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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

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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.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2008, 11:41:46 PM by EkhristosAnesti » Logged

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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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« Reply #45 on: February 05, 2008, 01:52:33 AM »

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.
Forgive me, but I can't help but wonder at your words.  How does praising the glories of your Ethiopian homeland and calling Westerners barbarians not voice a racist disposition and feeling of superiority on your part?  By the way, who's fuming?
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« Reply #46 on: February 05, 2008, 02:47:51 AM »

Nektarios,

Quote
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.


When did I ever suggest that I had any contention with that idea that Christians may practice female circumcision? Don't you think I implicitly admit that it happens when I say things like:

Quote
First of all, Copts who practice female circumcision would be a fringe minority...

They can't be a fringe minority if they don't exist. Please think more carefully before you respond because I really don’t want to waste my time dealing with such silly mistakes.

What I refuted was the idea that the claims and data presented in that document support the idea that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst Coptic Christians; the only thing that the document supplied supports is the idea that Christians practice it. It does not support the idea that it is popular amongst Coptic Christians let alone popular amongst Coptic Christians on account of religious piety.

Quote
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.


You apparently have reading comprehension difficulties or you are deliberately being deceptive; or a mixture of both. My point in the evolution thread was to demonstrate that the Church Fathers’ cosmology would not be altered by consideration of modern scientific theories or the demands of logic since their exegetical method was based on discerning the skopos of "supernatural" revelation. I strictly refrained from expressing any personal view in regard to how I conceive the role of science and reason in the matter, or how it should shape our approach to the Fathers, nor will I explore that subject since it is a red-herring.

Enough of the ad hominems, and please either address my refutation of your attempt to use the document from the US State Department to support the notion that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst Coptic Christians, or find me a better source to consider.

Quote
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.

The only NGO that a lay Copt would take seriously is the Church which has made a concerted effort to root out such practices from the lives of those fringe Coptic Christians of those poorer rural areas who may still pursue such practices for social and cultural reasons.

Quote
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.


Please quit with the red-herrings. I am here only to contend with the idea that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst Coptic Christians. I have a problem with you trying to tell me, my father, mother, priest, and friend of the Coptic Orphans program, what is popular piety in the very community that we are part of and that we have extensive and versatile first-hand experience of, based on a weak induction of the assumptive generalisations of cultural anthropology.
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« Reply #47 on: February 05, 2008, 03:34:39 AM »

Awwwwwww! Look everyone!

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« Reply #48 on: February 05, 2008, 03:52:08 AM »

EA,

Just to shorten this a bit and clarify:

I think that the reports I linked made it amply clear that the highest religious officials in both Christianity and Islam are opposed to FGM and teach that it has doctrinal basis in neither Christianity nor Islam.  I have not ever said that FGM is part of the "official" doctrine of either the Coptic or Ethiopian church. 

I also think we have very different views as to what constitutes popular piety.  I see this more as a study in anthropology rather than religion per se.  So to use a more neutral example, I'd consider antisemitism to a part of Polish Catholic popular piety despite its condemnation from all official levels within the RCC.  The same goes with syncretism between Catholicism and Voodooism that is common in Latin American Catholicism, but is again condemned at all official levels of the Catholic church.  To a point, I think we are talking past each other on what constitutes popular piety and to a point we never will be able to discuss this since we approach the matter from such radically different Weltanschauungen.

Although you claim it is a red herring, the initial post and context is important to keep in mind for this discussion.  I didn't think this thread would unfold the way it did, but my initial point was to question the assumption that "traditional African morality" was somehow more moral than the West.  I questioned that assumption by showing data that seem to suggest that an unchristian practice is relatively widespread in the three African countries in which there is a major Orthodox presence, making the point that the West has no monopoly on sin.     

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« Reply #49 on: February 05, 2008, 04:03:58 AM »

Awwwwwww! Look everyone!

Oh, they are gorgeous, George. Are they yours? Or should the question be, are you theirs?  Grin
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« Reply #50 on: February 05, 2008, 06:38:53 AM »

Oh, they are gorgeous, George. Are they yours? Or should the question be, are you theirs?  Grin

They're friends of the two cats that own me.
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« Reply #51 on: February 05, 2008, 06:44:44 AM »

Nektarios,

Your clarification was not at all necessary. I perfectly understand that popular piety does not equate to official doctrine/policy; if my bringing up Pope Shenouda’s position on the matter has confused you, just ignore it. I initially brought it up as a side-remark so as to make clear what the authorities teach nevertheless, and I mentioned it again in my second response for the sake of emphasising that as far as Coptic religious attitudes, whether lay or clerical, to female circumcision are concerned, the opinion of His Holiness, which is a negative one at that, is the only one that has been mentioned.

I don’t think we’re talking past each other; but maybe we are. As far as I understand it "popular piety" simply refers to the way in which a certain community popularly expresses the doctrinal and/or moral and/or spiritual aspects of their faith. In the end, their religious attitudes are relevant. To suggest that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst Coptic Christians is, as far as I understand, to suggest that the common Copt expresses the religious moral obligation to keep chaste by practising female circumcision, irrespective of whether official doctrine/policy commands/approves or prohibits/disapproves of it.

Quote
So to use a more neutral example, I'd consider antisemitism to a part of Polish Catholic popular piety despite its condemnation from all official levels within the RCC.

And I assume that these anti-Semitic Polish Catholics believe their views to nevertheless be in a sense morally/doctrinally supported or justified by their faith, hence why their anti-semitism is “popular piety” and not simply “popular belief” or “popular politics.”

If you still believe we are talking past each other I would appreciate that you stipulate your definition of popular piety.
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« Reply #52 on: February 05, 2008, 06:57:31 AM »


They're friends of the two cats that own me.

LOL - I'm repeating myself, but they are gorgeous!
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« Reply #53 on: February 05, 2008, 11:35:06 AM »

George, you have the right idea.  Here is one of the four feral cats that decided to make my house home:
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« Reply #54 on: February 05, 2008, 11:43:22 AM »

Here's Lizzie, my fiancee's owner:
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« Reply #55 on: February 05, 2008, 05:59:31 PM »

It’s sad, and a shame, that the above posters would choose to pursue such troll-like behaviour. I think I have a right to scrutinise and demand evidence for a ludicrous and inherently offensive generalisation about my community which has so far shown to be based on nothing but hot air. No one has the right or reason to be rude about it or make fun of it; it’s not warranted, immature, and not to mention very uncharitable.

I won’t respond any further unless and until Nektarios gives evidence for his claim as he promised he would earlier, or unless and until he at least gives me his special definition of "popular piety" which apparently means something different to what it commonly does. I hope he is man enough to recant the statement in question otherwise; or, he can stay on the troll bandwagon which I think speaks volumes about his integrity in this discussion.
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« Reply #56 on: February 05, 2008, 08:41:52 PM »

It’s sad, and a shame, that the above posters would choose to pursue such troll-like behaviour.
They're just kitty-cats.

I think I have a right to scrutinise and demand evidence for a ludicrous and inherently offensive generalisation about my community which has so far shown to be based on nothing but hot air.
You're assuming that people actually listen to Nektarios, or that the diversion was somehow designed to condone his claims.

No one has the right or reason to be rude about it or make fun of it; it’s not warranted, immature, and not to mention very uncharitable.
When people make unfounded claims, it's like accidentally breaking wind in a social situation; most of the time, it's best just to move on and ignore it. The kitty diversion was not meant to belittle. I have been on this forum for three years, and although I've seen Nektarios change his opinion on things, I've never been able to get him to retract a false generalization or apologise for it. Have you seen what he has stated about what he calls "ethnic" Churches in the past? It just doesn't matter EA. People are always going to say false, generalizing things about us- and if they're the kind of people who would say those sort of things, then they will say them no matter what you do.

I won’t respond any further unless and until Nektarios gives evidence for his claim as he promised he would earlier,
I can tell you now, it ain't gonna happen! The "evidence" doesn't exist.

or unless and until he at least gives me his special definition of "popular piety"
That's easy: "every cultural practice Nektarios considers foreign and inferior". Wink
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« Reply #57 on: February 05, 2008, 09:22:49 PM »

I think I have a right to scrutinise and demand evidence for a ludicrous and inherently offensive generalisation about my community which has so far shown to be based on nothing but hot air. No one has the right or reason to be rude about it or make fun of it; it’s not warranted, immature, and not to mention very uncharitable.

The books that I have read that have specifically mentioned this are: Ancient Taboos and Gender Prejudice: Challenges for Orthodox Women and the Church by Leonie Liveris which accepts the general statistics that FGM is very common among people of both Christianity and Islam in Egypt.  The more general reading that ties FGM into attitudes of female purity and chastity is The Female Circumcision Controversy : an Anthropological Perspective by Ellen Gruenbaum.  I scanned some other books at the library today (why I didn't post this morning), and the rates of FGM and that it occurs among both Muslims and Christians in Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia wasn't disputed by any of them.  If you can cite any academic research that contradicts these conclusions, I'll do my best try to obtain it and read it.

To clarify: are you disputing that FGM is present in about the rates in the earlier linked reports?

Your clarification was not at all necessary. I perfectly understand that popular piety does not equate to official doctrine/policy; if my bringing up Pope Shenouda’s position on the matter has confused you, just ignore it. I initially brought it up as a side-remark so as to make clear what the authorities teach nevertheless, and I mentioned it again in my second response for the sake of emphasising that as far as Coptic religious attitudes, whether lay or clerical, to female circumcision are concerned, the opinion of His Holiness, which is a negative one at that, is the only one that has been mentioned.

Mentioned in one of the linked US State Department reports was that there had been instances of Coptic priests refusing to baptize girls who had not undergone FGM.

Quote
As far as I understand it "popular piety" simply refers to the way in which a certain community popularly expresses the doctrinal and/or moral and/or spiritual aspects of their faith. In the end, their religious attitudes are relevant. To suggest that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst Coptic Christians is, as far as I understand, to suggest that the common Copt expresses the religious moral obligation to keep chaste by practising female circumcision, irrespective of whether official doctrine/policy commands/approves or prohibits/disapproves of it.

We are operating under different definitions then.  I'm using a much more localized example.  Rural Coptic community X practices FGM means that in rural Coptic community X, FGM is part of local popular piety not that among all Copts is FGM practiced.  I apologize, that I did not make that clearer before and if it looked as if I generalized the entire Coptic community.  The reason why I would still call this popular piety is that this pre-Christian, pre-Islamic custom is often given ex post facto justification through appeals to Christianity or Islam - even if it is more of a cultural rite rather than a religious rite.  An example of this in Christian communities can be found in this pdf in their descriptions of Ethiopia and Eritrea. 
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« Reply #58 on: February 05, 2008, 10:03:30 PM »

Mentioned in one of the linked US State Department reports was that there had been instances of Coptic priests refusing to baptize girls who had not undergone FGM.

Somehow that doesn't sound right to me, and not just because the Church condemns it.  Don't the Copts, like the Armenians and other Othodox, baptize babies?  Whenever I have heard stories of FGM, the girls are always older, like between eight and twelve.

I'd like to think US State Dept. reports are well researched, but maybe some of the things they write are are based on second or third hand rumor.  You wonder who some of their sources are.
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« Reply #59 on: February 06, 2008, 03:46:55 AM »

You're assuming that people actually listen to Nektarios, or that the diversion was somehow designed to condone his claims.

People do listen to Nektarios. I find his perspective on things interesting, even when I don't agree. He has a tendency to overgeneralize; this is his flaw. Others have different flaws. But we're a community and we all do things that annoy one another. That doesn't make any one of us so worthless that nothing we say merits others listening to us.

Quote
People are always going to say false, generalizing things about us- and if they're the kind of people who would say those sort of things, then they will say them no matter what you do.

Who is the us you are referring to here?
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« Reply #60 on: February 06, 2008, 06:07:49 AM »

Who is the us you are referring to here?
There's no "them". There is just "us".

Or is this merely lip service:
we're a community
?

we all do things that annoy one another.
Which is my point.

That doesn't make any one of us so worthless that nothing we say merits others listening to us.
Saying isn't being.
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« Reply #61 on: February 06, 2008, 08:32:13 AM »

Ozgeorge,

Your empathy and patience are much appreciated. I am embarrassed, but nevertheless more than pleased to realise that I so significantly misinterpreted your intentions. I sincerely apologise for being so quick to judge; you deserved the benefit of the doubt.

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« Reply #62 on: February 06, 2008, 08:46:47 AM »

Nektarios,

Quote
The books that I have read that have specifically mentioned this are: Ancient Taboos and Gender Prejudice: Challenges for Orthodox Women and the Church by Leonie Liveris which accepts the general statistics that FGM is very common among people of both Christianity and Islam in Egypt.  The more general reading that ties FGM into attitudes of female purity and chastity is The Female Circumcision Controversy : an Anthropological Perspective by Ellen Gruenbaum.


Thank you. I will check them out on Monday.
 
Quote
To clarify: are you disputing that FGM is present in about the rates in the earlier linked reports?

No I am not. I am disputing that any reasonable inference about female circumcision being an expression of popular piety amongst Coptic Christians can be inferred from the statistics and data given in those earlier linked reports. I gave a detailed outline as to why.

Quote
Mentioned in one of the linked US State Department reports was that there had been instances of Coptic priests refusing to baptize girls who had not undergone FGM.

At face value this may seem like it suggests something about these priests' religious perspectives on female circumcision, but a more critical reading of it clearly shows that that is not necessarily the case. That these priests (of whom I wish were given a little information--numbers, locations etc.) require female circumcision to be performed prior to baptism does not suggest why they require it per se (whether for religious, social, or cultural reasons) but only when. We are told that, for whatever reason they may require it, it’s something that they require to be done before baptism because church policy prohibits circumcision in general to be performed after baptism. In fact, there is really no suggestion at all that these priests require it to be performed per se in the first place; it could very well be the case that these priests are personally against female circumcision, but knowing it to be the custom of a particular town, and not wanting to interfere with that, seek only to ensure that the practice is done prior to baptism rather than after.

Quote
We are operating under different definitions then.   I'm using a much more localized example.  Rural Coptic community X practices FGM means that in rural Coptic community X, FGM is part of local popular piety not that among all Copts is FGM practiced.  I apologize, that I did not make that clearer before and if it looked as if I generalized the entire Coptic community.

So we are not operating under different definitions at all, but rather, you are now restricting the application of that definition to rural communities. That seems like a more plausible suggestion to me in light of what I know, but one I still need to see evidence for.

Quote
The reason why I would still call this popular piety is that this pre-Christian, pre-Islamic custom is often given ex post facto justification through appeals to Christianity or Islam - even if it is more of a cultural rite rather than a religious rite. 


And I would agree that that would classify as “popular piety,” (it is perfectly in line with my previously stipulated definition of the expression) but I still need to see evidence for the idea that a) female circumcision is “popular” even amongst Coptic Christians in rural areas, and then b) that it is popular on account of religious piety. The document you referenced us to does not evidence that, and time will tell whether or not the other sources you have just referred me to do.
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« Reply #63 on: February 07, 2008, 12:58:41 AM »

Somehow that doesn't sound right to me, and not just because the Church condemns it.  Don't the Copts, like the Armenians and other Othodox, baptize babies?  Whenever I have heard stories of FGM, the girls are always older, like between eight and twelve.

I'd like to think US State Dept. reports are well researched, but maybe some of the things they write are are based on second or third hand rumor.  You wonder who some of their sources are.

It is possible to carry out FGM among infants: the last paragraph of this WHO webpage notes that it is indeed possible to circumcise at less than two weeks old and is common in some locales. 

Also looking through the WHO pages on FGM, the claim is made that both Muslims and Christians practice it despite religious leaders condemning it.  If you add up the numbers of non-Orthodox in the three African nations with a historical Orthodox population and compare the rates of FGM in these nations, it still adds up to high rate. 

I still need to see evidence for the idea that a) female circumcision is “popular” even amongst Coptic Christians in rural areas, and then b) that it is popular on account of religious piety. The document you referenced us to does not evidence that, and time will tell whether or not the other sources you have just referred me to do.

I have posted from the US State Department, referenced WHO statistics, referenced anthropological works that all agree that FGM occurs among Orthodox Christians.  The one book I referenced about the practice in general deals with the idea of popular piety, but my guess is that it won't be enough for you.  But, for me the agreement of most of the major NGOs that work with FGM, anthropologists who study it etc. is enough.  I think I've presented my point and it would probably be best to bow out of this thread. 
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« Reply #64 on: February 07, 2008, 02:27:09 AM »

There's no "them". There is just "us".

Or is this merely lip service:?
Which is my point.
Saying isn't being.

I'm sorry, I am honestly having a hard time following you, probably because I am working so many hours these past two weeks....my point was it seemed to me (my interpretation) that you were saying that Nektarios is not part of "us."

What did you mean by "saying isn't being" (honest question, I really am trying to follow you here).
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« Reply #65 on: February 07, 2008, 02:40:18 AM »

What did you mean by "saying isn't being" (honest question, I really am trying to follow you here).
What we are (and consequently, our worth) is not determined by what we say.
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« Reply #66 on: February 08, 2008, 02:24:22 AM »

I thought it should be noted that female circumcision as a cultural right in Kenya was one of the factors that led to the formation of the Kenyan Orthodox Church, an Eastern Orthodox Church with ties to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. 
Quote
In 1929 the Kikuyu of the Central Province of Kenya had formed two educational associations in protest against a missionary ban on female circumcision. Education in Kenya at that time was almost entirely under the control of foreign missions. The missions, led by John Arthur of the Church of Scotland Mission (CSM) announced that their African "agents" (who were mainly teachers) must sign a written declaration denouncing circumcision and membership of the Kikuyu Central Association (KCA), a body opposed to colonial rule (Natsoulas 1988:220).5 This had led to the formation of the Kikuyu Karing'a Educational Association (KKEA), and the Kikuyu Independent Schools Association (KISA), which sought to establish schools outside the control of foreign missions. Up till then all the schools in Kenya had been church schools, and so these bodies, having started schools, looked for a church. Bishop Alexander seemed to offer a solution, and the president of KISA wrote to Alexander, asking him to return to Kenya (Githieya 1992:156). Alexander replied, and also wrote to the Orthodox bishop of Johannesburg, asking for a letter of introduction to the Orthodox priest at Moshi, Tanganyika, and expressing an interest in a merger with the Greek Orthodox Church in South Africa (Githieya 1992:158).

Full article here.

In regard to female circumcision, I definitely don't condone it and find it very sad.  On the other hand, there are layers of complexity that I believe are revealed in the article above.  That is, the issue of female circumcision has been used as a means of subjugation of people in Africa by white supremacists. 
The tactic is simple: find a cultural practice that can be attacked on moral grounds and then use it as a way to misdirect people from seeing the criminality of the institutional racism, violence, oppression and domination that is necessary to maintain control of the conquered.  All kinds of acts can be justified under the guise of "civilization".  Do the western powers really "care" so much about the young girls, or are they just letting their own activists cry foul so they can respond with a brute force of their own and be perceived as heroes?
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« Reply #67 on: February 08, 2008, 03:13:37 AM »

In regard to female circumcision, I definitely don't condone it and find it very sad.  On the other hand, there are layers of complexity that I believe are revealed in the article above.  That is, the issue of female circumcision has been used as a means of subjugation of people in Africa by white supremacists. 
The tactic is simple: find a cultural practice that can be attacked on moral grounds and then use it as a way to misdirect people from seeing the criminality of the institutional racism, violence, oppression and domination that is necessary to maintain control of the conquered.  All kinds of acts can be justified under the guise of "civilization".  Do the western powers really "care" so much about the young girls, or are they just letting their own activists cry foul so they can respond with a brute force of their own and be perceived as heroes?

A people who engage in such a heinous practice should probably not be regarded as competent to rule themselves. These people should be placed in the same category as cannibals and be treated accordingly.
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« Reply #68 on: February 08, 2008, 07:59:13 AM »

A people who engage in such a heinous practice should probably not be regarded as competent to rule themselves. These people should be placed in the same category as cannibals and be treated accordingly.

Ruled by the British?
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« Reply #69 on: February 08, 2008, 09:50:25 AM »

Awwwwwww! Look everyone!



I'm EofK and I approve this message.   Grin laugh
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« Reply #70 on: February 08, 2008, 01:44:07 PM »

Ruled by the British?

Works for me.
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« Reply #71 on: February 08, 2008, 02:29:24 PM »

Works for me.
It was tried and it didn't work.  Then again, the British have shown themselves to be too weak hearted even to maintain their own traditions (probably because they were obtained unjustly in the first place).
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« Reply #72 on: February 08, 2008, 04:09:59 PM »

It was tried and it didn't work.  Then again, the British have shown themselves to be too weak hearted even to maintain their own traditions (probably because they were obtained unjustly in the first place).

The British have served as a great civilizing force throughout the world, taking the message of Western Civilization and the enlightenment to the darkest and most depraved regions of the world.
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« Reply #73 on: February 08, 2008, 04:14:07 PM »

The British have served as a great civilizing force throughout the world, taking the message of Western Civilization and the enlightenment to the darkest and most depraved regions of the world.

Such as New York. Wink
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« Reply #74 on: February 08, 2008, 05:23:13 PM »

The British have served as a great civilizing force throughout the world, taking the message of Western Civilization and the enlightenment to the darkest and most depraved regions of the world.
Well I admit a limited point of view.  Being educated only in American and Australian schools.  Basically an English "education".  I have found as an adult that I am not satisfied with my education.  I find it to be brutish.  But it is a legacy of a brutish empire.  Ghandi schooled them pretty well though.  You are right to use the word "force" though I think.  Also choosing to describe them as "taking", very nice criticism of the British on your part.  Do you mean by that that they are taking civilization by force and bringing its message back home to the isles?
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« Reply #75 on: February 08, 2008, 05:27:36 PM »

Well I admit a limited point of view.  Being educated only in American and Australian schools.  Basically an English "education".  I have found as an adult that I am not satisfied with my education.  I find it to be brutish.  But it is a legacy of a brutish empire.  Ghandi schooled them pretty well though.  You are right to use the word "force" though I think.  Also choosing to describe them as "taking", very nice criticism of the British on your part.  Do you mean by that that they are taking civilization by force and bringing its message back home to the isles?


Brutish?  As opposed to, oh, I don't know, mutiliating your daughter so that she'll be sexually pure?  That sort of brutish?
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« Reply #76 on: February 08, 2008, 08:37:12 PM »

Brutish?  As opposed to, oh, I don't know, mutiliating your daughter so that she'll be sexually pure?  That sort of brutish?
Sexual purity? Is this why mothers circumcise their daughters?  I really don't know actually, because I've never met someone who does this.  I would hope that I would have the decency not to approach that subject with a stranger.  Regardless, I wouldn't go broadcasting it to the world to foster support for exploitation.  It's probably not even decent for us to even discuss such as private matter on a public forum.  The fact that we even know about a centuries old localized custom is a reminder of how the information was brought to us: imperial subjugation and propaganda.

Given the little information I have, I support the Orthodox churches that are educating people and actually helping them to be self-reliant without force.  In the long run, this provides a path allowing people to abandon the practice through their own will.  It is their business not mine. 

Im confident good British readers understand that my comments werent aimed at them.  Now you may have the last word.
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« Reply #77 on: February 08, 2008, 08:48:30 PM »

Sexual purity? Is this why mothers circumcise mutilate their daughters?  I really don't know actually, because I've never met someone who does this.  I would hope that I would have the decency not to approach that subject with a stranger.  Regardless, I wouldn't go broadcasting it to the world to foster support for exploitation.  It's probably not even decent for us to even discuss such as private matter on a public forum.  The fact that we even know about a centuries old localized custom is a reminder of how the information was brought to us: imperial subjugation and propaganda.

Right, the old "I'm not my brother's keeper" line again.  After all, the fact something is a "private matter" automatically means that you need to close your eyes and ears and pretend ignorance.  Tell me, when you hear the next door neighbor beating his wife, will you also say that is a "private matter" and pretend ignorance?
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« Reply #78 on: February 08, 2008, 09:24:16 PM »

I thought it should be noted that female circumcision as a cultural right in Kenya was one of the factors that led to the formation of the Kenyan Orthodox Church, an Eastern Orthodox Church with ties to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria. 
Full article here.


That is interesting.  If I understand correctly, the EO Church in Kenya was established partly to allow the people there to continue the practice of FGM.  I never knew this.  I guess it was part of a general reaction against colonialism.  This sheds light on GiC's comment in reply #19, above, the implication of which was that this vile, pagan practice is only found among OO "heretics," and thus technically not the responsibility of the EO.
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« Reply #79 on: February 08, 2008, 09:45:52 PM »

That is interesting.  If I understand correctly, the EO Church in Kenya was established partly to allow the people there to continue the practice of FGM.  I never knew this.  I guess it was part of a general reaction against colonialism.  This sheds light on GiC's comment in reply #19, above, the implication of which was that this vile, pagan practice is only found among OO "heretics," and thus technically not the responsibility of the EO.

While I think you've been here long enough to know that such comments from GiC should not be taken seriously, it merits repeating for those new to OC.net. 

I reason I did not mention the EO missions in Kenya is that they are so tiny and fairly new that it is difficult to really gauge what their actual practice.  From the Kenya section of the CIA World Factbook:
Quote
Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, Muslim 10%, indigenous beliefs 10%, other 2%

And considering that I'm somewhat of a liberal when it comes to Orthodoxy - I'm hardly the type to consider the OO to be "heretics."   
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« Reply #80 on: February 08, 2008, 10:27:53 PM »

The British have served as a great civilizing force throughout the world, taking the message of Western Civilization and the enlightenment to the darkest and most depraved regions of the world.

Rule Britannia, I say!  Grin

But all jokes aside and all things considered, the British Empire was a great and marvellous thing; but along with its greatness came cruelty and injustice - typical empire stuff, really. It's not any excuse, but show me any aspiring imperialists that are any different.
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« Reply #81 on: February 08, 2008, 10:30:15 PM »

Well I admit a limited point of view.  Being educated only in American and Australian schools.  Basically an English "education".  I have found as an adult that I am not satisfied with my education.  I find it to be brutish.  But it is a legacy of a brutish empire.  Ghandi schooled them pretty well though.  You are right to use the word "force" though I think.  Also choosing to describe them as "taking", very nice criticism of the British on your part.  Do you mean by that that they are taking civilization by force and bringing its message back home to the isles? 

If you think that one has the right to use force, why not the British forceably ending FGM? Sounds like a plan to me.
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« Reply #82 on: February 08, 2008, 10:32:13 PM »

Right, the old "I'm not my brother's keeper" line again.  After all, the fact something is a "private matter" automatically means that you need to close your eyes and ears and pretend ignorance.  Tell me, when you hear the next door neighbor beating his wife, will you also say that is a "private matter" and pretend ignorance?

Well, clearly as long as you aren't British, you can intervene.  laugh
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« Reply #83 on: February 08, 2008, 10:40:16 PM »

Rule Britannia, I say!  Grin

If we're starting the Great Game up again, I'll become a spy.  Might as well put my Russian to use.   Grin

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« Reply #84 on: February 08, 2008, 10:48:52 PM »

If we're starting the Great Game up again, I'll become a spy.  Might as well put my Russian to use.   Grin

You see how everything has a purpose?  Grin
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« Reply #85 on: February 11, 2008, 05:49:40 AM »

It is possible to carry out FGM among infants: the last paragraph of this WHO webpage notes that it is indeed possible to circumcise at less than two weeks old and is common in some locales.

We're not interested in theoretical possibilities, we are interested in facts and reality. The same page you link to declares that "in Egypt, 90% of girls who had undergone female genital mutilation were between five and 14 years of age when subjected to the procedure." Gruenbaum (in The Female Circumcision Controversy) suggests that the age range differs across different cultural contexts. So no, you can't take the observation made in the above-referenced document regarding practice in Yemen and apply it to Egypt. It doesn't work like that. Gruenbaum notes that in Egypt female circumcision is most commonly performed amongst females in the 4-8 years age range. She notes Anne Jennings' report that some girls in southern Egypt underwent the procedure at age one or two. Let's see what we know about Coptic Orthodox Christian policy regarding baptism: 1) circumcision cannot be performed after baptism, and 2) females are to be baptised at 80 days from their birth. You can work out the math concerning the plausibility of the suggestion that Coptic Christian priests mandate circumcision before baptism, in light of the statistics presented in your own sources.

If you're still not happy, you need not be distressed because I already assumed the truth of the suggestion for argument's sake and argued how it still reveals nothing about female circumcision being a religiously motivated practice amongst Coptic Orthodox Christians.

Quote
I have posted from the US State Department, referenced WHO statistics, referenced anthropological works that all agree that FGM occurs among Orthodox Christians.
 

Nektarios, although it seems difficult for you, I would really like you to please try and focus with me here; that is assuming that such comments are the result of a lack of concentration rather than some foolish attempt to squirm your way out of the mess you’re in.

The proposition originally in contention was that female circumcision is popular amongst Coptic Orthodox Christians on account of religious piety. You implicitly modified that claim (significantly) two posts ago, so the proposition now in contention is that female circumcision is popular amongst rural Coptic Orthodox Christians on account of religious piety. Do you need me to explain how vastly such propositions differ from the proposition that female circumcision "occurs amongst Orthodox Christians"? Please stay focused: the onus is on you to prove that female circumcision is popular amongst (rural) Coptic Orthodox Christians on account of religious piety. I have already rigorously argued (see reply #41) as to why the document from the US State Department and the statistics presented therein do not support the proposition in contention (and those arguments equally apply to your modified proposition). Either address those arguments and explain why and how they are faulty or quit referring to the document from the US State Department.

Quote
The one book I referenced about the practice in general deals with the idea of popular piety, but my guess is that it won't be enough for you.

And my guess is that it wouldn’t be enough for anyone with at least half a brain. The one segment of this book pertinent to our analysis of the ludicrous claim you’ve made is the section in Chapter 2, entitled: “Circumcision in the Monotheistic Religious Traditions” (pp. 60-66). In this section we find a passing reference (and the only reference in this entire 242 page book at that) to Coptic Christians:
Quote
But, for me the agreement of most of the major NGOs that work with FGM, anthropologists who study it etc. is enough. 


Nektarios, sorry to break it to you, but NO ONE AGREES WITH YOU.  You are drawing an inference which these studies do NOT SUPPORT. Gruenbaum did not state, or even hint in the SLIGHTEST, that female circumcision is an expression of popular piety amongst (rural) Coptic Christians, and nothing she has reported supports such a notion. Give it up.
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« Reply #86 on: November 07, 2009, 01:24:25 PM »

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

Who was it who said "it takes a village to raise a child?"
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« Reply #87 on: November 07, 2009, 11:42:05 PM »

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

Who was it who said "it takes a village to raise a child?"
What's your point? And if you're going to resurrect a thread that is now nearly two years old, you'd better have a point to make.
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