20 September, 2020

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Inter-Religious Harmony Through The Convergence Of Light: An Epiphany Reflection

By Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Religion and politics-expedient tensions

The continuing violence against minority religions is unacceptable and must stop. The most recent incidents against two vulnerable Christian communities in Hikkaduwa, currently receiving wide video coverage, contradicts the noble teachings of Buddhism and exposes our repeated claim to national integration.

The only encouraging sign in this tragic episode was the individual performance of the handful of police officers on duty; who were seen doing their utmost to restrain the mob and prevent violence, against extremely heavy odds. They need to be commended.

The wider, politicised application of law and order however reveals a more dangerously worrying pattern. This is the swing from swift action to frustrating inaction, determined by the corresponding benefit that accrues to the government. An elected government with claims to democratic governance is obliged to rectify this strategy in the interest of justice for all communities. If not, a house divided by its householders must inevitably fall.

A still more honourable way

But the primary restoration of law and order only, will not bring the inter-religious goodwill that most Sri Lankans long for. It will at most define boundaries and prevent violence. Law and order cannot build trust and cordial relations among the religions. This equally urgent role can only come from the religions. The festival of the Epiphany, celebrated on the 6th of January highlights one such essential thrust in this role.

The Festival of Light

Epiphany commemorates the harmonious convergence of light. The inner light which stirred the journey of the wise-men from the east   easily merges with the anticipated light that Christ will offer the world.  Since the nature of light is to intrinsically converge to dispel darkness, this encounter, points to the enlightening potential in our religions to collaborate for wider socio-religious harmony.  

Consequently, when religious conflict spreads anxiety and desperation, we are to draw inspiration from and return to this shared spirituality of the east; the affirmation of light within our respective religion which dispels the insensitive and dehumanising aspects within us and then enables a celebration of light among all religions.

Inter-Religious Friendships

In practice this calls for an indispensible responsibility by those in positions of religious authority (beginning with the clergy) in multi religious societies like ours. This is to build friendships of trust across the religions through a sensitive redefinition of the light in ones’ own religion and respect for the sensitively redefined light in ones’ neighbours’ religion.

Refusal to do so will only polarise our religions further and consolidate the inevitable construction of exclusive world views and sectarian agendas, the convenient caricature or demonization of the other and the spread of more prejudice and violence.

An Inter-Religious Spirituality

When on the other hand such relationships grow and flourish, (as they are known to in some encouraging instances) there will always be a friend at hand with whom misunderstandings can be clarified and whose religion can never be ridiculed, undermined or violated. It is as the ethos created by thousands of such multiple friendships, spreads, that fear and suspicion will be dispelled, political interference marginalised, the cause of all true religion vindicated and all our people blessed.

And when tensions still erupt, as we must expect them to, it will be from such a collective inter religious spirituality that spontaneous and corresponding interventions will emerge to dialogue, clarify and heal.

With peace and Blessings to all

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Latest comments

  • 1
    2

    Christianity is TWO billion people and over 41000 denominations and Islam is over two billion.

    Buddhism is only THREE HUNDRED million all over the world.

    What are you talking about.

    Why British anglo-saxons attack muslim mosques every day ?

  • 1
    3

    Inter religious harmony, Some thing like Protestant -catholic fight for centuries as in Ireland.

    Teaching us Inter religious harmony when No answer for Crusade wars, ireland war and over 41000 thousands denominations.

    Why there is so much division within itself ?

  • 4
    2

    Dear Rev. Chikera

    I am saddened that there is an angle of this issue which you seem to be unable to see or choose to ignore. It is the isue of proselatisation.

    Firstly, as a Catholic Sri Lankan I am concerned that almost all so-called “conversions” these evangelicals have been successful at are from the Catholic community.

    Secondly they carry out their business from ordinary village houses without properlicensesto operate religious venues.

    Thirdly, most Christians deplore their ways of attracting poor villagers by giving money, clothing and food, not out of Christian love but as a reward for converting. This is un-Chrstian.

    Finally, the British “church” that you represent was started by Henry the VIII for his own convenience rather than as a Christian congregation with an advanced ciew of Christ or Christ’s love for humanity.

    Why are we now pushing the flock towards evangelicals who are an American polical movement for assembling people to build a temple for the second coming rather than a true Christian ecumenical movement?
    They distort Christianity and the Bible and they should be banned.

    • 0
      0

      World is changing fast. It is not only the religion but even the political affiliations of the politicians such as Parlimentary MP’s, Provincial Council MP’ s and even PS members are selling their soul and themselves after getting money, power and positions after keeping their supporters and party high and dry with lot of disappointment. These mobs should first go and attack political party authorities for such conversions. Does that happen? No, such jumping dogs are provided with all the protection and security. So why are a few worried about if there are unfair conversions. After all this cannot be done against the will of the individuals. Going by this argument who should be thrashed and smashed first for buying people who are more than individuals but political representatives.

      • 0
        0

        You seem to be suffering from “perverted thinking syndrome2.
        Go to Seventh Day Adventists for help.

    • 0
      0

      I agree with you to some extent
      Burning and looting does not prmote Buddhissm either
      The ‘Anti-Conversion (Unethical) Bill’ could be the answer.

  • 3
    2

    Muslims oppose this approach. It is imposing Christian view of peace ignoring Islamic and Hindu views. This is not conducive for inter-religious harmony.

    What has the church done to resettled 100,000 Muslims evicted from the north? Nothing! So what are we talking about?

  • 3
    1

    Sri Lanka is a lawless land like no other, where police and the armed forces do not protect people who don’t belong to Sinhala Buddhist community. This is intentionally created by the rulers for reasons best known to them.

    With this kind of the law of the jungle there will no harmony at all.

    The root cause of these actions by rulers including previous ones is the Mahavamsa mind set inculcated during childhood.

    The minds must be cleansed of these Mahavamsa falsehoods.

    • 1
      3

      you tamil idiot

      • 2
        0

        CNN HEADLINES:

        ELA KOLLA finally manages to get three words past the censors after a zillion attempts. At last there is hope on the horizon for the “writing-challenged.”

        • 0
          1

          Thana kolla is writing 3 words because I got the message across to him! Let him/her say more about me at least.

      • 1
        0

        But heis not a spy, at least.

    • 0
      3

      Thiru is just a para demala.

      Just write the same crap for every thing.

      • 0
        0

        It may appear crap to you, because your head is full of it, but it is the truth: Ask Shamini Serasnghe.

  • 2
    0

    Fukushima
    Don’t cry for Muslims and Hindus , you are the #1 racist and trouble maker
    All these attacked on other religions
    Why the hell the gov didn’t take action?
    Already the 14 thugs(monks) are on bail

  • 1
    0

    “The only encouraging sign in this tragic episode was the individual performance of the handful of police officers on duty; who were seen doing their utmost to restrain the mob and prevent violence, against extremely heavy odds. They need to be commended.”

    Finally Policemen we can be proud of as Sri Lankans.

    Despite the lawlessness that followed. And despite the invisible, scheming, intolerant political expediency that ensued in the aftermath.

    I hope Bishop Duleep de Chickera and other sane religous leaders from all leading religions in Sri Lanka will rise to the occassion. Stem this tide of intolerance. Help our country heal.

  • 0
    3

    Chick-error, my foot.
    Go join the Emmanuels, Rayappus, Savundranayakams, illangasinghes and the likes. thats where you belong. The International Church of the Sun Goat.

    What has the Church done? Rayappu is preparing his backyard in Mannar for the Muslims evicted from there & then going to ask Emmanuel & Savundranayakam to cluster bomb them.
    LANKA IS A LAWLESS LAND AND SO IS THE CATHOLIC & CHRISTIAN CHURCH CLERGY OF SRI LANKA…Thiru keep the mahavansa aside keep your children away from the the Bible promoting ones in sri Lankam.

    • 0
      0

      Thonda

      Mannar Bis-hope Parrippu has now become a specialist anthropologist and he can easily recognise all skeletons in those mass graves in Mannar. MY WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      We all know where this Bis-hope Parrippu is coming from? These priests are parasites and insults to great religions.

  • 0
    1

    Even Buddha cannot leave karma…Christian used tsunami and war for converting Buddhist and Hindus without any shame. Before 1998 Buddhist believe Christian are friends. it is not Buddhist wrong CHRISTIAN give up this friendship for dollars and free green cards.cherch can speak more little years but nobody cannot stop sinhala Buddhist youth start struggle against this beggars.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Rev. Bishop Duleep de Chickera,

    Are you a Catholic? Are you a Good Catholic? A Bad Catholic?

    Given below is some information and Revelations for you for your Enlightenment.

    The first perversion of faith was done by Christians, yes Christians. Want to know more? Read the writings of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Hawkins, and the crimes of the church. Read the God Delusion and other writings.

    Christopher Hitchens Destroys The Catholic Church.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3766TOukRo

    This is an excerpt from the debate “Is the Catholic church a force for good in the world?” The full debate can be found here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5OMNP…

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