Bradley Malkovsky. God’s Other Children: Personal Encounters with Faith, Love, and Holiness in Sacred India. New York: HarperOne, 2013. See here to buy the book.
Bradley Malkovsky teaches comparative theology at the University of Notre Dame. God’s Other Children
is about his spiritual pilgrimage and his experiences in India.
Malkovsky as a teenager became a Catholic after looking for the meaning
of life, but he would later observe a confidence and a wisdom among
teachers and practitioners of other religions. Malkovsky came to
believe that God reveals himself to people in other religions, even
though he also holds that Jesus Christ was a unique revelation of God
and God’s love, that it offers the hope of God renewing the cosmos, and
that liberation theology provides important insights on God’s love for
the poor. Malkovsky went to India for academic research purposes, and
he interacted with Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims while he
was there. It was also there that he met the woman who would become his
wife, a woman from a Muslim family who converted to Catholicism after
The book had a number of interesting stories and items. It talked
about the practice of the caste system even within Indian Christianity,
the discrimination against the Muslim minority in India, the existence
of miracles (or things that are difficult to account for naturally)
within Indian Christianity and Islam, and the difference between earlier
and later yoga. According to Malkovsky, earlier yoga was about
shedding the ego and getting in touch with the part of the self that was
not subject to the changing material world, whereas later yoga was
about getting in touch with the divine, the ground of being that
pervades and underlies all.
Malkovsky contrasts yoga and meditation
with Christianity, saying that the former two emphasize hard work,
whereas Christianity is about God’s gracious revelation. Malkovsky
believes that meditation can cleanse the mind, get one in touch with
certain truths about oneself (even bad memories), and heighten one’s
focus and sensitivity towards others and to God; at the same time,
Malkovsky also attempts to justify the idea of God’s grace, that God
reveals Godself freely to whomever God chooses, not necessarily in
response to people’s hard work. In addition, Malkovsky thoughtfully
addresses the claim among evangelicals and some Catholics that yoga can
open one up to demons. Malkovsky does not casually dismiss that claim,
for he does acknowledge that people can become spiritually proud as a
result of their success with yoga, and that this can be a response to
the demonic. Yet, Malkovsky sees spiritual value in yoga.
There were two parts of the book that I particularly appreciated.
First, Malkovsky was explaining why he partakes of food that has been
sacrificed to Vishnu, something that some of his fundamentalist
relatives believe is wrong. He states on page 60: “But the God to whom
the coconut was offered, according to this Hindu theology, was the
supreme Lord and Creator of the universe, an infinite and eternal God of
mercy and love, a God who, Hindus believe, periodically incarnates into
the world to relieve humanity of its suffering and to guide it to the
peace of liberation…In many ways, Vi[shn]u was my God, the God of Jesus
Second, Malkovsky discussed the views of the late Father Bede
Griffiths. For Father Bade, all are saved in Christ, and all in some
way receive the benefits of Christ’s work. Father Bede said that “The
grace of Christ is present in some way to every human being from the
beginning to the end.” This is an intriguing concept, and yet I wonder
if it can mesh with the opposition to idolatry throughout the Bible, or
the traditional Christian practice of trying to persuade others to
convert to Christianity. Still, I do believe that non-Christians and
non-Christian religions can manifest wisdom, peace, love, and humility,
and that they may very well be attesting to an experience with a power
greater than themselves.
This is a well-written book, and it has other stories and reflections
that I have not mentioned. Malkovsky writes as a Christian who has
been informed and edified by other religions.
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