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The Goddess of the English Language February 15, 2011

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
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This is the new “Goddess of English”.   I read about her and the temple dedicated to her on the BBC for the first time this morning. (read the BBC article here and see a video from NDTV here)

 The article quotes, “She holds a pen in her right hand which shows she is literate. She is dressed well and sports a huge hat – it’s a symbol of defiance that she is rejecting the old traditional dress code. In her left hand, she holds a book which is the constitution of India which gave Dalits equal rights. She stands on top of a computer which means we will use English to rise up the ladder and become free for ever.”

Dalit writer and activist, Chandra Bhan Prasad says that with the blessings of Goddess English, Dalit children will not grow to serve landlords or skin dead animals or clean drains or raise pigs and buffaloes.  They will grow into adjudicators and become employers and benefactors.

I certainly don’t want to deny that learning English can bring some socio-economic advantages, and reading further it does seem that hope is being placed in aquiring the language rather than any prayers and petitions to this new goddess herself. I’ve not seen language and education elevated to quite such a status in this way before but I know that the basic idea is not a new one.

Mastering any language is a worthy goal but an unworthy god. The gods of  ‘Education’ ‘Democracy’ and ‘Capitalism’ have many followers too. How long have people in the West believed that the answers to the worlds problems lie in teaching everyone English, giving them a ‘better’ education, freedom to vote in democratic elections, and to participate without discrimination in a free market economy?

Our true hope can only be found in the one true God. There are many guiding principles in line with His instruction on how to behave, treat others and order society, and a suprising number of valid ways in which to apply those. But when we take our eyes off of our true hope then those principles and practices quickly become idols.

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