26 December 2013

For a liberal theological reading of the Bible

For a liberal theological reading of the Bible, by Sagnik Dutta (Frontline, 10 January 2014)

Reverend Winnie Varghese, the Rector of St Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery in New York City, has been at the forefront of efforts to reach out to the Indian members of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) community in the United States. As a priest, she believes that a liberal theological reading of the Bible is possible. The underlying message of liberation and compassion towards the marginalised sections of society is foregrounded in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Winnie Varghese is a native Texan with family roots in Kerala and religious roots in the Mar Thoma Church of Kerala. In an email interview to Frontline, she talked about how she had been able to reconcile her religious beliefs with her sexual orientation, her understanding of the impact of the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and the ways in which liberal religious voices could be foregrounded in the debate on LGBT rights.

07 December 2013

Islamist conservatism in Malaysia

Islamist conservatism in Malaysia, by Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid (New Mandala, 7 December 2013)

The transmission of Islam in the Malay-Indonesian world remains entrenched in history as one of the foremost examples of peaceful proselytisation of religion on a trans-continental scale. So successful was the continuous process from around the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, that the Islamic faith (agama) became comfortably embedded as a definitive criterion, apart from the Malay language (bahasa Melayu) and rulership (kerajaan), of Malayness – in reference to the broad category of Southeast Asia’s indigenous population who were previously adherents of animism and variants of Hindu-Buddhist religious traditions prevalent in the archipelago. The sources, modalities, timing and other details of the genesis of Islam among the Malays had always been diverse – there were sufis or Muslim mystics and shias; Arabs, Chinese, Indians and Bengalis; sayyids, sheikhs and itinerant missionaries; merchants, traders and political escapees from the flux engulfing their lands of origin or transit.

02 December 2013

More Latinos Convert from Catholics to Protestants; the Latin Wave in the Anglican Church

You can't get much more "Anglo" than the Anglican Communion, known in the United States as the "Episcopal Church." But in border areas like Texas, this church is starting to show the effects of an influx of Hispanics into its congregations. Long associated with attending Roman Catholic churches, the Hispanic Episcopalians reflect a growing trend of Latinos in Protestant churches across the U.S. Episcopalians are not known to be quite as adoring of the Virgin Mary as the Roman Catholics; but in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in her trademarked green cloak, is prominently displayed in the front of St. Matthew's Cathedral. It was installed during a special bilingual ceremony in 2003.