Friday, February 09, 2007

Rising fundamentalism worrying

Christ is for all not an exclusive few

Recent years have witnessed a growth in religious fundamentalism throughout the world. As Christians we are particularly disturbed by this rise in Islamic Fundamentalism which has resulted in conflicts between religions and civilizations. A lot of fear and anxiety are being created throughout the world by this unhealthy trend.

The sad thing about this is the fact that the majority of the followers of any religion are in fact liberal and peace loving. They appear to be overwhelmed by the minority who resort to fundamentalism and have taken control of their respective religions for reasons far remote from their ideals.

Regrettably similar trends are also taking roots in our own church. There is no doubt that that fundamentalism is slowly gaining the upper hand in many of our Catholic publications and the Catholic Church as a whole. The large majority of Catholics are liberal in thinking and practicing their faith. Regrettably their views are not given due consideration by the clergy and editors of Catholic publications and bulletins. Sometimes their opinions are dismissed as anti-Catholic due to fear that they may have negative influence on others.

Today the average person is under tremendous pressures to cope with all the problems in daily living. Amidst all these problems and challenges, even Christ may seem irrelevant in our lives. By adopting a more fundamental stand, the Church tends to isolate this group of followers who are looking for ways to bring Christ active into their daily challenges in life and not restrict Him to just the rituals.

To an overburdened and over-stressed person, religious rituals may provide some temporary solace but unfortunately many use them as escapism from the challenges in daily living. Christ’s teachings should act as inspiration and give us the strength to face all adversaries.

We know that Christ has the solutions to all our woes and He is very relevant in our lives. The Church, instead of moving towards fundamentalism, must go all out to bring Christ into the ups and downs of our daily lives. Only then will He be seen to be relevant in our lives. He is not in the rituals that we observe but alive in our midst. All we have to do is seek him with confidence.

Mother Teresa succeeded in bringing Christ into her life and the lives of millions of others around her. We may not be able to rise up to her magnitude but definitely we can be a “Mother Teresa” in our own little ways, in our own lives.

The Church must use its publications as effective tools to bring Christ into our daily challenges. They must be open to suggestions and criticisms however controversial they may be. They should encourage open intellectual debate on all issues facing us as Christians in today’s sophisticated society and not suppress liberal views by its members who are also are genuinely working to bring the living Christ into their hearts and the hearts of fellow men. Christ belongs to all of us, including sinners, not to just a few chosen ones, the fundamentalists and those who claim to be experts in the laws of the Church.

The Church must be dynamic and change with time to be with the masses like Christ did, and not isolate itself with its outdated thinking based on human theology. It must get involved in the wholesome human development – spiritual, socio-economic, physical and moral. There is no point in the Church singing the same old song to which less and less people are listening, let alone following.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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