A Deal For A Deal

Good Morning!

First God created everything. And He saw that it was good.

Then He created man. That was the best.

Then He put man in charge of everything. So far, so good. God, in His abode, smiled.

Man was endowed with a superior brain by God, which made him very innovative, and he discovered Poly Hydro Carbons. Oh, ouch.

That was the beginning of the end.

Then he went further and made plastic straws.

Which started to choke and kill some of God’s Creation from Day Five.

Jesus Wept. Again.

Now we began to wonder what happened to man’s heart.

So now you’re thinking, what does this all have to do with me?

OK, Seattle, where our daughter Mekhala lives, has just outlawed the use of plastic straws, the first such law in the country.

From our several visits to the Pacific Northwest, I can say that Washington is at the forefront of environmental consciousness. Good for them.

Here’s where I come in.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious case of OCD regarding, among other things, the use of everyday disposable items. In fact, I’m receiving treatment for the same as we speak. From my husband. So it’s free of charge.

The slogan Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, for me, is in that order. Reduce first. Then what we have, we try to reuse. Then if it must be in the third category, recycle it.

One small step for a woman. Another small step for mankind.

Are we still wondering where I’m going with this?

OK, You know those little plastic bags at the produce isles of our grocery stores, that weigh zero milligrams, that we all use and discard with all abandon? Yeah, that one.

I have a suggestion. After we bring them home, empty it, place it back in the reusable shopping bags which I’m sure you already use, and take it back to the store to put more veggies and fruits in.

You ask, ok, if I do this, what’s in it for me?

For anyone who takes such a pledge, to continuously and always do this, drop me line to let me know, and I’ll make them a (one-time) favourite snack of theirs.

Of course, the snack has to be something from among the assorted items in my cookbook. Like, if you say, you love Iranian caviar balls served with a touch of Dijon mustard on toasted brioche, and a sprig of sage on the side, that’s not my gig.

I got this idea of reusing these silly bags from our daughter Yamini who lives in Minnesota, (another progressive state), where she does this already.

A tree is always near a fallen apple.

However, my husband is already stressing about the prospect of me getting so many pledges that I’ll be in the kitchen constantly, instead of taking care of him.

Read on for the the following from the Washington Post which is what prompted me to make this post.

Some of my liberal friends are already gleeful that, for a change, my post this time is not about some ‘far-right’ political proposal.
Happy Thursday…keep your cool today. It’s going to be a scorcher along the Eastern Seaboard…

mercy
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Red/White/Blue In One Of The Thirteen Original Colonies – An Ode To ‘A Midsummer Week’s Dream’

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“The separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them.”

The Pre-Ample to The Declaration Of Independence Of The United States Of America from Great Britain. 

Thank you TJ for always assuring that The Creator is ever-present in your poetry.

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The Fourth. July. 1776. 2018.

Life. Sun. Liberty. Sand. Happiness. Splash. Self-evident Truths. Bluest Sky. Pursuit. Sea Gulls.

The Creator. Always The Creator. Thomas Jefferson.

Works of fire. Fire on the grill. Fire pit on the beach. Sea weed. Beach reed on Dune walks. Cod shacks.

Pool in sand edged with rocks. Breakwater Rock. Rock of Ages.

Arms wrapped on arms on a wrap-around porch.

Footprints in the Sand. Sand Castles. Sand Alligators with green eyes. Sand everywhere. Sand in the house.

Clams. Calm Ocean. Clawed creatures.

Massachusetts. The Bay State. Sparkling water buzzing over Buzzards Bay. Mist droplets approximating dancing crystals.

Yet again, The Creator. The One Who Calmed The Seas. And Walked On It.

Sunrise. East. Sunset. West. Tide. High. Low.

Three Girls. Three Boys. Seven Grands. Two Grands. Eight days. One Grand week.

In all fairness, Fairhaven is a fair haven. It was one for the books. Facebook, that is.

Last day. Last hour. One last walk on the beach. Tide had come in. The highest. The alligator with green eyes, Mekhalamama’s artful creation in wet silica, had disappeared. Forever. The rock completely submerged. And just a memory now. Just as the week.

A glorious week.

All kin nestled back in their homesteads.

Manoj Achen and Jeslin Achen, your prayers meant more than you’ll ever know. In the absence of my mother, you will do.

May God travel with you, as He did with us.

Happy July, everyone. Fourth and beyond.

mercy

“What’s in a name?”

“What’s in a name?”

Tomorrow, on April 27, 2018Philipose Mar Chrysostom MarThoma Valiya Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church will turn 101 years old.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;”

William Shakespeare

‘Romeo and Juliet’. Act II. Scene II.

Juliet Capulet

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Padma Bhushan Philipose Mar Chrysostom MarThoma Valiya Metropolitan.

Philipose Mar Chrysostom MarThoma Valiya Metropolitan was bestowed the second highest civilian honour of The Republic Of India just 3 months ago.

Before he received this honorary title, he was Philipose Mar Thoma Metropolitan.

And before Thirumeni achieved this status as the titular head of the Mar Thoma Church, he was Philipose Mar Chrysostom, or as was commonly called, just Chrysostom Thirumeni.

And before that, a long time ago, he was one Philip Oommen Kasheesha;

Or as affectionately addressed only in familial circles, Dharmishtan Achen.

and before that, just plain old Dharmishtan. 

Less well known and perhaps lost to passage of time, nevertheless remains a substantial piece of information in all this, and that is:

Thirumeni was named Dharmishtan by his parents upon his birth.

It might just roll off the tongue as if nothing, (actually it doesn’t) and it’s not mentioned anywhere in his Wikipedia bio-data. I just happen to be aware of this piece of history.

And the name has a significant meaning. Which is what prompts me to do this post.

In Sanskrit, the word Dharm-ishtan means, One Who Loves Dharmam.

Dharmam in its element means, ‘performing one’s duty’.

However, as is the case with many Sanskrit or Vedic words, it has a more sophisticated subtext.

There, it means: ‘Duty That’s Right In The Eyes Of God’. A God-given or Divine Duty. Really.  

So let’s leave what is ‘right in the eyes of God’.

Let’s go back to ‘What’s In A Name’.

Apparently, a lot. 

Do we think Thirumeni’s parents had a forewarning of how their beloved son would turn out? If they didn’t, his Maker did.

“Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.” Isaiah 49:1

I don’t wish to elaborate on how Thirumeni’s life as a whole has profoundly impacted and inspired so many from all spheres, from Malayalam film star Mammootty to Mata Amritananda-mayi, to name just two. It’s been attested to and documented well for quite some time, and a lot more of it came to light as he approached his birth centennial last year, and more recently with this honour.

In many ways, and not unlike the current Pope, he is arguably more loved by ‘non-MarThoma’ and ‘non-Christian’ folks, even more than his MarThoma kin. Much the same way as one would say, Francis is perhaps more revered by ‘non-Catholics’ than Catholics.

They both shattered conventions of institutional boundaries to simply LOVE.

This raises the curious question: if these two men had demonstrated this proclivity in their youth days, would they have been able to advance in their stations? Would the institutions have encouraged or permitted it? One for another day.

I found it somewhat amusing to have a ‘not-a-MarThoma’ close friend tell me, that her brother called all the way from India, just to tell her of Thirumeni’s honour soon after it was announced in Delhi;

as well as to witness the reaction of an Indian co-worker, Bala, who asked incredulously, ‘have you actually met this man’?

When I replied in the affirmative, he didn’t want to believe it. I guess he’s never had the chance to meet a Padma recipient.

I think we can all agree that Thirumeni lived up to a Creed driven by the Scripture.

“The Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.” Micah 6:8

To illustrate more, the following is cut and pasted from The Indian Express, published soon after the award announcement.

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KOTTAYAM: The oldest living bishop in the world would have ended up as a registered porter at the Jolarpettai Railway Station, if the then metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church had consented to the request of the 29-year-old Philipose Mar Chrysostom.

Thirumeni, as he is affectionately called, was on his way to Kottarakkara to take charge as the clergyman of Kottarakkara, Mylum and Pattamala parishes after completing his Theological studies in Bengaluru.

While waiting at the Jolarpettai station for a train to Kerala, he closely watched the life and work of railway porters.

As usual he started advising them and the rude porters challenged the 29-year-old Chrysostom to stay with them and understand their miseries.

The well-built, over six-foot tall Thirumeni accepted the challenge and worked as a porter at the station for one month.

During this time he changed the lives of the porters who otherwise lead a very anarchic life.

As Thirumeni says in his autobiography: “The one-month-stay with them inspired a wish in me. I wanted to become a registered porter. But I had to get the permission of the Metropolitan.”

Though the Metropolitan welcomed the idea, he insisted that he needed a clergyman for the parishes and Chrysostom had to half-heartedly drop the idea of becoming a porter.

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Happy One Hundred plus One, Thirumeni. Grace in Greatness. Greatness in Grace.

His Grace Philipose Mar Thoma. God’s Grace.

Happy Thursday to all…

mercy

‘Mahal Sneham’ – A Seat At The Table

This is the third year in a row when I have attempted to do a written tribute to my dad on his birthday. This year would be his 102nd. February 13, 2018.

There is a song in our hymnbook, Kristhiya Keerthanangal, that starts with the lyrics, ‘Mahal Sneham, Mahal Sneham’

Several of our hymn book songs are from over one hundred years ago, a big chunk of them attributed to Sadhu Kochukunju Upadeshi, (who wrote ‘dukha-thinte pana-pathram’ in 1915). Imagine that. Talk about being immortalized. Well, as he should be.

However, there are also melodies that don’t have an author mentioned, or none known. ‘Mahal Sneham’ is one of those songs. And I do have a story to tell about it.

You may challenge me on this. But here is how I recollect it.

We were at the Chepad parish from 1957-1960.

During this time frame, occurred a visiting stay at our home by a particular upadeshi. Sadly, and uncannily, a key element I can’t recall precisely about this account is this upadeshi’s name. It was some sort of a ‘Biblical’ name like Pathrose or Markose. Markose, I’m leaning towards more.

Even with this name confusion, I can recollect Upadeshi’s unmistakable physique. Dark-skinned, a bit short and stout, wearing a white cotton juba-and-mundu ensemble, with a very low-cost towel (thorth) on his shoulder. I remember this part vividly and with my heart.

You see, Markose upadeshi was from the ‘Paraya’ class. This, too, I’m certain of. Why? we’ll get to the ‘why’ a bit later.

This forgotten evangelist wrote the favoured song, ‘Mahal Sneham, Mahal Sneham’. And he, for sure, doesn’t own the copyright to it.

A man with barely an elementary school education and nothing further, expertly knew the Bible, especially the New Testament and its message, backwards and forwards, and this song is somewhat of a summation of Paul’s Letter To The Romans.

Markose upadeshi was an itinerant preacher, (‘upa-‘deshi’, is ‘someone who is not of the local’), and my innovative dad in his ever-Gospel-spreading mode, and bursting with energy, discovered his bio-data from somewhere and invited him to the parish and to stay with us.

A big convention ensued thereafter on the church premises, that drew huge numbers of people from across the spectrum and from long distances, eager to hear first-hand upadeshi’s testimony of conversion.

From Hindu to Christian. From the Paraya caste to MarThoma.

From working with his hands making dried leaf mats in the green lush of South Asia of the late 1950’s, to preaching the message of a First Century Carpenter from the arid wilderness of the Middle East.

The Sabha for its part, I believe, possibly has no record of what I’m recanting, but believe me (I’m not quoting anyone famous here!), this account is accurate.

And there is a story within this story. Two Tales Of A God’s Messenger.

As most of us would acknowledge, there was a caste system solidly in place in India of old. There were rules of conduct for each class that, in the process, separated them.

There were the four castes that ‘counted’, with placement in a particular order, and were reported in history books and Sacred Texts.

Below that, were the ‘untouchables’ and the unrecorded. (The word ‘untouchable’ should be stricken from the English dictionary of idioms. I hated writing it just now.)

(Mohandas Gandhi in his infinite Godliness called them Hari-jans (God’s people).)

The Paraya (‘Pariah’, or ‘outcast’) class was part of this last sect.

Even though this was an edict of the Hindu religion, Travancore Christians practiced it with serious gusto. Those belonging to these castes didn’t eat with us, use our utensils, enter our houses, didn’t address us.

Most Definitely, they were not given A Seat At The Table.

Except: My dad did. Markose upadeshi stayed with us for a few days, slept in one of our spare beds, and most movingly, had a chair at the dining table next to my dad.

In more ways than I can say, my dad was ahead of his time and place. For better or for worse.

In 2018, one might ask, ‘what’s the big deal’?

I’ll tell you what the deal was. And that is the story within.

As much as folks wanted to hear upadeshi speak, many, many were grumbling about this arrangement. Out of earshot of my parents, they would make sneering remarks about this man, and berate my parents (‘how dare they commit such an outlandish act’, ‘thalaku vattano’?’), obviously unaware a little girl was listening.

To this day I remember one parishioner ‘joking’, ‘kochama-ku eneem payku prashnam kanathillalo.’ See the Paraya class was ‘designated’ to make mats out of dried grass. So, ‘my mother wouldn’t have to buy these mats anymore. Upadeshi can make it for us’, is what was being implied. Never mind the man perhaps hadn’t done it in, like, may be ever.

You see, my concern as a child who understood, was not for the poor upadeshi, or for the unfairness of the social strata.

It was for my parents. These persons who were their benefactors turning on them this way. It stung.

My dad had the softest spot for evangelists, (and for household help, a separate story for another day).

He had an uncompromising habit of tithing exactly 10% and not a paisa less.

There was an empty Horlicks bottle, (which in and of itself was a ubiquitous item in many households, the liquid version of which my sister and I were made to drink every single day), on top of my dad’s book shelf, in which this money was kept. This was set aside for these preachers and others like them, and would not be used for another purpose under any circumstance. Markose upadeshi received the bottle’s entire contents upon his visit.

I must admit, missing further from this account is, what set in motion upadeshi‘s conversion in the first place, or when this song crept into our song book. Somewhere in the 80’s or later. It most certainly was not there in the 60’s. My mother, who possessed a photostatic memory, would’ve known if I had asked her before lapses set in.

Thank you Markose upadeshi for this song, on behalf of all those who have ever been moved by its meaning and melody, for the past sixty years, and counting.

Every time our pianist Christy’s foot goes to the pedal on the church piano with notes of the opening lines from this song, or when Achen spontaneously breaks into it, at the start of the communion round, my heart flutters with thoughts of,

a prairie village in a distant place, in a time long ago and long gone, in Alappuzha district along the coastal plains of the Arabian,

and a ‘touchable’ man who was Touched by God, and another one who assisted in the man’s journey.

That and when I see a Horlicks bottle anywhere.

Happy birthday, Papaji.

 

 A great Love that secures you A Seat At The Table.

Mercy

The Union And The Confederacy – North And South

Good Friday morning!

I thought the hysteria surrounding ‘the statues’ gripping the nation would dissipate. But it seems to be picking up steam, instead.

So, now we’re talking about changing the name of historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. Because back in seventeen hundred and something or other, one mister Peter Faneuil, whoever he was, owned slaves.

This sudden idea of removing all confederacy symbols is liberal hysteria gone amok.

There is a movement in India, thankfully a tepid one for now, to diminish the stature of Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru from the public space. They were ‘too British’, attended Oxford, and were not ‘Indian’ enough. And I guess Gandhi beat his wife once. There’s conversation regarding the removal of Gandhi’s face from the Indian Rupee notes.

Come on. On Gandhi’s tiny shoulders, stands the expansive Republic Of India.

A diminutive man from a rural fishing village on the Western Indian Coast, MKG, stood down an empire, with just the highest moral certitude as his compass, and an utterly devout faith as his guide.

The one who declared, “we have come four hundred years with the British, and when they leave, I want us to be friends”, (and we are), needs to remain where he is. As the Father Of The Nation.

Heck, there’s a statue of him in the town of Sherborn, Massachusetts.

I, for one, (don’t yell at me!) am of the opinion that colonialism was good for India. The Portuguese, The Dutch, The French, and finally The British. The most extensive railway in all of Asia aside, who can forget the Rosario’s Bakery in Kottayam? 😊

My life in America is the purposeful result of the twin documents, The Declaration Of Independence and The US Constitution.

The men who penned them should be revered, not vilified for their shortcomings. Slaveholders or not.

Superior intellect of a man, Thomas Jefferson, who affirmed that God has endowed each of us with the right to pursue our own brand of happiness, should get his own pedestal.

General George Washington, who led his troops against the same mighty Empire where the sun never set, and won a revolution, should get our esteemed affection.

We cannot and must not re-write history to suit the current winds.

The documents these men wrote are living ones. So even as Thomas Jefferson wrote, ‘all men are created equal’, in time (a long time, perhaps), it was amended to mean, ‘all men and women’.

What does it all have to do with our daily grind?

Just a quick reading of a sliver of The Constitution affirms that, in order for a policeman to enter our homestead, he needs to carry a search warrant issued by a judge.

This brilliant concept arose in 1215, the year the Magna Carta was written.

In those ways and days of the English monarchs, All The King’s Men could barge into any home, at any time, and do whatever that pleased them.

Jefferson in his infinite wisdom, wanted to assure that the common man was protected against this sort of blatant tyranny.

It’s a historical fact that TJ almost wrote ‘property’ instead of ‘liberty’ in the famed lyrics, ‘Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness’.

He declared ‘A man Is The King Of His Castle’, that no one can encroach upon.

We once had a neighbor, the most wonderful kind, Peter Olsen. He had a little girl who’d have to take the school bus every day to the Peter Noyes Elementary, from right in front of our house.

One day, before Courtney started school, Beth Olsen walked over to our house, and literally asked for our permission for Courtney to cut clear across our yard to the bus stop, instead of walking on the well-trafficked Pelham Island Road. A courteous gesture, I’ll never forget.

All extra-ordinarily gifted and men and women come with serious flaws in their character, blemishes in direct proportion to their genius.

‘Shakespearean Flaws’ is the nomenclature for it. Shakespeare’s Hamlet was such a character. And The Bard studied, knew and predicted human behavior to a T.

Or as Isaac newton would say, ‘For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. 😉

Maurya Dynasty’s Samrat Ashoka, the grandest emperor of the ancient Indian Subcontinent, who planted shade trees and erected load-easing edifices along weary travelers’ roadways in BC 250, is known to have killed countless numbers of people in war, before he had an ‘Apostle Paul-like’ conversion and found Dharma Margam.

King David committed the most egregious sin against man and God, and Jews celebrate him as the most luminous King Of Judah ever lived.

Biblical Patriarch Abraham kept slaves, and yet he’s called the Father of three major world religions.

And Moses, the first and the original law-giver in human history, killed someone. The claim was self-defense.

All of them fulfilling God’s plan on earth at precise times and places.

We must most certainly keep their place in history, and in the place where their influence was most indelibly felt.

I personally couldn’t care less about General Robert E. Lee, or Stonewall Jackson (whoever he was). Their statues can serve as reminders of what we should never be. May be we can put a tarpaulin over their heads.

Let us look at it this way.

There, if you go to Auschwitz in Poland, you can find certain old buildings. And if you can muster up the fortitude to walk into one of them, you can see with your own eyes, the spot that housed The Crematoriums, the crucible of Hitler’s evil experiment called The Final Solution. And if Adolph Eichman had attended Sunday school, or had attended one of Sam Achen’s bible studies, he’d have known that, just like the Burning Bush from where God spoke to Moses on top of the Sinai, the Jews may burn, but will never be destroyed.

If the Jews have managed to keep these killing machines on display all these years, to remind us of the atrocity against humanity that took place right behind the eyes of the world, there is a lesson there.

I don’t think many Jews make the pilgrimage there. But then again, they just might want to.

There’s no sane way to defend Mr. Trump’s words or deeds. But for the purpose of this piece, let’s take him out of the equation.

Some Princeton University students recently appealed to authorities there, to take down Woodrow Wilson’s name from their International Studies School. I wonder what poor Woodrow was guilty of!

Next it’ll be taking down Fletcher out of the School Of Diplomacy at Tufts. I hope Fletcher didn’t own slaves. Who was Fletcher anyway?

The point I’m arriving at is: There may not be an end point.

Coming back to the point however: history is a teaching tool, as well as an inspirational one. We can keep it alive without re-living it.

Are you still with me? 😂 if you are, please say a ‘prayer for us, as we take wings’ to Atlanta tonight. (and let me know if you do).

wish you a sunny summer weekend…

mercy

 

Protestant Reformation

Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, a movement that was led by a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther, and one that profoundly altered the infrastructure of a Christian Europe.

On October 31, 1517, the day before All Saints’ Day, a solemn day on the church calendar, Luther posted what has historically arrived to be known in theological circles as the 95 Theses, on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.

In reality, they were ‘grievances’ he had with the Roman Church, of which he was a huge part.

Luther’s grievance Number One, if it can be called that, was against the price of ‘indulgences’ the church levied on mostly poor peasants, who supposedly committed what the Church considered as sins, in their teachings and in the indoctrinated understanding of the peasants themselves, heavy drinking a chief one among them.

I guess one had to ‘pay’ to the church to have their ‘sins absolved’.

So the math works that, if the flock sin more, the church’s coffers get richer.

This penance offering was used almost entirely to construct The Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, arguably the most breath-taking structure in all the world.

I have stood on the cobble-stoned steps of the majestic Saint Peter’s Square that houses the basilica, with the arms of the gigantic Roman columns all around me as if in an embrace.

To say, I got all goose-bumped would be an understatement.

And The Sistine Chapel. La Capella Sistina.

What is there to say about it? How can one describe it?

the Reformation in Western Europe had followed the Italian Renaissance and coexisted in close historical epoch, one enriching the other.

The famous fresco painting on the chapel’s ceiling, ‘The Creation of Adam’: where God as a dynamic figure on the right, lifting Adam up from his slumber, Adam as the lithe figure on the left, their forefingers reaching for each other’s but not touching, creating that space between them where infinite possibilities exist.

Frankly, It’s disingenuous to soak this all in to a hilt, and then disapprove of the method by which it got there.

It’s equally hard for me to fathom this was the effort of a mere Man. I have no doubt whatsoever it was Divinely inspired. God was there holding the Man’s (a devout one) hand.

So, In a strange sort of admission, I’m glad Pope Leo commissioned it. (Apparently Michelangelo didn’t come cheap. 😁)

However, I wonder what Peter would say to seeing all this. Jesus might say to His most trusted disciple: Hey, Pathrose! This is not what I had in mind. 😉

So in a more real sense, I’m glad the indulgences were done away with.

———–

The theology of the protestant reformers departed from the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of, at a minimum, three great principles.

  • The sole authority of the Scripture.
  • Justification by faith alone.
  • Priesthood of the believer.

There were other major and significant points as well. It’s too lengthy to elaborate on them in this space. (Each one is a separate blog.)

Christian Community may not be cognizant of these Doctrinal differences, as much as what has really ‘set us up apart’ for five centuries, which are the seminal changes that occurred after and as a result.

This tide-turning movement that happened in the 1500-year-old Church’s history ushered in (among others):

-The end of priestly celibacy (Luther got married),

-Translating the Bible into local vernacular, so that lay people could read, study, and interpret, the Word of God all on their own (Luther translated much into German),

-Incorporating sermons and hymns during worship service (‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’, a personal all-time favorite hymn, was written by Martin Luther himself.)

-and priests playing a significant role in parishioners’ daily lives, pastoring of sorts. Parish life became part of one’s spiritual life.

A single man single-handedly stood down the Pope, and Christendom was ruptured along its fault lines.

While the centrality of the Papal authority has enabled the Roman Church to remain as one, the schisms in the Protestant movement have led to innumerable denominations within it, each with different doctrines and core practices. Staying true to its name: as people who protest.

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Exactly 318 years after this major crack in Europe’s Christianity, a similar kind of Reformation found its way across the continent to the Malabar Coast of Southern India, to the Malankara Syrian Church of Malabar and Travancore.

This is known as ‘Navee-karanam’ in Malayalam (meaning Renewal), and The Malankara MarThoma Syrian Church of Malabar was formed in 1835, and has never looked back.

And I’d say The MarThoma Church grabbed this crusade by its horns, and kind of ‘ran with it’. The structure, and The Practices.

One would expect nothing less from the ‘Syrian Chrsitians’ of Travancore, right?

-The Singing, the Memory Verses.

-Localized Prayer Groups within a parish (Prarthana Muri), Vicar’s church-mandated house visits (Bhavana Sandarshanam) to parishioners’ homes.

-The ‘Suvishesha Sevika Sankham’, the women’s arm that was solely created to empower women, in a way no one else dared in 1919 Travancore;

An event that was preceded by the founding of the Nicholson Syrian Girls High School in 1910, modeled after schools in Britain for the same great cause of educating girls in a Christian setting.

-The ‘Sannadha Suvishesha Sankham’, dedicated to the spreading of the Gospel.

-The Maramon Convention, a Western-origin ‘revivalist’ gathering, the largest of its kind in Asia.

And so much more.

I can claim without equivocation, that no denomination pays the kind of singular attention to learning the Bible the way The MarThoma Church does, not even Mainline American Protestant churches. Seriously, the best part.

At the core of it, MarThoma Church‘s foundation is and has always been The Gospel of Jesus Christ: the Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It used to bear that if something’s not in one of the four Gospels, we did not practice it. This may have transformed over the course of the last century, as complacency and the need to conform with outside strictures have crept in, but the core remains pretty much the same.

For better or for worse, here we are, one half of a millennium later.

Regardless of how it all turned out, we all owe much to the forerunners who brought about the positive changes; even the Roman Catholics must be pleased: after all who needs those who press for changes all the time?

And in honour of Martin Luther and one Abraham Malpan (called The Luther of the East),

Happy Reformation Day to all…

Mercy