Purely by chance it was that I stumbled upon Shalom TV, a Malayalam TV channel. I’m fortunate to have almost a dozen TV channels that bring programmes in my mother tongue. But I was not even aware of the fact that Shalom TV was one among them. I certainly won’t pay for that channel.
What I saw when I stumbled upon the channel was a speaker delivering what looked like a sermon. He was speaking about the greatness of the crucifix. The cross, or the crucifix – it makes little difference – is the quintessential symbol of Christianity. That’s the chief reason why I chose to abandon religion altogether. If all that religion has to offer is another BIG cross, why do I need it? According to me, a good religion should help me find happiness in life.
The sermoniser on Shalom TV entertained me as long as he spoke about the cross. But what really gave me a twin feeling of shock and disgust was when he started referring to history. He said the whole significance of the cross started with the Roman emperor Constantine who was converted to Christianity because of the picture of the cross he saw when he looked up in the sky just as he was beginning to fight a war against Maxentius. The sermoniser was absolutely right, however.
Constantine is believed to have seen a cross in the sky on the morning of his war with Maxentius. It is also believed that the vision led Constantine to victory.
I have no problem with any of that. In fact, Constantine changed the whole history of Christianity. As the Catholic historian, Hans Kung, says, Constantine changed the persecuted Church into the persecuting Church [The Catholic Church, Hans Kung, Phoenix Press, 2002, p45].
The miracle the preacher saw in the sky was an illusion.
The Shalom TV speaker was basing his speech on an illusion.
That’s not my problem. What intrigued me most was the body language of the speaker. Until he came to history he sounded very confident. He looked like any priest on a pedestal in a village parish church except that he had a moustache. But the moment he came to history his face changed, his pronunciation changed and he started fumbling. He didn’t know the history. Or he knew it was fake. Or he knew there was somebody in the audience who knew the real history. Or he knew he was treading unsafe grounds.
Lies – that’s what religion is all about. Haven’t I seen it in my life!
I switched off the TV and took up a book. I prefer reading to watching the TV.
But I couldn’t concentrate on the book. So I switched on the computer. Here’s the result.