Fighting for Christ the Lord ... The New Preface to The Killing of an Author

New Preface (October 2014) [Book is also now a paperback on Createspace.]
Recently, thanks to a chance meeting with a childhood friend, I understood why I had really written The Killing of an Author.

As a boy of 11--at an age when American boys are usually playing with their Lego collections, and Indian children of my social class, then, were playing rubber-ball cricket or throwing stones at cashew and mango trees--I enlisted in the Army of Christ. And, as an enlisted serviceman, I ultimately ended up doing a lot of fighting ... though not for Christ.

To begin at the beginning: In a country that has 43 Hindus for every Christian, I was born, in Bangalore, to Roman Catholic parents.  Moving to my parents’ home town, Mangalore (which sometimes refers to itself as “the Rome of the East”), at age 6, I grew up a devout Catholic, brainwashed into believing that martyrdom was the only guaranteed path to sainthood and immortality.
Attaining sainthood, I realized, was very hard work: like studying for the most difficult exam you could ever imagine, but studying, not just for a few years, but for all your miserable, self-flagellating life, and being better at it than most others. 

However, there was one shortcut to sainthood (a shortcut that appealed to my lazy self): martyrdom. The deal was this: All you had to do was offer your neck, at the right time, for Christ the Lord (or Mary, his mother; no, Joseph was not good enough). And no matter how sinful your life had been until that moment, if you recognized the error of your ways just minutes before your beheading or deep-frying (or whichever inventive and kinky method your persecutors used), and so long as you had mentally repented your past sins, and so long as you were clearly sacrificing your life for the True Faith, you were guaranteed martyrdom—which, in effect, also ensured sainthood.

However, just to be sure, and just to strengthen my spiritual resume (which would be examined by the Pope, as well as by Saint Peter, before I was granted sainthood), I joined the Sodality of Our Lady, a Catholic youth organization whose anthem was this martial song:

An army of youth
Flying the standards of truth
We’re fighting for Christ the Lord!
Heads lifted high
Catholic Action our cry
And the Cross Our Only Sword!

....Mary’s Son
Till the World is Won
We Have Pledged You Our Loyal Word .... etc. etc.

The Cross Our Only Sword! Winning the world for Christ!  So, at the age of 11 or 12, I had been brainwashed into becoming a sword-wielding crusader, for I had now been told that it was not enough to follow Christ; one had to fight for Him. 

And, though, as a mere first year high school student, I outperformed college seniors to win first prize in the Sodality’s Religious Quiz (it helped that I had been coached by Father Matthew Lewis, the Rector, who came from a non-upperclass family, like me, and probably had some sympathy for a fellow prole), there followed, four years later, a stunning reversal.

It was a combination of things: that Catholic theology couldn’t explain erections or pubic hair, and that I read a book by Bertrand Russell, that helped me overcome my Catholic brainwashing at the age of 16—at first, hesitantly, and with finality and confidence by the age of 19. At that time, I did not realize that history would repeat itself—that I would end up wasting (?) twenty years of my life as a crusader for different Cause: a crusader for justice and truth.

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