An acquaintance from the West, knowing that I am in India, but not knowing how completely anti-Christian I am, sends me a sort of newsletter with news of how some poor preacher has been harassed, how another has been killed, how a third has disappeared....
I am moved by the dedication of these people. They must be heroes. Or they must be desperate. Either way they deserve some attention.
Then I notice that the Newsletter has, on its banner, an idolatrous picture of someone's completely false view of what Jesus the Lord looked like!
The Bible is clear: no images!
Let alone a "false image"!
So I move my naturally indolent frame sufficiently to write a short and probably more than usually ungracious note commenting on the matter.
Later, I ask myself: is it more important to comment on an idolatrous picture or to do something to support heroes and desperadoes?
Well, perhaps I should do something for them too. But how many of them are there? How does one get to them? Is it fair to support those whose stories reach me via their lifelines to the West - what about those I bump into here who have, for whatever reason, no such lifeline? And do I not give enough already? How much should/ can I give?... Difficult questions....
Then I start analysing why I am so upset at the false idol. I reflect that we Hindus, though most clearly with Swami Dayanand Saraswati and the Arya Samaj, had starting rejecting idolatry under Muslim influence long before that, and that rejection of idolatry had the makings of a mass movement from the nineteenth century. Sadly, this was aborted in the 1970s but, for something like a century, idolatry declined in our country.
After that, it was guruist influence, recycled to us from the West, allied with the elite seeing in the resurgence of idolatry an avenue for consolidating their power, that resulted in large-scale patronisation of new and increasingly more monstrous size idols.
I am sure that any historical analysis will clearly indicate two things.
First, that there is a parallel between increased idolatry and increased corruption.
Second, that the use of idolatry by the elite to consolidate their power in the period from roughly the 2nd to 9th centuries AD is matched by their use of the same technique in the period from the 1970s to today - the main difference is that what took centuries then has taken only decades now.
And suddenly I understand why I am upset: these new preachers/ heroes/ desperadoes (whether Christian or Buddhist or Marxist) represent a revolt against the classes/ castes that have oppressed them for thousands of years. Their liberation lies in freeing themselves from lies of all sorts. In particular, the lie of idolatry, by which the entire consciousness of whole peoples can be manipulated.
If these new movements too slip into idolatry, they will much more easily sell out to the classes/ castes/ cliques who are already tempting and terrorising them.
Giving in to idolatry amounts to subversion and betrayal of their own movement - and every other movement like theirs.
No wonder I am upset. I should be even more upset than I am.