I just received my copy of the “latest” Christian Trends magazine, dated December-January 2015. And the cover theme “Celebrate the Season” seems a little dated, since it features articles about “Christmas” and also about New Year resolutions.
However, that I received the copy on Ash Wednesday, the day to start the period of Lent (during which we remember Good Friday and the inevitable Easter), the call to “Celebrate the season” was perfectly timed!
Traditionally, we Christians do not celebrate Easter as much as we should. In fact, we spend more time, during these Easter celebrations, to “remember” the crucifixion of our Lord, by fasting for a whole 40 days!!! There is surely great value in fasting and sorrow and repentance in Christianity. But at the cost of Easter, it is a heavy price to pay. We are ultimately children of a living God, servants of a resurrected King! Today is the day to rejoice! Happy Easter!!!
Nevertheless, fasting and repentance are needed in a time of opulence and consumerism, even in the Church. The negative impact of materialism and corruption in some churches today, is hardly known to its full extent. Yet it is probably true that we as a church need to recover the gospel message for the poor, but also ask ourselves whether we the rich (urban church elite) are moving away from the kingdom of heaven. So let’s not take away from the more sombre “celebration” of Lent either. May sacrifice and self-denial be the mark of the true disciple of Jesus!
Back to the Christian Trends issue. It’s a good edition, featuring an article by a certain Nigel Ajay Kumar (yes, that’s me!) :). I basically talked to several pastors and church leaders to see how they celebrated Christmas in their regions and the results were presented in an article format. It was a fun piece to write, to find out the “trends” in Christianity so to speak. I also think the suggestion, that we should be more intentional about the way we celebrate Christmas as both joy and mission, is a good one.
However, that article is certainly not the best one in the mag. The article I liked best was Akshay Rajkumar’s movie review. He writes about PK, the recent Hindi movie blockbuster. I only just saw PK and felt the urgent need that Christians respond to it. In fact, I had felt that PK had more valid points against religion and Christianity than the current Hindutva brigade, and the Church must more intentionally respond to its critique. So, when I saw Akshay’s article, I let out a spiritual “hurray”! It was an astute and fair movie review (though I don’t agree with everything he said, especially about the depiction about the heroine). But more importantly, he highlighted the key issues that as Christians we should address. Namely, false religiosity, justice and the search for God. (Good job, Askhay! May your tribe increase!)
There is also a box within the review about the other “religious” movies that have been coming at us, Son of God, Noah, and Exodus. However, none of those movies are half as interesting as PK and even half as effective in raising issues for Christians in India to think about.
An interesting move by Christian Trends was to include a satirical article by a supposed Hindutvavadi (a person who subscribes to Hindutva) “Saraansh Patel”. When I read that article, I wondered whether this person was actually real, and was relieved that it was satire. I felt that the ideas expressed were quite extreme and it would be rare to find a Hindu who would actually express all of those views publically (in print). I think however, it was a brave move for Christian Trends to address political issues through alternative styles.
Which brings me back to PK, which I think has a more realistic “ideology” that represents a majority of India, and one that must be brought to the fore even more. Hindus today, I think, care less about Hindu extremism or mindless Christianity. They want a practical religion. To them, both Hindutva ideologues and Christian fundamentalist missionaries are extreme. And we need to be clear how we distinguish ourselves in this milieu.
So, I must say, even though this issue feels a little “late”, this was one of the better issues from the Christian Trends stable. And I would urge again, that if you haven’t yet subscribed to it, please do so. Support Christian publishing; support the godly exchange of ideas and views.