Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faith. Show all posts

The "real question" of the New York mosque issue

We subconsciously interpret this mosque as a symbol of our own spiritual anemia, and fear the challenge it presents.

The real question is not what we're against, but what, if anything, we're for.

The tragedy is not that Muslims want to worship their god, but that we've become a stranger to ours.

An interesting point worth considering ...

Christians challenge to Turks over Agia Sophia a test of Islamic tolerace

An international group of Christians is going to challenge the tolerance of Islamic nations in an upcoming trip to Istanbul to use Agia Sophia (The Church of the Holy Wisdom), once the center of Eastern Christianity before the city's conquest by Islamic invaders in the 15th century. A letter written by Chris Spirou, President of International Congregation of Agia Sophia, informs him of the group's intent to hold services in the church, which was converted into a mosque but is currently not used as a place of worship:

Your Excellency Prime Minister Erdo─čan,

I am writing to inform you that our organizations, “The International Congregation of Agia Sophia,” the “Free Agia Sophia Council of America,” and the “Free Agia Sophia Council of Europe,” and our members from throughout the world will visit Istanbul in September of 2010. The purpose of our Congregation’s visit is to conduct Holy Liturgy Services in the Holy Church of Agia Sophia, the Great Church of Christianity and the Symbol of the Orthodox Christian Faith until the Holy Church’s seizure by the Ottoman Turkish forces on May 29, 1453.

If Muslims want a mosque near Ground Zero, perhaps they'll allow this church to resume its role as one of the grandest churches in Europe. After all, a little fairness is all they're asking for, right?

More on religious "tolerance" in Islamic nations

Last weekend, the Blogland discussed one recent example of the inequitable treatment of Christians in Turkey, a nation which is attempting to convince the West that, like those who want to build an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, that all they want is tolerance and equality.

While Turkey, which seeks to join the European Union, has talked a big game about wanting to co-exist with the Christian West, it's real record on religious tolerance is rather appalling in that regard, and is certainly far less than the efforts by which President Obama has made on behalf of the Ground Zero mosque initative.

The "mosque of conquest"

Muslim groups are proposing a 13-story $100 million mosque in the most prominent spot in America – the heart of downtown New York City near the World Trade Center site.

Is this mosque a sign of America's tolerance, or is it a sign of Muslim conquest?

The past may hold answers.

A study of religious tolerance: Sumela Monastery vs. Ground Zero Mosque proposal

... then perhaps they should be just as willing to give Christians equal treatment in predominantly-Muslim nations, by allowing them to practice their faith with full legal recognition and protection. But it's no secret that Christians are tolerated in few of those nations, and subjected to censorship, harassment and outright violence, either by official sanction or unofficial tolerance by governmental and religious leaders in those countries.

As part of its efforts to gain entry into the European Union, one such nation, Turkey, has made very minimal concessions to Christians which fall far short of allowing them to worship freely, even in places of great significance to Christians. We're sure that Obama and others would consider it unacceptable to place similar restrictions on use of the mosque that some are seeking to build near Ground Zero in New York.

"I look for the resurrection of the dead ..."

Courtesy of the email list by Fr. Thomas More of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Columbia are some thoughts regarding the closing of the Nicene Creed, a basic profession of faith for many Christians, including Catholic and Orthodox (while some of the wording differs), which says "I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.":

What does this last phrase from the Creed mean? We can only bear the idea of eternal life if this eternity has already entered into our life.

Jesus is Neither a Playboy Nor My Homeboy

The idea of Jesus is mainly our “friend” is deeply rooted in our particular religious culture. Our lack of reverence expresses itself in everything from our worship to our evangelism. How many times, for instance, have we seen an earnest Christian approach someone (including us) and ask, “Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?”

While intended as a means of carrying out the Great Commission, the question is asking something else entirely. In essence, it’s asking whether we possess God rather than whether God possess us. God is, indeed, our friend. But there is something about claiming God as our “personal” friend that seems to imply that we are putting him in the same category as our “personal trainers” and “personal assistants,” people who serve us, rather than someone whom we are expected to serve. When Jesus becomes someone we can befriend he becomes someone we can take lightly.

Jesus, however, is not my homeboy. The term “homeboy” always implies a co-equal relationship and never refers to someone who could be considered either superior or an inferior. Jesus may be a friend, but he is not my “buddy.” Christ is my master, my redeemer, my Lord and my God.

Protecting your church congregation from sexual misconduct - a guest op-ed

The Blogland, having it's Catholic Christian loyalties, has discussed a lot of issues related to church and faith (the two don't always go together), including the issues related to the long-held tradition of the Roman Church regarding celibacy.

The Blogland disagreed strongly with this policy for a couple of reasons, including on this blog, for a couple of key reasons. First is the fact that the Eastern Catholic Churches have long allowed married clergy with no problem, thus filling their clerical ranks. Second is because of the way this policy has fueled perceptions stemming from sexual abuse allegations which turns away people who may otherwise find a home within one of the several parts of the Catholic Church.

But sexual miscontact in churches  is a problem in other churches as well, so it's wise to not be fooled into thinking that if you're not Catholic, you're safe. In the 80s, several televangelists fell over sexual misconduct allegations, so there's a lot of reasons why these issues should matter to any congregation which places people in trust in their churches.

I know this personally, as a family friend, a evangelical pastor, who presided my second wedding, went on to spend several years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.

While in Manning recently, I read a good article by John Durant, who owns DuRant Insurance of Manning, in a local paper which talked about some good steps any congregation's leadership should take in protecting their flock and church personally and financially from sexual predators in their midst. I'm not sure of his faith affiliation, but when the advice is sound, it doesn't really matter, so I asked him to submit this as a guest editorial, and appreciate him sharing it:

Catholic-Orthodox relations warming?

Thanks to Robert, a regular Blogland reader, for sending me this link to this article which suggests notable headway is being made in reconciling relations between Orthodox churches and the Vatican

As an Eastern Rite Catholic, that part of the Catholic Church which continues to embrace Orthodox traditions, such progress in the dialgoue between East and West is welcome news indeed:

This evening, with vespers in the basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, Benedict XVI is closing the week of prayer for Christian unity.

There are some who say that ecumenism has entered a phase of retreat and chill. But as soon as one that looks to the East, the facts say the opposite. Relations with the Orthodox Churches have never been so promising as they have since Joseph Ratzinger has been pope ...

Faith versus Religiosity

I ran across this interesting quote on my priest's blog regarding the difference between Faith versus Religiosity earlier this week and thought it was worth sharing with my readers.

The quote is attributed to Father Alexander Men, a Russian Orthodox priest who was a prominent figure in the days the Church was beginning to re-emerge from Communist suppression.

Often what passes for Orthodoxy or another Christian confession is simply natural religiosity which, in its own right, is a kind of opium of the people. It functions as a sort of spiritual anesthetic, it helps a person adjust to his surrounding world, over which one can hang the slogan: ‘Blessed is the one who believes that it is cozy in the world.’ This is all wrong! …Your God is a consuming fire and not a warm hearth, and he is calling you to a place where all sorts of cold winds are blowing, so that what you imagine does not exist. You adapted and developed a completely different teaching to suit your own human needs. You transformed Christianity into a mediocre, popular religion. …Christianity can be authentic and it can be false. The false form is always more convenient. It always suits us better, which is why contemporary religious life is often characterized by a churchly falsehood when people prefer that which is convenient, calm and pleasant, conforms to their own ideas, consoles them, and which they enjoy. It is not at all to this that the Lord called us when he said ‘the gate is narrow’ and ‘the way is narrow.’ Again and again we need to understand that this Spirit is not warmth, but a fire. It is a fire.

Thanks goes out to my priest who continues to patiently wait to see me show up in church, which doesn't happen as often as I'd like due to all the hours I'm putting in these days.

Peachey, an old friend from high school who I joke with about all the quotes she posts on her Facebook, outta get a kick out of seeing me quote someone else.

Merry Christmas from the Blogland

As Christmas approaches, we take you to Ontario, for the first part of the Great Compline of the Nativity, one of the kinds of services you'll see at my parish as we celebrate Christmas.

Our readers are welcome to join yours truly for Christmas services, which will be held on Christmas Eve at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church on America Street in downtown Charleston, one block north of Columbus Street:

  • Royal Hours of the Nativity, 10 am-noon
  • Vesperal Liturgy of the Nativity, 2-5 pm
    Divine Liturgy of the Nativity, 6-8 pm

If you catch me there, I'll even buy you lunch or dinner afterwards (current parishoners not eligible for this offer) for a Christmas present. How's that for a deal?

As the next few days will be rather busy, this will likely be the last Blogland posting before Christmas Day. We in the Blogland wish all our readers (with great politically-incorrect intents) a very safe, happy and joyous Christmas.

Ed Koch: The Special Bond Between Catholics and Jews

Recently, I ran across this op-ed penned by former NYC Mayor, Ed Koch. Like many Jews and Catholics, he may be non-practicing, but still holds his faith and his identity within that tradition near and dear. It seemed worth sharing:

I have always believed that there is a special bond between Jews and Catholics, and have made it a personal and professional priority to strengthen that bond. In the modern era, the relationship between Jews and Catholics became solidified with Vatican II under Pope John XXIII.

More recently, the bond was further strengthened during the reign of Pope John Paul II who made clear his love and respect for the Jewish people by referring to us as the "elder brothers." Pope John Paul II extended Vatican diplomatic recognition to Israel, rejecting the threats of those who he called "Koranic" opponents. His closeness to the Jewish people was demonstrated by his recognition that the special bond that existed between God and the children of Israel is an enduring one.

You can read more of Koch's op-ed by clicking here.

Melkite conference, 2007

I ran across this while You-tubing recently.

Here's a clip from one of the dinners at the 2007 Melkite conference, when Father Gabrielle of the Miami Melkite Catholic parish takes the mike for a while. I'm in there as the camera pans around the room, but only as a very brief blur:

The annual Melkite conferences are largely family vacations and gatherings for many Arabic Melkite families, so us non-Arabic converts have a bit of challenge finding a place to fit in. The challenge is usually nowhere near as bad as fitting in with our own parishes.

The toughest thing is not knowing a lick of Arabic, so we're lost when they start singing and all that at these things. I wish they'd offer something to help orient us American converts at these events so we're not so lost.

Iconography paper: An update and preview

For those who may be wondering how my year-long research project into Iconograhy in South Carolina is progressing ... well, it's about 85% done, with an evening or two left to incorporate the remaining personal narratives. The paper will be entitled:
Messengers of faith and tradition: The semiotic role of religious icons as messengers of faith and traditions among Eastern Christians in contemporary South Carolina
For a sneak preview, here is the abstract of the paper:

This study will examine the process in which Eastern Christian religious images, known as icons, serve as symbols which communicate messages related to faith and traditions for Eastern Christians who reside in contemporary South Carolina. This is informed by research in the field of semiotics which studies the assignment of meanings to visual images, which allows those objects to convey messages important to those associated with a given culture, is studied. Using research from published sources, as well as personal interviews and on-site visits with clergy and parishioners of faith communities of Eastern Christians in South Carolina, an examination is made of how religions icons serve to in maintain and express the spiritual faith of Eastern Christians in contemporary South Carolina.

To keep from boring ya'll to death, I will refrain from posting my conclusion, except to say that my research took me, as it often will, in directions which I did not anticipate. Not only did the narratives reinforce the empirical research which validated icons as communicative messengers, but it actually suggested there may be a broader role for them to play in our increasingly-visual society.
The next-to-final draft will be done Monday for review by my faculty advisor before it is submitted to the National Communication Association for consideration for their 2006 annual conference, to be held in San Antonio, Texas.
Stay tuned ...

Arbeit Macht Frei: Return to Dachau

In my email this morning came a rather moving story of the celebration of Pashcha (Easter) by Orthodox faithful in the Dachau death camp shortly after the liberation of in Nazi Germany by the United States' Seventh Army. In an amazing act of improvisation, Orthodox faithful of many nationalities came together to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, with the help of imprisoned Catholic clergy and U.S. Army officials.

Regrettably, the Russians who were liberated from Dachau were turned over to Red Army and Soviet Communist officials, and many of them were branded traitors and sent to gulags in Russia. Today, a Russian Orthodox chapel, built by Russian Army soldiers prior to their 1994 withdrawal from Germany, graces the grounds, including the pictured Icon of Christ setting the prisoners free.

In addition, several other churches and chapels are located on the Dachau grounds.

Over 200,000 were imprisoned in Dachau since the death camp opened in 1933. Of those who spent time at Dachau, 43,000 died and only 67,000 remained alive to greet the liberating American soldiers on April 29, 1945. The Orthodox faithful celebrated Pascha on the Orthodox Easter Sunday on May 6th, 1945.

"Dachau - the significance of this name will never be erased from German history. It stands for all concentration camps which the Nazis established in their territory." - Eugen Kogon