Asian secularisation finding God in all things

This perspective of ‘finding God in all things’ also leads us to a healthy secularisation. The secularisation in Euro-America privatises religion and establishes a Godless world. The secularism in Asia is positive, finding precisely ‘God in all things.’

Jan 31, 2019

By Fr Michael Amaladoss, SJ
This perspective of ‘finding God in all things’ also leads us to a healthy secularisation. The secularisation in Euro-America privatises religion and establishes a Godless world. The secularism in Asia is positive, finding precisely ‘God in all things.’

In the Hindu, Confucian and Buddhist religio-cultural traditions the world did not reach out to an Absolute beyond it. The Absolute was rather immanent providing an ethical basis to life in the world. I think that in the modern world it is not necessary to protect God by separating God from the world. We have to find God in the world.

In the gospels it is significant that the double commandment of loving God and loving the neighbour (cf, Lk 10:27) is reduced to the new single one: “Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) John comments: “No one has seen God; if we love one an other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.”( 1 Jn 4: 12) Jesus confirms all this by evoking the final judgment: “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

It has been said that the secularisation of Euro-America is more anti-clerical than anti-God. Our response should be, not to build up a religious world side by side with the secular one, but to find God in the world. Maybe we need to secularise the Church. The Church must see itself, not as a power opposed to the world, but as a humble servant, losing itself in the world (in the poor and the suffering) and animating it from within, not to engage in visible and triumphant religious activity, but to feed the hungry, cloth the naked and visit the sick. The height of such secularisation will be our experience of God as a force for communion when we share food and drink together in Jesus’ name.

Building Community
We are living in a world of inequality and division. The inequality is both economical and social, having to do with status. A community does not mean the disappearance of all differences. But it does mean a basic formal equality. Economically no one should be in need. An equality of opportunity also should be assured. Socialism as praxis has disappeared. But capitalism has to become socially sensitive in order not to become oppressive. Socially it means that the others are respected for what they are, not by the accident of birth. The caste system in India, for instance, is an unequal, hierarchical system determined by birth. Such a discriminatory system cannot promote community.

Today we are also living in a multi-cultural and multi-religious world. The human tendency is to find unity in uniformity and look at the other as somehow inferior to oneself. The community is then divided along the lines of ‘we’ and ‘them’. Such a division increases ignorance and prejudice. When such differences are politicised it can lead to a quest for dominance and violence. Such differences can be overcome only if we are able to find a principle of unity that transcends all divisions.

One basic principle of unity is the humanity of every one. Today every human being has an individual identity, dignity and rights. Human rights include the right to practice a particular religion, belong to a particular culture and speak a particular language. Problems may arise when the rights discourse recognises only individual rights and ignores group rights. When the rights of cultural and religious minorities are not protected they may be marginalised or suppressed. This can lead to self defensive violence. That is why cultural and religious differences in society must be recognised, respected and accepted.

In some countries, like India, the rights of minorities are protected. People pretend that globalisation will flatten all differences and impose a monoculture over the globe. The monoculture that globalisation promotes is instrumental culture – the things that we use and consume. It does not touch that much the way people think, look at the world and express themselves in art and literature. This is what gives the people an identity. We see them defending it all over the world, with violence, if necessary.

How does the Church engage this modern world prophetically? Already in 1974 the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, which met for its first assembly in this very city, Taipei, presented the way of the Church in mission as dialogue with the many poor, the rich cultures and the living religions of Asia. It has been developing this three fold dialogue over the last forty years and it still remains relevant to us. I would like to spell out the task of the BECs in this context.

Source: Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Chennai, India.

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