To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘India’ Category

India and Ladies Dress

Yesterday, I wrote here about how globalisation is westernisation. One of the observations from my time in India was that concerning ladies dress. Herein, I would suggest is one of the cultural manifestations of the westernisation process.

The area, Machillipatnam, where I was at the beginning of my time was quite remote. I perceived that it was not so affected by western influences. One of the ways that this was manifested was in the dress of the women. Saris were de rigour with very little departure therefrom. As a result there was a decency and modesty and certain refinement about the way the ladies presented.

Being in Chennai, which is a large metropolitan centre, revealed a changing in the way the ladies were dressing. Saris were still very much present. However, there were far more, particularly among those of a younger generation, who were wearing western styles. The contrast was striking between the decent and the modest and the less decent and less modest.

I was left feeling sad. Here is a culture with a heritage of decency in the ways the ladies dress and they are in the process of changing it to that which is much less attractive.

Globalization Is Westernization

It strikes me that the globalisation of the world is actually the westernisation of the world. It is not as if there is an exchange and interaction of cultural values so as we consensually adopt what is best. Rather, western values and being adopted all over the world. And this is not good news.

A part of the reason for this is that the main engines of international cooperation are all dominated by those who have adopted western values. The United Nations, Unesco, Unicef etc., are all vehicles for the spread of western propaganda.

Underlying all this is the  assumed message that “west is best”. So around the world you see generations growing up who aspire to a western lifestyle.

The historical background to this has two key roots:

Colonialism This has imbued many cultures and countries around the world with a tendency to defer to the West. They were taught that the white man knew best and his ways should be followed. Intellectually, cultures and countries may discern that this is not the case, but it is deep in the psyche.

Collapse of Communism. The events at the last 1980’s / early 1990’s have led to a triumphalist attitude in the West. After all, “we won” is the conclusion. Communism collapsed, the Berlin wall fell and the command economies of the former Soviet Bloc adopted capitalism. As a result there is a presumption that all the world should adopt all the values of the West’s culture.

Alas, this is resulting in the devastating spread of many pernicious dogmas and attitudes such as materialism, hedonism and consumerism. Moreover, LGBT+ dogma, is being propagated with increasing vehemence. for example. The countries that hold-out against the demands to embrace “the new way” are declared to be backward. And after all, no-one wants to be backward. The pressure is immense particularly when the granting of aid is predicated upon the adoption of Western values.

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I have heard it said that you have to go to somewhere like Italy to see Catholicism in the raw. Thereby, you will see the vileness of that system and how it is steeped in idolatry. To have been in India is to have seen the vileness of Hinduism.

The whole paraphernalia of the religion for the outsider is just crazy. The entities with their elephant trunk-like noses which preponderate as visual displays of the gods. The massive statues of the gods. The noise and the miserable chanting. All present a warped religion

It is shocking to observe how seemingly normal people embrace such nonsense and happily become devotees.

This leads me to ponder upon the idolatry in the West which is shockingly vile. The philosophical system which leads to the glorification and establishing of self-realisation beyond all other life principles has produced it’s own mad paraphernalia.

We have the emergence of such phrases as “his husband” and “her wife” in our vocabulary. We face a massive bill to de-sex all of our toilet facilities, Women’s only spaces are intruded upon by men presenting themselves as women with all the threat that that brings to vulnerable women. Women’s sport is also to be thrown into confusion by the intrusion of the aforementioned individuals. Surely, to any sober analysis this is all madness

Are these not the mad paraphernalia of our idolatrous worship of everyone being allowed to be what they want to be. Self-realisation is the main idol that people bow down to and worship in the West. Such an idol produces its own warped religious system.

In the West we might scorn the primitive religions that are found around the world with their bizarre regalia. But the West, in principle engages in the same stuff. In the end all philosophies and religions which do not acknowledge the true God as God tend in the direction of insanity. As has been said “when people stop believing in God they don’t start believing in nothing, but rather they believe in anything.”

 

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I returned from India to the UK on Wednesday (18th). It was a good journey back. It included the interminable waiting in queues at Chennai airport and a three hour stopover in the majestic Muscat airport. It is good to be home.

It is simply remarkable that in all my travelling on the roads in India I did not see one accident or vehicular altercation; nothing. It is remarkable because of the seeming chaos of so much of the happenings on the roads. Vehicles and pedestrians so often mingle in a whirl of confusion and throw in a few cows and dogs and superficially you have a cocktail for carnage. Yet all emerged to see another day on the Indian roads I witnessed. I really did see some crazy stuff and of course plenty of horn blowing, particularly in Chennai.

Being served so attentively and graciously by so many people was a real privilege. This was particularly manifest at meal times. The general pattern was for the ladies to serve you and then eat later. I found this somewhat uncomfortable given our pattern in the West of all eating together. Eating together also displays a sense of how food is bringing us together around one table. However, this does not take away from the beauty of the attitude of serving that was continually on display.

It was marvellous to encounter so many different people. One striking memory is of the family from Cochin who have given themselves to scripture memorisation. And we are not speaking of odd verses, we are talking about whole books. Ephesians, Colossians and more. It was a privilege to hear the father recite Ephesians 1 in Malayalam. Made me think much about the need to encourage scripture memorisation and recitation. How valuable it is to hide the Word of God in our hearts.

And amongst the believing communities of God’s people i encountered there was the desire to work out their faith. Different ones struggling in different ways. Some strict some less strict. Some working out their faith amidst struggles of childlessness, Hindu persecution, communal Christianity, missionary work, doctrinal weakness etc. Yet all wanting to serve Christ.

It was great to participate in the baptism of a lady and her grandmother in Machillipatnam. Beautiful to see them confess their faith. It perplexed me somewhat that it was at about 7.45 on a Saturday morning after all the church had been busy serving the previous evening till after 10.00.pm. But nevertheless a joy to see Lily Grace and her grandmother of Hindu background profess the Lord.

The reality of poverty and wealth is very much on display. The Phoenix Centre in Velacherry, Chennai was very much like any mall that you would find in the West such as Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush. But shacks and beggars told another story.

And there was so much more. I have experienced so much and am inevitably am changed. The degree and detail of that I am unsure of. Certain matters were the Lord’s personal dealings with me.  I thank the Lord for the privilege of being able to visit India.

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My trip to India is drawing towards an end. I am due to leave for the UK tomorrow. Since September 12th I have spent four days over in Kerala. I was hosted by Alex and Jyoti Vergis.

The main bulk of the time was spent at a Christian Homeschoolers Retreat at Pligrims Retreat, Vagamon. This consisted of about eight families. The location was amazing; we were up in the mountains. The temperature was much fresher. There were several major storms whilst we were there. The food provided was marvellous.

And the group of people were such an eclectic group; not all were homeschooling (and there were different varieties thereof represented). But to listen to those involved in mission, those thinking about how we approach mission and those seeking to discern what is going on around us particularly from a spiritual perspective, was just great. I found so much of the listening into those informal conversations fascinating. So, in a sense, the home schooling slant was quite in the background.

One observation from this is the fact that spiritual realities are more open in these areas of the world. The realities are just as potent in The West, but hidden away.

To share like common faith with these people was just soberingly beautiful. Different backgrounds and differing perspectives, but one in Christ.

I preached three times on “Raising up a godly home”, “Fathers” and “The Living Love (based on 1 John 4:7-21)”. Happy to do such, but not sure how much was conveyed. I trust there will be blessing. Heard one talk on the Lord’s return; this was engaging, intriguing and fascinating.

Yesterday, Monday, I shared a special time with Biju and Jincy Mathews who were with us in Feltham thirteen years ago. Also met with Dr John Abraham and his wife (Jyoti Vergis’s parents) who have fond connections with Margaret Lee from our fellowship. It was special to meet them

This morning I flew back to Chennai and this afternoon/evening I have been sampling some of the happenings in the vicinity to where I am staying including having a haircut. The sounds, the smells, the hustle, the organised chaos, the contrasts between poverty and wealth, all provide a mix which is impossible to convey in words.

I have received so much kindness here. In Chennai I have stayed with the family of my friend back in the UK, Ramesh Chelliah. They have lavished so much generosity upon me; I have feasted like royalty everywhere where I have stayed.

The way people serve you here still chafes with my western habits. As a rule the ladies serve you, quite literally, and then eat later. But the whole idea of serving others is beautiful.

My stomach was iffy from 9th to 12th, but otherwise I have done well with a bit of due care and medication.

I have so much to ponder upon through the Lord’s gift of this time away. Looking forward to getting back home in our Lord’s good will.

Not sure how much it has all changed me. I trust I am a humbler man who has great cause to be thankful to my wonderful Father in heaven.

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I want to relate what must be the highlight thus far of my time here. It was preaching at a little fishing village at Pallepalam. This church is a branch church from the main one in Machilipatnam. What a joy to be among those people.

To see their vigour in wanting to praise the Lord, to see their faces in wanting to hear the Word and then to experience their appreciation afterwards. It was such a privilege.

Upon finishing Daniel, the pastor of the church, and his wife hosted us to their beautiful home for a great lunch based around fish dishes.

There is just something remarkably precious of going to such a remote place and finding those of like precious faith. All the “ones” of Ephesians 4:4-6 are shared between us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Above all we have the same Saviour who gave Himself for us, to save us from ourselves and our sins.

I can see some of their faces as I write this. Most of them sat on a hard stone floor to listen.Truly one  of the most special experiences in serving the Lord.

Subsequently, in returning to Machillipattnam the car ran out of fuel. As a result we had the striking contrast between seeing a Ginesh festival procession go past with all it’s vile paraphernalia (see here for my observations on this) and then having a further opportunity to meet with some of the dear believers.

They attend another branch church, Karagraharam, from Central Baptist Church, Machilipatnam and had joined with Pallepalem in the morning. Another precious fifteen minutes to see the Lord’s people in that area. Precious memories indeed.

 

 

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One of the intriguing things about my preaching experience in Andhra Pradesh was the desire that the people would have that you pray for them. What I mean is that after services they would come up to me and ask for prayer. The expectancy, if I fully gathered what was going on, was that they wanted you to pray there and then.

Here are some thoughts:

  • In many ways this is beautiful and something to celebrate in the life of the church. How wonderful to be in a church where the people want to pray, where they realise the need to turn over issues in their lives to God in prayer.
  • I did feel though that it would be better for them to be praying with one another rather than asking me to pray for them.
  • One concern was the whole phenomenon of viewing me as “the priest” or “the man of God” (a term which was often used) because I had preached. any sense that I had some special access into the presence of God is one I would want to reject with my whole heart.
  • Also, I wondered whether there might be some residual colonial attitudes here. After all, I was the white man who would have to be deferred to. Again, this would be an attitude that I would want to squash with all my being.
  • Out of courtesy, wanting to encourage spiritual attitudes and wanting to bond with these great people I did very happily participate. Often it would be a general prayer (to just pray for them) or prayer for some practical need (such as health or education). But, my heart delighted when I heard them ask for prayer for their family to be saved or some similar spiritual desire.

I did feel at times like I was a purveyor of prayers and all trades of that ilk. However, what I privilege it was to pray for and be with these people, whom I came to love. And may it be that the Lord might yet move through those prayers.

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