Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Back after WAY too long! Several family emergencies have kept me busy the last few months. I will be making more entries soon, so please check back regularly.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Today Americans observe the day of Thanksgiving. We and some other expatriates got together today to celebrate. Normally we Americans in India don't do anything special for distinctly U.S. holidays, but this one we always try to do something special.

Thanksgiving Proclamation
"Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this twentieth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth."

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

This isn't totally relevant to our topic, but I thought it had some good insights on freedom of speech, religion, tolerance, and civil society.

All we have to do when we encounter ideas we don't like is say, "No, thank you."

Rod Dreher on Mary Stachowicz & Hate Crimes on National Review Online

Monday, November 25, 2002

It is commonly said that all religions are the same. I don't agree with that. Each faith has its own distinctive beliefs, some quite different from others, and it is disrespectful to ignore their unique teachings and blur them all together. Christianity and Hinduism, for example, have very different understandings of the nature of God. Although we both use the word "God," conceptually we mean different things by it. Recognizing these differences will contribute more to mutual understanding than pretending they do not exist.

However, religions are very similar in that they all seek to answer certain questions. Here are three points of contact that I have observed between all religions:

1.DEATH. All religions seek to understand death. Why do people die? What happens after we die? Is there any way to avoid death or escape its finality? In my opinion, this is the prime religious question and a major inspiration for spiritual investigations.

2. ETHICS. All religions desire for the followers to have a higher ethical standard than non-religious people, and there are many points of agreement between different faiths as to what actions are ethical or moral.

Because of their high ethical standards, many religious people are accused of being hypocrites because they do not meet them. Actually, not meeting your own standards does not make you a hypocrite--how many of us consistently live up to our ideals? Rather, hypocrisy is found in holding others to a standard you refuse to hold yourself to.

3. MAN'S PROBLEM. By "man" I mean humanity collectively. Looking around, we realize something isn't quite right; the world does not seem to be what God meant for it to be. There is too much suffering, imperfection, sorrow. The cause of this is another major area of religious speculation. In Christianity, we believe the problem is sin, man's natural tendency to disobey God.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

I just changed some settings and it appears I lost some of my archives. Here are the links to the old entries. If they don't work, I'll repost some of them.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
This past week my wife and I had the opportunity to share the story of our marriage with some visiting Americans. Like most Westerners, they were somewhat shocked when we told them it was an arranged marriage, then after we explained they thought, "Oh, that's neat." I'll even make a prediction: eventually arranged marriages will catch on in the West. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but it will eventually become an acceptable alternative.

Personally, I think either system--arranged marriage or love marriage--can work out all right. There are good love marriages and bad love marriages, the same with arranged marriages. As long as all the people involved--parents, grandparents, the boy, the girl--use wisdom, they can end up with a successful match.

There is one major difference between the two, and I don't know the reason why. It seems that people in arranged marriages fight less than people in love marriages. You wouldn't think that would be so, but that's what we've observed in the couples we know.

Any ideas as to why this might be so?

Sunday, November 03, 2002

--to all who celebrate it. Have a safe and fun day!

(The crackers had me up at 5:15 this morning, but the sweets our neighbors gave us were oh-so-good.)

Thursday, October 31, 2002

As my earliest entries have been archived it's time for a few light reminders:

Hi, I'm an American missionary living in India. I love Jesus and I love India. On this blog I'm sharing candidly about my life, work, religion, and Christianity in India. I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to write me at indiamissionary@yahoo.com. I might share your letter here. I'm always looking for good (preferably low-fat) recipes, so please send those in too.

It's all about FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FREEDOM OF RELIGION, FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION, and having a good time while we are at it.

Original materials on this site are copyright by me, the user of the pseudonym "India Missionary." Please don't copy them without permission but do feel free to share the link with others.

I'm not responsible for the ads at the top of the page. Blogger puts them there. I'm sorry if anything offensive ever pops up.

Have a nice day!
Praise the Lord! I just crossed the 100,000 word mark on the manuscript in my book. Oh happy day!

Sigh. But I probably still have around 200,000 more words to write.
According to the Times of India, it was just passed into law.

Everyone keeps referring to "forced" conversions. I've yet to hear anyone say they are for "forced" conversions. No one believes in it. And, aren't there already laws protecting people from being forced to do things they don't want? Why is another one needed?

The newspapers have headlines like, "Christians against law against forced conversions." It makes it sound as though they are for "forced" conversions. Actually the whole matter is sort of bizarre.

The main objection from Christians and other minorities, I think, is that if anyone wants to change his/her religion, he/she has to inform the government. I don't think many people would do that for fear of harrassment. I don't think many poor Dalits--or rich Brahmins, for that matter; some of those become Christians too--would feel comfortable discussing their spiritual lives with the magistrates.

One's religion and spirituality is a personal choice. It should not matter to the government at all if someone wants to be a Hindu one week, a Muslim the next, a Buddhist the third, and a Christian the one after that. Or mix it up in any order you like. It may not make one popular, and it would certainly upset one's pastor/priest/mullah, but after all, that's what freedom of religion is all about.

In my long association with Christian missions in India--some of which are very large and well-funded--I have only encountered a money-for-conversion situation once. (Even if that sort of thing were commonplace, think about it: it wouldn't be a forced conversion. It would shameful, tacky, and a fraud, but no one would be forced to violate his/her conscience unless he/she wanted.) Anyway, my one experience with money-for-conversion: a security guard at a house near ours asked my wife how much money we would give him if he converted.

She told him, "Even if you gave me 10 crores, I wouldn't make you a Christian!" The Apostle Peter (St. Peter) put it more bluntly in Acts 8:20-21, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God."

It's all about changing hearts, not statistics. My standing advice for someone who doesn't want to become a Christian: don't.

May each person be free to practice whatever religion he or she wants. Let not the State decide, nor let it force people to stay in the religion to which they were born. Let each one govern his own spirituality. Ultimately, each soul will give an account to God alone--not to you, or me, or the Pope, or Jayalalithaa. To God alone.

Regardless, we will continue to share our message: God loves you, and Jesus died for you; and do our best to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

My mother always taught me there are two subjects you never bring up in polite conversation: politics and religion. While I’m inclined to agree with her on the former, I disagree on the latter. It is true, many people do not enjoy talking about religion. There are many different beliefs, many different opinions, and disagreement is common. Strong disagreement can damage a relationship between friends. Or between communities within a nation.

But let me share my views on religion. Why? Because of friendship. If we are really friends, you would be happy to hear about the good things in my life, my news and my interests. If I found a great bargain while shopping and told you about it, you wouldn’t be offended, though you might have no interest in that particular product. If I went on and on talking about my favorite basketball team and their latest victory, you might become bored if your favorite sport was cricket, but you wouldn’t hate me for preferring basketball. If I got a big raise at work, a promotion, won the lottery, or went on an exciting cruise vacation, you’d want to hear about those things. If something big like that happened in my life but I said nothing about it, you might question how close we are as friends.

How much more should I be able to share about religion, specifically, my relationship with Jesus. He is the best thing in my life, my greatest source of happiness, and the key to understanding who I am. He is the greatest influence on my life, and the motivation behind all I do. My faith is very important to me. We talk about lesser things, unimportant things, silly little things. Shouldn’t I be able to share about the most important thing? It would be strange if I didn’t.

Please hear me out when I speak. Finding Jesus was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. He changed my life. I believe He can do the same for you, too. You may not agree (though ultimately it’s neither your opinion nor my opinion that matters, but God’s own truth). But if we are friends, if we can be friends—and I sincerely hope we can—please listen. I’ll do the same when you have something to share. Who knows what we might learn from each other.

I think friendship is strong enough to withstand a little sharing.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Two good books available in India at your local Christian bookstore:

THE CASE FOR CHRIST by Lee Strobel. From the cover:

The Project: Determine if there's credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God.

The Reporter: Lee Strobel, educated at Yale Law School, award-winning former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune-- with a background of atheism.

The Experts: A dozen scholars, with doctorates from Cambridge, Princeton, Brandeis, and other top-flight institutions, who are recognized authorities on Jesus.

The Story: Retracing his own spiritual journey, Strobel cross-examines the experts with tough, point-blank questions: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence exist for Jesus outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual historical event?

Excellent read, very exciting, highly recommended.


"William Carey, not Raja Ram Mohun Roy, was the father of India's 'Renaissance.' The powerful ideas that enabled Carey to awaken the sleeping giant--India--give us the intellectual and moral tools that can make India the greatest nation on earth."

An excellent look at the positive contributions Christianity has made to India. William Carey is considered by Christians worldwide to be the "father of the modern missionary movement."
In his book, What's So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey tells a fascinating story. A congress of world religions was taking place in London. The delegates began a discussion, "What is Christianity's unique contribution to the world of religions?" They talked about many of Christianity's fundamental beliefs--miracles, incarnation, resurrection--but these are present in some form in other religions as well. The discussion went on for some time, but they could not come to a conclusion. Was there anything unique about Christianity?

After some time, C.S. Lewis walked in. (C.S. Lewis, an Englishman, was one of the greatest Christian thinkers and writers of the 20th century--certainly one of the most-often quoted.) He asked, "What's going on?" and they told him. "What do you think?" they asked. "Why, that's easy," he replied. "It's grace." Then he walked out.

They realized he was right. It's grace.
Hello! I'm back from my trip. It was a good one. I have many things to share this week, so please check back regularly.

The season has changed, and the weather is nice and cool in South India. It's good to be alive.