Tuesday 31 May 2011


Joanne Harris' Chocolat: interesting novel; the action, set in a remote and conservative French village, is between a good 'witch' and a 'bad' priest. The 'witch' - called Viane Rocher - really comes out well: a warm, caring woman who is not Christian. The priest comes out very badly: extremely bigoted (he hates the gypsies, and has, as a young man, even burnt their houseboats), narrow-minded, and so on.

A caricature of the Catholic priest, certainly. Subtly and not so subtly the novel undermines the church. But the celebration of chocolate is truly amazing. I love chocolate, but not too much of it: between a good espresso and a chocolate drink, I would any day prefer the espresso. But it seems there is more to chocolate than I have dreamt of or seen... Wonderful.

Does Christianity have to be so much anti-chocolate and anti-'life'? I don't think. I think of Jesus... We still have to understand him properly. Jesus is certainly more than the bigoted priest of this novel. But he is also more than the good Viane. 

Khristapurana MS in Goa

Fruitful visit to Goa in terms of Khristapurana MS.

Curator Carlos Fernandes said the Goa Central Library had acquired a new MS, donated to them by Mr Suresh G. Amonkar of Mapusa, who in turn had received it from Bishop Allwyn Barretto of Sindhudurg. I did not have an opportunity to examine this MS.

The MS at the Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendra turned out to be the Mariano C. Saldanha MS which had been used by J.L. Saldanha for his 1907 edition of the Khristapurana (The Christian Puranna).

The Bhaugun Vagh Kamat MS belonging to the Pissurlencar Collection housed at the Goa University Library turned out to be a notebook size, incomplete text, with interpolations. The MS also contains several other texts, one of which actually contains the name 'Thomas Stephens' once, and 'Thomas' another time.

Besides this, the TSKK has a photocopy of the Marsden MS.

Then of course there is the Pilar MS which I had occasion to see last year. 

Sunday 22 May 2011

The Namesake

Brought along Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake for holiday reading. It begins slowly enough, but by the middle it picks up a pace that cannot be described as fast, but is riveting all the same. it is quite amazing how this lady (which I suppose she is) is able to capture the in-between experience of an Indian born and brought up in the US of A... Equally amazing how that experience echoes strangely everyone who finds himself caught between the culture of his birth and other culture/s into which he finds himself thrown... 

Thursday 5 May 2011

"Al-Quaeda is not dead"

"Al-Quaeda is not dead" is the title of a thought-provoking op-ed in The Hindu, Bangalore (Wed., 4 May 2011) p. 13.

Simon Jenkins recalls the Afghan diplomat who told him in the weeks between 9/11 and the assault on Kabul of October 2001 that, provided the West did not go to war against Afghanistan, "Bin Laden is dead." A Pashtun loya jirga in Kandahar had come close to demanding that Mullah Omar expel bin Laden and his Arabs....

"Westerners cannot begin to comprehend the devastation their armies and bombers have inflicted on poor people who have the flimsiest of political and economic structures to survive them.
The idea that the Afghan people can sensibly 'choose' between the west and the Taliban is nonsense. All they want is peace, and all the West has brought them is war. It will take decades for the wounds to heal, and they will never be healed by western arms."

Perhaps it is time for creative thinking. Granted that politicians have an image to cultivate. Still... one could think of the Marshall Plan that won over the enemies that were Germany and Japan.... 

Sunday 1 May 2011

John Paul II and a new model of youth ministry

John Paul II will be beatified later this morning.

I was thinking that he provides a new model of  youth ministry:

- his ability to attract young people, not only when he was young and energetic, but also when he was old and decrepit
- his directness in speaking to the youth about Jesus (contrast the indirectness - and experienced ineffectiveness - of our old anthropological model)
- the impact of his personal holiness and authenticity
- his life of prayer
- his ability to handle the media: he was not a master of technology; but he had something to offer, and he allowed full exposure to the media, even to the point of allowing the world to accompany him in his dying moments.

One secret he gives in Vita Consecrata: Young people will not be deceived. So religious, live your lives authentically and to the full. He lived his own life authentically and to the full. He was not loved by all. He was often a sign of contradiction. Even today there are groups not only of the Left but also of the Right who accuse him of being too open to other religions, for example. But: he believed totally. And he had a phenomenal presence. Reminds me of Don Bosco's words: "all hearts will be open to a priest whose heart is pure."

Featured post

Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary