Wednesday, November 18, 2009

M M Thomas Remembrance Gettogether 2009

MM Thomas Remembrance Gettogether 2009
We have come together on Friday 04 Decemer 2009 (from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm) at Pennamma Bhavanam to comemmorate Dr MM Thomas on his death anniversary. The programme has begun with singing, worship and bible study, followed by a Seminar on

"Refelctions on Land and Development"
Theme Presentation was made by Smt. Sara Joseph (Renowned feminist writer and activist)
Presentations: Sreeraman Koyyon, Geethanandan & Varghese George
The get together was planned in the backdrop of the contemporary new social movements emerging from the nook an corner of India, which bring in the issue of land and development from different vatage points.
Nalini Naik
Sara Joseph, Rev M J Joseph (chair)
Sara Joseph

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BIBLE STUDY on the Economic Glory of King Solomon

Bible Study Series

(based on the texts, 1 Kings 4:20-28: 6:23-38;7:13-26; 9:26-10:10)

the session was led by
Rev. Dr. R.C. Thomas

date: 28 september 2009 monday
time: 2.30 pm
venue: Pennnammabhavanam

Lohiya Birth Centenary Caravan visited Pennamma Bhavanam

Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia (1910-1967)
Portrait in India ink by V.N. O'key

An All India Yatra of 30 young socialists, led by Dr. Sunilam Ex.MLA, to spread the ideals of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia (1910-1967), the great socialist leader of India, on his birth centenary was welcomed at Pennamma Bhavanam, Tiruvalla on 18th August 2009, Tuesday 11 am.
There was a reception-gettogether arranged in Pennamma Bhavanam to welcome the caravan and listen to the message of the Yathra.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Next Programme: BIBLE STUDY on delhi High Court Verdict on Homosexuality (Repealing of Aricle 377)

Bible Study Series

Understanding the Message of the Bible in the context of the Delhi High Court Verdict on Homosexuality
session was led by
Mr. Yacob Thomas

Date: 2.30 pm, Saturday, 12 September 2009
Venue: Pennamma Bhavanam
The Delhi High Court Verdict that Repealed Article 377 of Indian Penal Code (the article declared Homosexuality as 'against nature' and thereby suggesting same sex a punishable offence) provoked the conservative sections of society but for the LGBT community India the verdict brought in relief from the trauma of marginalisation, social exclusion and moral policing. The church responses to the verdict was by and large conservative, and the biblical texts like that on 'Sodom and Gomora' (Genesis 19:1-29) were quoted to underscore the God's disapproval to homosexuality, marking it as evil and sinful. The bible study gathering examined key biblical texts to understand the God's message to the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders (LGBT) in India. The story of the love between David and Jonathan was discussed in some detail. The bible study gathering also introduced the Queer Biblical Hermenuetics as a strong contemporary movement withing Christian theology.
For further reading:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

next programme: seminar series on the question of IDENTITY

“An Introduction to the Question of Identity”

Paper presentation by

Mr. K. K. Baburaj
(Eminent thinker & dalit activist)

Date: 2 pm, Saturday, 15 August 2009
Venue: Pennamma Bhavanam (Amalloor Road, Manjadi, Tiruvalla)

The question of identity is a continuing debate in social theory and in the realm of political activism. The subaltern groups have been raising this question for the last two decades. The identity politics raised by the marginalised groups, especially the dalits in India, affirmed their standpoint as the politics of difference against the claims of modernity that a universal, homogenous common identity is possible. It was pointed out that the universality of a human identity presupposes the white male european identity which obliterates the possibilities for other identities and world views. However, a criticism raised against the identity politics (from different vantagepoints) is that it is sectarian and essentialist. The paper will present the history of the identity politics, divulging out the richness and diversity of the debate.

All are Welcome

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Film and Theology

Spirituality of PerceptioN
A Series of Workshops on Film and Theology

Date: 11-12 July 2009
Venue: Pennamma Bhavanam, Manjadi, Tiruvala

Main Resource Person: Mr. Joro Joseph (Film Studies Scholar)

The discussions and classes was based on the screening of the following films:
' Bicycle Thieves ', 'Modern Times', 'Dreams', & 'Spring, Winter, Summer and Again Spring'

Monday, June 22, 2009

seminar: Social History of Christianity

Social Theory Series-2

"Rethinking the Social History of Kerala Christianity"

Paper Presented by

Prof. Mammen George Suku
(Historian & Rtd. Professor, St. Thomas College, Kozhencherry)
Prof. Dr. Sanal Mohan
(Historian and Professor, School of Social Sciences, MG University, Kottayam)
responded to the paper.

Date: 2.30 -5.30 pm, Saturday, 4 July 2009

Venue: Pennamma Bhavanam (Amalloor Road, Manjadi, Tiruvalla)

The new theoretical understandings of society and the new trends in Historiography challeneges many of our commonsensical understandings of social realities and historical processes. At this juncture, the history of church and Christianity face several questions that challenege its foundations . Re-reading the history of Christianity and the traditions of the church in the new historiographical contexts is an important task to redifine the meaning of Christian witness today. This lecture attempted to situate the history of Christianity as embedded in the social history of Kerala.

The Key Arguments:

Prof. Mammen George Suku

I. Backwardness of the theories used now
a) In the current methods religion and communities are not tried to be understood as historical social evolutes, subject to the general social dynamics and processes. Instead they are treated as pure processes and idea systems appearing in some moral and cosmological firmament.
The transcendal dimension is not something unique to religious experience. But at present this area - the study of dynamics of religious and non-religious realms is ignored by secular historians and treated as ahistorical by theologians. For example Mar Thoma (St Thomas) has been a non-linear language of dynamics and ideology and has to be understood as a Malankara experience and phenomenon - a human social experience and hence something that can be converted into social knowledge.
b) Different dimensions of religion are not properly distinguished. That is the dimensions of transcendal dynamics, the dimension of social power and its ordering etc. are now confused and treated as a single phenomenon. A textualisation of these undistinguished phenomenons by power wielders in the frame of the accepted theological moral and political ideology is treated as 'the history'. Hence history becomes a subjective narration of theological and political events. The rationale for the visibility of these events and their structuring is treated as absolute. So community history is reduced to church history and church history into theological history. So questions like the social origins of the MarThoma Church in the 19th century or Mar Thoma church as a medium of dynamics in the modern history of central travancore etc. are never taken up.
c) Kerala historians - both secular and ecclesiastical - have treated Christianity and Islam as something added to the mainstream history from outside. There is no such special treatment of Hinduism because the history of Hinduism is considered as the natural mainstream history. This is due to viewing religions as the most fundamental basis of identity. So there can only be either a plural Indian civilization (as the congress/ communists argue) or the Hindu civilization and its guests (as RSS thinks). Our opinion is that the fundamental canvas is the materiality and culture of a society in which all religions in that realm mould themselves. This is what I call the ‘pool of common condition and environment'.
d) Christianity is pictured as something unchanging for example, ideas/ experiences like 'conversion' 'evangelism', 'christianity' etc are discussed in this frame of non- specificity. Actually if we look at the descriptive narration of each occasion of the expansion of Christianity, we can see that they all had different motivations, ideologies and patterns.

There are legends and cultural relics to prove that . Malankara (religion and caste) came into being partially due to an evolution of Dravidian (ie folk) cult spots and Baudha - Jaina Pallies when the original urban caste guild with Nestorian sacred centres came to dominate the trade routes and invested in cash crop cultivation. The religious side of this process, in the first millenium could have been something similar to the four religious expansion patterns then existing and then socially possible - the Shaiva bhakti pattern, the Baudha - Jaina pally pattern, Brahminical temple pattern, the Guru pattern. Mechanisms of integration of new elements ( for instance, did pathinezhu parishakal join the urban caste guild with Nestorian sacred centre?) , question whether idea of religious community and religious membership was possible in the Indian context etc. will have to be taken up. Stories like that of Manarcaud Muthi will have to be looked into.

II. Historiography of Syrian Christianity
(My interest is confined to the Syrian community since they were a group who resisted colonial Christianity and was a religion/ community which naturally evolved in the Kerala Conditions)

a) There is a total dependence on records, textualisations and concepts of the colonial church historians. This leads to a distortion similar to the distortion created by the indologists and their total dependence on Brhaminical, Sanskritic and religious records. Like the indological reduction of Indian civilization to spiritualism, vedic brahminism and Sanskritism, the Church indologists reduced past Malankara to a chruch on the model of the Western Church and this ideology influenced the creation of the present Malankara.
b) There has been a stagnation in the development of therory, data collection etc. after the colonial period.
c) Structural elements of this colonial school
1) Self images ( that of a religious community history as church history)
2) Events:- Unsystematic memory of 5 elements ( the number is based on the histeriographic tradition of the protestant Marthoma Syrian church, it varies from church to church). These events have a chronology but no sociology. Concept of time and space ( ie time and space as change ) is absent. There is a single ideological and theological structure for all events.
3) Methods to discover/invent sources and understand are neither developed nor adopted from the academic world. Instead old unsystematic approaches to facts, time, sources, narration etc. are followed.
4) Idealism (Eg. No attempt is made to historicize missionary activity, rice of Syrian protestant and catholic churches etc.)
5) Glorification (Eg. Tarisappally plate, a donation to a foreign guild is interpreted as donation to all Malankara.
6) Absence of geography, culture, power equations, ideology, dynamics (spirituality) as variables. (Eg. Why that is not a single old Syro Malabar church is found between Tiruvalla and Kundara/ Ayoor region. Even from Kottayam southwards the only two exceptions were Changanassery and Champakulalm, why?)
7) Absence of demographic studies (Eg. To understand the path lineages and formation of towns and villages.)
8) Backwardness of the questions raised. (Eg to which church did Syrians belonged before the synod of Diampore? Such questions try only to project the present to the past. There can be question about ecclesiological connections, nature of the ordering of the sacred centres and priesthood etc. of the pre Portuguese period.

III. How to make Breakthrough in Theory and Methodology
a) Using now available sociological and anthropological theories.
b) Taking a new serious look at Myths and legends.
c) Going for walks along ancient land and riverine routes, ancient angadies and desams, ancient centres where desathu pallies are still found, to gather information about eco-social roots, to collect legends and ideas of history, to hunt for cultural and architectural relics, epigraphs, manuscripts etc.
d) Analysing the rituals, theology and if luck permits also the architecture of ancient Desathu Pallies.
e) Should study church/community history as part of Eco-social and political history of Desams and Nadus- Should study demographic history and formations of towns and villages (g. Even the church divisions and socio-economic cultural differences of the Syrians of different districts where these Syrian churches concentrate points to the need of not only such a study but to the need of understanding the Church divisions on the basis of eco-political/social history also.The study of the journey of lineage ( the seven Thomas Churches of the legends, thekkar and vadakkar, Mahodayapuram and Kollam etc.) also has to be such a study. In modern times Syrian Christians and churches have played a substantial role in the evolution of current Keralam. But usually understanding about this is reduced to ‘missionary activity’. It has to be understood as eco-social history.
f) Syrian Christian resistance to colonialism is likewise reduced to an ecclesiastical struggle. Actually it was the earliest broad socio-political-cultural anti-colonial struggle in Asia. A mere study of Varthamana pusthakam or Syrian Christian Padiyolas (political decisions) will reveal it. But it has not been recognized as such by both secular and church historians and no serious studies have been made about this using academic tools.
g) Collection of old Syrian Christian names, folksongs, murals, sculptures, old writings and such cultural relics.
h) Listing of all existing primary and secondary works, epigraphs, archeological sites and artifacts and people doing such studies.
i) Textual criticism of all existing medieval and modern texts.

IV. New Hypothesis and tools for reconstructing Malankara and Mappila (Syrian Christian) history
a) The idea of Malayala Chetti rather than a religious community:- Beginning in the transactional (products exchange) groups of port cities and riverine inlands of the Sanghom age- Evolution of guilds as castes of Chetties in the second Chera period – investment in land in the post Chera period (the Jati-Desam-Nadu period) Movement along riverine roads.
Palliyogam as angadi (ie professional and town oligarchal realm) - desam- jati unit and Malankara Yogam as its trans- Nadu organization. These were secular or lay institutions with sacred centres.
b) Mechanisms of integration of new necessary groups- Integration into the jati rather than sacred cult. It was Jati rather than a religious community. The whole jati was converted into centralized religious community finally only in the 19th century under the centralized and beurocratic Catholic, Jacobite, Protestant and Travancore Kochi Nation State influence.
c) The sacred centre:-
d) The original folk cult spots and boudha Jaina centres evolving into Malankara folk /elite religions under Nestorian influence and ecclesiastical connections. Budhism was declining due - according to Kosombian School- to the decline of the second Indian urbanization. Urbanism was regenerated according to them under Middle Eastern influence coming through Islamic-Nestorian-Jewish Varnas (varna- category. None of these were monolithic social groups). Hence the smooth way budha centers could become Nestorian or Islamic.
e) Nestorian Malankara and folk Malankara. – folk having no religious membership but only caste membership and special rights on the rituals of the sacred centre (Pally). Documented proof is available for this.
f) Malankara as a Bhoomika of Keralam.
g) Colonial and renaissance periods: Need to study colonial mechanism, mechanisms of integration, collaboration and resistance.-origins of modern social and church phenomena.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bible Study and Film Show

Reading the story of the Tower of Babel
with reference to
the Docu-Fiction, "THE LOST PYRAMID"


Saji P. George

Date: Saturday, 13.06.2009, 2.30 pm

Venue: Pennamma Bhavanam

The programme was a bible study based on the genesis story of the tower of babel. The text was discussed in an innovatove way: the docu-fiction, "THE LOST PYRAMID" (History Channel), a docu-film that informs the dynamics of the Egyptian society and the social hostory of their construction practices, was screened and the story of the tower of babel was discussed with the aid of the docu-fiction. It was a fruitful endeavour towards understanding both the film and the text. 25 people participated in the programme.
"The Lost Pyramid" is one of those rare documentaries with a revelation so stunning, it made headlines before anyone had seen it. The film, produced for the History Channel, follows a team of archeologists as they unearth Egypt's fourth Great Pyramid at Giza, which, as the title says, has been lost for years to the desert sands. Even more amazing, this new pyramid (built by the Fourth-dynasty Pharaoh Djedefre) is actually the highest one of all—27 feet higher than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. "I'm a pyramid man, and what I've seen now has made me change many things," says Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. "Every history book in every language is going to be rewritten."

Tower/ City (Genesis 11:1-9)

Saji P. George

The story of the tower of Babel narrates a human attempt to build aCITY/ TOWER to create a name for themselves and the divine eruptionthat dismantled the plan by confusing the language. The narrator says,"Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confusedthe language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered themabroad over the face of all the earth." The story seems to address the curiosity to understand the linguisticdiversity on earth and more perhaps the divergent discourses thatprevents mutual understanding amidst the slaveries, wars and pillagesthat shattered humanity, an experience shared very much by thenarrator's immediate audience.

The narrative took its final redactedshape in the post exilic Judaic community that passed through a tragicmilieu of war and scattering. Like every Genesis story, it is permeated with the eschatology andhope shared by the narrators. The narratives of "Origins" pointtowards the "Futures". In clear contrast to what we read in the story of Babel, Isaiah andMicah prophesized that - "in the last days it shall come to pass,that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in thetop of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; andpeople shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come,and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of theGod of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk inhis paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of theLORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebukestrong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords intoplowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not liftup a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more..."

In certain psalmist visions of Davidic dynasty, the nations of theworld were to come to Jerusalem and offer tribute symbolizingallegiance to Israel. But in the picture drawn by Isaiah as theassembly at Zion, Yahweh dwells as an alluring source of wisdom andjustice and nations are simply drawn by the attractive power of God.The role of the covenant people here, correlates well with thetradition that understand Israel's destiny as humble servants for theblessing of the nations and as a Kingdom of Priests in the covenantalscheme, from which they have deviated in arrogance and pride like thebuilders in the tower story. The 'scattered' are both the Villains(Israel by internal injustice) and Victims in Isaiah. Psalm 87 too shares the vision that even the most entrenched enemiesof Israel were their brethren born at Zion. In Joel the nations areto be judged after cosmic victory by God on account of the sufferingsof his people. In the gospel we read Jesus furthers this vision,where the nations are to be judged on account of what they did to theChrist embodied in those afflicted by the destitution caused byinjustices of worldly power, irrespective of racial/ nationalidentity. Again, in Paul, this day of the Lord is the one which everycreature (hard coded with a survival logic to be embedded in a chainof fear and violence and) bound to decay waits with eager longing -The day of bodily redemption and cosmic salvation. On that day a CITYthat is not a handiwork of men will come down from heaven. Not LikeBabel; it has the glory of God and radiance like a very rare jewel,like jasper, clear as crystal. The messengers of this great news spokein other tongues, signaling the arrival of the ultimate realization ofthe fall of Babel and the radical reversal of the confusion.The space-time of the Lord is out there, perching on the very edges of our world, so imminent and near, ready to break-in and change our lifeworld, say the visionaries. Jesus said it is already among you. Inhumble self-giving service, love and worship we embody this victorious(where death is overpowered) universe and beam its light for thenations and people to see and realize that the shadows cast by themarching of history were but deceptions. Except for those seeminglyunconnected moments when the "Future" broke-in flashing like alightening and we experienced freedom, love and liberation!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lecture series on biblical hermeneutics: Introducing Postcolonial Biblical Hermeneutics

Bible Study Series-3

"Introduction to Postcolonial Biblical Hermeneutics"

Rev. Dr. Simon Samuel

(Renowned postcolonial biblical scholar and principal, New Theological College, Dehradun. He has authored the book, A Postcolonial Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus, 2007, London & New York: T&T Clark)

Wednesday 3 June 2009, 2.00 pm
at Pennamma Bhavanam

The lecture and discussion was chaired by Rev. Dr. M.C. Thomas (Professor and OT Scholar, M.T. Seminary, Kottayam). In his presidential speech he introduced the term hermeneutics and different stages of the development of biblical hermeneutics. There was a radical shift in the biblical hermeneutics in the 1950s. It was the historical-critical method that was predominant until the 1950s. This method looked behind the text for its author’s intentions. This method was challenged in the 1950s and after, since the emergence of postmodern trends in hermeneutics.

The Postcolonial readings of the bible was part of this new trend. Edward Said (Orientalism) and Franz Fanon (Wretched of the Earth) were the two major influences on the postcolonial interpretative method. It was after 1990s the postcolonial reading of the bible became a major trend. The basic assumption of postcolonial biblical hermeneutics is that most of the texts in the bible are written in the context of imperialisms and are responses to the colonisation. As we live in the context of new manifestations of imperialism/colonialism today, the postcolonial method of interpretation can open us towards new possibilities of reading the bible, Rev. Dr. M.C. Thomas Pointed out.

Rev. Dr. Simon Samuel pointed out in his lecture that 3/4th of the people in the world have the experience of imperialism, and their culture and life are shaped by the colonial experience. We are also under a psychological colonialism (colnisation of the mind) along with its material manifestations. Colonialism occurred in two ways: there was a colonialism from outside (by the white colonial master) and from inside (by the native breed of masters). Postcolonialism addresses and engages with both the discourses. Postcolonialism is a critical practice of discourse analysis that critically analyses the complexities of the dynamics of the engagement between the indigenous people with the colonialists.

The prefix, “post” in postcolonialism does not refer to polarity or denote ‘after’. On the contrary, the ‘post’ refers to a spatial category: a space between colonial master and the colonised subjects. This ‘third space’ that emerged after colonialism provides the tools for ‘dismantling the house of the colonial master’. Therefore it is an emancipatory space for the colonial subjects. It is a new space for politics.

Postcolonialism is a mini-narrative and a meta-narrative at the same time. As a mini narrative, it is grounded in the specificities of the loci of the discourse. That is, it seriously acknowledges the context specificity of the text: it does not completely discard the historical-critical method, although it is a poststructuralist method. It is a meta- narrative, as it positively professes to achieve a universal liberation hermeneutics: that is, postcolonialism offers heterogeneity in critical practice and homogeneity in its ambition for universal liberation hermeneutics.

The revisionist Marxism of Gramsci (Prison Notebooks), Althusser (On Lenin and Other Essays) etc. as well as poststructuralists like Edward Said (Orientalism & Culture and Imperialism), Homi K. Bhabha (Location of Culture) and Gayathri Chakravarthy Spivak (‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’) provide inspiration and theoretical resources for postcolonialism.

There are four models in postcolonial biblical hermeneutics: The first one is the essentialist-nativist model (ex. Lara Donaldson’s works) that locates the native space as a sacred space. It replaces the imperial master with the native master instead of displacing of the mastery itself. The second model is the resistance-recuperative model (ex. writings of R.S. Sugatharaj). This is very similar to the liberation theology model with a sudden polarisation. On the contrary, the diasporic–subcultural model, which is the third one, has got the liberative component neutralised. There is a high level of sub-cultural homogenisation professed by this model. The heterogeneity of the community was underestimated and there is extreme polyglottism in this model; the universal liberation hermeneutic goal is completely absent in this perspective. Dalit theology and liberation theology in its contemporary form are examples for this model. The Fourth model which transcends the problems and inadequacies of the previous models is the strategic essentialist-transhybridity model, which is subscribed by Rev. Dr. Simon Samuel.

This model emphasises the emancipation of both the colonial master and the native subject by transforming their repressive identities. There is great willingness to accept the other and there is little demarcation between the self and the other. The community in Mark’s gospel positioned themselves between the Roman Empire and Jewish native space and thereby they engaged with, disturbed and dislocated both the colonial spaces of power. Therefore, the Markian gospel has to be read neither as an imperialist text, nor an anti-imperialist one (like the reading in Chedmayer: Binding the Strongman). Instead it can be understood as representing the third space created by the Markian community, a text that helps dismantling both the houses of the colonial and native masters.

There were 30 participants in the programme. Most of them were theological students, research scholars, priests and laypersons who are interested in biblical hermeneutics. Mr. Jobi Mathew welcomed everybody and Shiju Sam Varughese delivered the vote of thanks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MM Ormakkoottam 2009

MM Remebrance Day Family Get together
Friday, 15 May 2009
from 10.30 am to 5.00 pm
at YMCA Thiruvalla

As of last year, we have organised the annual get together of Pennamma Bhavanam community on the occassion of the birthday of Dr MM Thomas. Friends and well wishers of Pennamma Bhavanam came together to make this a celebration in rememberance of Dr Thomas.

10.30 am: Songs and Worship
Bible Study: Rev. Jacob P. Thomas: Revelations ch. 4
12.30: Lunch
2.00 pm: Panel Discussion:
"Kerala Society: Crises and Politics of Possibilities"
Dr. Sanal Mohan,
Fr. Dr. K.M. George,
Mr. Yacob Thomas
Moderator: Dr. Varghese George
Worship has begun with Songs
Songs were presented by Santhosh George, Biju P. John, Thankachen Karumadi & T.M. Sathyan
Santhosh George
Mr. Yacob Thomas Leading the Worship

Bible Study (Revelations Ch. 4) was taken by Rev. Jacob P. Thomas

MM Rememberance: Rev. Thomas John

Panel Discussion: Dr. Sanal Mohan, Rev. Fr. Dr. K.M. George, Dr. Varughese George

Dr. Sanal Mohan

Monday, March 23, 2009

Women's Day Lecture

Celebrating the Interenational Women's Day (March 08 2009), Pennamma Bhavanam organised a public lecture in association with the Episcopal Jubilee Institute of Evangelism and the Kerala Council of Churches. The public lecture was delivered by Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackel (Professor of Systematic Theology, Vidyajyoti Theological College, New Delhi).
The titile of the lecture was:
Date: 09 March 2009, 2.30 pm
venue: AMM HAll, EJ Institute, Kompadi
The programme started with songs and prayer. The opening prayer was led by Smt. Saramma Eapen (Principal, Vanitha Mandiram). Shiju Sam Varughese (programme coordinator, Pennamma Bhavanam) delivered the welcome speech and in his talk he reported on the women's day workshop organised by pennammma bhavanam and KCC at Kottayam. In the presidential address Rev Dr. John Panicker (Principal, Episcopal Jubilee Insitute of Evangelism, Kompadi) emphasised the need for thinking together on women's issues. Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackel delivered the lecture on the preconditions of a dalit womanist theology in the indian context and explained the salient features of the same as a contextual theology. The dalit penn theology is based on the dalit women's experiences, she pointed out. The lecture was followed by discussions. Sr shalini responded to the questions.
Rev Dr. C.P. Mathew (EJ Institute) gave the vote of thanks. More than 90 people attended the lecture.
Rev.Dr. John Panicker L. (Prinicipal, Episcopal Jubilee Institute of Evangelism, Kompadi)
Presidential Address
Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackel (Professor, Vidyajyoti Theological College, New Delhi)

The Audience

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Women's Day Celebration Programme

Two-Day Workshop on

“Transformation in Church and Society:
Role of Women”

Pennamma Bhavanam in Association with Kerala Council of Churches
at MGOCSM Centre,Kottayam on March 7 and 8

The sessions were led by Dr. Sister Shalini Mulackal PBVM
(Well-Known Catholic Feminist Theologian and Professor of Systematic Theology, Vidyajyoti Theological Seminary, New Delhi
The workshop was open for Christian women from different denominational backgrounds. Twenty five women participated in the programme.

Pogramme Schedule
07.03.2009 Saturday
9.00 am: Arrival and Registration
09.30am: Inauguration
Chair: Mrs. Jiji Johnson, Vice President, KCC
Key Note Address: Rev. Dr. M.C. Thomas, Mar Thoma Theological Seminary, Kottayam
11.00 am: Tea
11.15 am: Self-introduction
11.30 am: Session I: Women’s Struggles in Contemporary Milieu ; Dr. Sister Shalini Mulackal
1.00 pm: Lunch
2.30 pm: Session II: Women and the Church: Biblical & Theological Explorations ; Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackal
4.00 pm: Tea
08.03.2009 Sunday
09.30 am: Worship & Bible Study: Adv. Jaisy Karingattil, KCC
11.00 am : Tea
11.30 am: Session III: Gender Justice in Church and Society ; Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackal
1.00 pm: Lunch
2.00 pm: Session IV: Women’s Initiatives for Transformation ; Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackal
3.30 pm: Concluding Session
4.00 pm: Tea and departure

Dr Sr. Shalini Mulackel leading the session

Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackel
Group Discussion

Bible Study: Adv Jaisy Karingattil: Numbers 27: 1- 12

Group Discussion

Mrs. Sherly George: Evaluation of the programme

Mrs. Mary George: Evaluation of the programme

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Discussion based on the Book 'prapanchakkazhchakal" by Dr Moncy V. John

Science and Society: Philosophical and Theological Perspectives
Book Review Forum

Discussion on modern science based on the book, Prapanchakkazhchakal, authored by Dr Moncy V. John (Dept. of Physics, St Thomas College, Kozhencherry).
2.30 pm, Saturday, 14 February 2009,
at Pennamma Bhavanam
The Book, Prapanchakkazhchakal (2008, DC Books, Kottayam, pp.138, Rs. 70.00)discusses the history of and contemporary debates in Astronomy. The book also deals with the philosophy and sociology of modern science and introduces the poststructuralist/post-foundationalist trends in science studies. The book seems to be the first of its kind in Malayalam that introduces the sociology of scientific knowledge, the post-Kuhnian revolution in understanding the complex relationship between science and society.

The discussion attempted to situate modern science in sociological context and its philosophical moorings were explored. The forum raised the need to develop a theological understanding of modern science and technology. Social scientists, Theologians and Scientists participated in the discussion.

On the Dias: Dr Moncy V. John, Prof. Philip N. Thomas (moderator), Shiju Sam Varughese

Dr. Moncy V. John (Author)

Shiju Sam Varughese presenting the book review. In his talk he situated the book as a turning point in the history of popular science writing in Kerala and discussed the possibilities and limitations of the Kuhnian framework adopted by the author.

Dr Moncy V. John responds to the paper presented by Shiju

The audience

Prof. Rachel Mathew (CMS College, Kottayam) participating in the discussion

Rev Sam Koshy and Mr. Mathew Philip

The Discussion followed by the presentations raised many serious questions regarding the relationship between modern science and society. The question of science and religion/spirituality also was discussed in detail.
The forum decided to continue the discussions on science and society in future also.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Intensive Training Programme of Young Dalit Christian Women Leaders

Intensive Training Programme of Young Dalit Christian Women Leaders

27th -30th, December 2008
Indian Social Institute, 24 Benson Road, Bangalore

Organised by Pennamma Bhavanam, Tiruvalla in association with the Just and Inclusive Communities Programme of the World Council of Churches

The programme aimed at equipping a selected group of young dalit Christian women leaders from South India to bear Christian witness in their different spheres of engagement and thereby influencing the dalit discourse. It seems that the workshop was the first of its kind in India.

The programme consisted of a four-day long intensive training workshop for twenty selected young dalit Christian women from different regions of South India. The participants were theology students, professionals and college students. The workshop intended to strengthen their capabilities for social analysis and theological reflections on contemporary dalit realities. The sessions in the programme were supposed to enable the participants to perform the caste-gender-class analysis to understand and engage effectively in their local contexts. The recent theoretical developments in dalit feminism were discussed and different facets of dalit womanist theology were introduced in the sessions. There were also interactive bible study sessions which aimed at helping the participants to interpret bible in response to the question of dalit women’s experiences and struggles. The discussions on understanding and theoretically situating the autobiographical narratives of dalit women inspired the participants further to engage creatively with dalit women’s faith affirmations and political assertions. The session on body and sexuality aimed at helping the participants to understand and assert themselves. Most of the sessions where participatory in nature.

The schedule was the following:
27 Saturday
05.30–09.00 am: Arrival
10.00–10.30 am: Singing and Opening Worship
10.45–12.30 am:
Inaugural session
Introduction to the programme: Shiju Sam Varughese
Inauguration & Keynote Address: Ms. Shanti Jagan, Thirupur (Veteran Dalit Woman
Activist and Director, World Society)
Felicitation: Mr. Philip Peacock (Professor, Bishop’s College, Kolkotha)
Concluding Remarks and Vote of Thanks: Ms. Praveena K.P.
2.00–2.30 pm: Ice Breaking: Mr. Jobi Mathew & Ms. Praveena K.P.
2.30–4.30 pm: The Dynamics of Class, Caste and Gender in the
Context of Dalit struggles: Rev. Prof. Adlin Reginabai (Professor, Tamilnadu
Theological Seminary, Madurai)
28 Sunday
7.15–7.45 am: Singing and Worship: Students from Gurukul Lutheran Theological
College and Research Institute, Chennai
8.15–9.15 am: Bible Study I: Rev. Jayachithra L., (Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai)
9.30–12.30 am: Re-imagining Feminism and Feminist Theology from Dalit
Women’s Perspective: Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackal (Professor, Vidyajyoti, New Delhi)
2.30–7.00 pm: Understanding Our Body and Sexuality: Dr. Veda Zachariah &
Mrs. Lakshmi Krishnamurthi (Bangalore)
9 Monday
7.15–7.45 am: Singing and Worship: Students from Tamilnadu Theological Seminary, Madurai
7.00–8.00 am: Bible Study II: Rev. Jayachithra L.
09.30–12.30 pm: Dalit Womanist Theological Perspectives on Violence, Suffering and Cross
Documentary Show on Orissa Attack on Minorities
Presentation 1: Minority attacks in Orissa: Mr. Philip Vinod Peacock
Presentation II: Violence on Women: Ms. Belinda Praisy (Gurukul, Chennai)
2.00–4.00 pm: Towards a Dalit Feminist Theology: Ms. N. Prasuna
(Professor, Indian Theological Seminary, Chennai)
4.30–6.00 pm: Caste, Gender and Development in the Context of Globalisation: Dr. Babu
Sundara (New Delhi)
6.15-7.30 pm: Globalisation and its Challenges to Dalits: Dr. John Mohan Razu
(Professor, UTC Bangalore)
10.00– 12.00 pm: Cultural Expressions of the Participants
30 Tuesday
7.15–7.45 am: Singing and Worship: Students from Kerala
8.15–9.15 am: Bible Study III: Rev. Jayachithra L.
9.30–10.00: Singing
10.00–12.30 pm: Significance of Dalit Women’s Autobiographies for Dalit
Women’s Praxis: Dr. Suma B.U. (Dalit womanist writer and researcher)
1.45–3.30 pm: Evaluation and Concluding Worship: Mr. Philip Vinod Peacocke
Concluding Remarks: Rev. Dr. Evangeline Rajkumar Anderson
(Professor, UTC Bangalore)


A Preparatory Meeting was organised at Pennamma Bhavanam on 22 december 2008 for the participants from Kerala. Ms Praveena K.P. and Mr. Jobi Mathew (young dalit research scholars and activists) led the sessions. The main objective of the session was to orient the participants from kerala towards the programme. The get together and the presentations helped the participants to share their dalit womanist experiences.

Ms. Shanti Jagan from Thruppattur inaugurated the programme and delivered the key note address. In her lecture, she narrated her struggle as a grass root activist and one of the first dalit woman panchayat presidents in India. Rev Dr. Adlin Regina Bai presided over the session. Ms. Christina translated her lecture.

Mr. Philip Vinod Peacock (dalit theologian from Bishop's College, Calcutta), in his felicitation address emphasised the siginificance of the programme. He also presented a paper in the conference on violence in Orissa against dalit christians. Mr. Peacoke led the concluding worship too.

Ms. Praveena giving vote of thanks in the inaugural session

Ice Breaking: Mr. Jobi Mathew


Every day the worship was followed by bible study led by Rev. Jayachitra L. (TTS, Madurai).
Rev. Dr. Adlin Regina Bai (Professor, TTS, Madurai) presented the paper on "The Dynamics of Class, Caste and Gender in the Context of Dalit Struggles"

Dr. Sr. Shalini Mulackal (Professor, Vidyajyoti, New Delhi)'s presentation was titled, " Re-imagining Feminism and Feminist Theology from Dalit Women's Perspective". In her presentation she introduced the DALIT PENN THEOLOGY as a standpoint theology emerging out of the expereicences of the dalit women.


Ms. Belinda Praisy, B.D. Student from the Gurukul Lutheran Theological College, Chennai presented a paper on "Dalit Womanist Theological Perspectives on Violence, Suffering and Cross".

Dr. Prasunna N.'s paper was titled, "Towards Dalit Feminist Theology: Re-Visiting the Image of God"

Dr. Sundara Babu talked on "caste, gender and development in the context of conflict resolution and nationalisms"

Dr. John Mohan Razu (Professor, UTC, Bangalore): 'Globalisation and Its Challenges to Dalits'
group discussion
There were post-dinner sessions of laughter and merry making.
Ms. Jane Anita Elavarasi (participant from Gurukul, Chennai)'s jokes in the cultural night were enjoyed by everybody.
A theatrical performance by the praticipants from TTS, Madurai

Prof. Dr. Suma B.U. introduced the significance of dalit women's autobiographies

Rev. Dr. Evangaline Rajkumar Anderson (Professor, UTC, Bangalore)

Participants with organisers and resource persons
The report and some of the papers of the workshop are published in the Ecumenical Horizon journal (Vol. 2/No. 1, December 2008-January 2009) of Kerala Council of Churches.

We thank all those who helped us to make this programme a great success.