Saturday, March 31, 2007

christians of the first order

Meeting Indian christians can be quite entertaining, depending on their exposure to "cosmo" ideas. I have met many who I would lump in as the unexposed - kinda like suburban kids. They have not met many foreigners, they work mostly for the various state and city governments and foreigners normally never tread into those offices.

When christians of this stripe meet me they are at once honored to meet a bona fide christian (Westerners Christians are considered more authentic) and horrified to learn that I married a hindu and live amongst them, eating "hindu food."

Some of the christian missions here have done a very good job indoctrinating many christians with that old-time feeling of supremacy to other religions, complete with the old-school Protestant derision of "Papists."

After living amongst Hindus as long as I have I can say that there are some lifestyle areas where Christianity does beat Hinduism. (although most Hindus maintain that Hinduism is less than a religion and more than a lifestyle). Most deplored by the Hindus is the Christian concession to eat nearly anything that moves. Hindus have caught that distrust of pork shared by the Jews and Muslims, all of them will refrain from eating beef, so that just leaves mutton and chicken for the non-veg Hindu.

A Christian in Bangalore pointedly asked me how I liked "hindu food."


Kelly said...

I've never met this type of Indian Christian! Since the Christians at the church I attend, (Asian Indian Christian Church of Pittsburgh or AICCP) are in America, are usually highly educated and more westernized too. I never thought about what the differences would be between Indian Christians here and in India.

lu said...

:D I guess you didn't go to any English speaking churches in b'lore then! Any of the Methodist/CSI churches, for example, would have been a completely different experience.

Am also a 'firangi mama' - English/Portuguese married to a malayalee with an 18 month old daughter (born here). I've been in B'lore for nearly five years now! Don't what i'll do when we go back to the UK next year - my daughter loves idli vada, sambar etc. Refuses western food. I guess it'll be an adjustment - as you seem to be finding...

Firangi Mommy said...

D'oh! Why did I post on religion?

Let me qualify my post:
a) I never went to a church while in Bangalore. The Christians I speak of are the ones you meet in doctors' waiting rooms, travel agencies, and other public places where you are throw into a room with total strangers for long stretches of time. I am not sure about education levels or range of travel, but I do know they had Cash to frequent the places I have met them in. I am sure they were also quite educated, but they probably don't get to speak to many firangs.
b) There was that peculiar blend of a feeling of superiority mingled with condescension that I recognized in their tones. I recognize it well, after all, I am a New England WASP. :)
C) Christians are doing very good work saving souls and improving lives all over India. Hindus are too but they don't have quite the organizational machinery and funding that the various churches do.

Kelly - do you like how I classify my daughter as Christian but she has been to more temples than churches? I will make up for it this week, especially. :)

Lu - you better find a good Udupi place to take her to in the UK. After days of only nibbling on bagles and waffles, we took her to an Udupi buffet and she was in heaven eating idli, vada, etc. I am being a good firangi mama and making it for her (and my husband) over here. Pain in the butt, actually but worth the smiles and full tummies.

SRC said...

Actually, Hindus have quite the machinery - I wonder if you have heard of the Ramakrishna Mission or the Bharat Seva Ashram. The thing is that unlike the Christian organizations the Hindu service organizations tend not to advertise themselves too loudly, as they are not in the business of proselytisation. But RKS and the Bharat Seva Ashram do run an extensive network of schools, hospitals, shelters, etc, and also do an outstanding job in disaster relief such as during earthquakes and the tsunami. The Ramakrishna Mission has American branches too as their founder Sri Vivekananda had a strong Chicago connection in the 1890s. They do some work in inner cities but they too are very quietist.

Anil P said...

Then you should visit Goa and stay back there for a while, it'll be an illuminating experience :)

Mela said...

Hey, I had a similar experience with a very odd Indian Christian guy. I could see the "pity" in his eyes as he thought of me being burdened with these "Hindus". I couldnt bring myself to tell him Im not even Christian.

Hindu food, whats that anyway? I prefer vegetarian/Indian so YUMMM HINDU FOOD. :)

Anonymous said...

i was raised Christiand and agot flack for eating paisum at a nair's house in kerala. i was 8 years old and i thought, what is the big deal. i have to agree with jill, i was raised to think i was better than those hindus cuz i was going to heaven. by the way, I do not feel taht way anymore. i have a different view on religion in general.