Which language, whose vernacular?: Vatican II and liturgical politics in Bangalore (Part 3)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

This post is the third in a three-part series on the sometimes violent liturgical battles that have been waged in the Catholic Church in Bangalore, India, since the reforms of Vatican II. Though the Second Vatican Council began fifty years ago this year, conflicts about the place of Bangalore’s diversity of vernacular languages in the Church’s liturgy remain unresolved to this day. Part 1 recounted the origins of the conflict in the 1960s. Part 2 picked up the story at the beginning of the 1970s. Part 3, the present post, takes the story to the present day, drawing out its ironic implications for Catholic modernity and the Church’s modern “reforms.”

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Which language, whose vernacular?: Vatican II and liturgical politics in Bangalore (Part 2)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

This post is the second in a three-part series on the sometimes violent liturgical battles that have been waged in the Catholic Church in Bangalore, India, since the reforms of Vatican II. Though the Second Vatican Council began fifty years ago this year, conflicts about the place of Bangalore’s diversity of vernacular languages in the Church’s liturgy remain unresolved to this day. Part 1 recounted the origins of the conflict in the 1960s. Part 2 picks up the story at the beginning of the 1970s.

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Which language, whose vernacular?: Vatican II and liturgical politics in Bangalore (Part 1)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. A mostly neglected issue in the study of the Council is its impact “on the ground” in the diverse local cultural contexts in which the Church is situated. One example is the revision of the liturgy. With the aim of improving lay participation, the Church began to encourage the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular instead of in Latin. In places such as Bangalore, India, however, the question of what constitutes the vernacular was itself a matter of much dispute — even violence — and has yet to be resolved even decades later.

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Catholicism and economic life in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 1)

BRANDON VAIDYANATHAN

The Arabian/Persian Gulf region is home to some of the fastest-developing cities in the world. In my research into these new hubs of global capitalism, one issue I examine is the role of Catholicism. While official statistics on foreign populations are not available, estimates from various sources (including embassies and churches) place the Catholic population in these cities at — astonishingly — between 10-30 percent, with a contributing factor being the increasing Filipino emigration to cities such as Dubai and Doha. One crucial way Catholicism shapes modern life in the Gulf is by serving as a source of “technical” competencies or cultural capital—technical in the sense of having to do with techniques, skills, and practices that contribute to economic outcomes and social mobility.

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The Islamic call for a free Egypt

MUSTAFA AKYOL

When the Arab Spring began earlier this year, first in Tunis and then in Egypt, many in the West felt sympathetic. But other people saw a risk: What if the Arab Spring midwifed a series of Islamist dictatorships? The deposed dictators of Tunis and Egypt were unmistakably authoritarian, but they were also secular. What if Islamists took advantage of democracy to establish their own dictatorships? What if these “bad guys,” as Donald Rumsfeld reportedly put it in a recent meeting in Washington, emerged triumphant?

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Interreligious Dialogue, too, can marginalize

KARSTEN LEHMANN

In my previous post on Manila 1960 as a forgotten yet fascinating chapter in the history of Interreligious Dialogue, I made a distinction between hagiography and unofficial history. In a way, I learned about the 1960 conference on “The Present Impact of the Great Religions of the World upon the Orient and the Occident” the “wrong” way around—by first getting acquainted with the unofficial story and only later with the somewhat more flattering self-portrait.

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A forgotten episode in the history of Interreligious Dialogue

KARSTEN LEHMANN

One often gets the impression that the history of Interreligious Dialogue is told in the form of hagiography, starting with “mystical figures” such as Akbar the Great or the Emirs of Granada and leading up to “present-day saints” such as Hans Küng, the Dalai Lama, and Mother Maya. There is, however, an important history of interreligious encounters that is generally excluded from the hagiography—a history that does not focus exclusively on shining examples and peaceful saints, that includes failure and dissent as well as understanding and comprehension, and that has to be rediscovered in order to grasp the structures, potentials and losses of Interreligious Dialogue.

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Civility 101: do unto otters

JENNIFER S. BRYSON

Review of Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller (New York: Henry Holt and Company LLC, 2007).

Shrillness, vitriol, and a distinct lack of civility characterize much of our public discussion in America these days. America is torn and tense. One example is that the topic of Islam in public discussion has become almost radioactive. A jolting, disturbing reminder spread across the internet last week in video footage of loud, rude, and at times vicious anti-Muslim protesters who held a rally in February at a mosque in California. And Rep. Peter King’s hearings on Islamic radicalization in America have been the focus of intensely polarized—and not particularly civil—national debate.

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Inequality, masculinity & modernity

M. CHRISTIAN GREEN

In the weeks and months after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, speculation swirled over the attackers’ possible motivations. The pseudo-religious zeal of Mohammed Atta’s final letter to his comrades was only one aspect of it. Attention also centered on the attackers’ possible socioeconomic motivations. Theirs was not a problem of absolute poverty, of course, but of relative poverty. In their new environs, they could never quite fit in culturally—or perhaps religiously, morally, or spiritually—given the marginalization of immigrants that persists in many European countries even among immigrants who aspire to “assimilate.”

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Al-Azhar: beyond the politics of state patronage

A. RASHIED OMAR

The great Islamic polymath, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111), bemoaned the lack of intellectual independence, integrity and critical distance from the state that characterized the position of Muslim scholars in his time. He advises his young disciples neither to get too close to princes nor to praise them excessively. But even more than that, Imam Ghazali warns them not to accept generous gifts from rulers, even though this may be permissible: “Coveting things from the rulers and those in power will spoil and corrupt your religion, since there is born from it flattery and ‘kowtowing’ to those in power and unwise approval of their policies.”

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