intelligence, it invites me in my turn to practice the crisis, the discernment of myths. This discernment calls for a hermeneutic  capable of bringing out the symbolic meaning of the myth. so when someone comes up and begin to interpret the Gospel without any studies and without any formation to do so, I feel a how. Of course they can do that but problem arises when they make an attestation to Holy Spirit. I doubt that Holy Spirit because the Spirit without effort is crude, a lesson I learnt from Thomas mann.

Take, the greatest gospel interpreter of our time, Fr. Bobby Jose. He is uncanny in exposing the relation of one part of gospel to the other. His reading is the most prevailing; nothing escapes from his intuitive gaze.

Wherein lies his strength? It is in the reading his youth: O.V. Vijayan, Khalil Gibran and Osho. It is they who trained him and formed his culture. His bible reading is very much a heir to Berkeley.

In an award ceremony he did not own them up and asked the audience to read these people before they read gospel, instead he said “I am a servant of the word of God”. Are we anyway merited by that pious proclamation? At least I am not. Is it  what we expect from him, a common place sentence?. He disappointed me who looked to him as the modern ‘Thomas Merton’. Instead of becoming a prophet he ended up as an interpreter. He fell in to those ‘shalom trappings’. I am not against him, I am proud to say that I am his true follower who really understood and expressed him in a different way. When others imitated him, I prayed for his intuitive reading. But I am against his interpretations however great they are. Has he not become an idol, an object of veneration and love? He doesn’t liked to be disliked and therein lies his problem.

Only Thomas Merton could say that “I have found much spirituality of Jesus in ‘Brothers Karamazov’ than in gospels”. Hearing this, his superior chided him: “the dog does not go back to its vomit”. by ‘vomit’ he meant the world. it is high time for us to go back to our vomit, because we have vomited out our sensibility.

Now let us go to other problems. I was sure that my comment on shalom T.V would cause some stir.I am not against the piety they seem to perpetuate but I will be sad if this television is going to become the face of Kerala christianity.

I really want to know who is their Christ? It seems to me it is a Christ of the sun, pomp, elegance and success. They forget that the real jesus is a son of the night and brother of the stars. Karl Martini observed it right, “Dogmas imprison him; power stretches him on the cross; definitions nail him down; churches raise him high.”

There is a big difference between John The Baptist and Jesus Christ. John The Baptist could not discover the God anew  so he followed the ethical God of Israel. He was trying to make a new strong ethical temple for Yahweh, allowing no trespassing, passageways and leak outs. Thus he was a mason while Jesus was a carpenter. A mason look for a space to place a brick. But carpenter in turn hopes where he can fit a window and door.  Jesus placed windows and doors for the ethical temple of John The Baptist.

Our Church needs more carpenters than masons. It has now many firm and closed buildings as there are many masons.

We should be suspicious of anything that is exclusive. When Jesus tried to be exclusive, a poor woman came and corrected him and he was God enough to learn form her. Anything which does not allow us to be in touch with our neighbor and makes his distant is dangerous. We need televisions and magazines which allows to be in dialogue with other culture and religions. A dialogue is possible only between equals. Dr. Munir has done more good to Muslim community than these preachers have done to Christianity. He started a publishing house where they publish books which celebrate human warmth. Now Kozhikode has more libraries which create poets and artists. We promote our children to become doctors and engineers while they try to make them poets and artist . We are businessmen . In the long run they will remain.

Now I need to present  an alternative thinking. I heavily depend on Paul Ricoeur  for the following expositions. He has become my fellow soul ever since I read his  ‘Symbolism Of Evil’. Paul Ricoeur powered me to unlock the visions of those ‘masters of suspicion’: Karl Max, Freud and Nietzsche. He also taught me to regard the limit as a gift because the limit is an activity which opens and it is an act which breaks the closure. He is the best christian thinker of the modern era. I had not known him when I proposed  an atheism which can purify the faith. Now I found solid correlating thoughts in Paul Ricoeur .

He speaks about the religious significance of atheism and this atheism helps us to destroy the shelter offered by religion and liberate men from the taboos imposed by religion, atheism clears ground for a faith beyond accusation and consolation.

Now we have to see what is this accusation and consolation.

It is to understand them we expose Nietzsche and Freud. Why we chose them? It is not enough to answer that they are the best exponents of the critique of religion as cycle of prohibition, accusation,punishment and condemnation; more important is the question of why they were able to attack religion in this way. They did not take the approach of disputing the so called proofs for the existence of god; neither did they argue that the concept of God is meaningless. Instead they created  a model of critique in which cultural representation and creeds are considered as symptoms of disguised wishes and fears. Since the faithful are more often projecting their fear and wishes to religion, they called religion an illusion of our consciousness.

The illusions of consciousness can be compared to a palimpsest, a text written over another text. Nietzsche and Freud searched for a tool to read the original text of our consciousness. This resulted in the psychoanalysis of Freud and philology of Nietzsche, it is not Nietzsche who invented nihilism, neither nihilism invented nothingness. Nihilism is a historical phenomenon to which Nietzsche is only a witness: it is only the discovery of nothingness inherent in the illusory origin of religious and ethical values. Nihilism is an expression of the very soul of metaphysics, since the metaphysics postulates an ideal and supernatural origin and thereby exhibits nothing else than a contempt for life, a disparaging of the earth, a hatred of the instincts, and a representation of the powerful by the weak. Don’t attribute the origin of nihilism to Nietzsche, it is given by our great christian metaphysical thinkers.

Now if we wish to ascertain the theological significance of this kind of atheism, we should further distinguish the characteristic of this atheism. Everybody knows the famous saying “God is dead”. But which God is dead? Who killed him? And what kind of authority belongs to the word which proclaims his death? The answer to these three questions qualify the atheism of Nietzsche and f Freud.

Which God is dead? We may answer: the God of  Metaphysics and also of Theology, in as much as theTheology relies on the Metaphysics of a first cause, of a necessary Being, of a Prime Mover which is an absolute Goodness and Origin values.

Let us say that this is the God of Onto-theology, to use the word coined by Heidegger. Thanks to the exegesis and genealogy, the moral God is revealed to be the God of accusation and condemnation- to use the Nietzsche’ terms. Such is the God that is dead.

Most of our preachings are  preachings about a dead God.

Who is his murder? As We have said before, not the atheist, but the very nothingness which dwells in the Ideal, the lack of absoluteness of the super ego. The murder of the moral God is what Nietzsche described as a cultural process, the process of nihilism, and what Freud described in more psychological terms as the work of mourning applied to the father image.

When we turn to the third question- What kind of reliability has the worth which proclaims the death of the moral god? – everything suddenly becomes problematic. We thought we knew the cause of this death: the self destruction of metaphysics through its implied nihilism. But everything becomes dubious as soon as we ask who says that. The ‘madman’ who lit a lenten in the bright morning hours and cried “I seek God”? Zarathustra?

Nietzsche, “the man with hammer,” has the authority only of the message which he proclaims, the sovereignty of the will to power. But this positive aspect of Nietzsche, which alone could give authority to his negative hermeneutics, is itself trapped within the ruins which he pulled down around him. perhaps no one is able to live at the level of Zarathustra. Certainly Nietzsche himself is not the superman he announces: his aggression against Christianity remains too full of resentment. The rebel  cannot and is not worth the Prophet. Nietzsche himself is aware of his failure that is why he cries “I need a jesus christ with the heart of Caesar”

We must acknowledge that the critique of ethics and religion by the ‘school of suspicion’  has been asset. From it We have learned to question the authority of a week ego too easily identified with the will of God and to recognize that the commandment which gives death but not life is merely a projection of our own weakness.

But this atheism is not limited to its destruction of “ moral God”  and its refutation of the archaic, fear inspired form of religion. Atheism opens a new path of faith, though a path full of uncertainties and dangers .

Now we reach the conclusion of our accusation level: the atheism  is a tool we use to get rid of false religious readings and it opens a new path to faith but this path is full of dangers and uncertainties.

Our time needs a prophetic preacher who would actualize  this message of the exodus, which is prior to any law: “I am the  lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt  out of house of bondage”. And no word of prohibition and condemnation. He would preach to us the Cross and Resurrection of Christ as the beginning of a creative life and would define for our time all the consequences of the Pauline anatomy: sin itself would be seen not as the transgression of prohibition but as the antithesis of life under grace- that is as life under law, the mode of human existence trapped in the infernal circle of law, transgression, guilt and rebellion.

Now you may ask who can be this prophetic preacher? A philosopher cannot be,  at best he can be as Kirkegaard called himself “the poet of the religious”. I know  a man who could really be so, who was blessed with such an acute sensibility, vision and all the more who had the great amour, the hearkening language, a language that doesn’t speak but listens.. It is none other than Fr. Bobby jose. he belongs to the great tradition of story tellers led by Jesus and Buddha. Unfortunately he plunged in to mysticism . Instead of using the mysticism he became a target of it. Mysticism is good and needed but one must be aware of its danger ;the sentimentality. Certain sentimentals are not signs of heart but heartlessness. I know why someone one is afraid to be a prophet: A prophet is someone who inherits a misfortune.

So this my conclusion : the religion and faith realms are contaminated and polluted. Thus now only way to think ethically is to think non ethically and the only way faith is through atheism. Then we will throw away this atheism, this tool because  it must be cured of its own illusion, the illusion which puts man at the centre and makes him absolute. we have used it and now leave it knowing its illusion. Thus we go to “consolation”.

The connection between accusation and consolation perhaps the most striking feature of religion. God threatens and protects . He is the ultimate danger and ultimate shield. As providence, the moral God is the ruler of the world which obeys the law of retribution. That law characterize perhaps the most archaic and most widespread of all religious world views. But it does not exhaust all the possible relations of man to God, and there has always been men of faith who discarded it as wholly impious.

Atheism must mean the destruction of the moral God not only as the ultimate source of accusation but as the ultimate source of protection, as Providence. But if the atheism is to have any religious significance, the death of the providential God should point toward a new faith, a tragic faith which is the faith Job.

What kind of faith deserves to survive the critique of Freud and Nietzsche?

We spoke of a kind of prophetic preaching which would return to the origins of judeo -Christian faith and yet be an appropriate beginning of our time.

In relation to the problem of accusation that preaching would pronounce only a word of liberation. in relation to the problem of consolation, that preaching would be heir to the tragic faith of Job.

it would be a faith that wanders in the darkness, in a new “night of the understanding” to use the language of the mystics-before a God who has not the attributes of the providence, this God does not protect me but delivers me to the dangers of a life worthy of being called human. we have a best example of this tragic faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Her letters reveal the night she was shrouded in.

Is not this God Crucified, the dying God, the God whose weakness alone may help me?

The new night of the understanding is a night for our desire as much as for our fear, a night for our longing for a protective father. Beyond this night, and only beyond it, will be recovered the true meaning of the God of consolation, the God of the Resurrection, the Pantocrator who still shines on the uppermost wall of a Byzantine church which now Turkish Muslims have converted to a Mosque.

Atheism which we propose teachs to renounce a protective father image, because it has become an idol and excuse at the same time a violence to those people who die mercilessly and never tastes the fortune of that father. Overcome as an idol the father image may be recovered as a symbol, however. As a symbol it would be the counterpart, in a a theology of love, of the progression which led us from a mere resignation to Fate to a Poetic life.

Such is the religious significance of atheism. An idol must die, in order that a symbol of  Being may speak.

Ricoeur warned us never to involve in a stupid theodicy of defending God. that is what friends of Job did and many of the modern preacher are doing. God will condemn them as he had condemned the friends of  the Job.

We will take the position of Job and will begin to ask questions. So that we  will hearken Him . Thus we shall be the Jobs who have heard God however fearsome it is.

I finish thanking you for hearing me and thanking paul Ricoeur for teaching me some great lessons.

A sort of atheism

When she smiled, I could sense the pain, which gives rises to these sorts of smiles. We were attending a marriage ceremony. Like the moon perfecting its orbit she she to me with those questions. People think that a priest is someone to whom they can ask questions, they just do not know that he has more questions. A believer needs only to believe an atheist only to disbelieve. But a priest, he oscillates between belief and disbelief. His heart is like a pendulum.

She shared with me her disappoints with Christian religion and how it did not help her to overcome her suffering. She asked me whether there is any problem in following Hindu precepts. I told she can and Hinduism is our common heritage. We can very well find strength from it. She left me to think about the ‘impotency of ‘ my religion.

What is the failure of Christianity? It is the most loved and hated religion. Loved because of the great personalities it has produced and hated, because it is the religion of the oppressing west. There is also a psychological dislike for the number one.

One thing is sure the west is no more Christian or it had never been. There is a scene in the movie ‘Godfather’ the protagonist is coming to see an archbishop. As they are speaking the archbishop shows him a pond. He takes a pebble from it and break it open and tells “see, this pebble has been in this pond for years yet the water has not penetrated in to it. The same is the case with Europe, it has been surrounded by Christianity for centuries. Yet it has not penetrated in to it.”

Why? Is it because of the hard heartedness of the west or the inability of the religion?

As I am living in Europe I can very well see it. The inhuman secularism, which swept over Europe, has almost killed Christianity. Churches are empty and monasteries are being sold out. In its place Islam is taking root. I wonder at the way Islam taking root everywhere. If one can believe statics, within 25 years Islam will become the major religion of Europe, Africa and of course of the world. It is not as organized as Christianity and it does not have sacraments like Christianity yet there is something that makes this religion ticking.

Islam is a religion, which can be easily politicized. What we see nowadays is a political Islam that is made used by Ahamadinejad and rest of the people. Another thing, it is a simple religion. It is not confused by hard-core dogmas. It can also blend in to different cultures. That’s why Malcolm X said ‘Islam suites more to Africa’. History also shows that this religion has tremendous surviving capacity.

But I feel Buddhism is a religion that can really challenge Christianity. In India Buddhism was failed to Sankara’s Adhvaitha because it lacked intellectual possibility. But modern Buddhism is gaining strength. It has wonderful elements in contemplation; Zen Buddhism will never loose its charm. Buddhism also gaining potential converts all over the world likes Hollywood film stars and intellectuals. Apple‘s c CEO Steve job and poet Leonard Cohen are its big proponents. I was enchanted by Leonard Cohen’s rendering of the Tibetan ‘Book Of THe Dead’, he has a captivating voice. What inspires me is its atheism, the way Buddhism is silent about God. That saves it from tragedies of god interpretations. There are fallacies which only atheism can purify. What Christianity needs is a sort of atheism. Because it is too godly and god is picked up from every corner and he is compelled to speak about and for everything. Why can’t we leave him alone?

Sure, Hinduism is not a religion rather it is a culture. Hinduism has the universal elements. Its inspirations are profound. Siva is a figure with great theological magnitude. In Siva all contradictions are solved, he is life and death, dance and stillness, kindness and ferocity, protection and annihilation, he is also the perfect husband and perfect paramour, nothing is two in Siva and only Siva can be so.

My disappointment with Hinduism is that it has not produced great personalities after Vivekananda. Mata Amruthananda Mai is good. I doubt Sri Sri Ravisankar. He is marketing the religion in a corporate manner. He only inspires rich .I was surprised it see ht e he was muted in debate with Dr. Zakir Naik who is a clever ignorant. For instance he said that it is Islamic philosophy that first spoke about big bang, which is a clear mistake Greek philosopher Parmenides spoke about it 2000 years before Jesus.

As I doubt Sri Sri I also doubt Benny Punnathara of shalom TV. He is also cleverly marketing the religion in a corporate manner. Even priests are echoing his biblical interpretations, which have nothing to do with truth. What he loves is his religion more than truth and Coleridge spoke of these people “one who loves his religion more than truth will end up loving himself more than the religion”. He is trying to be a modern Paul of an alchemist Jesus who turns copper in to gold.

We discussed some major religions. Now what is the difference Christianity has compared to these religions? Is it scripture? But for that matter Christianity is not book religion as Islam is. Before reading Koran one has to wash hands and Muhammad Nabi is a servant of the Koran and Koran thus cannot be interpreted. Raymond Panicker very well said Christianity can survive even without scripture. Jesus is bigger than bible. One call sell bible to feed a hungry man.

Then is it sacraments? Islam performs well without sacraments.

Then is it traditions, dogmas and interpreters. Spinoza will argue against interpreters “the cleverest interpreter of the religion is its greatest enemy.

About dogmas Wittgenstein has something to say, “ Christianity is not a dogmatic religion. Dogmas say what happened and what will happen but it cannot say what happens.”

Christianity has only difference compared to other religions, Jesus Christ. He makes the actual difference because he is the god who always remains man and will be a man.

So who is this man called Jesus? Nothing is controversial as the nature of Jesus. There are thousands who are burnt to death because of this name. I am not going to make any theological speculations but I would like to share my perspectives, of course I am indebted to many. Every time I think of Jesus, Kafka comes to my mind. He was a Jew and it is not sure whether he ever confessed his faith in god. But he said something about Jesus that is very illuminating to me “ Jesus is a chasm filled with light all those who walk with their eyes opened will fall in to it”. There is no perfect talking about Jesus no ultimate definition. No scripture, Church and Dogma can contain him fully; he is much bigger than them. Bonheoffer said, “Teaching about Jesus begins in silence”.

To me Bonheoffer always sounded bold and right. He warns us against considering church as the institutional container of incarnation; it is rather, that sphere of human life and fellowship that is besieged by, permanently under attack from the Word made Flesh. One of the most striking features of Bonheoffer’s Christology is his insistence that Jesus Christ is a question posed to church, that church is relentlessly interrogated by the fact that at the heart of its life is the presence of the incarnate one, who cannot be assimilated into or clothed by `a form of religious life’. The consequence of this for theological procedure is immense. It means that not only for our spirituality but for theology too “there are only two ways of possible way of encountering Jesus: one must die or one must give out Jesus to death”. Before get in to this point, one question is pending. Who was the God of Jesus? The Horizon to which he was drawn? The Old Testament God is not only white but also dark as if he is slowly emerging from a primordial chaos. He was so because the men who expressed him were so. It is in Jesus God finds the perfect expression. Jesus called him ‘father ‘ which was hitherto unheard. Ever since he remained a father. Before Jesus there was no God in the world, there might have been some elements of god but not god, because god cannot be in the world without someone bearing, someone becoming him. That is what Jesus did. And there is nothing difficult than to be a God. Jesus life shows us he had a big price pay.

God always forsakes himself. Universe is his abandoning. So in his abandoning we will never find him other his absence, to find Him one has to abandon oneself. We meet him when we are not, we see him we do not see us. The god forsook himself to become Jesus will also forsake Jesus because he relentlessly becomes the other

Jesus experienced it on the cross. He came to know someone whom he became, carried, lived for has disowned him, this scatters him he is now naked not in the body but also in the soul. His soul is stripped that bareness is giving way to this cry ” My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”

After this hear rendering cry, he still lingers to God saying, “ Father I commend my soul in to your hands.” He abandons himself completely to the God, nothing his left to himself. Now God cannot anymore abandon him, as he is not left back and nothing of him remains. He is not there but in God. To whom, to which can He abandon him. He receives him in himself, in to his own essence. They are no more two. Jesus is in God and God in Jesus, a perfect merging. It is the resurrection

After this merging he cannot be in the world. He has to leave. And he left us giving us the Holy Spirit. The spirit is the binding force of Christian community, and spirit is what makes us our ascending possible. Jesus told to Mary “go and tell my brothers that I am ascending to their and my father”. We are this ascending people. We are all gathered in this ascending of Jesus. Till we reach him we do not have him. We experience this abandoning which in turn drive us to protect each other. Bonheoffer meant it when he said, “ live as if god doesn’t exist “ and “ the God who is not with us is the God who helps us”.

I had to face a deep criticism when I wrote about Eucharist. I just explained its word meaning ‘ memoria.’ memory does not show the presence of somebody but absence. You do not have the memory of somebody when he is with you. Jesus said to his disciples in his departing meal “do it in memory of me”.

There is no denial of real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as the memory can be powerful as to make the absence a real presence. But what he is their belongs to the order of a death and power, to the strong force of the world, where you solve the problems by raising money for an army but the God provokes and questions to what is there. He is an absence which disturbs the presence with a difference and allows the lowliest to rise in divine splendour. And he is a spectral spirit who haunts the world as it a bad conscience or who breaths lightly and prompts its most inspired moments. God with close from the words order of on stage and presence. God is there in the nobody of the world.

Forgetting this absence made us to stop wait for him. This is not easy to endure this absence and waiting, so we invented an imaginary Jesus. We could do anything with this imaginary, muted Jesus. The priests of this religion could misuse children, kill enemies. Conduct inquisitions. Christian countries could amass wealth by exploiting poor countries. Which will make the great mystic and scientist, Pascal to say ‘

“ Church is the revenge of God the father against his son,” for making him known for revealing him. Because he always wanted to be in oblivion, non-reachable, Jesus breached it and made him known. So he took revenge by inventing the church that continues to persecute him. Is their any truth in Pascal’s accusation?

When pope Benedict reminded the priests that they are fed the by Catholic Church many felt offended. I believe that I am fed by the Catholic Church. I dream of the time when the church will conquer the frontiers of the earth with her love. Without any triumphalism but with waiting and ascending.

But will anxious words of Jesus prove right? “When I come back will I find any faith on earth”.

Let us conclude with the wisdom of Cardinal Newman “saints are failing on this earth. Jesus is only but coming”. He is only coming. And we are waiting with fear and trembling, “ lord, come soon”