Thursday, 3 October 2013


Dharma Endowment Lectures: 16

Sociological Investigations

Paul Parathazham

Dharmaram Publications
Bangalore 560029, India

Dharma Endowment Lectures: 16
Christianity in India:
Sociological Investigations

Prof. Dr. Paul Parathazham

© 2013, Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore, India
ISBN: 978 81 89958 75-6

Published by
Dharmaram Publications, Bangalore, India
Published for
Faculty of Philosophy
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore, India
Printed at
Matha Printers, Bangalore

Price: Rs. 450.00 / US$ 30.00

Dharmaram Publications
Dharmaram College, Bangalore 560029, India
Tel: +91-80-41-116137; 6111

“Dynamics of Religious Phenomena and Social Transformation” by Prof. Dr. Saju Chackalackal CMI
Chapter 1
Contemporary Transformation of Religion
I. The Secularization Thesis
II. Critique of Secularization Paradigm
III. Secularization Theory: New Approaches
Chapter 2
Institutionalization of Religion:
Imperatives and Dilemmas
I. Charismatic Authority
II. Routinization of Charisma
III. Forms of Religious Organizations
IV. Dilemmas of Institutionalization
Chapter 3
From Churches to Sects:
Sociological Analysis of Pentecostal Sects
I. Pentecostal Sects: Origin, Growth and Basic Features
II. Methodology
III. Background of the Respondents
IV. Exposure and Entry into Sects
V. Motivations for Joining: Push and Pull Factors
VI. Beliefs and Morality
VII. Theological and Pastoral Implications
Chapter 4
Life and Ministry of the Pastoral Clergy of India:
A Scientific Survey
I. Methodology
II. Profile of the Respondents
III. Qualities and Aptitudes Expected in Priests
IV. Priorities in Pastoral Ministry
V. Problems and Challenges in Pastoral Ministry
VI. General Impressions about Pastoral Clergy
VII. Personal Experience of Priests in Pastoral Ministry
VIII. Major Trends: Some Implications
Chapter 5
Life and Ministry of the Religious of India:
An Empirical Analysis
I. Profile of the Respondents
II. Satisfaction with Community Life
III. Problems and Challenges in Community Life
IV. Quality of Life
V. Education Ministry
VI. Social Ministry
VII. Formation
VIII. Leadership and Governance
IX. Personal Experience in Religious Life
X. Major Trends and Important Challenges
Chapter 6
Formation of Priests and Religious:
National Surveys of Formees and Formators
I. National Survey of the Formees
II. National Survey of the Formators
III. Some Questions the Studies Raise
Chapter 7
Social Transformation through Education:
The Role of the Church
I. Social Functions of Education
II. Catholic Education and Social Transformation
III. Areas of Relevant Action

“Dynamics of Religious Phenomena
and Social Transformation”
Saju Chackalackal CMI
President, DVK
Religion and spirituality continue to constitute a vital aspect of human life. Despite the affirmative proclamation that “God is dead” (Hegel and Nietzsche) and the doomsday predictions on the “death of religion” (Mark Twain), the fact is that religion continues to occupy an important place in the life of the vast majority of people across the globe. Modernization and secularization have posed great challenges to religious perspectives; market orientations of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have adversely affected the credibility of religions to a very great extent. At the same time, in the contemporary society, we see a clear resurgence of religion, although there is an increasing number of people who opt for spirituality without necessarily belonging to traditional organized religious structures.
              While religion gets established based on a human need for the transcendental, in many instances, the charismatic authority with which the foundations of any religion is made gets eroded and, many a time, it gets replaced by an institutional authority. Although the institutionalization is generally considered to be essential for solidifying and continuing the charisma, from a religious point of view it is certainly questionable when the charismatic authority is completely lost due to institutionalization. Yet, it must be admitted that the social nature of human beings necessitates the evolution of institutional aspects, authority being one among the most important in this regard. As the authority shifts from a person or persons (within the charismatic phase) to the authority of an office (institutional phase), there is a possible erosion of credibility, which would also challenge the credibility of a religion as a spiritual movement that has the necessary mandate to facilitate realization of the transcendental among the faithful.
              Shift of authority from a person or a group of persons to an office could create rift among the members of any social grouping, including religion; such a situation seems to be at the background of the development of various subgroups, many a time causing distancing among the members, leading to the development of various sects, questioning the authority claimed by anyone and creating a set of new power centres. It may also come about by the presence of special focuses and diverse interests that various groups of people within one religion tend to cultivate; it is quite natural that personal authorities would come into being due to the shared interest within a group. As these processes are spontaneously initiated, there may come into existence a variety of approaches to religious phenomena and a plurality of religious establishments with varied interests and focuses, all claiming to be authentic remnants of the original religious experience that had facilitated a transcendental experience and brought into existence one or the other religion.
              In spite of someone in a consolidated and formal position claiming to be the exclusive authority, it happens that these subgroups tend to be more appealing to many, especially in contrast to the claims of the mainstream religious authority; as authority seems to be more person-oriented and charismatic in the case of smaller units of religious groupings, they are perceived to be more appealing to the popular mind, which looks for the facilitation of a personal experience of the religious or the transcendental.
              Success of a religion would depend upon its ability to maintain a healthy balance between the charismatic authority of subsequent leaders and the creation and maintenance of a dynamic institutional setup that would not stifle the religious spirit in which its members are anchored in their quest for the transcendental reality. Such a positive ambience would facilitate an ongoing formative, reformative, and transformative experience emerging from the fact that these religious votaries get established in the transcendent with a definitive focus on the larger human community and the rest of creation. This is an ideal towards which all religions gear their powers, although history attests to the fact that seldom do they succeed in full measure. The failure depends mostly on those members and leaders who would lose their orientation towards the transcendental reality and would focus on the mundane as it would give them temporal gains. As they get almost exclusively entangled with the goods of here and now, they comfortably begin to manipulate the larger group of faithful and their religious orientation for temporal advantage. Such manipulations would be better facilitated when the highest authorities of any religion tend to be in the hands of those who do not have personal authority based on their foundational experience of the transcendental reality, but wield their authority based on sheer institutionalized offices. It is quite natural that the ordinary faithful may easily go along with such authorities as they do not realize the debasing undercurrents; however, those who understand the undercurrents and develop a critical attitude towards them, though they would be almost always a minority, meet with a disenchantment and, as a result, tend to drift away from such centres of authority; eventually, they either lose their affinity for the particular form of religious experience or, in some extreme cases, disconnect themselves with formal religious setups and practices altogether. In very rare cases, such situation may lead to the inception of yet another religion or religious movement, though theoretically it may also meet with the same challenges in the course of time.
              Under the banner of Dharma Endowment Lectures, established in the Faculty of Philosophy at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, a Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology, and Canon Law, Bangalore, Rev. Prof. Dr. Paul Parathazham has engaged with the crucial issues of religions and their social structures, and has given shape to a critical vision on this type of human and social dynamics of religious phenomena particularly experienced in the Indian context. In these lectures, Prof. Parathazham confronts the reality of the Church in India within the larger horizons of secularization and globalization that have contributed to the accentuation of disintegration of religious currents from various angles. As a constructive and optimistic sociologist, Prof. Parathazham identifies certain specific areas that need the attention of the Church and its members, whereby the downward religious trend could be turned around for the good of the Church as a movement and as an institution. Hence, in these lectures, he focuses on the ideal of transformation aimed at by religion and the existential necessity of institutionalization; he works out the dynamics of institutionalization through a thorough research on the relationship between the Church and various sects, their emergence in the Indian context and the struggle that goes on between these two social entities having religious orientations. Knowing well that the inner recesses of the Catholic Church in India, as it exists today, are very much influenced by the clergy and the religious (designed more along a hierarchical structure), he dwells on the life and ministry, perception of institutional strength and structures and forms of formation that are offered to both groups. Instead of relying on available theoretical positions, extensive scientific surveys are carried out in order to bring forth relevant data for analysis and reflection. Accordingly, the conclusions arrived at by Prof. Parathazham are worthy of our attention, as they certainly challenge all those who are involved. He offers a constructive criticism and invites the leadership as well as the members of the Catholic Church and numerous other Churches in India to begin a process of introspection that would make the mission of the Church true to its original call, thus making it more effective in establishing God’s reign here and now.
Indeed, he concludes his discussion by focusing on education as a mission of the Church in facilitating and sustaining social transformation in India. Despite his critical analysis on educational institutions and the way they function, Prof. Parathazham insistently maintains that the Church would become a leaven in the Indian society if it could reach out to the masses with quality education, as it would empower the poor and the marginalized, thus, paving the way for the establishment and maintenance of a just and peaceful society in India. Catholic educational institutions, according to him, have a prophetic role in carrying out education as a mission by facilitating a critical and creative approach to social institutions and the role of individuals towards the building up of a better and humane society, which would at the same time cater to the quest for the transcendental that the vast majority still cherish in spite of the postmodern drift experienced both within the Church and the society and its varied institutions.
              The vision of Jesus Christ and the mission of the Church would merge together when all the Christian faithful would begin to live for others following the example of Jesus himself. Jesus’ primary instruction to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34) offers not only an ideal but also a powerful orientation to the Church, and its members and institutions. Most of the maladies that the contemporary Christianity faces, especially among many members either leaving for other religious traditions or joining other sects, stem from the fact that the leaders as well as the faithful continue to fail in realizing the great ideals encountered in the foundational experience. Christianity in India offers an invitation to free the Church and its members from irrelevant structures and modes of authority so that they could become more relevant in their existential situations; it would happen only when Christians would rely on the personal charismatic authority that stems from their constant contact with the transcendental spiritual power that would come from an immanent and indwelling presence of the person of Jesus Christ and essential (but changeable) structures that would dynamically evolve from the faith experience of the community and the common good of the society at large.
              Rev. Prof. Dr. Paul Parathazham, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Jnana-Deepa Vidya Peeth, Pune, is my own professor; hence, it is an honour and privilege for me to write these few paragraphs as a foreword to a great work of an erudite scholar and an eminent expert who has been instrumental in my theological formation over two decades ago. His lectures on sociology of religion, which he offered us during our theological studies at JDV, were well appreciated both for their content and style. He is not only an expert in sociology of religion but an excellent researcher and a great communicator; I still remember very vividly his excellent and interesting lectures that we attended regularly in the early nineties. Prof. Parathazham is also well known across India and abroad for his critical and systematic sociological research of church-related institutions and movements and the insightful and futuristic interpretations of his findings. My reading of the pages of Christianity in India: Sociological Investigations, resulting from the sixteenth Dharma Endowment Lectures 2012-2013, brings back reminiscences of those days of my theological formation and feelings of great satisfaction and gratitude. In fact, it is with the same feeling of great interest and admiration that I write this foreword, not only because this is a work of my revered professor but more so because of the excellent quality of the research that has gone into it and the ingenuity with which this work has been carried out. Indeed, I understand that the ecclesial sense and commitment of Prof. Parathazham have inspired him not only to offer soothing information to create a feeling of good for all, but to scientifically confront the existential realities of the contemporary Church in India and to offer a challenge and positive direction that would create a better future for the Church, whereby the mission of the Church would become more challengingly prophetic, creatively inspirational, and constructively effective in the building up of the Kingdom of God in India by the instrumentality of the Christian faithful.
              I congratulate Rev. Prof. Dr. Paul Parathazham for this excellent work on Christianity in India and Rev. Dr. Jose Nandhikkara CMI, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, for facilitating both the lectures at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram and for bringing out this publication through the portals of DVK and Dharmaram Publications. I am sure that this work will be well received both by the Church in India and by the Indian public, as it offers relevant insights into the social dynamics of the Indian society, with special reference to its religious ethos from a Christian point of view. It is my wish that many more such excellent research works will continue to come from Prof. Parathazham, as he is now more freed from institutionalized academic constraints and also is equipped with decades’ long research background and his impeccable stature and record of excellence in serving the Church and the society in India.

This book is an edited compilation of the Dharma Endowment Lectures 2012-2013 on “Christianity in India: Sociological Investigations” delivered at the Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law, Bangalore, India, on 23-24 August 2012. These lectures discussed, from a sociological perspective, several significant issues related to Christianity in India in the light of empirical data drawn from several scientific surveys conducted in the recent past at the national level.
The first two chapters provide the theoretical backdrop to the empirical analyses that follow. The first chapter discusses the sociological perspectives on how the processes of modernization and globalization impact religious belief and practice in the world today. It begins with a discussion on the basic tenets of the secularization theory, the master model of sociological analysis of religion in the post World War II decades. The different attempts to falsify the secularization thesis from theoretical, empirical and cross-cultural perspectives are then reviewed. The chapter closes with an overview of the different neo-secularization perspectives currently in vogue about the changing role and significance of religion in the world today.
In the second chapter the focus is on the internal dynamics of institutionalized religions. It examines the nature of charismatic authority that is the source of all founded religions including Christianity. Charismatic authority, in so far it is identified with the person of the founder, cannot serve as the basis of an ongoing movement beyond the lifetime of the charismatic founder. A crisis of continuity is built into the nature of charisma. If the religious movements that arise from charismatic authority are to endure beyond the life-time of the charismatic person, charisma must be, in Weber’s words, “routinized” and transformed into more stable forms of authority like rational-legal authority or traditional authority. Routinization necessarily entails, at least in some measure, the distortion of the original charisma, which in turn spawns a number of dilemmas for institutional religion. Much of the ambivalence and ambiguity in religious belief and practice today can be traced to the dilemmas of institutionalization.
Historically, institutionalization of Christianity has taken two forms: church and sect. Of these two forms, sects appear to have greater appeal today. We are witnessing the proliferation of sects and the exodus of large numbers of the faithful from traditional mainline churches to Pentecostal sects. The third chapter presents the findings of a national survey on Pentecostal sects. The study was based on interviews of more than four thousand active members drawn from three hundred and twenty-eight Pentecostal sects from across the country. After a brief discussion on the origin, evolution and basic features of the Pentecostal sects, the findings of the study are presented. Areas investigated include the demographic and religious background of the sect members, their first contact and entry into sects, their motivations for joining the sects, namely, the push factors that alienated them from the previous church and the pull factors that attracted them to the sect, and their beliefs and morality. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the theological and pastoral implications of the findings of the study.
The life and ministry of the pastoral clergy of India is the theme of the next chapter. It discusses the findings of a scientific survey on pastoral ministry in India. Respondents of the study include the members of the pastoral clergy and a sample of the religious and laity from the twenty-six Syro-Malabar dioceses. Aspects investigated include qualities and aptitudes expected in priests, priorities in pastoral ministry, problems and challenges in pastoral ministry, general impressions about the members of the pastoral clergy, and the personal experience of the priests in ministry.
There are more than one-hundred thousand men and women religious in India today, belonging to some three hundred religious congregations. They contribute a yeoman’s share to the ministry of the Church in India. Empirical data on the life and ministry of the religious of India are presented and analysed in chapter five. More specifically, it focuses on the perceptions of the religious on community life, quality of life, education ministry, social apostolate, formation, leadership, and personal experience in religious life.
The quality of the priests and religious is determined in large measure by the kind of formation imparted to them. Chapter six reviews the findings of two national surveys on the formation of priests and religious, one among the formees and the other among the formators. The formees’ survey was based on a national sample of 2824 candidates to priesthood and religious life, both male and female. The survey sought to ascertain, among other things, their motivations for joining and their perceptions of the effectiveness formation imparted to them. The survey also elicited their self-assessment in comparison to their peers in the world outside, their views on the competence and commitment of their formators and their present feelings about the vocational choice they have made. The respondents of the formators’ survey included all the staff members of the major seminaries and scholasticates of India and all the novice mistresses and junior mistresses of the congregations of women religious in India. Major aspects investigated include priorities in formation, effectiveness of formation, problems and challenges in formation, views on the adequacy of the present system of formation, and their personal feelings about the ministry of formation. The third and final section in this chapter looks at the questions and concerns the two studies raise about the formation of the priests and the religious in India today.
Chapter seven, the final chapter, looks at education, the most important ministry of the Church to the wider Indian society, and its impact on social transformation. First, the different theoretical perspectives on the social functions of education are presented and critiqued. Second, the contribution of Catholic education to social transformation and the building of a new India is critically examined in the light of relevant empirical data. If education in this country is to serve the cause of a just society, profound changes in the educational system are imperative. The chapter closes by highlighting certain areas where Catholic educational institutions can provide leadership to transform education and thereby transform society.

(Dharmaram Publications, Bangalore 560029 India)
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02. Lights of the World: Buddha and Christ, Ninian Smart (1997)
03. Understanding Religious Phenomenon, G. C. Nayak (1998)
04. Religion and Ideology: Indian Perspectives, V. F. Vineeth (Shortly)
05. Hindu View of Life: A Contemporary Perspective, M. Sivaramkrishna (2000)
06. Religious Belief: The Contemporary Debate, William Sweet (2001)
07. A Modern Approach to Islam, Asghar Ali Engineer (2002)
08. Pure Land Buddhism, Kenneth K. Tanaka (2003)
09. Philosophy in Context, Santiago Sia (2005)
10. Meaning and Constitution of the Social World, Thomas Aykara (Shortly)
11. ‘This God Engages’ in Thinking and in Acting, Martin Moors (Shortly)
12. Society and Religion, Rajan Gurukkal (Shortly)
13. Proximity with the Other, Roger Burggraeve (2009)
14. Changing Patterns of Thought, Thomas Kadankavil (2010)
15. In-Between: Essays on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue, Hans Waldenfels (2011)

16. Christianity in India: Sociological Perspectives, Paul Parathazham (2012)

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