Reserved Area
Printable View Print Article   Mail to Friend Mail to Friend   Comment on Article Comment on Article
PARAPPULLY Jose, New Delhi says,
By Jose Parappully
360° VIEW
A Question for Us to Ponder Over.

Recently I read two books by Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, the former Master General of the Dominicans. One (I Call You Friends, 2001) was  written while he was Master General and the other (What is the Point of Being a Christian, 2005) after he completed his term. One thing that stuck me in his books is how so very often he quotes other Dominican writers to support an idea or argument. And there are many well-known Dominican writers who are quoted not only by their Master General, but also other leading scholars!

That made me thinking. I could not recall a serious book-chapter or article in which I found the author quoting any Salesian. Where are the Salesian writers?

Of course there are some Indian Salesian who write. Joe Mannath has his regular column in The New Leader. Maria Arokiam, Glorious Steve, Joe Andrew, Victor Anthonyraj write regularly in Don Bosco. George Plathottam writes on media matters in Indian Currents. There are also others. However their articles appear in mostly popular news or inspirational magazines, not professional or academic journals. True, some of our theology and philosophy professors also write in their own institutional journals, and also have books to their credit. But I have not seen any of them being quoted in publications authored by others. It`s good to question why this is so.

Let`s forget about that question for a while, and ask again my fundamental question ``Where are the Salesian writers?`` Very few of us Salesians, especially here in India, write for academic or professional journals. We sadly do not have a culture of intellectual pursuits. Our theology, philosophy, and academic professors seem to be content being just teachers. (Have you noticed that as soon as a Salesian is appointed to teach in any of our colleges, he is immediately honoured  with the title `Professor`? In academia, one gets that title after years of work and proving his or her mettle.) In academia, once appointed, professors have to keep on writing in order to maintain their tenure. And their writing is mostly based on research that they do. How many of our theology, philosophy and degree college professors do any research after they have completed their doctoral degrees?

Some Indian Salesians have written books. But these fall mostly under the categories of self-help, inspirational, devotional, biographical, anecdotal or manuals. Some are based on the authors` doctoral theses - something they had to do as part of their academic requirement. I have rarely, if ever, come across non thesis-based Salesian publications that look in depth at some issue or propound some theory or idea. (The recent pictorial history, The Wanchoos in Transition, by Thomas Vattoth is an exception. I do think that work is a major contribution to cultural and anthropological history.)

One comment I often hear is that we Salesians are not meant to be writers, but workers. I wonder from where that notion has come. Our Salesian history and tradition say something different. Don Bosco was a prolific writer, and the early Salesians wrote. They did research. During the last annual Salesian retreat I attended (preached by Fr. Ivo Coelho) I learned something new and surprising about Don Bosco. For three years after his ordination, Don Bosco maintained a room at the Convitto and he used to retire there almost every day - to write! We know Don Bosco was extremely busy doing one thing or another just to keep the Oratory going. He also had many ecclesiastical and diplomatic commitments and missions. Yet, he found time almost daily, to write! Who of us is busier than Don Bosco?

Writing is hard work. It is time consuming. It is very challenging to produce writing that is worthy of publication in peer reviewed academic journals. Not that we Salesians don`t have the intellectual calibre or the competence to do so. It looks like, rather, we don`t have the interest or the inclination, and most importantly, the stamina!

I am hoping things will be different in the future. Now that we have a Don Bosco University, I am hopeful we will see some authoritative research-based writing by Salesians - and hopefully Salesian writings will be quoted/referred to by other authors. Any one, especially our professors (present and future), listening?


Post a Comment

More Speak Up in MEDIA

An open letter to BOSCOM 2019, DIMAPUR
Media illiterate principals
Follow Him
UNMINED POTENTIAL OF BIS SPEAK UP- Holding Up to the Light - 13
Rate this
Current Rating
Contact via Email
Write Your email text message below.
Your email id:
Subject: Comments on 'HOLDING UP TO THE LIGHT - 5: WHERE ARE THE SALESIAN `WRITERS`?' - Source: BIS South Asia
Security Code:
Enter Security Code:  

BIS is the information service of the Salesians of Don Bosco in South Asia.
The information available on the site is posted by the online registered Salesians in the South Asia Region and are approved by their respective Province BIS Coordinators.

This site is best viewed with Mozilla Firefox and/or Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 + at a minimum screen resolution of 1024 x 768


RSS Feeds RSS Feeds