Wednesday, 14 January 2015

'Gaaad ko Latka Dia?!': Depiction of Christianity in Bollywood Movie PK

In my previous blog post, I made two observations about the blockbuster Bollywood movie PK. Read here.

Today, I will reflect on a couple of scenes where PK enters churches and interacts with Christians.

The Death of God?
The title of this post is a dialogue from the movie itself. PK enters a church with offerings typical of a Hindu temple. He naturally offends everyone, and is thrown out by two parishioners. They tell him:

'God was hanged on the cross for you', much to the dismay of PK who thinks that Bhagwan is now dead!





The statement is technically correct. We believe Jesus to be divine and worship him. We also believe that he died on the cross for our sins. So on the surface, yes, we are saying that God died.

But what non-Christians ignore is how we define God in Christianity. The Christian understanding of God is trinitarian, i.e. we believe God is one being that exists as 3 distinct yet equal persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


We also believe that this second person, Jesus, the Son became human. He had dual natures, divine and human at the same time. Sort of like Superman

So, it was the man Jesus that died on the cross. Not the Father. Not the Holy Spirit. Only the Son. 

And of course, Jesus didn't remained dead. After Good Friday (the commemoration of his death) follows Easter Sunday (the day of his resurrection). 

Read my in-depth article on the Trinity here.

Bhine (wine) for God
PK watches the priest lifting a golden chalice to the statue of Christ, after which he offers it to the congregation. PK calls this a lota, and inquires what's in it. 'Wine' they reply.

First things first. We are not obliged to have a golden chalice for distributing wine in church. Any liquid container will suffice.

Anyway, PK thinks that the previous offering (coconut water) doesn't please God. The Almighty wants wine, which is more expensive. 

Of course this was a joke, but just so we are clear, the wine is not offered to God. It is actually the other way round.

The Jews celebrate the Passover, the night in which they escaped the clutches of Pharaoh in Egypt. They eat bread, bitter herbs, and animal meat along with wine. When Jesus celebrated this event with his disciples (the Last Supper):

He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying,“Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'





So, the bread and wine given at church are also a remembrance of Jesus dying for our sins on the cross.

In the next scene, PK takes two bottles of wine to a mosque, after which he has to run for his life! Here is a short post on drinking issues in Islam and Christianity

Dress Code?
PK is confused between what Hindu, Muslim, and Christian women wear. Why do Hindu widows and Christian brides wear white to denote opposite emotions? Why do Muslim women wear black burqa veils, when black is supposed to be dress code for funerals in Christianity?

Once again, Bible doesn't specify a dress code. These are cultural norms brought to India and Pakistan by the British (although brides do looking amazing in that dress. Just saying).

Sufficiency of Christ's Sacrifice
PK is told by Christians that God died for his sins 2000 years ago. PK asks two counter-questions:

'Mene Kya Kia?' (What have I done wrong?)

The Bible teaches that all human beings given a free choice choose to sin in one way or another. It started with Adam, and continues on to this day. (Reference: Romans 3:23). Being an alien, however, PK can be an exception!

'Meh to Abhi Aya' (I have just arrived, so how can Jesus die for my sins 2000 years ago?)

This has to do with the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice. We believe that unlike sacrifices of other religions that are perpetual, the death of Jesus is once-and-for-all. Any one who professes faith in his death regardless of which era s/he is living in will find salvation. Read relevant verses in this written sermon:

What Does the Bible Say About Modern Day Violence?

Thapa(Stamp) Kahan Hai?  
Seeing the diversity of religions in India and the fact that most people adopt the faith of their parents, PK assumes that newborn babies come with a stamp on their bodies which denotes the religion they will follow!

While Jews and Muslims are born in their faith, the Bible teaches that even if you are born in a Christian family, you are not a true believer unless you make a declaration of faith out of free will. Hence the term 'born-again', or accepting Jesus as your 'personal' savior. 

Different 'Brands' of God
PK concludes that there is no one God on earth but many. Each religion (company) has its own brand of God which others don't subscribe to. 

This is true. Most, if not all, religions of the world are mutually exclusive. Those who teach otherwise are drunk on Kool Aid.  

But while Bible teaches the uniqueness of Jesus (John 14:6, Acts 4:12), this doesn't mean all non-Christians by default are inhabitants of hell.

The Bible recognizes believers outside the official boundaries of the Church (Read: Unknown followers of Christ)


This quotation sums it up nicely:
".......to engage in Christian Evangelism does not mean that outside the Church we consider God inactive and truth absent. Not at all. God sustains all his creatures, and therefore 'is not far from any of them'. By creation they are his 'offspring', who 'live and move and have their being' in him (Acts 17:27f.). Also Jesus Christ, as the logos of God and the light of men, is himself ceaselessly active in the world. Because he is 'the true light coming into the world and giving light to every man' (John 1:9), we dare to claim that all beauty, truth and goodness, wherever they are found among human beings, derive from him. This is an aspect of God's 'common grace', his love shown to all humankind; it is not however, 'saving grace' which is given only to those who humbly cry to him for mercy.
.... practice of evangelism does not mean that we think that there is no hope of salvation for those who have never heard of Jesus...
" (John Stott, The Authentic Jesus pg. 80)
Baptism
In pursuit of God, PK decides to follow all religions one by one. In the next scene, he is seen being immersed in a water tank at a church.

This is baptism, a rite of passage for being a Christian. Baptism, however, itself doesn't guarantee true salvation. Salvation only comes through believing in Jesus (Acts 16:31). Baptism is just an outward expression of faith, where you confess your faith in front of other believers.

Note that while baptism is held as a Christian essential by all denominations, there is a wide debate on issues like the age of baptism and particular styles in which it is given. 



My baptism. I guess I was 13 at the time, and I would go on know Christ 3 years after my baptism. Some never do

Hope you found this article helpful. 

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Bollywood Movie PK: Seek, But You Can't Find?

Anyone who watches Indian movies or follows Bollywood news would have heard of the latest blockbuster: 'PK', which has (according to my knowledge) become the most commercially successful movie in Indian cinema history.

I will not discuss the synopsis of the movie, nor review it. A Google search will help you with that :)

What I am going to discuss are 2 points raised in the movie that have stuck in my mind since I watched it. 




The Positive
The human-like alien 'PK' (my personal most favorite role of Aamir Khan) is told by citizens of Earth that only Bhagwan (Creator, God) can solve his problem. However, no one tells him which Bhagwan, which is an issue since India is the home of dozens of religions.

Thus begins the journey as PK visits each temple, shrine, church, and mosque with fervent devotion so that God may listen to him. In one of the most gripping scenes of the movie, PK is standing in a Shiite Muharram procession, beating himself with metal objects and bleeding just so that he may know this sublime being that everyone is talking about.

The lesson here is that here are millions of people around the world who are seeking the divine truth, and they are willing to go to all lengths to find it. 

The Bible talks about the women who impatiently searched for her coin until she found it, and a prodigal son who fed himself on pig fodder in his pursuit to return back to his Father. Zacchaeus climbed a tree just to get a glimpse of Jesus. He was willing to embarrass himself, but didn't care, because he believed in his heart that Jesus can help him. 

Has the Church opened its doors for such seekers? What is our response to the questions of the PKs of this world? This is a challenge that the movie leaves us with. Our response should be similar to that of Philip (Acts 8:30-32).

The Negative
While the movie entertains you and also stimulates your mind (a rare combination in Indian cinema), it does leave you with a negative message.

Jesus said 'seek and you will find', but according to PK, you don't find God when you look for him. Instead, the movie begins an onslaught against organized religion, much like its 'predecessor' OMG-Oh My God! (2012).

Personally, I don't have a problem accepting the problems of organized religions (even Christianity). The movie has been criticized by conservatives, but I don't think that was part of the 'agenda' (if there was one to begin with). 

Note that I also dismiss videos and articles like 'Excellent Response by Aamir Khan to India Media' and 'Aamir Khan Answer for Indian Media' as bogus. Firstly, because no source is cited in any of these links (date, name of reporter, name of publication etc.), and secondly, because it actually shows an agenda instead of refuting it!

Anyway, what is being missed here is that an argument against religion (any religion) is not an argument against God. This is the fundamental flaw in books like God is Not Great: The Case Against Religion.

You can criticize all you want, but that doesn't take away anything from the existence of God. And a move towards atheism on this basis is also illogical. 

Proponents of such arguments have apparently never read the Bible. If they had, they would have found that Jesus Christ never spoke a word against the 'pagan' Roman and Greek religions of his time. Not once. 

Instead, his greatest tussles were with the people of his own faith, especially the clergy who eventually plotted his murder. 

In one of the most gripping narratives in the Gospel, Jesus Christ enters the Temple of Solomon with a whip in his hand and throws out the animal sellers and money changers. 


Why? Because they were not only using religion to their own gain, but also because they had wrongfully occupied the area of the Temple that was reserved for outsiders. Non-Jews were allowed to enter the Temple and perform their worship rites. Just read Isaiah 56:1-8. 




But that is not all. The Bible not only teaches that every person regardless of his faith is welcome in God's presence, but it actually teaches that the Almighty himself is seeking the PKs of this world.

The Bible talks of a shepherd who has a 100 sheep, and if one of them is lost, he leaves the 99 and runs after it. Who is this shepherd?

'“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Fatherand I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. (Read John 10:1-18 for context)

So, God is actively involved in making himself known to the seekers of this world. If you are one of them, never be disillusioned. 

And for those of us who call ourselves Christians, we have a 24/7 duty of facilitating these seekers.

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