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« on: February 02, 2008, 12:07:48 AM »

The "chaste" element of this couple would never have been noticed in Ethiopia.

This is common.

Matter-of-fact this is common in most if not all 'traditional' African societies.

Yeah, if only we could aspire to traditional African morality Roll Eyes
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2008, 09:00:20 AM »

Yeah, if only we could aspire to traditional African morality Roll Eyes

But seriously, ugly horrors like female circumcision (or, rather, clitorectomy) aside, does this "traditional African society" exist, or is it more like a dream world of good-natured and pious people like our own Fr. Deacon Amde?
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2008, 01:21:50 PM »

But seriously, ugly horrors like female circumcision (or, rather, clitorectomy) aside, does this "traditional African society" exist, or is it more like a dream world of good-natured and pious people like our own Fr. Deacon Amde?

I think it is hard to brush FGM aside, when it is tied into the very idea of female morality and chastity.  This state department report shows that it very prevalent and at the very least part of the unofficial practice of religion in Ethiopia.  Although I do think you are entirely correct in that their is likely a great deal of fantasy and romanticizing of society's morality. 
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2008, 08:15:40 PM »

Yeah, if only we could aspire to traditional African morality Roll Eyes

I think if you truely took hold of the commandments of the Lord Christ and not even try to mimmick African traditions you would embrace a morality that exceeds that which the world knows significantly.

African traditions in many ways are good. So are other tradtions.

But following the commandments of the Lord in Christ Jesus will save your soul.

Obey God and live forever!
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2008, 09:03:53 PM »

Obey God and live forever!

Quite frankly, I think this life's long enough, no need to get greedy.
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2008, 09:17:11 PM »

I think it is hard to brush FGM aside, when it is tied into the very idea of female morality and chastity.  This state department report shows that it very prevalent and at the very least part of the unofficial practice of religion in Ethiopia.  Although I do think you are entirely correct in that their is likely a great deal of fantasy and romanticizing of society's morality. 

It's hard to imagine that such a barbaric practice has not been wiped out by now. But then ignorance is very hard to overcome.  Sad  Why hasn't the Church been more active in ending FGM, do you know?
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2008, 09:31:29 PM »

It's hard to imagine that such a barbaric practice has not been wiped out by now. But then ignorance is very hard to overcome.  Sad  Why hasn't the Church been more active in ending FGM, do you know?

Who says we haven't?  When was the last time you heard of it being widely practiced in Greece, Romania, or Russia?
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2008, 09:33:46 PM »

Who says we haven't?  When was the last time you heard of it being widely practiced in Greece, Romania, or Russia?

Silly person; we are talking of Africa!  Grin As an aside, I have never heard of the practice beyond Africa. Did it exist?
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2008, 09:52:20 PM »

Silly person; we are talking of Africa!  Grin As an aside, I have never heard of the practice beyond Africa. Did it exist?

Who knows?  Maybe we were so good at eradicating it that we forgot it even existed until we re-discovered Africa. Wink
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2008, 09:59:25 PM »

Who knows?  Maybe we were so good at eradicating it that we forgot it even existed until we re-discovered Africa. Wink

That's a good point! I've just never read of it in pre-Christian history; Roman, Greek, etc - well, not that I can recall, anyway.
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2008, 10:05:34 PM »

I think if you truely took hold of the commandments of the Lord Christ and not even try to mimmick African traditions you would embrace a morality that exceeds that which the world knows significantly.

African traditions in many ways are good. So are other tradtions.

But following the commandments of the Lord in Christ Jesus will save your soul.

Obey God and live forever!

I find the typical American life to be far more moral than chopping up another human being in the name of chastity.  And, of course, you are completely free to live as chastely as you please in the US.  If the government was making you go out and have sex with random people against your will, you'd have a point. 

It's hard to imagine that such a barbaric practice has not been wiped out by now. But then ignorance is very hard to overcome.  Sad  Why hasn't the Church been more active in ending FGM, do you know?

The Ethiopian church apparently values "traditional African morality" opposed to the Gospel of Christ. 
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2008, 10:05:56 PM »

That's a good point! I've just never read of it in pre-Christian history; Roman, Greek, etc - well, not that I can recall, anyway.

All humor aside, my point is that while I know of nothing that can transform people so well as Orthodox Christianity, the Church has great difficulty in transforming people when she does not attempt to bring Christianity to them.  Sub-Saharan Africa, where FGM predominates, is also a place virtually neglected by Orthodoxy for far too long.  Should we truly be surprised that we haven't managed to eradicate a vile practice when we've made few efforts to go where the practice is?
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2008, 10:14:19 PM »

Sub-Saharan Africa, where FGM predominates, is also a place virtually neglected by Orthodoxy for far too long.  Should we truly be surprised that we haven't managed to eradicate a vile practice when we've made few efforts to go where the practice is?

The report I linked from the US State Department was specifically about Ethiopia and mentioned that not only is it tolerated in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it is in some cases mandated by priests. 

Unless you want to say that the OO are not actually Orthodox... I would see your point, but that's a discussion for another thread. 
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2008, 10:17:43 PM »

The report I linked from the US State Department was specifically about Ethiopia and mentioned that not only is it tolerated in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it is in some cases mandated by priests. 

Unless you want to say that the OO are not actually Orthodox... I would see your point, but that's a discussion for another thread. 

I wasn't thinking specifically about Ethiopia, but Africa in general.
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2008, 10:33:51 PM »

I wasn't thinking specifically about Ethiopia, but Africa in general.

And I would still disagree that Orthodox Christianity isn't a major presence.  Of the three African nations in which there is a substantial Orthodox presence, FGM is routinely practiced.

Egypt

Quote
The most common forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) or female genital cutting (FGC) still widely practiced throughout Egypt are Type I (commonly referred to as clitoridectomy) and Type II (commonly referred to as excision). These practices are widespread but are even more prevalent in rural than urban areas. They are common among both Muslims and Coptic Christians....There is no doctrinal basis for this practice in either Islam or Christianity. Although high officials in both the Muslim and Christian religious establishments have voiced opposition to the practice, it is still supported by some local religious authorities. Moreover, many Egyptians believe that this is an important part of maintaining female chastity, which is part of religious tradition.

Eritrea

Quote
Muslims and Christians alike practice FGM/FGC....Most of those who practice FGM/FGC believe it is a religious requirement. The high prevalence is also due to family and social pressures. Grandmothers are a particular source of pressure for continuing the practice.

There is a widespread belief that women who have not undergone this procedure will be promiscuous.

Ethiopia

Quote
These practices cross religious boundaries, including Christians, Muslims and Ethiopian Jews (Falashas)...Cultural practice encourages women to want to undergo one of these procedures. It is often associated with positive attributes such as gaining respect within the village and becoming a woman. Most importantly, girls who have not undergone one of the procedures are considered more likely to be promiscuous and, therefore, unworthy of marriage. The belief also exists that external female genitals are unclean.

Some use religion as the basis for their justification in performing these procedures, despite the fact they are not required by either the Quran or the Bible. Some Coptic Christian priests refuse to baptize girls who have not undergone one of the procedures.

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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2008, 10:54:47 PM »

FGM is a deeply rooted, cultural practice predating Christianity in Africa.  It is not uncommon for people to keep cultural traditions (even offensive ones) after adopting new religions.  Blaming it on the Church is not really fair.  In fact, it is my understanding that the Coptic Church is presently involved in trying to eradicate it.

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jUPmjsbBS7ci0dIjRL33BR3vvc8A
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2008, 11:00:46 PM »

FGM is a deeply rooted, cultural practice predating Christianity in Africa.  It is not uncommon for people to keep cultural traditions (even offensive ones) after adopting new religions.  Blaming it on the Church is not really fair.  In fact, it is my understanding that the Coptic Church is presently involved in trying to eradicate it.

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jUPmjsbBS7ci0dIjRL33BR3vvc8A

I wouldn't blame the educated church hierarchs, but it is definitely a part of popular piety.  And since Amdetsion is talking about tradition African morality - and this is precisely what I am objecting to.  I would much rather choose Christian morality over traditional African morality.  Or more to the point, chastity only means something if someone has freely chosen to remain chaste, not if they've been butchered into "purity."
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2008, 11:07:52 PM »

  And since Amdetsion is talking about tradition African morality

I truly doubt he was talking about that particular practice.  You may be jumping to conclusions here.   Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2008, 11:21:15 PM »

I truly doubt he was talking about that particular practice.  You may be jumping to conclusions here.   Smiley

Here is his response to me after I made the accusation:

I think if you truely took hold of the commandments of the Lord Christ and not even try to mimmick African traditions you would embrace a morality that exceeds that which the world knows significantly.

African traditions in many ways are good. So are other tradtions.

But following the commandments of the Lord in Christ Jesus will save your soul.

Obey God and live forever!

Since he apparently doesn't deny this and in fact tells me to "Obey God" while glorifying a culture that has an extremely high rate of FGM and sees it as the symbol of female chastity...
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2008, 12:10:26 AM »

The report I linked from the US State Department was specifically about Ethiopia and mentioned that not only is it tolerated in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it is in some cases mandated by priests. 

I guess it's a good thing that they have been officially condemend as heretics and, thus, are not technically our responsibility. (Not that that gives us a moral out, but it certainly gives us a political one Wink)
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2008, 12:16:46 AM »

Silly person; we are talking of Africa!  Grin As an aside, I have never heard of the practice beyond Africa. Did it exist?
As the Wiki article noted, the practice is widespread in Indonesia as well.  I can say two things about this with relative confidence.  1.  FGM is primarily a pre-Islamic practice that has been unoficially adopted by some countries with an Islamic majority.  It DOES occur very frequently as my ex-wife, as well as her sister and mother, were victims of this.  2. As Orthodoxy continues to grow in Indonesia under Archimandite Daniel (a native Indonesian), former Muslims who are now Orthodox are speaking out against this horrible practice.
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« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2008, 12:35:41 AM »

Reflecting a little on this thread, I think it provides a good example as to why Orthodoxy will never amount to anything more than immigrants and a trickle of dissatisfied Evangelicals and Roman Catholics in the West. 

It is taken for granted that the American and Western European culture is somehow degenerate and depraved relative to the great and holy cultures of the Orthodox Orient.  The last few weeks have witnessed a slew of hysterics over abortion in the US on the politics forum.  In general the abortion rate is far higher in nominally Orthodox countries than the evil and godless countries of the West.  Here the evil promiscuity of the West is mentioned (and really, I'd be surprised if the amount of extramarital sex in the West is that much higher than elsewhere).  The solution mentioned is a traditional African society that brutally mutilates its women in order to purify.  Dispute nominal lip service from some religious authorities is still lives on in local piety (apparently with clerical endorsement).  There is all this talk on message boards like this about how Orthodoxy has influenced every aspect of various cultures, then why after nearly 2000 years are things like this nearly universal in some Orthodox countries with the only reason that they are on the decline being Western funded NGOs and development agencies?  Maybe it is simply Amdetsion's own brand of triumphalism and disgust at everything Western (curious how he chooses to reside in the United States!) and especially Protestantism really rubs me the wrong way.  But gauging from reactions of many non-Orthodox people that I know, they find this triumphalism that is masking a stinking cesspool to be fairly common among Orthodox.  Would it be so terrible to be honest about Orthodoxy - that on a personal level it is an amazing faith that has the power to transform the individual and guide him on the path to theosis, but on the societal level it is no better than any other organized religion?     
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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2008, 12:43:56 AM »

Reflecting a little on this thread, I think it provides a good example as to why Orthodoxy will never amount to anything more than immigrants and a trickle of dissatisfied Evangelicals and Roman Catholics in the West. 

It is taken for granted that the American and Western European culture is somehow degenerate and depraved relative to the great and holy cultures of the Orthodox Orient.  The last few weeks have witnessed a slew of hysterics over abortion in the US on the politics forum.  In general the abortion rate is far higher in nominally Orthodox countries than the evil and godless countries of the West.  Here the evil promiscuity of the West is mentioned (and really, I'd be surprised if the amount of extramarital sex in the West is that much higher than elsewhere).  The solution mentioned is a traditional African society that brutally mutilates its women in order to purify.  Dispute nominal lip service from some religious authorities is still lives on in local piety (apparently with clerical endorsement).  There is all this talk on message boards like this about how Orthodoxy has influenced every aspect of various cultures, then why after nearly 2000 years are things like this nearly universal in some Orthodox countries with the only reason that they are on the decline being Western funded NGOs and development agencies?  Maybe it is simply Amdetsion's own brand of triumphalism and disgust at everything Western (curious how he chooses to reside in the United States!) and especially Protestantism really rubs me the wrong way.  But gauging from reactions of many non-Orthodox people that I know, they find this triumphalism that is masking a stinking cesspool to be fairly common among Orthodox.  Would it be so terrible to be honest about Orthodoxy - that on a personal level it is an amazing faith that has the power to transform the individual and guide him on the path to theosis, but on the societal level it is no better than any other organized religion?     

Eh, Νεκτάριος, it's a religion, what exactly did you expect? From any perspective that really matters they're all the same, they do what benefits them and ignore the problems where there's no prospective political payout. Sure, we have some pretty cool theology, we certainly had some pretty intelligent theologians over the past 2000 years; heck, I think we've done better than most. But to expect progressive and revolutionary social change from the Church? That's just not realistic, whether the change is consonant with the gospel or not. I think you're asking more of Christianity than is realistic.
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2008, 12:58:23 AM »

Reflecting a little on this thread, I think it provides a good example as to why Orthodoxy will never amount to anything more than immigrants and a trickle of dissatisfied Evangelicals and Roman Catholics in the West. 

It is taken for granted that the American and Western European culture is somehow degenerate and depraved relative to the great and holy cultures of the Orthodox Orient.  The last few weeks have witnessed a slew of hysterics over abortion in the US on the politics forum.  In general the abortion rate is far higher in nominally Orthodox countries than the evil and godless countries of the West.  Here the evil promiscuity of the West is mentioned (and really, I'd be surprised if the amount of extramarital sex in the West is that much higher than elsewhere).  The solution mentioned is a traditional African society that brutally mutilates its women in order to purify.  Dispute nominal lip service from some religious authorities is still lives on in local piety (apparently with clerical endorsement).  There is all this talk on message boards like this about how Orthodoxy has influenced every aspect of various cultures, then why after nearly 2000 years are things like this nearly universal in some Orthodox countries with the only reason that they are on the decline being Western funded NGOs and development agencies?  Maybe it is simply Amdetsion's own brand of triumphalism and disgust at everything Western (curious how he chooses to reside in the United States!) and especially Protestantism really rubs me the wrong way.  But gauging from reactions of many non-Orthodox people that I know, they find this triumphalism that is masking a stinking cesspool to be fairly common among Orthodox.  Would it be so terrible to be honest about Orthodoxy - that on a personal level it is an amazing faith that has the power to transform the individual and guide him on the path to theosis, but on the societal level it is no better than any other organized religion?     
You've raised a good point but it needs some clarification.  Bad-mouthing Protestants or Roman Catholics (or anybody for that matter) is not setting a good example for non-Orthodox, nor is it following/imitating Christ.  Having said that, many converts to Orthodoxy simply cannot get over the fact of how blessed they are to have found Holy Orthodoxy and can sometimes become overzealous when looking back on their former lives.  We Orthodox should remember that though we have found the True Faith, by our very desire to be united to Christ through this True Faith, we are admitting that we are spiritually sick and in need of His medicine.  So it seems that the 'stinking cesspool' analogy is only half-correct.  Wink  We become Orthodox Christians in order to wash away the 'stinking cesspool' and to fill it back up with Christ Himself.  


Minor editing employed to clarify grammar and spelling only.  Pravoslavbob
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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2008, 01:31:54 PM »

I think I agree with Nektarios...

There weren't any human cultures, I think, which would be more chaste than any other. I am sure illicit sex, contraception and undercover abortions were ripe in the Byzantium, just as they were in the West, or in Africa.
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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2008, 05:03:42 PM »

I think I agree with Nektarios...

There weren't any human cultures, I think, which would be more chaste than any other. I am sure illicit sex, contraception and undercover abortions were ripe in the Byzantium, just as they were in the West, or in Africa.

I also think that Nektarios raises some excellent points here; the Orthodox have to acknowledge that very little societal transformation has occured in the end in many Orthodox cultures, and this is very tragic.  In fact, I think we would have to concede that western Christianity has up until now been much more effective at transforming value systems in their respective cultures than Orthodoxy has in its respective cultural settings.  We really don't have cause to be triumphalistic. 

I think it's a little unfair, however, to say that Orthodoxy has never succeeded at transforming any cultures.  Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in his work The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, argues that the Kievan Church of Rus was one such example of a truly changed society in many ways, and that this even endured past the time of the Kievan primacy in the East Slavic Church until other tragic historic happenings began to reverse the Christianization of Russian society.  (One such tragedy was the Mongol invasion of Russia, which left an enduring influence of coarseness and brutality.)  In fact, Schmemann argues that, ironically, Russia regeressed over time in terms of its Christian influence, as the West progressed.  One example he cited was that of serfdom.  In 11th century Kievan Rus, prince and peasant communed from the same chalice, literally and figuratively.  There was no slavery, wheras in the West at this time, serfdom was becoming entrenched.  But if one "fast-forwards" to the nineteenth century, one has a world where serfdom is being eliminated in the West and entrenched in Russia!   

It took a  very long time for Christian influence to make itself known in Byzantine society.  Many would argue that old Roman imperial attitudes remained the norm in all walks of life until the 7th century or later, if I am not mistaken.  I would certainly not say that Byzantium was not a completely Christianized society after this time; lots of very un-Christian attitudes remained, but there was surely eventually a strong Christian influence felt in many spheres of life.  (No doubt GiC or Cleveland may have something to add about all of this.)  I think a lot of this positive influence was of course lost during the Turkocracy.  (Not that we Orthodox should simply blame the Turks wholesale for all of our problems, but one has to acknowledge that the whole tragedy of the Turkocracy did much to negatively impact the Greek Orthodox world.)
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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2008, 05:48:25 PM »

I think it's a little unfair, however, to say that Orthodoxy has never succeeded at transforming any cultures.  Alexander Schmemann, in his work The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, argues that the Kievan Church of Rus was one such example of a truly changed society in many ways, and that this even endured past the time of the Kievan primacy in the East Slavic Church until other tragic historic happenings began to reverse the Christianization of Russian society.  (One such tragedy was the Mongol invasion of Russia, which left an enduring influence of coarseness and brutality.)  In fact, Schmemann argues that, ironically, Russia regeressed over time in terms of its Christian influence, as the West progressed.  One example he cited was that of serfdom.  In 11th century Kievan Rus, prince and peasant communed from the same chalice, literally and figuratively.  There was no slavery, wheras in the West at this time, serfdom was becoming entrenched.  But if one "fast-forwards" to the nineteenth century, one has a world where serfdom is being eliminated in the West and entrenched in Russia!   

I've never heard of that book of Fr. Schmemann's - I'll have to put it on me reading list. 

That is basically the same the same conclusion that I've drawn from my own studies of Russian history.  Kievian Rus' was an amazing state with an advanced culture.  I especially am fascinated by the early development of Novgorod - just think how different Russian history would have been had Novgorod had developed as the center of Russian civilization rather than Moscow. 

I also don't think blaming the Mongols is the full story.  Mongol rule was conducted with the cooperation of Russian vassals.  Ottoman rule was also conducted and arbitrated through the cooperation of Orthodox ethnicities with the Ottomans.  This is especially true of the Phanariot Greeks who ruthlessly ruled in Wallachia.  And the real strengthening of serfdom came under Catherine the Great, long after the Mongols had ceased to a presence.         

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« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2008, 08:09:30 PM »

We Orthodox should remember that though we have found the True Faith, by our very desire to be united to Christ through this True Faith, we are admitting that we are spiritually sick and in need of His medicine.  So it seems that the 'stinking cesspool' analogy is only half-correct.  Wink  We become Orthodox Christians in order to wash away the 'stinking cesspool' and to fill it back up with Christ Himself. 

The problem with this "true faith" claim is that the baggage it brings along with it has no real justification in history.  Even at the most WASPy convert parish in the US there is at least lip service to the evils of the West and wonders of the East.  It is basically impossible to accept Orthodoxy's "true church" claim without also accepting the cultural baggage that entails.  As for the rest - what religion doesn't make those same claims? 
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« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2008, 05:29:10 AM »

What are you all talking about?

I do not know why you all are tit-for-tatting on this outrageous subject.

I do not even know what FGM is or how I ended on this thread.

On another thread I made a simple statement regarding what is a known African tradition and you all have went running down your stereo types and noting absolutely offensive assumptions about Africa and what my perceived intentions were with making my comment. You found out about some brutal tradition on the continent and used that the dismiss the point I was making and at the same time ridiculed the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Some of you are do not know that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the largest single Orthodox community on earth. I believe Russia may refute that plausibly.

The Bible old and new testament verifies the true virtues of Ethiopia and thus Africa and places Ethiopia in priority and prominence for such virtue. I doubt you find any mention of that pagan practice of cupid and the "love heart" in any Christian teaching legitimate to true Orthodoxy not to mention the Bible. But of course this western pagan tradition held by the western Christians is acceptable like flying reindeers, elves and peter cotton tail. I have heard " Oh..its St.Valentine". How convenient. Seems somebody should teach the people to stop using pagan images and traditions of cupid and the other pagan elements of sex and perversion in conjunction with St Valentine. But this folly goes on unabated for generations having no real Orthodoxy or Christian virtue.

I am used to the racist stereo types (which of course you think are not racist)and offensive assumptions about the cultures of Africa and the east. So please feel free to continue not that you need my approval. But you are all wrong about my intentions ....Wrong!

It is a disgrace that so many of you are so bent (wether realised or not) on racist predispositions and or feelings of superiority that my statement has invoked such useless fuming.
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« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2008, 08:28:26 AM »

Dear Father Deacon Amde,

I, for one, never intended to do any racist stereotyping regarding Ethiopia and Ethiopians, and I personally never implied that the Ethiopian Church endorses female circumcision ("FGM").

My thought in the original thread was different... I just expressed my doubt that the so-called traditional African society really exists or has ever existed in reality, rather than in dreams of pious and good-natured Christian people like yourself. I had this thought because I heard a lot of rather cynical stories about the so-called "traditional Slavic society." It's a common myth that in older times, people in Russian or Ukrainian or Belorussian villages and hamlets were all so blissfully innocent as far as illicit sex was concerned. In reality, it looks like only some were; only occasional couples never had pre-marital sex or never used any form of contraception or remained monogamous. In my wife's native Volyn (northwestern part of Ukraine, very rural, with deep Orthodox traditions), an old village woman, for example, may whisper in your ear that back in her days, and back in her own grand-grandmother's days, anal sex was the most common way for a girl to remain "honest" ("chesna," meaning actually not physically "deflored") before marriage, as well as to ensure space between children after marriage. So, it seems to me that while people may "romanticize" traditional rural societies, the brutal reality of life in those societies is very different from their romantic dreams.

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« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2008, 09:14:34 AM »

Nektarios,

Female circumcision is not part of "popular piety" in the Coptic tradition in any sense of the expression. First of all, Copts who practice female circumcision would be a fringe minority, and they are generally a) those of the lower social substrata and b) the lesser educated (i.e. we are talking about those of rural areas). Secondly, their reasons have nothing to do with religious piety (and the highest ranks of our clergy, particularly H.H. Pope Shenouda III, have made it very clear that the practice has no basis in Christian praxis or teaching), but is rather pursued because a) it is cultural tradition and cultural tradition defines how they live their life (hence the other aspects of their lifestyle, such as the way they dress, the nature of their labour, the food they eat etc.--in other words, they live the life they know, and they hand that lifestyle on their descendents etc. etc.), b) not doing so involves procuring a sort of social stigma since "everyone else does it", and c) to avoid family disgrace and scandal.

Wearing headscarves in church, is part of popular piety; saying "be'esm el salib" (trans. "In the Name of the Cross") when in a threatening situation, is part of popular piety; female circumcision has NOTHING to do with popular piety.
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« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2008, 09:25:13 AM »

^Very good, EA.
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« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2008, 10:01:25 AM »

What are you all talking about?

I do not know why you all are tit-for-tatting on this outrageous subject.

I do not even know what FGM is or how I ended on this thread.

On another thread I made a simple statement regarding what is a known African tradition and you all have went running down your stereo types and noting absolutely offensive assumptions about Africa and what my perceived intentions were with making my comment. You found out about some brutal tradition on the continent and used that the dismiss the point I was making and at the same time ridiculed the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Some of you are do not know that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the largest single Orthodox community on earth. I believe Russia may refute that plausibly.

The Bible old and new testament verifies the true virtues of Ethiopia and thus Africa and places Ethiopia in priority and prominence for such virtue. I doubt you find any mention of that pagan practice of cupid and the "love heart" in any Christian teaching legitimate to true Orthodoxy not to mention the Bible. But of course this western pagan tradition held by the western Christians is acceptable like flying reindeers, elves and peter cotton tail. I have heard " Oh..its St.Valentine". How convenient. Seems somebody should teach the people to stop using pagan images and traditions of cupid and the other pagan elements of sex and perversion in conjunction with St Valentine. But this folly goes on unabated for generations having no real Orthodoxy or Christian virtue.

I am used to the racist stereo types (which of course you think are not racist)and offensive assumptions about the cultures of Africa and the east. So please feel free to continue not that you need my approval. But you are all wrong about my intentions ....Wrong!

It is a disgrace that so many of you are so bent (wether realised or not) on racist predispositions and or feelings of superiority that my statement has invoked such useless fuming.


Remind anyone of certain outrageous assumptions about all things Western and/or Protestant?  Irony much?
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« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2008, 10:50:27 AM »

I also don't think blaming the Mongols is the full story.  Mongol rule was conducted with the cooperation of Russian vassals.  Ottoman rule was also conducted and arbitrated through the cooperation of Orthodox ethnicities with the Ottomans.  This is especially true of the Phanariot Greeks who ruthlessly ruled in Wallachia.  And the real strengthening of serfdom came under Catherine the Great, long after the Mongols had ceased to a presence.         

I don't think the Mongol business is by any means the whole story.  I was just using the Mongol invasion as one example of a contribution to steady Russian societal decay.  I know that some Greeks and Russians cooperated with their oppressors, but this is often found when one society is conquered by another.  Vichy France would be one such example. 
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« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2008, 12:15:39 PM »

Female circumcision is not part of "popular piety" in the Coptic tradition in any sense of the expression. First of all, Copts who practice female circumcision would be a fringe minority, and they are generally a) those of the lower social substrata and b) the lesser educated (i.e. we are talking about those of rural areas). Secondly, their reasons have nothing to do with religious piety (and the highest ranks of our clergy, particularly H.H. Pope Shenouda III, have made it very clear that the practice has no basis in Christian praxis or teaching), but is rather pursued because a) it is cultural tradition and cultural tradition defines how they live their life (hence the other aspects of their lifestyle, such as the way they dress, the nature of their labour, the food they eat etc.--in other words, they live the life they know, and they hand that lifestyle on their descendents etc. etc.), b) not doing so involves procuring a sort of social stigma since "everyone else does it", and c) to avoid family disgrace and scandal.

Looking at texts from a Pope or Patriarch is not how anthropologists determine whether or not a practice is done for religious piety.  What is problematic with the methodology of the referenced NGOs and other organizations?  Unless you can show that their numbers are way off or the methodology that they have been using is dramatically flawed, their findings are of a nearly ubiquitous practice.  Which still leaves me with the same conclusion: the work of a handful of western funded NGOs has done more to bring about positive social change in a generation than Christianity has in two millennia.  Which is why I am questioning whether the cultural assumptions of Orthodoxy have any basis in reality, or if it would be more authentic to view Orthodoxy as a religion of individual transformation.   

What are you all talking about?

I do not know why you all are tit-for-tatting on this outrageous subject.

I do not even know what FGM is or how I ended on this thread.

On another thread I made a simple statement regarding what is a known African tradition and you all have went running down your stereo types and noting absolutely offensive assumptions about Africa and what my perceived intentions were with making my comment. You found out about some brutal tradition on the continent and used that the dismiss the point I was making and at the same time ridiculed the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Some of you are do not know that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the largest single Orthodox community on earth. I believe Russia may refute that plausibly.

The Bible old and new testament verifies the true virtues of Ethiopia and thus Africa and places Ethiopia in priority and prominence for such virtue. I doubt you find any mention of that pagan practice of cupid and the "love heart" in any Christian teaching legitimate to true Orthodoxy not to mention the Bible. But of course this western pagan tradition held by the western Christians is acceptable like flying reindeers, elves and peter cotton tail. I have heard " Oh..its St.Valentine". How convenient. Seems somebody should teach the people to stop using pagan images and traditions of cupid and the other pagan elements of sex and perversion in conjunction with St Valentine. But this folly goes on unabated for generations having no real Orthodoxy or Christian virtue.

I am used to the racist stereo types (which of course you think are not racist)and offensive assumptions about the cultures of Africa and the east. So please feel free to continue not that you need my approval. But you are all wrong about my intentions ....Wrong!

It is a disgrace that so many of you are so bent (wether realised or not) on racist predispositions and or feelings of superiority that my statement has invoked such useless fuming.


When all else fails, cry racism.  I give you the same challenge as EA, how are the linked reports incorrect?  If they are correct, then my only point is that "traditional African morality" is no more Christian influenced than modern Western society (and before you cry racism, do realize that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are far more "Western" culturally than many geographically western societies).     
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« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2008, 12:23:50 PM »

Remind anyone of certain outrageous assumptions about all things Western and/or Protestant?  Irony much?

The real irony is that Amdetsion has already voted with his feet, regardless of how much verbal or written homage he pays to traditional African society.

I don't think the Mongol business is by any means the whole story.  I was just using the Mongol invasion as one example of a contribution to steady Russian societal decay.  I know that some Greeks and Russians cooperated with their oppressors, but this is often found when one society is conquered by another.  Vichy France would be one such example. 
 

I definitely understand what you are saying: my own family's Polish background has the same concept of cultural decline under Nazi and Soviet occupation, but complicity with both at the same time. 

My library has the book you mentioned; I'll pick it up and take a look.   From the online description it looks really interesting. 
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« Reply #36 on: February 04, 2008, 06:44:38 PM »

Dear Father Deacon Amde,

I, for one, never intended to do any racist stereotyping regarding Ethiopia and Ethiopians, and I personally never implied that the Ethiopian Church endorses female circumcision ("FGM").

My thought in the original thread was different... I just expressed my doubt that the so-called traditional African society really exists or has ever existed in reality, rather than in dreams of pious and good-natured Christian people like yourself. I had this thought because I heard a lot of rather cynical stories about the so-called "traditional Slavic society." It's a common myth that in older times, people in Russian or Ukrainian or Belorussian villages and hamlets were all so blissfully innocent as far as illicit sex was concerned. In reality, it looks like only some were; only occasional couples never had pre-marital sex or never used any form of contraception or remained monogamous. In my wife's native Volyn (northwestern part of Ukraine, very rural, with deep Orthodox traditions), an old village woman, for example, may whisper in your ear that back in her days, and back in her own grand-grandmother's days, anal sex was the most common way for a girl to remain "honest" ("chesna," meaning actually not physically "deflored") before marriage, as well as to ensure space between children after marriage. So, it seems to me that while people may "romanticize" traditional rural societies, the brutal reality of life in those societies is very different from their romantic dreams.



I am not a dreamer.

Read Amos Chapter 9 Verse 7.


« Last Edit: February 04, 2008, 06:49:39 PM by Amdetsion » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: February 04, 2008, 06:55:09 PM »

I am not a dreamer.

Read Amos Chapter 9 Verse 7.

You try to use scripture to support this fantasy about 'traditional african morality' without even condemning FGM? There's good reason why none of us are taking you seriously. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #38 on: February 04, 2008, 07:01:10 PM »

My library has the book you mentioned; I'll pick it up and take a look.   From the online description it looks really interesting. 

I'm glad it looks interesting.  I must say that it's been quite some time since I read it; I just happened to remember that bit about the Kievan Church. Wink
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« Reply #39 on: February 04, 2008, 07:10:41 PM »

I am not a dreamer.

Read Amos Chapter 9 Verse 7.




So there is neither Greek nor Jew in Christ, but there is Ethiopian (who is apparently superior to degenerate European scum). Roll Eyes
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« Reply #40 on: February 04, 2008, 10:34:51 PM »

You try to use scripture to support this fantasy about 'traditional african morality' without even condemning FGM?

I believe in the fourth paragraph of his reply #28 he calls it a "brutal tradition."
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« Reply #41 on: February 04, 2008, 11:40:22 PM »

Nektarios,

Quote
Looking at texts from a Pope or Patriarch is not how anthropologists determine whether or not a practice is done for religious piety.


The statement of the Pope is, so far in this thread, the only reliable indication given of the Coptic Orthodox religious attitude to female circumcusion.

I read the document you linked to beforehand; it presents not a shred of evidence that any Coptic Christian practices female circumcision out of religious piety, let alone that it is a popular practice amongst Coptic Christians motivated by religious piety.

Quote
What is problematic with the methodology of the referenced NGOs and other organizations?  Unless you can show that their numbers are way off or the methodology that they have been using is dramatically flawed, their findings are of a nearly ubiquitous practice.


There are a number of problems with the document you referenced us to, and even more with your uncritical interpretation of it. Let’s take a look at the only statement made in that entire document that touches on the question of the religious attitude of Coptic Christians to female circumcision:

Quote
Moreover, many Egyptians believe that this is an important part of maintaining female chastity, which is part of religious tradition.

This is a very vague statement, and it is practically useless to us for a number of reasons.

1) The statement indicates that female chastity is part of religious tradition; it thereby implicitly suggests that religious tradition was the motivation behind those who practice/advocate female circumcision for the purpose of maintaining female chastity, but that is just conjecture. As I’ve already noted, people may want to maintain female chastity for other reasons, such as to avoid social scandal. The document itself goes on to say: "One of the main factors behind the persistence of the practice is its social significance for females. In communities where it is practiced, a woman achieves recognition mainly through marriage and child bearing and many families refuse to accept as a marriage partner, a woman who has not undergone the procedure." Ultimately, therefore, there is no statistical or otherwise concrete data whatsoever presented with regard to the religious attitude of those who practice/advocate female circumcision; only a speculative suggestion as to how to interpret one of the results of the survey. As for the problems with the survey itself and problems with the generalisation you've made in response to the survey (i.e. that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst Copts):

2) How many of the surveyed Egyptians were Coptic Christians? The document gives absolutely no indication whatsoever of how many Coptic Christians participated in the survey. Nice way to make generalisations about popular piety amongst Coptic Christians, especially in light of points 3) – 7) below:

3) We are told that the sample size was roughly 15, 000. Nice way to make a generalisation regarding a community of over 10 million Copts, especially given points 1)-2) and 4)-7). 

4) The document suggests that more than 91% of the Egyptians surveyed who do practice/advocate female circumcision do so for reasons that have nothing to with maintaining female chastity. So less than 10% of a weak 15, 000 sample of Egyptians advocate female circumcision to maintain female chastity for reasons that are most likely social and cultural than religious. Nice way to draw generalisation regarding popular piety amongst Copts, especially given points 1)-2), and 5)-7).

5) We are given no information about the circumstances under which the relevant information was acquired. Were these ladies’ husband’s present? Was it face-to-face? Was it conducted publically? Were they required to disclose personal information? etc.

6) We are given no information about the nature of the survey itself: did it allow for open-ended answers (e.g. “Do you practice/advocate female circumcision, and if so why?) or were participants told to select between a selection of pre-determined answers which could potentially have manipulated the answers given?

7) We are given no information about the participants in the survey. Were they randomly selected across the whole nation? Were they chosen specifically from certain areas? Etc.

To insist that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst Copts is unwarranted, irrational, and downright ludicrous.
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« Reply #42 on: February 05, 2008, 12:33:37 AM »

The statement of the Pope is, so far in this thread, the only reliable indication given of the Coptic Orthodox religious attitude to female circumcusion.

The statement of any high ranking religious figure can be entirely irrelevant to actual practice.  A statement by a pope or a patristic quote is not evidence of religious practice among laity.

Quote
I read the document you linked to beforehand; it presents not a shred of evidence that any Coptic Christian practices female circumcision out of religious piety, let alone that it is a popular practice amongst Coptic Christians motivated by religious piety.

Most of the reading I've done on the topic is from anthropologists who primarily worked in Sudan.  If you google some of the NGOs the work on this, their finding from their work match that of the anthropologists.  So I'm willing to trust that their methodology is sound and equally applicable to Ethiopia and Egypt.  And in literally every single book I've read on the matter the same sort of justifications are given for the practice, social reasons and as a symbol of female purity.  For this religion is often invoked as further justification. So if you have anything from an academic source saying that the methodology of anthropology is not applicable to FGM or that any of the major NGOs involved are not reporting accurate information, fine.  Otherwise, I'm inclined to believe the information as presented from various NGOs, governments and academics.  If you google the major NGOs that work in the field and scan some of the major academic books, you'll see that they are pretty much all in agreement with the major details.   
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« Reply #43 on: February 05, 2008, 01:13:01 AM »

Listen, Nektarios, you made the claim that female circumcision is popularly practised amongst Copts for religious reasons; it's your duty to substantiate that. I am not googling anything. You give me a specific link or a specific reference to a certain work, and I will be more than happy to give it the thorough treatment I gave the previous source you referred us to. So far I see no evidence from you; just one refuted source, and alot of vague babbling which seems to suggest that your conclusion is nothing but a weak hypothesis based on anthropological generalisations and their consequent inductive assumptions about the actual beliefs of Coptic Christians. That may be good enough for you, but that does not constitute proof or evidence in any sufficient sense of these terms.

My father was a practicing GP in a large town that is known to be largely populated by Copts; in his extensive experience, only Muslims, and lower class Muslims at that, would exercise female circumcision. It is unheard of in the Coptic Christian community that anyone would do such a thing; this was corroborated by my mother, who has six sisters, and my priest who served in Egypt for an extensive period of time. My priest's comments are particularly important because of his experience baptising female infants. The Church's policy is that circumcision (in general) cannot take place after baptism; so if it was ever performed on young females, he would know. My friend, who used to work in Egypt for the Coptic Orphans organisation, and who, as such, was intimately involved with poorer communities informs me that female circumcision, as with pedophilia (at least as we understand it on modern terms), is one problem that they have to deal with in their ministry. In both cases, she said that it's simply the result of an uncivilised community following customs steeped in tradition. When I asked about whether religion played a role, she quite emphatically replied, "No, not for the Christians." So far, my father, mother, priest and friend's experience constitute the only insight into the practical reality of Coptic Christian life in Egypt; the rest is conjecture.

Nektarios, I don't have a problem with you being irrational and unreasonable per se; but when being irrational and unreasonable means being offensive, then you really need to be more careful buddy.
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« Reply #44 on: February 05, 2008, 01:38:09 AM »

Listen, Nektarios, you made the claim that female circumcision is popularly practised amongst Copts for religious reasons; it's your duty to substantiate that. I am not googling anything.

This is a topic I've read on and off about for the past few years.  I do have specific references buried away in my notes.  Later this week I'll post them. 

Quote
You give me a specific link or a specific reference to a certain work, and I will be more than happy to give it the thorough treatment I gave the previous source you referred us to. So far I see no evidence from you; just one refuted source

You did not refute anything.  A refutation would have been providing something substantial saying that the US State Department and the named NGOs are incorrect in reporting that FGM occurs among Christians and Muslims. 

Quote
That may be good enough for you, but that does not constitute proof or evidence in any sufficient sense of these terms.

Which will only be an effort in futility as evidenced by your participation in various threads on evolution.  You apparently reject reason and science if it conflicts with your prejudices and ideology.

Quote
My friend, who used to work in Egypt for the Coptic Orphans organisation, and who, as such, was intimately involved with poorer communities informs me that female circumcision, as with pedophilia (at least as we understand it on modern terms), is one problem that they have to deal with in their ministry. In both cases, she said that it's simply the result of an uncivilised community following customs steeped in tradition. When I asked about whether religion played a role, she quite emphatically replied, "No, not for the Christians." So far, my father, mother, priest and friend's experience constitute the only insight into the practical reality of Coptic Christian life in Egypt; the rest is conjecture.

Which still leaves my main point that in a few decades western funded NGOs have done more to combat these practices than 2000 years of Christianity.  Going back to the original point of this thread, Amdetsion claimed some great and wonderful traditional African morality - my counterclaim is that there are serious problems in his romanticized society and that the West isn't nearly so evil as he claims it is.  And since you both live in Westernized nations, you've already voted with your feet and implicitly agree with me. 
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