Monday, May 21, 2007

Stabbing us Awake

So a few weeks ago, I was skimming a blog I stumbled upon by a guy in London named JonnyBaker. To all those folks who think Christianity is dead in Europe, you should spend some time catching up on some of the creative ways he and his friends are living church in urban England.

He mentioned an author he was reading. It sounded interesting so after a little digging and some help from a friend (thanks Mary Jane) I found a different book buy the same author.

I've been reading a chapter here and there but on Sunday one passage really struck me. The book is borrowed so instead of underlining or highlighting I typed it out and I thought I would share it you, gentle reader.

Now, by way of introduction, you need to know that the author is a missionary working in India and this passage is lifted from a longer arc of the narrative in which he is attempting to describe the psychological state of a people oppressed by a foreign government. He seems to be trying to help us in the West understand the religious critique of the Indians he regularly meets with in meetings designed to teach about Jesus .

Let me know how it strikes you.



"This judgement of the West by the East in the light of the person of Jesus is powerfully expressed in the lines which a Bengali poet wrote on Christmas Day and sent to my friend, Mr. C.F. Andrews;

'Great-souled Christ, on this blessed day of your birth we who are not Christians bow before you. We love and worship you, we non-Christians, for with Aisa you are bound with the ties of blood.

'We, the puny people of a great country, are nailed to the cross of servitude. We look mutely up to you, hurt and wounded at every turn of our torture-- the foreign ruler over us the crown of thorns; our own social caste system the bed of spikes upon which we lie.

'The world stands aghast at the earth hunger of Europe. Imperialism in the arms of Mammon dances with unholy glee. The three witches-- War Lust, Power Lust, Profit Lust-- revel on the barren hearths of Europe holding their orgies.

'There is no room for thee there in Europe. Come, Lord Christ, come away! Take your stand in Asia-- the land of Buddha, Kabir and Nanak. At the sight of you our sorrow-laden hearts will be lightened. O Teacher of love, come down into our hearts and teach us to feel the sufferings of others, to serve the leper and the pariah with an all embracing love.'

This poetic appeal loses none of its power of judgement and appeal even if we could have wished that he had said that instead of Christ coming away he had asked that he would enter more deeply into the life of the West. Come, Lord Christ, come away? Nay, Lord Christ do not go away! For we too have sorrow-laden hearts; and if the East is crucified on a cross of servitude, we are being crucified on a cross of materialism. We both need thee-- desperately.

This judgement of the East is a call calling us back to our own Master and Lord. As such we welcome it. It shocks us from our smug complacency. It is the earthquake that does not destroy us, but looses our chains. It is the angel that smites us and says 'Arise.' This searching criticism of the East is a Godsend to keep us from falling asleep after taking an overdose of the opiate of material prosperity. It is God's own voice to us. It is stabbing us awake."

1 comment:

LeLe said...

Wow. When I read the title of this post, I thought you were going to say that Eleanor had crawled into your bed in the night and stabbed you awake with some kind of object!

But on the serious side, I don't know how to respond. We Westernes don't know how good we have it and we don't want to think about the people of the East who are suffering because it would make us uncomfortable and we might just have to do something about that. Heaven forbid we get up off of our complacent behinds, comfortable couches, and air conditioning to do something for someone else.