this is the seminary Union in New York wishes it could be

…and U of C and PSR don’t even try. 🙂
 
I just visited Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in Madurai.
 
Bachelor of Divinity students spend their first year on campus studying, their second year in a village where the faculty go and teach them periodically under a banyan tree, their third year in a slum working with an NGO while studying on campus and their fourth year back on campus.
 
Their Dalit Resource Centre (Dalits are sometimes still referred to as untouchable) has academic resources and a very impressive library, but they also have files of clippings related to atrocities perpetrated against Dalits (including by the police and government–you should see the Hindu Nationalist Party file!). And their primary focus is on working directly with dalit communities in villages. In some instances, activists who would not otherwise get into a seminary are recruited to study here. (I can think of a parallel to Union in that respect, which is part of my deep respect for that seminary.)
 
As an aside, at some restaurants, Dalits are not allowed to drink out of the same cups (30 years ago they could only drink out of hollowed out coconut shells) or eat in the restaurant with others. And yet when I talk to many “middle-class” (is that better, Allan? 🙂 ) Indians, they say, “We’re a casteless society now.” Sound familiar?
 dalit theology centre, tamilnadu theological seminary
In the picture is of one of the research assistants. He does academic work and helps with publishing, but he also teaches traditional tribal dances and drumming and traditional self-defense to Dalit youth. Their slogan is “Dalit arts are weapons for liberation.” (All instruments in Dalit dances double as weapons.)
 
For a concrete model of liberation theology in practice, this place is awe-inspiring.

Comment (1)

  1. Allan

    That’s a fascinating course of study. It seems like a good way to teach theology elsewhere too, and maybe a good way to teach many other disciplines.

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