Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My uncle and Jesus

Now a coda to the discussion of the Magi: Over dinner, Mother presented us with the wacky revelation that my uncle Hemanta, who lives back on the village in India, has started worshipping Jesus Christ. He was very ill a few years ago, and he went to a Christian hospital in Vellore where he got better. So he took to worshipping the deity associated with the hospital -- in this case, Jesus. There's a picture of Jesus up on the wall in his house, among the pictures of relatives and Hindu gods, and he prays in front of it at night. I don't think this makes uncle Hemanta a Christian in any sort of usual way -- he's just a Hindu who's making full use of his polytheistic freedom.


Mary said...

We are glad to have your uncle! I have been meeting more and more Christians from places where Christianity is not the majority religion, and it is very interesting (and inspiring) to talk to them about how they practice their faith. I think if you look into the many denominations/sects within Christianity, there are all kinds cultural influences to be found. As someone who was raised Catholic (but later became Protestant) I have always been fascinated by all the Saints...I always thought of them as a kind of spiritual bureaucracy, heading different departments: Patron Saint of families, lost causes,motherhood, animals, etc. and have always wondered how they fit into the whole Judaeo-Christian "jealous God" concept.

Neil Sinhababu said...

See, I'm not really sure it makes him a Christian. Can you be a Christian if you worship Jesus and Durga and Saraswati? I would've thought that monotheism is so fundamental to Christianity that if you worship other gods too, you 're not a Christian. At least the saints are all tied in some way to the same God. The various Hindu Gods, however, do not bear the relation to Jesus that the saints do.

Mary said...

Probably not in the long run; at some point, he would have to become "exclusive." I didn't mean to imply the Hindu Gods were analogous to Christian Saints, just that the concept of praying to Saints seems inconsistent with monotheism to me. But initially, if he has accepted Jesus as his savior and has decided to have that relationship, then he is a Christian. But I'm sure, if he decides to continue to be a Christian,his practice of Christianity will probably look rather different than my practice of Christianity. And I don't mean to sound jerky or anything: I don't try to shove my beliefs on anyone. It's just that, if you think it's a wonderful part of your life, you are glad to have it become a wonderful part of someone else's life.