Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Gregorian Vision

Gregorian Vision is a book, introducing the thought-world of Paulos Mar Gregorios, written by John Kunnathu.
It was published first in 2011 by Sophia Books in Kottayam .
In 2012 an ebook version was published by Paragon House in USA.
In 2016 a print-on-demand version was published in USA.
If you are in the US, you can get a copy for $10 from here at the normal US postage.
In Europe try this link.  If you are in India, email, and arrangements can be made to send you a copy by COD.
Paulos Mar Gregorios (1922-1996) was a prominent leader of the interreligious and the ecumenical
movement at the global level in the past century.  He left us with a rich heritage of invaluable books and research papers.  Although the academic world is familiar with his thought, the general readers, particularly of the younger generation, seem to be unaware of his contributions. Sometimes people even complain that the books and papers of Paulos Mar Gregorios are, by and large, too hard to understand. Those who are conversant with the writings of Mar Gregorios know only too well that such complaints are not unfounded. So a lucid but systematic exposition of His Grace's thoughts and ideas is called for and this book is expected to answer this need.
Born in India in the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christianity, John Kunnathu has been exposed to several other religious traditions as well. His first-hand experience of life in Africa as well as in the US as an educator has given him a global and multicultural perspective, which is clearly reflected in his literary work. John has graduate degrees in English literature and Education. He is currently working on another one in Religious Studies.  Accepting Mar Gregorios as his spiritual mentor and hero, John took consistent research interest in following the evolution of the thought of His Grace and thus qualified himself to comment on him and his ideas.  John is an author of several books, which can be seen here.
This book is presented as an invitation to all people to join the author in his exciting adventure of exploring the thought-world of Mar Gregorios. This is also meant to be an inspiration for anyone intending to attempt similar studies on the work of Mar Gregorios.
Being an educator, the author has written this book with the young people in mind. This book may be used as a study material in youth meetings and at the higher levels of Sunday schools.  This book will be beneficial to the general readers as well who are interested in learning more about the thought and theology of Mar Gregorios.
Foreword: A Refreshing Journey
Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios has always been a special source of inspiration to many a young person who is intellectually inclined and in constant search for the meaning of life. In the 60s and 70s of the 20th century when there was a global awakening of the youth to the questions of spirituality and transcendence as well as to a new world order of freedom and justice, Mar Gregorios was in the forefront of international debates on such issues as nuclear disarmament, justice to the poor and the marginalized, concerns of indigenous people across the world, apartheid and racist discrimination, interfaith dialogue, ecumenical vision of one humanity and so on. His amazing gift of awareness and articulation of the major political-economic and cultural forces that operated in shaping our contemporary world opened a new window for many young people who were desperately seeking a breakthrough in the hierarchical, authoritarian, power-mongering, militarized, exploitative and oppressive structures of the world in which they lived. When Mar Gregorios brilliantly articulated in public fora his own critical vision of a new world order rooted in his spiritual-theological understanding of the Kingdom of God as portrayed by Christ in the Gospels, people listened with rapt attention. Many young people across religions and ideologies became his admirers and looked up to him for guidance and inspiration. They included Marxists and Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, Christians and Atheists in the academia and in society at large. Mar Gregorios also remained a controversial figure and made many enemies as well particularly because of his bold and scathing criticism of Euro-American economic, political and cultural conquest of the rest of the world. He always stood firmly on behalf of the “two-third world” a phrase he deliberately used in place of the regular ‘third world”. Mar Gregorios was one of the rare leaders who had access to the world behind “the iron curtain” during the second half of the cold war era. His dialogues with the Socialist block was often denigrated and misconstrued by some of his western colleagues and critics. However he always acted with honest courage and carried on the dialogue while firmly rooted in principles of justice and freedom as he learned it from the Gospel of Christ and from the wisdom tradition of humanity.

John D Kunnathu is one among those who found in Mar Gregorios a refreshingly meaningful beacon of life. As he says, his fascination with the personality of Mar Gregorios started when he was still in his teens. He continued his deep spiritual and intellectual interest in the speeches and writings of this extraordinary bishop. Later as he himself matured in age and understanding he became an assiduous reader of the many books produced by Mar Gregorios. The present work of John Kunnathu in a book review format is the happy result of such a dedicated reading and sustained personal reflection.

One major difficulty encountered by the students of the writings of Mar Gregorios is that he is a polymath and a polyglot. His thoughts and writings span an unusually broad spectrum of topics from Christian theology to Quantum physics, from Marxian economic analysis to the Buddhist logic of Nagarjuna. Students who are not capable of trotting with ease in these diverse fields of inquiry will fall short of the holistic vision of Mar Gregorios. His important writings in English like the Cosmic Man are profusely interspersed with words and phrases from German and French, from Greek, Latin and Hebrew. To the best of my knowledge no student has yet been able to cope with the demands of this interdisciplinary, broad based and yet precise articulations of Paulos Mar Gregorios.

John Kunnathu has made a sincere attempt to be faithful to the thinking of Mar Gregorios as he analyses and explains book by book and interjects his own reflections. In many places it may be difficult for a new reader to distinguish between the thinking of Mar Gregorios and the interpretation given by the author. Of course John has taken some measure of freedom in interpreting the thought of the master-teacher. This is inevitable in any creative understanding of the writings of great persons.

John Kunnathu’s dedication to the thought-world of Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios is admirable. His decision to share with others his own joy and excitement in traversing this refreshing yet intellectually demanding Gregorian landscape is certainly to be appreciated. I wish him well on this rewarding voyage.
Fr. Dr. K. M. George
Principal, Orthodox Theological Seminary
24 November 2011
(Feast Day of Paulos Mar Gregorios) 



Introducing my Life-Long Hero    13
Part I:  Taking A Look At The Gregorian Vision    20
1. Why do we Suffer?    21
2. What is the Gospel of the Kingdom?    35
3. What is our Faith?    43
4. What did the Church Fathers Teach?    53
5. What is the Mission of the World Council of Churches?    71
6. Why do we Need a New Civilization?    77
7. Why do we Need a New Worldview?    81
8. What is Wrong with our Healthcare System?    88
9. What is Wrong with our Education System?    95
10. Can we Know the Truth?    104
11. What does it Mean to be Free?    113
12. What is Monasticism For?    123
Part II: Reflecting On The Gregorian Vision    132
13. What is the Christian View of God?    133
14. What is our World Like?    154
15. What is Wrong with Secularism?    161
16. What is Interreligious Dialog For?    169
17. What is the Mission of the Christian Church?    179
18. What is the Meaning of the Eucharist?    187
19. Science for Man or Man for Science?    206
20. Can Christian Faith Contribute to Global Peace?    213
21. What is the Role of Science and Faith?    216
22. What is Wrong with the European Enlightenment?    222
Notes and References    234
A List of Books by Paulos Mar Gregorios    239

Read a sample chapter here.


Book Reviews

"Paulos Mar Gregorios remains a great inspiration to me personally. He was a man of great compassion and selfless devotion to making the world a better place. John D. Kunnathu's book will introduce him to a wider audience at a time when we need great exemplars more than ever." ~Larry Dossey, M.D
This book is a collection of excerpts from many of His Grace Paulos Mar Gregorios’ articles, books and talks. The journey of this collection begins from His Grace’s childhood to his last days, which answers to the questions on the contents Page. These are Questions many of us ask ourselves and to our church fathers. The answers to all the questions are given in simple English with a clear perspective of the His Grace. I hope this book serves as a guide to all especially the young, who are very prone to doubts on those subjects discussed. This book will be a treat for ardent fans of His Grace, and it will also captivate readers who know nothing about His Grace. The wisdom of Paulos Mar Gregorios on these subjects will have a life enhancing impact on us. May the legacy of His Grace live forever and inspire us all.
This book will educate our faithful on our church and its faith, helping them to live as good Orthodox Christians, striving to deepen the spiritual life and creating a livelier sense of fellowship among them and catering the specific needs of today’s world, providing valuable education to confront atheism, secularism, and the challenges in scientific technology and exercising a deep faith in God and His Body.
The Author of this book, John Daniel Kunnathu, has devoted his time and energy to compile all the works of Paulos Mar Gregorios into a simple but effective handbook for our faithful. I honestly believe it is a Divine call to write this book.  More often than not, we have people from cleric rank writing books on Spiritual fathers and sensitive subjects like faith, mission of the church, secularism, and etc. His Grace Paulos Mar Gregorios would have been proud to know that a LAYMAN from his church has compiled his work into a good handbook.  I write LAYMAN in capitals because it was Paulos Mar Gregorios who started Divyabodhanam, which emphasized on educating the lay people on Theology. I am delighted to give my wishes and blessings to Mr. John Kunnathu. May this book be a success and inspire many of our laymen to write. Yuhanon Mar Diascoros Thirumeni
Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios was one of the greatest figures in the history of Kerala. I was fortunate to be with him during the last week of his life. Even our dicussions on various philosophical and scientific topics are still fresh in my memory.
There is no doubt that this work, Gregorian Vision, is one of the best on Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios. As I have been reading this I was "hearing" Thirumeni's voice explaining to me what each book was about. After this discussion he would leave his personal copy of the book with me. Sometimes he goes through this during our dinner time where our young children were also present. He explains his theories and opinions in such a simplified way that even our children would follow his dialogues. He would comment that "if these children understood what I say I can be sure that I understood what I wrote." I just checked my library and found fourteen of his books, all his personal copies left here for me. Thank you for bringing forty years of memories back alive. Joseph E. Thomas, Ph. D.
This is a stellar attempt to highlight the significant contributions of Bishop Paulos Mar Gregorios to foster inter-religious understanding by nurturing pluralism and mutual respect among the various faiths, within the context of his own spiritual and theological identity as a follower of the true tenets of Jesus of Nazareth. All those who admire the life and work of Mar Gregorios will be delighted to read this book. C. Alex Alexander M.D.
As the subtitle suggests, this book opens a window on the entire thought corpus of the great thinker and theologian of the last century, Paulos Gregorios. It provides a lucid exposition of the profound and sometimes subtle thoughts of Mar Gregorios and hence will serve as a guide to the younger generation readers in particular. A work like this is particularly significant in the present context of the perceived threat posed by inter-religious rivalries.    Prof. M. P. Mathai
A long cherished dream of many is getting materialized through this new book on Gregorian thought. This will of course enlighten many in manifold ways. Fr. Dr. Bijesh Philip, Principal, St. Thomas Seminary, Nagpur

This book is a proof to how relevant the thought of Paulos Mar Gregorios is to many of the contemporary issues today. For those who have always looked at PMG as a puzzle, or rather as too complicated, this book is where you can start with. I found through this book how unbelievable a person PMG was as a priest and as a Metropolitan of the Indian Orthodox Church, as an ecumenist, as a religious leader, and as a human being...a great effort by John Kunnathu to capture it so meticulously through this book.  Fr. Thomas Ninan, South Africa
Mr John D Kunnathu, an Indian living in USA has thought it a mission to introduce the vision of L/L HG Dr Paulose Mar Greegoriose on various aspects of human life, which indeed is a real treatise on what should be our attitude to life, particularly in our sojourn to reclaim the distorted ‘Godliness’.
The book has a Forward from none other than Fr Dr KM George, himself an authority on Gergorian Thoughts, who has summed up the core message in a matter of fact style and has rightly pin pointed that the occasional intermingling of the interpretations of the author with the thought process of HG Greegoriose may cause some confusion to the readers, particularly to those who attempt to study him as a beginner in as much as that it may not be easy to distinguish one from the other.
The book also carries worthy comments from HG Dr Yuhanon Mar Diascoros, Fr Dr Bijesh Philip, Fr Thomas Ninan, Prof MP Mathai, Dr C Alexander and Dr Joseph E Thomas.
The book has been divided into two parts of ten chapters each namely Part I: Taking a Look at the Gregorian Vision and Part II: Reflecting on the Gregorian Vision. As these titles indicate, the author on one hand looks at what HG Greegoriose says and on the other, he makes his own reflections on such thoughts. Why such a treatment has been taken is briefly explained in the Introduction by the author.
I must conclude this brief review by getting up and saluting John D Kunnathu, who has come up with a fantastic work to the envy of many. The lacunae here and there as per my thinking can be looked into positively and if found acceptable, can be rectified in the next edition. Even otherwise, no respect to the author is lost from my side. The comments of Fr Dr KM George too shall be taken care of. The book is an ideal study volume for any one who claims to belong not only to an Orthodox Church, but to any Christian denomination. (Continue to read)
George Joseph Enchakkattil

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