Thursday, June 12, 2008


Students Christian Movement stands for a liberative spirituality which is creative and transforming the world by the grace of God. It is “liberative” in the sense of deliverance from social, political, cultural bondages and ignorance which haunts a society. Above all it is a divine involvement to redeem the oppressed people from their chains. The ascribed faith has its multidimensional articulations through the church and through the socio-political and economic movements. Our growth in faith depends on the pace in time and space. It is an ever-challenging communicative movement with God.
The questions of the epochs that had passed are not ours. The past generations care for their own questions. It does not mean that we should negate the past experience. But we are forced to trace the past in a liberative paradigm. The articulations of the past some times negatively affect people’s destiny. The roots are organic channels which feed the present needs, and enable us to overcome the present crisis. The articulation of past is always political. In a stagnant system the experience of the past will always be a power-sustaining mechanism. The experience of the SCM is totally different from time to time. The questions of the seventies and eighties are quite different in the context of the contemporary campus. The age of imperialism, nationalism and welfare state are different experiences for students who are in the age of globalization. The theology of the past is always a Chaplin’s hat for today. It is unsuitable for us.
What do we mean by the term theology? Theology is an interpretation of spirituality. As laymen we observe that theology and spirituality are different. Spirituality is the God-experience in an individual and a community. Theology is a political interpretation of spirituality; it is nothing more than a political articulation of faith. In this sense, theology is not a God-given reality, but a social construct. Christian theology is an articulation of faith in Jesus Christ in the contemporary world. The age of liberation theology taught us to project our faith in the midst of life-realities. A faith pre-conditionally requires political, social, cultural and spiritual manifestations.
The age of marketization produces market-theologies. It individualizes faith and considers spirituality a product. Stress management and maximization of pleasure are its central focus. Market-theology professes God as entirely a profit-maker and accountant of sin. The campus is also going through the path of the productification of individuals. Students are the products for a new market and they are tamed according to the demands of market. The role of new religious movements, like Amrithandamayi and Sree Sree Revisankar movements, are to nurture an individual spirituality and reads human mind as tabula rasa. The walk of students towards cultic movements is visible in campus. The employees from the corporate banks and MNCs lead to these movements in the midst of their chaotic daily life-experience. Such a theology is the locus of contemporary world.
Social faith is considered as the anti-thesis of individual faith. The clashes between individual spirituality and social-spirituality are a harsh reality of day to day life. SCMs’ theological learning moored in the trajectory of liberation theology and Marxian social analysis versus utilitarian market marked spirituality of the campus. It is inevitable to understand contemporary world in the light of new social readings and interpret the faith in the light of a liberative spirituality. Class, caste, feminism and identity dimensions of faith are the articulation of social faith. The individuality or identity is not a tabula rasa. It is socially constructed, contextual and plural. Thus SCM speaks it as a movement of students, Christian in nature. It is obvious that such a movement interprets Bible, conducts prayer meetings, and witnesses Jesus in the campus. Evangelical Students Union (EU), Campus Crusade(CC) and other church-oriented movements like Mar Gregorious Orthodox Christian Student Movement (MGOCSM), Mar Thoma Students Association (MTSA), Catholic Students Movement (CSM), etc. also use same tools. What is the difference between these movements and SCM? Is SCMs’ Jesus a different Jesus from EU or CC? No, we are following the same Jesus. Why SCMs’ platform is comparatively empty during these days. That is why we are requesting the need of a contextualizing theology (we are not talking about Context-theology) . As a global movement, SCM is also plunged into the rhetoric of market and global forces. Some movements speak of individual salvation. SCM strive hard for the witnessing of Gods Kingdom.
Eco-theology, Black theology, Dalit theology etc. are academically familiar for SCM students. But in the individual life such theological articulations are minimal and theological interpretations never go beyond the ambit of group discussions. In the last few years SCM experience is that it produced a group of academic theologians and a rare genus of social activists. Thus SCM gradually turned as a platform for theological career and a practicing ground for social activism. This is not bad, “if we are able to produce good theologians and social workers”; but we should understand that is the way of the market that produces ‘good things’. That is why students mostly prefer church movements than ecumenical movements. They nurture a spirituality of individual salvation and transform persons as “good” social beings, efficient professionals and faithful servants than SCM
The onslaught of liberal utilitarian paradigm dismantled communitarian beingness of individuals and objectified their personality as well as spirituality. Thus the terrains of communitarian selfhood lost its grounds and created communication blank-spots for such an ideology. Thus, a God of community, clan and creed is not at all relevant today. The new religious movements’ practice of yoga gained a different nurturing in the context of market theism. Yoga is a pantheistic experience to transform one’s selfhood to the Universal Selfhood. The experience of yoga like that of bank manager is totally different in this context. It is a kind of self-estimation. So, the Christian theology of a community, and its social experience becomes a story of the past. The spread of individualism and objectification thus blocked the communication realms of social theology, which is ascribed by SCM.
The context, manifested above, needs a perpetual political intervention. The development of a politico-social structure, which is thoroughly supportive to the utilitarian paradigm, should replace for a socialist paradigm. The revival of a pantheistic paradigm is also observable in the European literature. The Alchemist of Paulo Coeloh is a recent example of such a paradigm shift. In Indian context, a diffused state of social experience, that is the merging of individual and communitarian, is a supportive social phenomenon to revive communitarian experiences. A communitarian experience was tested in the time of nationalist struggles by the Gandhians’, known as Ashrama Prasthanam and in the economic realm the spread of co-operative society experience was a socialist experience. They were a failure but the structures are left aside. The campus today doesnot demand a lab-oriented theological experience but a hardcore life experience.
I remember my days of SCM as a laboratory experience of theology. Our senior friends read the passages from Bible, specifically from the chapters of old testament or new testament to examine and realise the revelation of our mission. State-power knowingly or unknowingly came under our discussions as a central notion. After the study of a Biblical passage one of our senior friends suggested; “let us go to Narmada”. We immediately packed and experienced Narmada. Narmada turned as a lab for our theological reading. Let me make it clear that it is exactly the same side of the market objectifying the life and living witness of Christ. Why are we not ready and able to experience campus as a place for God’s revelation? Is God not present in campus? Has He exiled from me “to other”?
Now a days, as a teacher I feel that a social witnessing of my faith in the campus is inevitable. Students are passing through an irrevocable cultural, economic and psychological crisis. We theoretically accept that campus is part of our society. It is very much clear that all social crises firstly reflect in the campus. Any one can easily view that our campus is divided as financed (Traditional) and self-financed (Modern). We are obsessed that traditional campus provides qualitatively poor education. On the other hand, economically upper classes construct a special education for the demands of the emerging society in the label of Self Financing; i.e.Modern. The economically poor are put aside as human waste. In their life, campus is only a time-wasting location. Joblessness, absence of updated knowledge and financial crisis insist them to engage in part-time jobs like sand mining, black-money business, catering service, etc. I am fully convinced that our students do not demand a Moses, an Isaiah or a Jeremiah but they do need a committed teacher to address their life and life-situations.
SCM should encourage students’ self-search. Self is not a mere individuality. It is a collectivity of multiple individualities. The point of the revelation of the self is the starting point of spirituality. Worth denoting, David Humes’ observation of human mind is that, like a blotting paper man receives impulses from his surroundings and which formed his identity. Self realization is a realization of ‘the other’. As a social process we know our Self through the eyes of the other and we read ourselves from the Contexts. Let me make myself clear that the individualism of market is the objectification of ones’ Self, individualism in a Christian faith is the subjectification of Self. Subjectivity traverses in and around the ‘other’. It definitely denote that a spiritual enquiry of self is not a mere individuality that is promoted by the market. A spiritual search is identification with the collective identities. Thus in a faith movements subjective realm is quite important. The new-religious movements fragmented subjectivity to objectivity. SCM neglected the subjective realm of faith for the last few decades.
A reaffirmation of SCMs spirituality is inevitable. SCM is not a launching pad to theological college or social activism. The reading of Bible and the living experience of the people are not to be merely objective. Spirituality is basically a subjective enquiry with a thrust on the spiritual experience of the individuals and communities in their day-to-day life-experiences. Searching for God-experience should start from us, not from the other but the end of any spiritual experience is the transformation of “us” into “We”. A unity of individualities and plurality of subjective experiences are the manifestation of a true spirituality. We have mentioned that theology is a social construct. Theology is a political tool to transform the world. Thus, we preach political theologies that should be liberative in Christ. Our theologies are purely contextual and they manifested the universal love of God. SCMs’ challenge is to contextualize its spiritual enquiries and universalize its own spirituality. Our context is our campus, teachers and students. We should be witnessing Christ in the midst of market-education and privatization of knowledge and resources. To impart Christian values, which are basically human values, in the life of the campus is our true mission. God should not be an ‘other experience’ for us. But should be a “personal experience” which connects to a permeating ‘God-experience’ in a Campus.

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