Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chp 188. Christian extremism Part I

Or… My fall from Grace

Or… Why it is difficult to be a Christian in Mizoram

Or… The things that people do that makes you NOT want to do what they do.


A Mizo-centric Post.


December 2006 was the most memorable experience I ever had in my entire life.

I went to a Spiritual Rehab Camp and spent nearly a month there. I was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic back then. What I experienced, changed me forever. I led a new life from then on, quit my immoral lifestyle and had a “NEVER AGAIN” tattooed on my arm to remind me never to go down that lane again. Now I just drink socially only on very special occasions (like my previous post) and am no way going to lead my old life again.

But when my friends and relatives asked me back then, I never used to say I was a born-again. I simply told them I had an amazing born-again-like experience. Because among other reasons, I was still heavily smoking and eating kuhva-hring (our local paan) even after the Camp, which I felt were two of the Worldly temptations people need to give up before they could call themselves Born-agains. A part of me just couldn’t admit that I was spiritually re-born.

That, and a few other reasons.

I started writing about Christianity-related articles. Stuff that I experienced and believed in. Some of them even appeared on “Jesus Calls” magazine and many Christian websites. It felt really good for a while, to be able to play even a minute role in spreading the name of our good Lord.

But then, being a writer and a reader, certain issues stared clashing in my head. Things that I used to believe in, weren’t exactly in line with what the preacher was talking about.

One such preacher went on the pulpit and sermoned about Hnam-feeling on the topic of Inter-racial relationships! What has Christianity got to do with this? At one point we were taught that our faith in the good Lord comes before anything else. And then suddenly there I was, listening to a person implying that our identity in being a Mizo comes before our identity in being a Christian!!!!!

Frankly speaking, I can understand people who talk about “identity” and isolationism. It happens not only all over India but throughout the World wherever there is a small close-knitted society. But for the love of God, please do not mix that with religion.

What about Christian non-Mizos? Are they “evil” according to this preacher? Believe me, there are a lot of non-Mizos who are wayyyyyy more Christian than many many Mizos. Having written many articles about Interracial relationships and how anti-miscegenists misinterpret the Bible, like "The Curse of Ham" for example, I had the sudden urge to stand up right there in the middle of the Church and debate with the speaker. And then I wondered, had I really done that, would I be branded as a blasphemer or a 666 ?

Well, if they had called me an anti-Christ, it wouldn’t be the first time.

A few fanatics call me a devil worshipper, simply because my arms are covered with tattoos (and I listen to Gothic). They throw verses from the Old Testament at me.

Leviticus 19:28
Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

Funny though, that the same Leviticus chapter, right before this verse states:

Leviticus 19:27
Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

And yet I see a lot of clean shaven Christians among those calling me a devil worshipper.

People say it is easy to be a Christian in Mizoram because it is a Christian majority State. Well, let me tell you the truth. It is HARDER to be a Christian in Mizoram than any other place in the World.

So what if Christians are persecuted in some of the Arab nations and a tiny village in Africa? So what if Christians are hunted in China and North Korea? In Mizoram, your intellection and ability to rationalize things get persecuted.

First of all, there is the community pressure. You either join the bandwagon or become an outcast. So sometimes people don’t really know if they are Christians purely out of what they believe in or because of what their neighbors believe in.

The danger to this is that, people not really sure about their faith, start coming up with their own interpretation of Bible verses. Ridiculous interpretations that magnifies their illiteracy. The Bible is not just our Holy Book. We need to study it deeply. We cannot just modify verses from it so that it benefits us.

Secondly comes the community gossips.

My mom is a good Christian. She has instilled Christianity in all her four children and I am what I am today because of her. She has shown me the love and passion of Jesus Christ. But I heard from my friends who heard it from their mothers that some of the other mothers in our locality ridiculed my mother’s faith in Christianity.

Why? Simply because she never takes part in the daily early Morning Prayer service at our local Church where many mothers come. Unlike most of the other mothers who are housewives, my mom is pushing a highly responsible job as a Reader and senior Lecturer at CTE while looking after my two nieces. With none of her four children at home and a husband who retired way back in 1998, she simply has no time for this daily service, although she never misses the Wednesday night, Saturday night and Sunday services. What rights do those jobless so called “Christian” mothers have, to bitch about my mom?

Third reason: The fact that people exploit Christianity to get what they want. I am so sick of seeing politicians and officers with shady backgrounds stand on the pulpit to deliver the message of Christ. I’ve seen those same politicians try to use their influence in the Church to get votes during election time!

My dear Mizoram burns slowly, and this pains me so much. When will the people of Mizoram wake up? Church leaders, please do not accept those huge chunk of donations from politicians… it may look generous, but most of it is dirty money from corruption. Corrupt tithe makes the Church corrupt.

The fourth and final reason why it is so difficult to be a Christian in Mizoram?

Ridiculous sermons.

I will put this up in the sequel of this post. It’s about the crazy stuff that I’ve heard people say to the mass. Stuff that makes you cringe on your seat… It’s a pretty long post, so I have divided this into two so as to capture your utmost attention.

The greatest danger to all these is that people can actually lose faith in Christianity because of such rubbish floating around. I have seen my own friends wane away from Christianity because they are fed up of all the absurd bullsh*t that is shoved down their throat. One of my closest friends from Chanmari, a name that I frequently mention on my blog, renounced Christianity a couple of years back, and it really breaks my heart to see that.

More and more people will start voicing their displeasure publicly. Our sad little city where the shit doesn’t stink and The Other Side are just two of them. I know, I cannot change the way such people think and I have no rights to do that either. I respect them for such honest thoughts, but I can definitely try changing the system to prevent others from thinking that way. That is my prerogative.

A prayer, no matter how small, is never lost.

We take pride in sending out so many missionaries all over the World. I agree that is a very noble deed, but I sincerely feel we need to clean up our own backyard first. Random people who “experienced the light” should by no means be allowed to preach. Preaching is not just about what you went through. You should also have the ability to be a good speaker and make the audience listen. Leadership is a must quality here. No wonder politicians make such good preachers.

Hope you will come back to read the second part to this post.

See you, and keep the faith. God bless you and God bless Mizoram.

- Kima.

27 comments:

VaiVa said...

comment hmasa ber ve teh ang! ka chhiar hman tawh si lo a. Download mai ang! Ka chhiar chak tawh ltk... Inkhawm tlanbo a inpuh tawh loh tur

illusionaire said...

lolz.. :)

Lo chhiar ngei ngei rawh, i tui na lampang a ni.

Haha, nia Inkhawm tlanbo ah chuan inpuh tawh lovang. Kar leh chu kan in hmu khawm tak tak dawn nia, a U-Maruata leh a U-Zaute a te nen :)

luliana said...

KHEI-NUN tih tawngkam hi i hre tawh ngai em? Ka thil hriat thar a nia, dik hi kan ti mai mai khawp a!! Mizo Kristian nih a hahthlak nachhan chu kan in khei tawn nasa thin lutuk hi ni berin ka hria..

btw, U mafaka te nen khan in inhria em? In thalai leader kha..

Jerusha said...

Awi office ah riak ang chu tih nak alaiin, ngati nge I riah loh a? Blog na hun te I la nei ami? :Pp

feddabonn said...

way i've seen it, every religion has the silly, the fanatic, the nominal, the "born-again", the intellectual and so on. i think the mizo expression of christianity may be out of the society's love for homogenisation in religion, clothes and anything else.

illusionaire said...

@ feddabonn: It's true such elements are present in every religion. We cannot do anything about it, but at least we can try to maintain a balance. I'm a firm believer, but I cannot stand fanaticism of any kind. I've noticed they've done more harm than good when it comes to strengthening the faith of other people...

@ luliana: Ni e, midang rel hi kan ching lutuk a, a bik takin Inkhawm bang chiaha titi khawm ho te hian, heihi chu a thalo ka ti khawp mai. Mahni nun ah chiang a har, midang duh anga awm zel tum hi chuan. Pathian leh Sakhuaah pawh Rinna dik tak neih a har.

urrmmm... tu U-Mafaka nge? Mumbai ah chuan ka hrelo. Delhi ah chuan ka hre chiang lutuk U-Mafaka te chu.

@ Jerusha: Ka riah khaaa Thursday leh Friday ah. 48 hours ka awm quit office ah. Hehehe. Weekend em em a riah leh zel te chu a... Mizo Blog Directory pawh ka siam that kha, i details kha lo check rawh :-D

aduhi said...

Eh..hei chu mihlim tawng takin ka va "ei" ve....

It is HARDER to be a Christian in Mizoram than any other place in the World..
.
.
. You either join the bandwagon or become an outcast
.
.
.
I’ve seen those same politicians try to use their influence in the Church to get votes during election time.........No wonder politicians make such good preachers.

So true. All of them. If you are young and don't go to church except on Sunday mornings you are immediately branded "unchristian" "wordly" and other such adjectives.
And if you live away from home and do not attend church when you go home for a week or two the gossip kickstarts - what a life he/she must have led outside Mizoram..I heard he/she did this-and-that and was seen with so-and-so blah blah blah....

And politicians...they are the worse. A rung above the religious "leaders" who are also politicans and use religion to get votes. And the way the church sucks up to politicians is simply disgusting. Politicians and other govt officers who are openly corrupt, who build magnificent houses and have fleet of cars bought with the people's money did not feel an ounce of guilt on stepping up to the pulpit on Sundays and preaching God's word. Practice what you preach, guys!!!

mystic said...

Good read... a tha ltk.. diktak chuan Mizorama kan Christian na hi chu a dahlau a, takna a awm lo ltk. Mi hmuh leh mi hriata thil tih hi kan ngaipawimawh a, a phawvuakah hian kan inhmang ral a, a taka nunpui erawh kan ti lem lo niin a lang.. Christian 100 a 100 state inti mah ila, kan Christian na hi chu midang/hnamdang belhchian tlak a ni lo a lawm

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

Good thing you have part 1..2.. n. :-)

1) it keeps the length short
2) those who likes part 1 will come back for part 2.

Also I think it's high time to have rss-email newsletter.

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toy soldier said...

For the ridiculous sermon,i think most of our preacher are trying too hard to get to the point.There even were times when they themselves comes clearer in the picture much more than the gospel.And for the gossip,I guess this is who we are:D

Chuan,ka post thar ber hi chu misual ah chuan lo la link leh c lo mai:)..from next aw..thanks

Beita Jr said...

"One such preacher went on the pulpit and sermoned about Hnam-feeling on the topic of Inter-racial relationships! What has Christianity got to do with this? At one point we were taught that our faith in the good Lord comes before anything else. And then suddenly there I was, listening to a person implying that our identity in being a Mizo comes before our identity in being a Christian!!!!!"

Hi Kima, a very good post indeed. You are not falling from the grace nor rebelling against our system of faith; what you are asking are a very legitimate questions needed to be answered by those who are responsible for the mess they(we) created. Believe me, who is the real Christians only God knows.

Hnam-feeling, even many theologians justifies this stand stating the case of Israelites as a proof. But what the Bible teaches is not to marry with non-believers, I guess it doesn't talk about marrying different tribe or people of the same faith. We must have hnam-feeling but I agree with you, having faith in the triune God requires us to, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." - Deut.6:5. Also Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...' - Matthew 22:37. I am ready to debate with such theologians anytime.

A friend of mine (a good believer) who married a non-Mizo girl(a Christian girl) said he was often scoffed by our people and labeled as hnam-phatsantu. Perhaps he was not married to a Caucasian (White) girl from some rich western country. This makes me sick literally. So, where does our theology stand when it comes to Western White Caucasian girls? Will the Word of the true living God changes as per our tastes? Never, the bottom line is these people are getting wrong theology from false teachers of today.

Illusionaire wrote "A few fanatics call me a devil worshipper, simply because my arms are covered with tattoos (and I listen to Gothic). They throw verses from the Old Testament at me."

I don't know who teaches like this. There is text and context. There are possible ridiculous passages if we do not understand the text and the context the Bible is talking about. However, the one who is a believer, who thinks that tattooing is not for him/her, shouldn't do it for him/herself. This doesn't give him/her a license to attack others who might tattoo.

@Illusionaire: The danger to this is that, people not really sure about their faith, start coming up with their own interpretation of Bible verses. Ridiculous interpretations that magnifies their illiteracy. The Bible is not just our Holy Book. We need to study it deeply. We cannot just modify verses from it so that it benefits us.

Exactly....

@Illusionaire: But I heard from my friends who heard it from their mothers that some of the other mothers in our locality ridiculed my mother’s faith in Christianity.

I justify the mothers in your locality, their level is understandable. It is the responsibility of preachers/Pastors of the Church to teach on this kind of matter so that those mothers in your locality will not misunderstand someone like your mom. I know there are many mothers who prayed every morning but didn't really care about their kids. There are many preachers, teachers, and pastors but we lack a good shepherd these days. A good teaching is really lacking in our Churches today. We have had too many shouting preachers who seldom touch topics that are really related to our daily lives.

@Illusionaire: First of all, there is the community pressure. You either join the bandwagon or become an outcast. So sometimes people don’t really know if they are Christians purely out of what they believe in or because of what their neighbors believe in.

We can't help having people who are ignorant about faith. I personally don't like those preachers who will frighten Bible campers to confess their sins and seek forgiveness, at the end we have many believers who are not certain about what they believe in.

@Third reason: The fact that people exploit Christianity to get what they want. I am so sick of seeing politicians and officers with shady backgrounds stand on the pulpit to deliver the message of Christ. I’ve seen those same politicians try to use their influence in the Church to get votes during election time!

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Politicians must give donations to the poor rather than the Church. That will fetch them a better votes .

@Illusionarie: We take pride in sending out so many missionaries all over the World.

Sometimes, I wonder if we really care the lost souls around the world and love too much being abroad missionaries. When India is a country which we can preach/evangelize freely being the citizens, does foreign missionary tag sound too good to resist? Christianity is much stronger in China than India. Its like 100 million Chinese Christians vs 24 million Indian Christians. Both having over 1 billion population. Will Chinese Christians cry for India when we are crying out for China?

Will those who are evangelizing so hard in other countries like China and others have the same enthusiasm when they are in our own cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, etc? It is time our missionaries/Churches also start listening to intellectual and constructive criticism.

We need to reform certain flaws in our thinking, I must say it must come from someone like you. Pen is mightier than sword. Let's hope your article find place in 'Kristian Tlangau' and other religious news magazines in our state.

Keep blogging and may God bless.

John said...

i BELIEVE THAT YOU AND OTHERS LIKE LOOK AT THE SYMPTOMS OF A SICK AMERICAN CHURCH and base your beliefs on yhose instead of the Bible, God's words.If you believe, as I do, that one picture is worth a thousand words then go here:
www.johnnorrisbook.com

Sekibuhchhuak said...

Ni e,kan ram hi chu abuaithlak ani.Kan ramah chuan Kristiana hi culture anih tawh avang hian,Kristian nih hmingpu si,Isua zuitu ni silo hi kan tam awm e.

Kristian nih aharsatna i sawi te pawh a dik khawp mai.tin legalism hian bu akhuar nasa in ka hria.Mi nunah kan buai lutuk a.Mahnin a ka zawm theih miah loh pawh mi nunah chuan thaber ka beisei thin te hi sim atan a tha khawp mai.

Kristian tha leh tha lo or piangthar leh piangthar kan tehna hi kan religiuos activities anih chhung chuan in siam thatna tur kan la ngah hle tihna ani.

Tin,Ringtu nun puitlin tehna hi kan thusaiwthiam ahte,kan tawngtai rei theih ate,kan inkhawm tamah te,misawnari a kan chhuah avang te,a in ngaht ber lova,Nitina harsatna/thlemna kan hmachhawn dan ah te,leh nitin a Lal Isua nen kan len dun leh dun loh ah hian a in nghat zawk fo in ka hria.

Chutihrual chuan,Kristian nisi kristian nun anga nung lo emaw miin minrin loh/min sawisel avang mai a Kristian/Ringtu/Lal Isua ka zui loh phah anih chuan,kan in enlet a ngai viau thung ang.

Kani said...

Ziak tha khawp mai, Bible thu hi kan duh lai lai, kan zawm peih leh tha kan tihlai kan sawi vung hlurh a, kan zawm peih loh lai kan hai der tlat a. Sam zuah leh zuah loh te, ei leh ei loh tur te... nupui pasal thuah pawh.. buaithlak khawp mai.

mesjay said...

He post hi chu ka ei lutuk, a tha bon tawp. Part 2 ka lo chang e.

Mizopa said...

Welcome back to the world of the rational - if you rem' my posts after your camp in 2006 :-)

Ciao

Mizopa

Alberto L. Beretta said...

Little big 'Kima',

I just found this metablog of yours, after a thorough search (I've been using for years, now, the best, as far as I know, resident search engine, Copernic Agent Professional, I bought online years ago) with as keywords, 'Italian restaurant, Mizoram' and 'Italian restaurant, Aizawl' (if you just have a quick look at my sole, at present, personal blog on Wordpress you can grasp a bit more).
'Veni, Vidi, Wrici', great!
Do you know something about Italian things, but pizza, spaghetti, Ferrari, Martini and 'Azzurri'?
Any true, good Italian restaurant/foodstore and the like in Aizawl/Mizoram?
Do you want to join the metamarketing team I'm building?
I'm much interested in real India, off the root, and want to learn Hindi and other 'regional/state' languages.
Arrivederci ('Goodbye' in Italian).

Alberto L. Beretta said...

Kima and others,

about Christianity and every other religion (Buddism and Taoism - very interesting to me, like the example of Jesus Christ, S. Francis, Johannes XXVIII, sufi - are not), considering that I think of myself as a non religious neopro(gressive=truly liberala AND democratic AND socialist, in a brand new way I'm trying and build in Italy), who doesn't think much of average clergymen, priests (the more they shout and break your balls, by either forbiding or enforcing you to do anything - and they aren't elected by anyone, are they?):

1 yes, you're right, fanati(ci)sm spoils even the 'best religion'.
And, in space and time, led and leads to t(h)e(o)rrorism, unfortunately.
2 the greatest message to mankind, after those in 'your' Rigveda, dating 3.500 back, and those of Zen Buddism ad Taoism, are those of Jesus Christ, love for others, no to slavery, don't do others what you don't want to be done to you...

Jean Chia aka Ms.Yummy~licious said...

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luliana said...

U mafaka ka tih chu Rory Lalfakzuala pachuau..hre tawh em? :)

Faerie said...

Amen mawlh mawlh, tunlai chu keipawh kan ram hi ka ngaihtuah thin khawp mai, ringtu tha ni duh si in Pathian aiin,mite mit hmuh a that tum kan tam ltk a, kan tum ram hi kan thleng pha lo ang tih hi ka hlau thin. kan kristianna a dik hun hunah kan ram hi chu atha animai.

Anonymous said...

This is something all of us from different faiths face - how to deal with hypocrites and fanatics within our own religions. Thank you for showing how a mainstream Christian has to deal with Christian extremism. As a Hindu, the mocking of my religion by Christians or Muslim fanatics hurts me but does not anger me as much Hindu fundamentalism does. Why? Because in my own religious life I do not have to deal with Christians and Muslims, so their opinion of my faith does not really matter.
On the other hand, Hindu fundamentalism or fanaticism directly affects how I practice my faith, what I wear, how I live, so I feel that I have to speak up whenever I encounter fanaticism from my co-religionists. That's the way we all have to go - those who are moderate have to guard their respective faiths against the extremists within before the whole culture is overwhelmed by fanaticism. Each one, take responsibility for your own faith.

I would not bother about people's comments about your mother's faith or the lack of it. Unfortunately, churches, temples and mosques also become social institutions as well as religious ones. People go there as much to be "seen" as to worship. And when one does not go there to be "seen" that of course makes the hypocrite "social" worshippers start their usual judgemental gossip.

---Sharmishtha

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I think the points you bring up here are not exclusive to Christianity in Mizoram alone, or even to any religion at all. Religion, IMHO, is something very private to each individual- I may disagree with your convictions, but no with your right to hold them. The only way to deal with the idiots who try to judge your 'level' of religiosity or your mother's, is to hold your own convictions, and keep your chin up. (though of course that might be difficult in a situation where religion is so bound up in community identity, and by extension the community becomes an important part of religion. I'm one of those people who sees being Christian as part of my cultural background, even if it isn't an active religious belief. Though I don't feel that my culture, such as it is, will be threatened by a few mixed marriages, or even a lot of mixed marriages.). And religious extremism is unfortunately a common thing in India, if anything I'd say the Christian communities in India are more moderate than most (even if it's only because we are such a small part of the population).

Just a grail said...

A prayer, no matter how small is never lost.

That was beautiful.


After reading this I was curious about what your commenters had to say since I don't live there and can't really give my input. Hot single black girl seems to really want to discuss some stuff with you, she is so lonely! LOL

life10 said...

This I eat!! amen....one reason why I dont wanna settle down in mizoram is this.where I have to do so much work for the church that I have no time for my faith and for God..no time even for a quiet time with God,no time even to see how my kids are doing.. cuz we are so busy with the rites and rituals of the church and its demands on practicing christians...and u know with my hub`s post they just expect him to be able to deliver a sermon!! how sick is that ?? at least in Delhi, it isnt that bad...hey how are u btw?we miss u :)

marin-a said...

Kan kristianna in rawn analyse khi a tha khawp mai. Tan kan lak tlan chu a ngai ani. Mizote tan hian kan sakhua hi kan hnam dinchhuahna ani tih kan hriat a tul viau bawk si a. Mahse kan kristian dan hi chu a famkim lo hle. famkimlo mahse dhalau leh tha lo vek anga puh chu a dik kher lovang. Ramdang kristiante pawh hi han inbelhchian takah chuan ralkaht rin ang an lo ni vek lem lo. A pawimawh ber chu a form aia a essence hi kan rinnaah hian kan dah len a tul. Khawiah pawh awm ila eng pawh thawk ila worship rilru in ti ila chu a dik mai tur a nia.