Mar Milithios calls for major revitalisation of approach towards dealing with children

Written By: on Oct 11th, 2010 and filed under Columns, Features, Opinions.

contradiction in the Canon law itself with the presence of the word ‘mystery’ and understanding side by side. Post-modernism recognises mystery against too much emphasis on rationality.

He reasons that post modernist is not so much concerned of what happened during Jesus’ time as to what happens through Jesus these days. What Jesus means to them today is more what they care. They do not want to accept him as a Lord or someone who controls and imposes structures and guidelines into their lives. Rather they want him to be one who is there with them, who will understand them and whom they can feel the presence of. The children need to feel that they are accounted as equal partners in establishing a new world for them. They need to be given freedom to draw for themselves details of the world into which they shall enter. They need to own it for themselves. They would not accept Jesus because the Church wants them to or because the meta-narrative presents him as one who is concerned or that is what the Bible says.

For Walter Brueggemann, “the focus of the Biblical studies is the specific text, without any necessary relation to other texts or any coherent pattern read out or into the text. In other words, it is the Word of God that is more important than words about God, which I want to stress here. Delving on individual against community, he mentions that there is a tendency in postmodernism to deny community as understood in its traditional way. It is however, not the individualism that emerged after enlightenment that is brought back. Post-modernism believes that in the modern world individualism was promoted at the cost of cultures and indigenous communities. Individualism of postmodernism affirms plurality which is a positive attitude.

What is local and regional becomes as important as what is individual and personal. This is pluralism which is the strength of community. Struggle for recognition and re-establishment of local is highly honoured and acknowledged. Each child has his or her purpose and role in this world and potential to contribute to the welfare of the community, he adds.

“We recognise that each family understands salvation through Jesus Christ uniquely and differently. In this context post-modernism hails liberation theology of Latin America and South Africa’s independence struggle. This makes our task with children more difficult but challenging. Once we acknowledge plurality the immediate step would be to engage in a dialogue to better understand each other.”
He quotes from the book of Genesis and reading between the lines on chapters 3:8-10 and 18 is of a God coming to human, for dialogue. God takes a stroll in the cool of the day and reveals to human the secrets of his creation. It was during those occasions God talked to human about the fruits edible and not. In that story of God bringing the animals he created to name them. He sees the picture of a child bringing a project they undertook at school to the parents for their appreciation. At the dinner table God takes up issues related to Abram and others. This was later elaborated by Jesus during his life time on earth in a more profound, meaningful and effective way.

Borrowing a theme from Albert Nolan, he says: we need to tell the children ‘it is not you who need us, rather it is we who need you’. Mary E DeMuth says, ‘authentic parenting involves engaging children in conversation’

Some time back in the modern era, we used to say, human has ‘come of age’. However, we failed to recognise that our children had come of age. Today it is the children, with communication explosion, who have ‘come of age’ than the adults. They are more educated than their parents. This has to be put in perspective. A respectful dialogical relationship in family and in the community will certainly create healthy situation of mutual respect, acceptance and caring.

Taking children seriously and into confidence will help build better bonds. He gives the classical example of Jesus asking his followers not to prevent children from coming to him. He said “I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:17). This will also help us look afresh into our attitude towards children’s active and full participation in the Church life.
This again will open up the question of one single way of dealing with children. While in the past, there has been a general tendency to present what was Western as standard method ignoring many of the local and indigenous cultural elements as either pagan or not developed enough and modern. This attitude is not respected any more.

“In the postmodern era it is no longer taken for granted that development is unlimited or even that certain kinds of development are necessarily good”.

The widely travelled metropolitan says that one of the reason for the widespread terror activities around the world has something to do with ignoring indigenous and local issues and concerns and imposing alien and foreign dominant cultures.

In Orthodox theology we use the phrase ‘composite one’ when we talk about Jesus’ personality. The Hindu philosophy makes a mention about nethi or ‘not that’ when defining the divine. Bringing down something really complex and plural into one single shape is actually narrowing down the possibilities and will only diminish its richness. Post-modernism resists this tendency, he notes.

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