Friday, January 30, 2009

Pennamma: MM's Wife

MM fell in love with Ms. Elizabeth Thomas (Pennammma was her pet name) in 1934. They took a wedding oath in 1939 and got married in 1945. They had a beautiful partnership in life. She was a college teacher and a woman of high intellect and wisdom. Pennamma and MM have three children: Thampy, Kurien and Shamala.

In August 1968 she was diagnosed as having cancer. It was a big shock to the entire family. At that point of time she was only 50 years old and MM was 54. After diagnosis, an operation was performed on her followed by Cobalt therapy in Vellore Christian Medical College. After three months she came back home (Maliackel, Manjadi, Tiruvalla: now the home is known in her name as Pennamma Bhavanam). Unfortunately the illness intensified and she was administered radiation therapy many times. The last time she was admitted in Vellore was on 8 December 1969. And she passed away on 22 December 1969 at 3.30 pm.

Pennamma used to write her musings while she was ill. After her demise, MM found the notes and showed it to Mr. T.K. Thomas and eventually her faith reflections were published in English as a book titled Joyful and Triumphant (CLS), edited by Mr. T.K. Thomas. The book was translated into Malayalam (by Ms. Leelamma Athyal) and published under the title, Jayikkunna Viswasam (Triuphant Faith) in 1971. The book contains nine thoughts written by Pennamma between 20 November and 6 December 1969. The malayalam book also consists of MM's preface and conversations with pennamma. MM also reflects on her demise in the last chapter. The book is about love, faith, death and eternity.
Thomas, T.K. (Ed.) 1997 (1971). Jayikkunna Viswasam: Sreemathi Elizabeth Thomasinte Viswasa Sakshyam. Tiruvalla: CSS (Second Edition), Pp. 113.

"So I Cherished the Old Rugged Cross

Where My Burdens Some Day I Lay Down

And I Cling to the Old Rugged Cross

And Exchange It Some Day for a Crown"
[From a devotional song Pennamma used to sing quite often. See page 54 of the book]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life Sketch

1916 May 15: Birth; School Education: Melukara Girls School (till 4th standard) & St Thomas High School, Kozhencherry
1931-35: Degree education at Science College, Thiruvananthapuram: Gold Medal for good conduct; Passes BA Chemistry with first class
1935-37: Teacher, Ashramam High School, Perumbavoor
1937: At Christava Ashramam, Alappuzha and Manganam (Kottayam)
1938: Balabhavan, Thiruvananthapuram: Working among street children
1939: Youth Christian Council of Action; protest against the construction of the statue of
Sir. C.P. Ramaswami Ayer
1941: With Dr Kheytan at Bangalore, along with A.K. Thampi. Reading and study
1942-44: Active member of Youth Chriatian Council of Action. Staying at Christava
Ashramam, Manganam, along with A.K. Thampi and E.V. Mathew
1944-45: SCM activities; Editor of the Student Outlook
1945: Marriage with Ms. Elizabeth Thomas (Pennamma)
1944-47: First term as General Secretary, Mar Thoma Yuvajana Sakhyam
1947-50: Secretary, World Student Christian Federation, Geneva; organising the
World Christian Youth Conference at Oslo (August 1947); participation in the making of the book on church and society published in connection with the WCC inaugural
Assembly at Amsterdam.
1948 December: Leadership Conference of WSCF at Candy, Sri Lanka
1949: Conference of Asian Church Leaders, Bangkok
1949-52: WSCF Vice Chairperson from Asia and also serving as its part-time Secretary
1952: International Youth Christian Conference at Kottayam, Kerala; publishing the book,
Adhunika Bharathathile Rashtreeya Chinthagathikal;
Secretary of Committee for Literature on Social Concerns; WCC Central Committee at Luknow, India.
1953-54: Reading and Study at Union Theological Seminary, New York.
1954: WCC Assembly at Evanston
1957: Associate Director, CISRS; Editor of its journal, Religion and Society
1959: Secretary of the Committee on Social Transformation, nominated by the East Asia
Christian Conference; begins the Asian journal, Church and Society
1961: WCC Assembly, New Delhi
1961-68: Chairperson, Commission to Study Church and Society, WCC
1962-76: CISRS Director
1966: Chairperson, Third World Conference towards the formation of a Christian Social Ethics, Geneva.
1966-67: Visiting Professor, Union Theological Seminary, New York
1968-75: Chairperson, WCC Central Committee (Elected in the Uppsala Assembly of WCC in 1968,
continues till the Nairobi Assembly in 1975); Editor, Guardian Weekly, Madras
1969: Pennamma (MM’s wife) passes away due to cancer at her 51st year.
1972-73: William Patton Fellow, Selly Oak College
1975-77: Activism and writing against the Emergency Rule, India
1976: Chairperson, Kerala People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
1977-1995: Writing and publishing of Bible reflections and interpretations in Malayalam
for Christian Literature Society (CLS), Tiruvalla.
1979-89: Visiting professorship at Bochum University, Germany (1979), Princeton Seminary, USA (1980, 1982-88), Ann Dover Newton, Boston (1981), Southern Methodist University (1989)
1990-92: Governor of Nagaland
1996 December 3: Death

(Courtesy: K.C. Varughese: MM Thomas: Mathathmaka Chinthakalile Darshanika Prathibha. Tiruvalla: CSS, 1996)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MM the Person

Back to home after a walk!

working on a paper, in his personal computer

MM in a discussion at Pennamma Bhavanam

Rev. Dr. T.M. Philip, MM, Bishop mar Paulose and Dr. Bas Wielenga

MM on the dias

The Sapthathy Celebration of Dr.M.M.Thomas at the Mammen Mappillai Hall, Kottyam (June 28, 1986). You will find Prof. Fr. K.V. Paulose, Bishop Dr. Paulose Mar Paulose , MM and Dr.Ninan Koshy in the picture. Rev. Dr. M.J. Joseph (The then Principal of the Mar Thoma Theological Seminary, Kottayam) delivers the lecture. (the photograph is sent by Rev. Dr. M.J. Joseph)

Taking bible study at the Mavelikkara Mar Thoma Church. He took a series of bible studies in the parish from 22 to 26 May 1996 as part of its centenary jubilee celebrations. The excerpts of these bible studies have been published in the Jubilee Souvenir of the parish in 1996 (Dr. M.M. Thomas, "Vedapusthaka Sandesavum Vimochana Pradhanamaya Athmeeyathayum" (The Message of the Bible and the Liberative Spirituality), pp. 75-77).

in a hilarious mood
He was a voracious reader. His personal library is still maintained in Pennamma Bhavanam as a reference library. The library has more than 5,000 volumes.

With Friends and Disciples

Get-togethers like this was a regular practice at Pennamma Bhavanam while MM was alive
with his young friends

Dinner time at Maliackel

As the Governor of Nagaland (May 1990 to April 1992)

As Governor, receiving the salute

At the Anagama Church, Nagaland
Leading the Prayer at the Angama Church

At Governor's Desk

While his young friends visited him at the Governor's Residence

With young friends at Governors Residence

YOung friends from Kerala, with the Governor

He reaches Maliackel after resigning from the post of Governorship
The reception at Maliackel by frineds and disciples
The 'ex'governor at Maliackel
Chatting with friends and neighbours
The final salute!

MM's Family

MM (Madathilparampil Mammen Thomas) belonged to the Madathilparampil House in Kozhencherry. Pennammabhavanam was the home which Pennamma's (MM's wife) father built. Maliackel was the house name of Pennamma'a family. MM and Pennamma bought the house from Pennamma's brother and made it into their home.

MM Thomas with his children: with Kurien (Dr. Kurien Thomas), Syamala and Thampy after the Serampore University Convocation at the United Theological College, Bangalore 1970

With Pennamma (Ms. Elizabeth Thomas, his wife) and Baby (Thampy), Thiruvananthapuram, 1948

MM and Mrs Elizabeth Thomas with their Guests from Abroad

MM with Children and Grand Children

MM the Ecumenical Leader

With Pope Paul VI at WCC, Geneva, 1969

WCC Officers receive Pope Paul VI at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva 1969

Ecumenical Prayer at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, when Pope Paul VI visited WCC (MM stands third from extreme right)
WCC Executive Committee, Sofia, 1971. From Lefet to rigt: Jenes Thomsen, E.C. Blake, MM Thomas, Pauline Webb, Kiyo Takeda-Cho, Ernest Payne, Janet Wosenga, Richard von Weizsacker, Visser't Hooft

Dr MM Thomas with Bishops Mar Chrysostom, Nasir and Nikodim, Upsala 1968
WCC Presidents and Officers at Upsala 1968: From Left to Right: John Coventry Smith, D.T. Niles, Visser't Hooft, E.C. Blake, M.M. Thomas, Pauline Webb, Patriarch German, Bishop Zulu and Ernest Payne

Dr M.M. Thomas was the moderator of the WCC central Committee from 1968 to 1975.

Books authored by MM

It is a biblical reflection on how the early church triede to link the gospel of salvation and the social responsibility of the church. It is an endeavour to understand the biblical roots of Christian Social Ethics.

Kraisthava Samuhya Dharmam: Oru Vedapusthaka Padanam
(Christian Social Ethics: A Biblical Exploration)
Tiruvalla: Theological Literature Committee (1972), Pp. 70)

In this book MM examines the political ideologies of modern India. It is an revised edition of the book, Adhunika Bharathathile Rashtreeya Chinthagathikal, published in 1952. In this book, he develops a critique of liberal democracy, Hindu political ideology, Sarvodaya, Anti-brahmanism, Indian Socialism, Indian Communism and Semi-Fascist Capitalism. In the concluding chapter he examines the contributions of Christian theologies to secular humanism.

Adhunika Bharathathile Rashtreeya Prathyaya Sasthrangal
(The Political Ideologies of Modern India)
Tiruvalla: Theological Literature Committee (1983), Pp. 244)

MM writes about the 'acknowledged Christ', not of traditional Hinduism, but of renascent Hinduism. He surveys how some of the foremost spiritual leaders of the Indian renaissance, especially of Neo-Hinduism, sought to understand the meaning of Jesus Christ and Christianity for religion and society in renascent India.
He also studies how the Indian church, in the thought of some of its theologically-minded representatives, has attempted to enter into dialogue with the ideas of these leaders and formulated its own faith in Christ and the meaning of Indian Nationalism. The book closes with an examination of the criteria for an Indian Chriatian theology.
The Acknowledged Christ of the Indian Renaissance
SCM Press, London (1969), Pp.xii+340

The Naga Society is passing through a particularly turbulent period in its history. The transition from a traditional tribal society to the modern technological culture--changes which took many centuries elsewhere--is taking place in Nagaland at a hurling pace, over a span of a few years.
What are the spiritual and cultural dimensions of this transition? Taking this question as his starting point, MM had edited, in the 1960s, a book titled Tribal Awakening. In Nagas towrads AD 2000 he probes deeper into the problem, not any longer as an outsider, but as one who personally experienced the currents and undercurrents of Naga politics and society as the Governor of Nagaland for two years.

The Nagas Towards A.D. 2000 and other Selected Addresses and Writings
Madras: Centre for Research on New International Economic Order (1992). Pp. 226.

In this book, MM thomas presents the story of his personal encounter with the currents and undercurrents of the Ecumenical Movement (its history and theology) from Oslo 1947 to Nairobi 1975.
The author makes his journey through the ecumenical thought world "as an act of thankfulness to God for giving him so much part in the world-wide fellowship of people committed to exploring the meaning of Christ and Church for our modern world and to building up a movement of Christian ecumenism as a spiritual support to the larger ecumenism struggling for human community"
My Ecumenical Journey 1947-1975
Published by Ecumenical Publishing Centre Private Limited,
Trivandrum (1990), Pp. 463.
MM thomas authored more than 80 books and numerous research papers and popular artciles over a wide range of issues and themes.
More on his writings will be added soon.