Tuesday, April 12, 2011

T.K. John, sj - Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi, India

Dear Francoise

I was glad to meet you in Bombay during the World Social Forum. I am equally glad that you brought your book The Dolls Speak to the venue of the Forum. I have been closely monitoring the journey of the book ever since the making of the dolls and their exhibition. I think I should place my observations before you.

The church’s mode of serving the world is growing, changing according to the new consciousness that is growing in the church, and especially in the wide civil society at large.

Understanding of evangelization is growing and changing rapidly. New forms of communicating the truth of the Gospel is surfacing and is being pursued quite successfully. This is the need of the hour.

Gospels’ eyes are now sharply being focused on the deprived, the discriminated and marginalized sections of God’s people. This is the initiative of God who wants to restore the distorted in His creation. We have to obey and follow, and slowly move away from methods that are unsuited to our times and create new and relevant methods.

You have beautifully given expression to this ‘eye and heart of the bible’ so to speak through the dolls. DOLLS ARE SPEAKING is the title, and people are saying that through these GOD IS SPEAKING, GOD IS CHALLENGING, TRUTH IS SPEAKING. Onlookers are listening to God. Dolls here are prophets that speak sharply to the people of our times.

The fact that, whoever has viewed them, has pondered deeply over each doll indicates that hearts are affected, perceptions and social values and practices are being challenged in a novel way, This you should notice and register.

What is important is that all believers and even non-believers, irrespective of their being a Hindu or Christian or Buddhist or Sikh or atheist, respond to this novel way of highlighting sin in the world. It is at the human level that the impact is uniform. There is no sectarian thinking here. It is the universal values of the gospel that are being thus demonstrated. It is good that people’s conscience is thus invaded by the power of the truth that is embodied in and through the DOLLS.

It is my suggestion that this novel form of communicating universal truths and values, Gospel values, should be given priority over other kinds of ministries that are traditional.

You may notice that quite a number of those who study and appreciate the DOLLS SPEAK come from the middle class, or even upper class. It is this sector that needs to be challenged. Ordinary means of challenging them are of not much effect. Here you have at your hand a most powerful and effective means. It is truth speaking and challenging through the art that is taking place. In other words, here God has given you a very novel and effective means for transcultural and even inter-religious or across religion communication possibility. I am confident that you will avail yourselves of this opportunity God has opened up before you.

A last observation: you being not born in this land and culture is another issue. It is an advantage. I grant that fundamentalist may brand your work as ‘Christianizing’. But that dung is flung at all ‘artists and writers’, including Amarya Sen. But for normal Indians it is an advantage for you.

Should you not take this work as a priority? Should you not unhesitatingly carry forward this new form of ministry? I think you should discuss this with your superiors, some knowledgeable theologians, especially those deeply in the world of Social Communications and the Media. Kindly let me know your response to this letter of mine. I conclude.

~ Fr. T.K.John SJ

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