A Brief History of the Chicago Marthoma Church

The Marthoma Church has been a part of India for thousands of years. It was founded by St. Thomas at 52 Ad at 7 locations throughout what will later become Kerala.

Beliefs and Symbols of the Marthoma Church

The symbols of the Marthoma Church have links to both the Christian heritage and the Hindu heritage of the Marthoma Church and Kerala

Falun Gong: Religious Persecution of China

Since the late 1990s, Falun Gong/Falun Dafa has been persecuted by the Chinese government. Practitioners have been used in illegal organ donations and have even been tortured.

The Effects of Debt

Debt levels have been steadily increasing since 2008. The effects of massive levels of debt will adversely effect the global economy and the psycological wellbeing of the populace

Sonny: Mobile Game Review

This game is a renewal of the Sonny games on Armorgames.com. The game rehashes the story of Sonny and adds new characters to the mix.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Wayne Messam 2020

Presidential Candidate Wayne MessamWayne Messam has frequently stated that he has experienced the American Dream. His parents emigrated from Jamaica to the United States with only a 5th grade education. He was born in Pahokee, Florida on June 7th ,1974, where his father cut sugarcane in the sun to provide for the family. He won a full ride football scholarship to Florida State University where he was a wide receiver on the Florida State Seminoles, where he was a member of the 1993 National Championship team. Unfortunately for him, he did not make the cut for the NFL.

He then started a construction business with his wife and the building projects received national recognition from the US Green Building Council for building the greenest school in the southeastern portion of the US. He started his political career as a city commissioner and eventually became the two-term mayor of Miramar, a position he has held since 2015.

Global Warming

If elected President, Mayor Messam would make global warming a priority. He would prioritize rebuilding bridges, levees, and dams so they can take the additional flooding and he would get the US to transition off of fossil fuels and commit to renewable energy production. He also does not want to leave behind the people who work in the fossil fuel industry and would re-train them to work in renewable energy jobs.

Student Debt

Mayor Messam is for completely cancelling student debt. Under his plan, borrowers would receive
confirmation about debt forgiveness within 60 days of the plan’s execution. The Department of Education will work with the Federal Reserve to identify people with private student loan debt.

To pay for the plan, he will rescind the 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and he will increase employer contributions to the payroll tax by 1.5% for companies that employ over 50 people.

Cancelling student debt would free up an average of $400 per month for student debt holders to build
wealth at the rate of those that do not have student debt. His plan also has the added benefit of
creating 1.2-1.5 million jobs within the first few years of implementation and it will increase the number of degrees received. Finally, it would reduce household vulnerability in down cycles.

Minimum wage

He is for increasing the minimum wage.


He is a proponent for Medicare for all and supports the government negotiating drug prices for Medicare’s outpatient prescription drug benefit.

Abortions/Women’s health

He is for a woman’s right to choose and he does not support any restrictions on that right.

Gun Control

He is for a assault weapons ban and he is a proponent of universal background checks


He is a proponent of DACA and he believes that there should be no penalty for crossing the border.

Election Reform

He supports suffrage for formerly incarcerated criminals to vote and he is against Citizen’s United. He also believes that the Electoral College should be eliminated, since it is undemocratic.

Closing Remarks All in all, Mayor Wayne Messam believes in Medicare-for-All and that undocumented migrants should not be penalized under the law. He also has a plan to abolish student loan debt and reinvigorate the economy. 

Wayne Messam has suspended his campaign for the presidency on November 20th, 2019. 


“Change Can't Wait. – Messam for America.” Change Cant Wait, WAYNE MESSAM FOR AMERICA, 2019, wayneforusa.com/.
“Where Wayne Messam Stands on the Biggest 2020 Issues.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 18 Nov. 2019, www.politico.com/2020-election/candidates-views-on-the-issues/wayne-messam/.

Young, Robin. “Florida Mayor Wayne Messam Makes His Case For 2020 Presidential Nomination.” Florida Mayor Wayne Messam Makes His Case For 2020 Presidential Nomination | Here & Now, WBUR, 13 June 2019, www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/06/13/wayne-messam-2020-presidential-candidate.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Six Alternatives to Facebook and Twitter


From Crossfit Inc. suspending their Facebook and Instagram accounts due to privacy and censorship concerns, to Twitter banning the Krassensteins, Facebook and Twitter have been heavily criticized for invading the privacy of their users as well as censoring people with differing political opinions. As a result, alternatives have been built to fill this untapped need in the social media market. Listed below, are some of the alternative social media sites that have been formed as a result.
Alternative Social Networks

1.     1. Minds.com
Founded by Bill Ottman on February 11th ,2011, with the goal of creating a free, open-source version of Facebook that has no advertisers on the site, which means there is no outside influence deciding what minds can and cannot have on the platform. There are roughly 1 million users on the site, and it is monetized with Ethereum and it pays users with the Minds token. 

You can either pay for minds tokens or you can earn them by being active on the site and subscribing to other users. You can use these tokens to boost your own content or to donate to your favorite person on Minds.

Minds has recently created a jury system to ensure fairness on the platform. If the user reports content or a channel the Minds staff can choose to accept or reject the report. If the report is accepted, the user can submit an appeal and 12 random Minds users, who do not subscribe to the channel/user, will vote to overturn or keep the ruling in place.

They generate income via the Minds + account. The benefits of this account include the following: a verified channel, exclusive Minds content, a Minds+ badge and the ability to hide boosted content from your feed.  They also earn revenue by charging users 1 mind token for 1000 views of content.

Link to the Android and IOS app: https://www.minds.com/mobile
2.    2. Belacam.com
This is an alternative to Instagram that was created by 2 people at the University of Virginia. Much like Instagram, you can like, comment and follow other users and their photos. What differentiates Belacam from Instagram is that you are paid Bela, a cryptocurrency, whenever someone likes your picture on the site or when you refer others to join Belacam. You can then either withdraw or “stake” your Bela so you can earn even more.

You can reach the premium account status once you obtain an account balance of 30,000 Bela. The benefits of a premium account include the following: the premium gold star, zero withdrawal fees, a customizable referral link, and your posts will rank twice as high on the explore page.

This app can be found on the Google Play Store.

3.     3. Uptrennd

Uptrennd is like Reddit, except that the only topic allowed on the site is cryptocurrency, though more topics will be allowed over time. This platform does not collect your information and users earn 80% of the ad revenue. The site does not delete posts or censor and they do not sell information to advertisers.

You can earn points on the site by sharing content and people liking or “upvoting” your content. Points can be used to either level-up, purchase advertising on the sidebar, or exchanging points for cash. 

There is currently no mobile app for this social media site right now.

4.     4. Gab.AI
This was launched by Andrew Torba on August 15th, 2016, priding itself as the free speech alternative to Facebook and Twitter. Gab.AI is a crossbreed of these platforms and aims to be a direct alternative to Twitter. There are no advertisers on the site and there are 850,000 users on the site as of December 2018. You can join groups, which are like the groups on Facebook, except they can only be created by premium users.

Since Gab is advertiser-free, the site makes money via their premium account, which has advanced features, such as being verified, being able to create lists and groups, and the ability to save posts, more premium features will be coming soon.

        5. Canund: The Underground Social Network

This Saskatchewan social media site aims to be the Underground Railroad for Free Speech. They are so dedicated to free speech, that they do not have a reporting system, so if users have a problem with one’s content, he/she can only block them

 Users can earn points based on their involvement on the site, which can be redeemed for ad space on the site. Ads can be targeted to people in different countries, different sexes, and their relationship status. You can even decide if your ad goes on the user’s feed or on the sidebar.  There are almost 3000 users on the site as of May 15th, 2019 and that number is expected to increase as people are looking for alternatives to Facebook and Twitter.

Unlike most of our previous entries, Minds make money with advertisers and with pro-packs. The price of the pro-packs

The site has a mobile app on Android and the IOS app is still a work in progress.

6.     6. Utterz

Utterz was once a social media site that encouraged people to speak each other, Registered users would call into the site and leave a message on your profile page. That site was later shut down and was replaced by the free speech platform now known as Utterz.com

Utterz is like Canund except it is much more polished. Utterz was once the name of an alternative social media site for musicians that later went out of business. The site has roughly 200 users and much like the other entries on this piece, they do not sell user data and they do not censor speech. The site makes money via pro packages ranging from $1 a year to $29.99 per year, and through advertising. 

The site does not have an app on IOS and Android currently.

All in all, these social media sites have the potential to pull away from the audience of Facebook and Twitter. All these sites respect the privacy of their users and do not sell user data to advertisers; some of them even give users a percentage of the ad revenue they do receive. Moving from Facebook and Twitter to these alternatives will allow users to earn some money as well as expose themselves to new perspectives. 

Works Cited

Dale, Brady. “Don't Tell Mom, But This Social Network Encourages Talking to Strangers.” Observer, Observer, 27 Feb. 2018, observer.com/2017/03/anchor-utterz-social-media-audio-sxsw/.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Dead Celebrity Holograms & Postmodernism


From Amy Winehouse to Tupac Shakur, many deceased celebrities are being exhumed to perform once again for the adoring masses. Companies such as Hologram USA and Pulse Evolution are at the forefront of this new technology; however, ethical and legal concerns still plague the industry. Finally, I believe that the rise of post-humous celebrity holograms is also indicative of the push our culture has towards post-modernism and nostalgia.

How it works

              The dead celebrities are created by using a technique called Pepper’s Ghost, which was created by Henry Dircks and John Henry Pepper in 1862. Pepper’s Ghost works by lighting the room where the target object is located and then it is reflected onto an angled piece of glass, which reflects it onto the stage. In the mid-1990s, German Inventor Uwe Maass improved on Pepper’s Ghost by replacing the glass with a stretched translucent foil and a hidden performer projected with high-def video.

How Dead Celebrities are Recreated as Holograms
              The hologram performance is created by using an individual with a similar build to the deceased, is filmed with motion capture markers in front of a green screen and they have the subject create basic movements that will be later used for the hologram. The data from the motion capture is then combined with archival footage and even 3D scans, to create a computer-generated likeness of the celebrity. The video is finally projected to a mirror to the foot of the stage that is bounced back onto a thin reflective material that pushes the subject onto the vision of the audience.

Legal & Ethical Concerns

              The dead celebrity hologram industry has also invited many ethical and legal concerns. These concerns include the following: ownership of the deceased’s image, ownership of revenue, and contract disputes. In the U.S, “right to publicity” gives the deceased’s estate the right to profit from their likeness; many states have laws their own laws stating that the likeness and image of the deceased should be in the control of the estate. For example, California extends the right to publicity for 50 years, whereas New York ends the right to publicity immediately after death. Australia and the United Kingdom have specific protections for the right to publicity, both countries have laws against having the deceased appear to endorse a product or service.

              Auctions, merchandising, holographic performances, and releasing unreleased tracks are some opportunities for the estate to generate more income for the fans to enjoy the artist’s performance and even honor him/her in a way. However, there are concerns that post-humous performances will do more to dishonor the dead, especially as time goes on.

Postmodernism and holographic simulacra

              Frederic Jameson’s comparison of Van Gogh’s A Pair of Shoes and Andy Warhol’s Diamond Dust Shoes, he states “… between the shoes of Van Gogh and the shoes of Andy Warhol, on which we must now very briefly dwell. The first and most evident is the emergence of a new kind of flatness or depthlessness, a new kind of superficiality in the most literal sense, perhaps the supreme formal feature of all the Postmodernisms to which we will have occasion to return in a number of other contexts.” Frederic Jameson states that you can see the struggle and the hardship of the peasant can be seen by the colors in the painting, whereas, in “Diamond Dust Shoes”, the many shoes in the image are uniform and the lack of color does not lend to any depth in the piece. The deceased holograms touring the world are much like Warhol’s “Diamond Dust Shoes”, they lack the death the original celebrities had. They may look and even sound like the deceased, but they will never be Amy Winehouse, or Tupac Shakur because those illusions would never experience their lives or never be able to release original songs. 

"Diamond Shoes" vs "Peasant Shoes"
"Peasant Shoes" vs "Diamond Shoes"

              Finally, Charles Jencks observed that post-modernist architects utilize straight revivalism in architecture. Straight revivalism is when the past styles are mimicked for the sake of being mimicked instead of being critiqued or improved upon. Frederic Jameson also agrees with this sentiment as he views post-modernist art as a shallow imitation of the past, or a pastiche. The deceased holographic celebrities are also a pastiche because they are a shallow imitation of the individuals they are copying. This trend is also, in part, fueled by people’s need to escape into nostalgia due to the chaotic political era we are in and by companies wanting to make a safe investment, banking on old musical icons.

Ending Remarks

             In conclusion, a modernized Pepper’s Ghost is used to create the celebrity holograms preforming today. A bcody double creates the movements that the hologram would mimic on stage. Despite the many legal and ethical concerns with this new technology, it will still become more prevalent in the future. Finally, the advent of these deceased celebrity holograms further echoes the post-modern strait our culture is in right now due to the lack of depth of the simulacrum and the fact that it attempts to mimic dead icons for the purpose of nostalgia.

Works Cited

Clifton, Jacob. “How Do They Make Those Projections of Dead Celebrities and Politicians?” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 31 Oct. 2012, electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/projections-of-dead-celebrities-and-politicians1.htm.

Donoughue, Paul. “Dead Musicians Are Touring Again, as Holograms. It's Tricky - Technologically and Legally.” ABC News, Austrailian Broadcasting Corporation, 28 Dec. 2018, www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-29/hologram-technology-letting-dead-musicians-tour-again/10600996.

Famurewa, Jimi. “Inside the Bitter War to Bring Tupac and Michael Jackson Back to Life.” WIRED, WIRED UK, 11 May 2018, www.wired.co.uk/article/tupac-michael-jackson-billie-holiday-dead-celebrity-holograms.

Jameson, Frederic. The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. is.muni.cz/el/1423/jaro2016/SOC757/um/61816962/Jameson_The_cultural_logic.pdf.

Robinson, Cori A. “Death And The Holograms: Celebrities Continue To Generate Revenue And Problems After Death.” Above the Law, Above the Law, 6 Nov. 2018, abovethelaw.com/2018/11/death-and-the-holograms-celebrities-continue-to-generate-revenue-and-problems-after-death/?rf=1.

Tiffany, Kaitlyn. “Amy Winehouse Is Going on Tour: The Dead Celebrity Hologram Industry, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 23 Oct. 2018, www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/10/23/18010274/amy-winehouse-hologram-tour-controversy-technology.

Ward, Glenn. Understand Postmodernism. McGraw-Hill, 2010.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Falun Gong: Religious Persecution in China

History of Falun Gong

At the height of the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong had it banned due to its links to ancient Chinese religion, but the ban was removed when a lab claimed to have found qigong energy (life energy). In the 1970s, the Chinese government began promoting qigong, a series of exercises designed to improve physical and spiritual health, to promote traditional Chinese medicine. From the late 1970s to the 1990s, millions of Chinese were drawn to qigong due to the purported health benefits, which resulted in many qigong organizations, magazines and much more.

In 1992, Li Hongzhi founded Falun Gong/Falun Dafa, which means discipline of the Dharma wheel. Li promised to install purifying wheels in the bodies of his followers to free them from all physical issues.

The government initially welcomed Falun Gong due to its core values of honesty, compassion and forbearance. It also filled the spiritual vacuum left by the Cultural Revolution, which resulted in Falun Dafa gaining upward of 100 million followers by the end of 1998. This all changed when state-run media began criticizing Falun Gong, which lead to 20,000+ practitioners peacefully protesting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing. The size of the protest surprised Chinese leadership and resulted in them banning the movement, even going so far as calling it a “heretical cult”.  

China was not initially successful in suppressing the movement due to Falun Gong practitioners moving to the United States and Canada. Falun Gong practitioners told Western media that China was threatening their religious freedom. The Western media dropped coverage on the persecution of Falun Gong because the Chinese government claimed that Falun Gong was a cult and they claimed that members immolated themselves in Tiananmen Square in 2001. 

protest to stop persecution of Falun Gong in New York City
Beliefs of Falun Dafa
Falun Gong heavily draws from both Buddhism and Taoism, much like Buddhism, Falun Gong teaches that desire is the source of all suffering and attachments prevent practitioners from ending the reincarnation cycle. Falun Gong states that everyone accumulates karma and virtue throughout their lifetime, the ratio of virtue to karma will decide their next life.

To improve upon the ratio of virtue and karma, practitioners must increase their levels of Xinxing, which is the relinquishing of all immoral thoughts and it includes the 3 cosmic qualities of Zhen (Truth), Shan (Compassion) and Ren (Forbearance/Tolerance). According to Ian Adam’s “The Theories and Practices of Li Hongzhi:  Power of the Wheel the Falun Gong Revolution, he writes that Ren is very similar to the Christian value of charity, except Falun Gong practitioners are complete pacifists; they would not fight even in the direst circumstances.

From Taoism, Falun Dafa took the idea of inner alchemy, which focuses on the cultivation of Qi energy; this can be achieved by meditating and self-improvement, which results in accumulation of gong energy. Cultivation of gong energy leads to communion with spirits that will advise you, though Li Hongzhi warns that some of these spirits are evil.  

Persecution of Falun Gong
Since the turn of the century, the Chinese government has been relentlessly persecuting Falun Dafa, a 2006 report from the UN reported that 2/3 of Chinese torture cases were Falun Dafa practitioners. The persecution of Falun Gong practitioners has also been documented by the following: Amnesty International, the U.S State Department, The Human Rights Watch, The U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom, and other NGOs.

The Chinese Communist government fears anything that removes the people’s allegiance to the CCP, and they believe the diversity of thought is a threat to the communist regime. As a result, Falun Gong beliefs and practices are the most censored terms on China’s intranet.

Moreover, the Chinese government openly admits that they use the organs of executed criminals for organ donations; Falun Gong practitioners are also a source of many of these organs, though there is still a gap between organ donations vs. total transplants

Swoon Films: The Persecution of Falun Gong

All in all, Falun Dafa was founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992. The CCP welcomed its presence until the 1999 protest, which scared the Communist Party into persecuting and smearing Falun Dafa. Falun Gong draws heavily from Buddhism and Taoism and practitioners are pacifists until death. Finally, because Falun Dafa offers ideas that are different from that of the Chinese Communist Party, Falun Gong has become one of the most censored terms on the Chinese intranet and the government is currently using them for unethical organ transplants.  

Works Cited

Ownby, David. “Falun Gong.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 25 May 2016, www.britannica.com/topic/Falun-Gong.
Stenudd, Stefan. What Is Qi Energy?, Qi Energy Exercises, www.qienergyexercises.com/what-is-qi-energy.htm.
“The Theories and Practices of Li Hongzhi.” Power of the Wheel the Falun Gong Revolution, by Ian Adams et al., Stoddart, 2001, pp. 75–115.
“WHAT IS FALUN GONG?” Faluninfo, Falun Dafa Info Center, faluninfo.net/what-is-falun-gong-2/.
“What Is Falun Gong?” GotQuestions.org, GotQuestions.org, 28 June 2017, www.gotquestions.org/Falun-Gong.html.

Winter, Max. “Falun Gong (Spiritual Movement).” Research Starters, Ebscohost, 2019, eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=92aaeb47-b47f-47d8-ad5e-237ede651e1a%40sessionmgr4007&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWNwaWQmY3VzdGlkPXM5MDU4NTU1JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#AN=87321420&db=ers.
United States. Cong. Committee- Executive Commission on China Falun Gong in China: Review and Update  112th Cong. 2nd sess. Washington: GPO, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Beliefs and Symbols of the Marthoma Church

The Marthoma Church was created 2000 years ago in the Indian province that would later be known as Kerala. The Church’s proximity to Hinduism and relative isolation from other Christian denominations in its infancy played a major role in shaping its beliefs. The later influence of both Catholics and Protestants helped shape the symbols and even the logo of the Marthoma Church. The worship of the church and its sacraments also have a traceable lineage. 

To learn about the history of the Marthoma Church, click here


The Marthoma Church uses the St. James Liturgy in its weekly worship because it helps the worshipper become spiritual and it reminds us of the message of salvation. One major feature is the Nicene Creed, which defines the beliefs of the Christian faith and explains how Christians are able to worship a God that is also 3 beings. It was created in 325 AD in Nicea and it is currently in use by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and various Protestant Denominations.
When the service starts, the curtain, illustrating the separation of heaven and earth, is moved, exposing the madbaha(altar). It faces the east because when Christ returns, he will come from the east and move to the west. Incense is used to symbolize the presence of God and it was used to represent respect.
Image of Seven Sacraments


The word sacrament comes from the Latin word, sacromentum, which means sacred. The church believes in 7 sacraments, which are the following:
  • Mamodisa (Baptism): The church encourages child baptism and during the baptism, the parents take an oath stating that they will raise the child to follow Christ.
  • Confirmation: Confirmation takes place when the child becomes 12. This is when the child declares that he/she will follow Christ in from of the congregation. This sacrament complements baptism because it shows the community that the parents fulfilled their oath and the child can now participate in the Holy Qurbana.
  • Confession: Confession is the acknowledgement of one’s sins and asking for forgiveness from God. Unlike Catholics, marthomites believe that confession is between you and God, there is no priest involved.
  • Holy Qurbana (Holy Communion): Qurbana is East Syriac for sacrifice, and it is typically referencing to the last supper. While the Catholic church believes in transubstantiation and Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, the Marthoma church believes that partaking in the Holy Qurbana is that God’s grace is given to the individual. This cannot be verbalized and is used to define one’s experience during communion.
  • Marriage: In Indian culture, marriage is not only the union of 2 people, it is also the union of families. During the ceremony, the bride and groom are blessed by God to start a family and it is a covenant between the man and the woman to be together until death. This sacrament is optional
  • Ordination: Ordination is an optional sacrament that separates a man from his peers to become an Aachen(priest).
  • Unction: Unction is the anointing of the sick and elderly with oil to allow God’s touch to be with them. It is also called the Sacrament of Lamps because the early church used lamps to complete this sacrament.
Marthoma Church Logo

The Logo

The logo of the Marthoma Church(seen above) consists of the following:
  • Lotus Flower: This represents holy living and it is a reminder to believers to be holy
  • Hand Lamp: This reminds believers to be lights to the world and bring followers to Christ. This symbol also reminds believers to study the Scriptures.
  • Ashoka Chakra: This is also seen on the Indian Flag and it represents the Church's roots in India. The chakra is representative of the cosmic order and life. The placement of the chakra in the center of the cross represents that life finds its ultimate purpose and salvation in Christ.
  • Motto: The motto, "Lighted to Lighten" is a reminder to the believers that Christ chose them to bring others to Christ.
  • Cross: The cross is placed in the middle of the logo represents that Christ is in the center of the Church's mission and to proclaim that all can come to Christ and be saved.

All in all, The Marthoma Church's proximity to Hinduism and the later Catholic and Protestant influence has played a role in defining the beliefs of the church today. It is a church native to India and will continue to be "Lighted to Lighten" for years to come.

Works Cited

“SACRAMENT OF UNCTION OF THE SICK .” Sacraments of the Eucharist, 2014, www.copticchurch.net/topics/thecopticchurch/sacraments/5_unction_sick.html.
“Story behind the Logo.” Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, marthoma.in/the-church/story-behind-the-logo/.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Nicene Creed.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 22 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Nicene-Creed.
“Mar Thoma Sacraments.” Marthoma Church, www.mtcjpr.org/?page_id=211.
“Sacraments.” Canadian Mar Thoma Church Toronto - Sacraments, Canadian Mar Thoma Church Toronto, www.canadianmarthomachurch.com/pages.aspx?section=sub&ID=57.
“Confirmation - Encyclopedia Volume - Catholic Encyclopedia.” Catholic Online, Catholic Online, www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=3247.
“The Mar Thoma Syrian Church The Holy Qurbana: A Study Material .” Marthoma Church, Marthoma Church, www.ctmarthoma.org/uploads/3/7/8/0/37804233/holy_qurbana_training_notes.pdf.

A Brief History of the Marthoma Church

Church Origins

Tradition dictates that in 52 AD, St. Thomas arrived on a trading vessel from Alexandria to Kodungallur, which was an early haven for Jews of the diaspora. He first went to the Jews of Kerala and then to the Gentiles. He had erected seven churches in the following locations:
  • Kodungallur
  • Chavakad (Palur)
  • Parur near Alwaye
  • Gakamangalam
  • Niranam
  • Nilakkal (Chayal)
  • Quilon (Kalyan)
The Apostle Thomas ordained two bishops, Kepha and Paul, for Malabar and Coromandal (Mylapore). On Dec. 19th, 72 AD, he was impaled while praying in Mylapore.
The St. Thomas Christians (Nazranis) accepted the caste system. The rulers regarded them as a high caste and they were called “Nazarani Mappilas” (son of kings, or first kings). The Nasranis also had a sizable military force, and they protected the lower castes. Their status rivaled that of the kings. 
Locations of the first 7 Marthoma Churches
Locations of the Original Churches

Migrations to Malabar

Christians from all over the world journeyed to Malabar to escape persecution. In 293 AD, seventy-two families from Kaveripoopatanam moved to what will be modern day Kollam. Moreover, In AD 345, Thomas of Cana (Knaye Thommen) brought 400 Christians from Nineveh, Jerusalem, and Baghdad. The reason for their immigration to Kerala is unknown, but they were generously received by Cheruman Perumal, the ruler of Crangalore.
Cheruman Perumal gave Thomas and his people 72 privileges that were inscribed on 2 sets of copper plates (cheppeds). The original plates existed until 1498, though many copies abound, and his people
Copy of a chepad handed to Knaye Thommen
Copy of One of the Chepads
became known as the Kananaya Christians.
The Church maintained a cordial relationship with the Church of Persia. In 825 AD, a group of Persian immigrants led by Marwan Sabrisa and two bishops, Mar Sapo and Mar Prodh, landed in Quilon.

Portuguese Takeover

In 1502, Vasco De Gama found Christians in India and they asked him for protection from the Mahomedans. He was presented with a scepter, which made them loyal to Portugal. This led to the Portuguese establishing power in the 16th and 17th Centuries.
In 1592, Archbishop Alexio de Menezes arrived in Goa and convened the Synod of Diamper (Udayamperoor) to establish the dominance of Rome. Representatives were sent to various congregations to burn ancient Nazrani texts and impose Catholic rule.
The Portuguese had created dioceses in Goa and Cochin in order to convert the Nazrani Christians to Catholicism.

Divisions within the St. Thomas Church

After 54 years of Catholic rule, the Nestorian church in Persia sent a bishop to the Chaldean Church. The bishop was captured by the Portuguese and thrown in prison, where he died under duress.
Enraged by his death, two thousand Malankara Christians rose up under the leadership of Archdeacon Thomas and took an oath proclaiming independence from Rome. This oath became known as the Koonan Kurishu Sathyam(Bent Cross Oath).
In 1665, Patriarch Mar Gregorius consecrated Archdeacon Thomas to Mar Thoma the First, the first Indian Metropolitan of the Malankara Church.
Mar Gregorius's arrival in Kerala created a schism within the St. Thomas Church. dividing the church into East Syrians(Puthenkoor) and West Syrians(Pazhayakoor). The East Syrians consisted of the Syro Malabar Church. The West Syrian division consisted of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church.
Ancient Christains in India

The Reformation

Years later, Palakunnu Abraham Malpan (Malpan means professor) and Kaithayil Geevarghese Malpan were influenced by Anglican missionaries and they became concerned about the well-being of the Malankara Church and wanted to start a revival. They did not want to divide the church, they wanted to reform it. The main tenants of this reformation were as follows:
  • Removing Catholic Influences from the church
  • Sole Mediation of Christ
In 1836, he translated the Holy Qurbana from Syriac to Malayalam and he got rid of prayers to the saints, starting the Reformation. In 1841, a missionary by the name of William Bailey translated the Bible from Syriac to Malayalam, fueling the flames of the Reformation within the Malankara Church.
Metropolitan Chepat Mar Dionysius was not willing to accept these reforms and excommunicated Abraham Malpan from the church. Therefore, he went to his home parish in Maramon, where the congregation supported him. Abraham realized that he needed a bishop in order for the Reformation to gain momentum, so he sent his nephew, Deacon Mathew, to the Patriarch in Mardin. Mathew was consecrated as Mathew Mar Athanasius and he arrived in Cochin in 1843 with the backing of the Patriarch himself. Mar Dionysius opposed this and in 1852, Mathews Mar Athanasius received a royal proclamation declaring him the head of the Malankara Church. In 1868, Mathews Mar Athanasius ordained Abraham Malpan’s son to be Thomas mar Athanasius.
Years later, Joseph Ramban of Pulikottil, an opponent of the reformation, went to the Patriarch of Antioch, Peter III, and was ordained as Joseph Mar Dionysius and convened the Synod of Mulanthuruthy in 1876, where the church accepted the authority of the Patriarch of Antioch. Mathews Mar Athanasius died in 1877, leading to Thomas mar Athanasius to be the Metropolitan of the Malankara Church. After years of court cases, in 1889, the courts decided that Joseph Mar Dionysius was the true head of the Malankara Church, resulting in the excommunication of Thomas Mar Athanasius. After years of litigation, the reform movement only gained the Maramon, Kozhencherry, and the Kottarakara church. 

If you are interested in learning about the beliefs and practices of the Marthoma Church, click here.

The Church Today

Because of the faith of these reformists, the Marthoma Church currently has 1223 parishes divided into 13 dioceses all over the world with 852 priests in active duty. The church believes in Prima Scriptura, which means that the Bible is above all other sources. This is different from Sola Scriptura because it does not reject other sources.
Church Missions

Since 2003, the church has been working with the Choctaw and the Houma tribes in Alabama, Louisiana, and Oklahoma to reach out to foster faith and to provide mentoring for the parents and local leaders. Medical missions such as Home for the Homeless and foster care. For the past 6 years, restoration efforts were put in place to repair damage caused by Katrina for the Houma Indians in Dulac, Louisiana.

The Urban Mission Project aims to bring awareness to our members of the complex factors that influence poverty in poor urban communities ravaged by crime, poor education systems and homelessness.

The Diocese of North America and Europe has recently started the “Light to Life” project. This project aims to ensure that children in India obtain access to food, water, shelter and an education. Anyone can be a sponsor for these children. Each sponsor will be assigned a child and they will receive updates on their progress. Social workers will come to the children’s houses to ensure that the children are being raised in a nurturing environment. It is currently in the following places in India:

  • Ameri in Chhattisgarh
  • Kalahandi in Odisha
  • Dewas in Madya Pradesh
  • Vattavada in Kerala

Click here to donate to Light to Life

The Marthoma Church also has a mission in Mexico. The church has built a living complex for 45 families called “Colonia Marthoma” in metamoros Mexico to rehabilitate the families of poor fishermen. Food packets are provided on a weekly basis to minimize starvation and malnutrition, so that people can dedicate more time to find jobs. There are also children going to primary school and kindergarten in the complex. Middle school, high school and even college and medical students receive subsidies from the Marthoma Church.

Final Remarks

All in all, the origins of the Marthoma Church trace as far back as 52 AD. The St. Thomas Christians have a long history of providing refuge to persecuted Christians and share a history unique to themselves. Although the Marthoma Church has been influenced by Anglican beliefs, it is still a uniquely Indian and Malayalee Church.

Works Cited

  • “Heritage.” Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, marthoma.in/the-church/heritage/.
  • “Historical Divisions of Mar Thoma Nasranis.” Historical Divisions of Mar Thoma Nasranis, Nasrani Foundation, www.nasranifoundation.org/articles/historicaldivisions.html.
  • “Mar Thomas Sabha History.” Marthoma.org Mar Thomas Sabha History, Sabha News, 28 June 2008, www.marthoma.org/portal/publish/FEATURED/Mar_Thomas_Sabha_History.shtml.
  • “Mission Board.” The Marthoma Church: Diocese of North America and Europe, The Marthoma Church, www.marthomanae.org/website/portaltemplate.php?mainmenu=MISSION&submenu=Mission+Board+&subsubmenu=&subsubsubmenu=.
  • “Mtc-Urban-Missions.” Mtc-Urban-Missions, Neighborhood Missions Ministry of Mar Thoma Church, Diocese of North America & Europe, 2018, www.mtcurbanmissions.org/.
  • “Saint Thomas Christians.” New World Encyclopedia, New World Encyclopedia, 10 Aug. 2015, web.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Saint_Thomas_Christians.

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