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This for God’s and King’s: The Withering of Societal Patterns and Polity

By EMN Updated: Mar 12, 2020 11:11 pm

Tom Cruise movie Mission Impossible phrase ‘desperate times calls for desperate measures’ offers a viable paradigm for articulation, deliberations, and self-introspection of our Naga society today. Since time immemorial the welfare of the citizens occupied one of the primary tasks of the rulers and the state. For when citizens were taken cared the society flourished in all affairs of the state. In this scenario, Naga society was also not different as the welfare of the society was measured in the form of the well-being of the community. Pre-Christian Naga society accorded a symbiotic relationship between the religious and the political for the rights and liberty of the people. In that way, the welfare of the people was neither negated nor abrogated by any authority as societal morality was bound in the legal code of the law of the society. However, things have changed as morality and ethical code of the good of the society seemed to have lost its way in society. The state and the political realms seem to have negated its task of being a harbinger of civil liberty and political rights of the citizens. In this scenario, there arises the need to revisit the age-old traditions where the religious and the political were accorded with the principle of simultaneity and the unity of the opposites. 

The 16th-century protestant reformer Martin Luther called for a ‘Two Kingdom Theory’ on the account that God was the ruler of the earth and heaven. Luther called for a cordial relationship between the church and the state where the rulers were called upon to be the protectors and caretakers of the citizens. It augurs with the saying of Jesus in the synoptic gospels to render to God to what is due and to Cesar that which belongs to Caesar. The tag Nagaland/lim for Christ was disseminated over the hills and valleys of Naga Inhabit-at areas to perpetuate a narrative that Nagaland/lim is a Christian nation and Naga people have their trusts in Jesus. However, things seem to have drifted from the trust of God for the just cause and the welfare of the people. Nagalim for Christ has become an oxymoron and little of faith morality holds its essence in the society. It does not mean that we pray for a theocratic state but rather concerned with the plight and the struggles and difficulties of the populations. The church and the state, the religious and the political, faith and reason, spiritual and temporal are always the two sides of the same coin. Luther’s Kingdom theory calls for a principle of simultaneity whereby church and the state cannot be separated nor joined together but rather they should be put in a correlation principle where one influences the other for the humanisation of the people.

In civilisation, like Nagaland/lim the fabric of the society is reflected in the affairs of the church and the opposite might be of the same reality. The otherworldly theology of the western missionaries who brought the gospel in the Naga Hillsperpetuated a spirituality where it was considered negativity for the church to be involved in the policymaking and decision making of the state. However, despite such limitation, a significant effort was given for edification and development of the faith and moral aspect of the individual lifestyle and that of morality in the society. Today what ills the Naga society is the lack of the political will and the social malnourishment on the part of the society as well as that of the religious establishments. Enough has been said on the room corridor, in the shared taxis and buses, in the college and institution, and others about the plight and the lack of social welfare and justice matters, the deplorable road conditions, and the backwards state of the government-run hospitals and schools, especially in the underdeveloped areas. Yet the irony is the matter that things have gone from bad to worse. In all the chaos and dilemma, the vocation of the church towards the humanity and the people that constitute the ministry is the lack of the morality on the part of the people in the ecclesia ministry and the congregation as a whole to rebuke the abuse of power and authority. Jonas Yanthan, 2005 monograph the Corruption of Christianity elicited how Christian in Nagaland had become Christians without Christ. To put forth in perspective V. K. Nuh’s Nagaland: Church and Politics 1986 have prophetically written the corrupt ills that have entangled the Naga society today. The scripture says that when a citizen lacks vision, the nation-state dies and it’s holding true for the Naga society today. So also, that faith without action is dead for in the material world both the workability of the theoretical and the practical part is important to make it work.

In the Hebrew Bible, the God of the Israelites punished the people when they went away from him and followed the gods of the other nations and worshipped and lusted for gold, silver, power, wealth, and richness. Anything that separated them from Yahweh was the greatest sin of all for it led to their downfall and the life of exile and punishment. In all of it, the Israelites sins included the negation of the commandment to protect the orphans, widows, women, children, and strangers. At times God rejected their sacrifices as there was a lack of justice and righteousness in the society. For obedience was better than sacrifice and there can be no reconciliation and forgiveness without justice and righteousness. In the context of the Naga society miffed with the worldview and theology of the missionary era perspectives, less space is given for the good works and good of the society. James (James 2:14-26) was right to state that faith without action is dead and that one has to work out the salvation in reverences. Today, Naga society seems to be lacking in action and good deeds of faith for it is said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks so also out of the good of the heart the action would follow suit. The ever-increasing disparity of social justice and welfare of the people occupy one of the desperate measures of our society today. Lest we encounter and saturation point and the breakdown of the societal orders and polity.

In accordance with the political counterpart effort for human-induced progress and polity the church today in the society need to rise above the suspicion of Caesar. Will it be that the moral criteria of the church go beyond and far rather than limited to those people caught in the domains of adultery, extramarital affairs, pregnancy out of wedlock, and habitual things of chewing, smoking and drinking. Can it be that the church ethics of righteousness and justices eludes individuals caught and practising corruption and coveting of public funds meant for social welfare and the good of the common people? It’s a disturbing trend for the leaders to travel in a luxury automobile when the lay people walk the potholes and travel the dusty country roads that are equivalent to fear factor show of the west for those women in labour and the sick people. In a desperate time like our scenario, our prayer ought to be one that is said after the manner of Amos prayer for his own context as ‘let justice roll like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream’ over the land of Nagalim. And our dream just like the dream of Martin Luther King to have a dream and a dream for a day when the bells of justices and righteousness will echo over the hills and the valleys of Nagalim and that into a land of freedom, equality, liberty, justice, and fraternity the citizens of Nagalim will awake.

Chenijan Patton
Tsumang Colony, Bhandari Town
Wokha Nagaland

By EMN Updated: Mar 12, 2020 11:11:00 pm