Brie/Reply to a Critic
THOUGH several months have elapsed I would like to reply in a few points to Susan Ram^s review of my book, Religion and Peopled Organisation in East Thanjavur (Social Scientist 77, December 1978). If I did not do this earlier, it is mainly because of the emotional content of this review and the sweeping generalizations made in it. Though I agree that more questions were raised than could be answered and that the different parts of the book are not very well integrated with one another, I would maintain that certain vital areas of investgation have not been identified by Susan Ram nor has she given any constructive hint as to how to deal with them in a more efficient manner than I did. Given this negligence, her appreciation of Christians who try to be concerned with the cause of the oppressed classes and join the class struggle from below remains sheer formality and rather condescending back-patting.
Some Basic Disagreements
My impression is that there are some basic disagreements, partly loaded with misunderstandings, which also lead to problems of methodology. The first main disagreement is on the definition and the role of religion in society, the second, on the question of how ideology takes roots in the minds of people. Since both these points are bound to come up not only in any Christian-Marxist dialogue but also wherever Christians turn Marxists—both these things happen all over the world though not on a large scale or wherever there is an encounter between religion and secular faith— it is important to take them up.
I have never claimed that religion is ^uniquely" entrenched in India—there may be as much religion in Iran or Indonesia or other countries. I simply ^said it has a very strong hold on most people in this country and a decisive influence on their life and therefore it is essential to try to understand it. Susan Ram finds