Which Language, Whose Vernacular?: Vatican II and Liturgical Politics in Bangalore (Part 1)

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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Beneath the Healthcare Wars: Difficult Questions about Living and Dying

Although the ongoing healthcare wars between Democrats and Republicans have been raging for some time now, the recent HHS mandate has ignited a more direct and particular conflict. Whereas the former was and is primarily political, the latter seems to be cultural. Regardless of what we call it, this recent battle in the healthcare wars amplifies a longstanding tension between secular/American and religious/Catholic cultures and worldviews.

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Catholic Peacebuilding: A Personal View from Colombia (Part 3)

In Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis (Maryknoll, 2010) as well as in his forthcoming book, Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation (Oxford University Press, 2012), Daniel Philpott addresses the issues of transitional justice from a political perspective on reconciliation. He, like others, emphasizes the objective of restoring relationships that were harmed by injustice. This restoration includes all members of the community and not only victims and perpetrators.

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Catholic Peacebuilding: A Personal View from Colombia (Part 2)

I am further drawn to reflect on the insights of Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis when I think of another conflict zone in the Magdalena Medio region, the southern part of the department of Bolivar. This zone is characterized by vast gold resources that have attracted several armed actors: traditionally the ELN guerrilla and, from the 1990s, the paramilitary forces.

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Catholic Peacebuilding: a Personal View from Colombia (Part 1)

In an environment that can be described as “hot” in every sense, it is refreshing to find a volume that combines the relevance and scholarly sophistication of Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Praxis (Maryknoll, 2010), edited by Robert Schreiter, Scott Appleby, and Gerard Powers. In a series of three posts, I reflect on this significant set of essays in light of my own peacebuilding work in Colombia under the auspices of the Development and Peace Program.

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Catholicism and Economic Life in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 2)

In my previous post I examined some of the ways in which the Catholic Church in the Arabian Peninsula helps cultivate skills and competencies that enable its members to achieve successful economic outcomes. A second set of resources it offers could be called ideational resources — ideals, attitudes, beliefs, and values that have a long-standing, habitual nature. Here, the classic example of how ideas or values contribute to economic outcomes is Weber’s argument, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Does Catholicism impart a distinctive “Catholic ethic” among its adherents in Gulf cities?

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Catholicism and Economic Life in the Arabian Peninsula (Part 1)

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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Indian Catholics Responding to Globalization

When I first began researching call center workers in India, I was surprised to come across an article on a British news website about how the Catholic Archbishop of Bangalore had expressed public concern about rapidly mushrooming call centers. While most people outside India assume that call centers and “outsourcing” must be an unqualified boon for the country, the Archbishop fretted about their impact on the lifestyles of Indian youth.

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Catholics in the Call Center

In 2005, I visited Bangalore for the first time in ten years, and was astonished at the major facelift the city had undergone. The once quiet and easy-going “garden city” was now a thriving metropolis, dotted with an ever-growing number of shopping malls, coffee shops, glass-paneled office towers, KFC and McDonald’s franchises, and Pepsi billboards. Besides these usual symbols heralding the arrival of globalization, one new development struck me as peculiar: the outsourcing industry. I soon discovered that outsourcing highlights some of the important tensions between new modes of secularity and new religious modernities—including Catholic ones—emerging around the world.

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