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Author Topic: A completely baffling look at something crazy!  (Read 4336 times) Average Rating: 0
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Anastasios
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« on: November 12, 2002, 11:47:28 PM »

Dear Friends,

We all know that the Ethiopian Church is one of the Orthodox Churches, and we all know that it teaches the Trinity.  We also know it came from the Coptic Church, and that in the Coptic Church the Trinity is focused on quite powerfully.  So wait until you read from a descendent of Emperor Haile Sellassie about how Ethiopians don't believe in "3 in one" and how Tawaheedo means "one" in that sense, not one nature! (!!!!) ha ha.

http://www.jahjahchildrencommunity.com/part6.html

Obviously for people who don't know, the point is this lady doesn't have a clue what she is talking about.  Still it points out how wild the rastafarians are and how corrupting they are to the Orthodox faith of Ethiopians.

In Christ,

anastasios
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2002, 07:18:15 PM »

The princess is obviously greatly confused. Her father’s name (and thusly her surname), Fikre-Sellasie itself means ‘lover of the Trinity.’ Her grandfathers name, Halie Sellasie, means ‘power of the trinity.’

She continually makes comments such as “Neither does the non-biblical doctrine of the "Three Persons" which we non-Chalcedonian Ethiopians have never agreed with.” Since the focus of Chalcedon was the Nature of Christ and not the Trinity the Princess is obviously confused about what she is talking about. She is further in error by turning it into a Black vs. White racialized issue.

If she has at all been properly catechized she would remember the first instruction that the priest taught her; the first thing he opens a lesson up with is through a question and answer period that re-states mistire Sellasie “Mystery of the Trinity.” The Priest would have started of the lesson by asking “Man faterish?” (who created you) and she would have answered “Sellasie” (Trinity). He would then ask “Selassie sent enaw?” (how many are the Trinity?) and she would answer “andim, sostim” (One and Three, Three and One). The Priest would then ask “Sostenetachew?” (difficult to directly translate but it is like asking what is their ‘three-ness’) and she would answer “Besim (through name), Beakal (through body), Begebr (through function).” The priest would then ask “andenetachew?” (their ‘one-ness’) and she would answer “BeMelekot (Godhead or rule), Beagezaz (by governance), Besiltan (by authority). She has to know this stuff. Every Ethiopian (including the Muslims who don’t believe it) knows the saying “Andim, sostim” without having to even think about it.

She should also be aware that her Grandfather, Emperor Halie Sellasie had the magnificent Sellassie BetaChristian (Trinity Cathedral) built in Addis Ababa. In it is the typical Ethiopian Icon depicting the three bodied Trinity, so yes Trinity is beyond part and parcel of Ethiopian Orthodoxy.  

how Tawaheedo means "one" in that sense, not one nature!

Tewahedo does not represent any specific number and the term ‘nature’ is not a part of the word. The meaning of Tewahedo is union; in the context of the Nature of Christ It represents the “wuhidet” or the unity of the human and divine natures. Tewahedo is also used to describe how a man and a woman come together in one flesh in the Holy Sacrament of Marriage.  The way His Holiness Baba Shenouda III describes it is: “The expression ‘One Nature’ does not indicate the Divine nature alone or the human nature alone, but it indicates the unity of both natures into One Nature which is ‘The Nature of the Incarnate LogosGǪWe all know that the Ethiopian ChurchGǪcame from the Coptic Church

Really?

Ethiopian Christianity started with the Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch in the time of the Apostles. It existed in private, as in other areas of Christendom, for centuries before it became the publicly official state religion under Emperor Ezana circa 331 AD. Saint Frumentius was consecrated, in Alexandria, as the first Abun of Ethiopia and became Abba Selama (father of peace). It is then that the Ethiopian Church joined in Communion with the Coptic Church and the See of St. Mark. The Coptic Church served the pastoral role over the Ethiopian Church until the mid-20th Century. The Coptic Church is still seen in the respect that it always has been, it is just that the Ethiopian Church is now independent and has its own Patriarch. In this sense the Ethiopian Church has always existed and did not come from the Coptic Church.

it points out how wild the rastafarians are and how corrupting they are to the Orthodox faith of Ethiopians.

That is not the manner or the attitude by which the Church approaches the Rastas. The Church is sympathetic yet unrelenting, understanding yet uncompromising listens to the complaints about “white Christianity” yet continues to insist that it is the goal of the Church to stand as a united body, including with the Vatican.  

Instead of knocking them it would be more productive to understand them in the context that they evolved. A good book to start of with is Professor (CUNY) Horace Campbell’s Rasta and Resistance. It is the best contextual history to date.

Rastafarianism in the Caribbean is similar in sentiment and outlook to the Nation of Islam in the U.S. It is an overreaction by people of African descent to the shameful role played by European Christendom in slavery and in the colonization of Africa. It is a rejection of having their ancestors tied to a pole and whipped out of their name, culture and religion and heritage in the name of Jesus. It is a reaction to the “Cursed Children of Ham” theology of the Protestants and the Pauline “Slaves be obedient to your masters” of the Catholics. The Rastas believe that America and Europe are Babylon and that the Vatican is the Anti-Christ. Many Rastas, on becoming Orthodox say that they would have never entered into a Christian Church again if it were not for the existence of the Ethiopian Church.

Of course, the beliefs of the Rastas are ultimately incompatible with Christianity and they should never be accepted. It does not follow however that the sentiment should not be understood and re-directed in the direction of Christ.

Tens of thousands of Rastas have converted to Orthodoxy; from the Ethiopians I know who visited the Churches in Jamaica they say that they are indistinguishable, in look, in culture or in language from any Ethiopian Church in Ethiopia. The Liturgy is done in a perfect Ge’ez and the Tradition of the Church is followed.

In the early years of converting the Rastas many of them insisted on being able to smoke ganja, have multiple wives and wanted to be Baptized in the name of “Sellasie” not the “Sellasie” that the Church always baptizes in (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) but in the name of Sallasie the king, H.I.M. Jah Ras Tafari! The Church was patient, open minded yet cautious. Now, these problems are overcome and the Jamaican faithful are Orthodox. There are many Priests and some are even Monks. The Church is very proud, two Ethiopian Patriarchs have made trips to Jamaica  and contributed money toward building Churches in poor communities. I think they have done a good job.

God Bless
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2002, 10:17:11 PM »

Dear Aklie,

I suppose that I should not have said the Ethiopian Church "comes" from the Coptic Church, but rather that it inherited its liturgical tradition from the Coptic Church (with its own cultural uniqueness and many anaphoras!)

My negative opinion of Rastafarians came from an Ethiopian priest here in New Jersey who told me they were "crazy" and like "wolves" trying to steal away his flock, and that they caused nothing but problems.

I'm glad to hear that there are more positive assessments of them.

In Christ,

anastasios
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2002, 01:42:37 PM »

Have you read the anaphora of "St. John the Son of Thunder"?

It is one of the most beautiful and deep expressions of theology I have ever seen!

In Christ,
Raouf

ps. It is very hard to find...I wonder if Aklie has access to it in English? There was a book (in English) by I think a Fr. Marcos in the Coptic Church of several Ethiopian Anaphoras...but I have never been able to find it.
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2002, 02:56:35 PM »

I would be very interested in reading this in English translation, if anyone has it or could make a rough translation.
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2002, 05:32:48 PM »

Raouf and Mor Ephrem,

There are a total of 14 Anaphora in use as part of our Liturgy in the EOTC. The main one, ‘Anaphora of the Apostles’ comes from the Apostles themselves. Others are translated from Coptic and some, such as ‘Anaphora of Our Lady’ for sure and possibly ‘Anaphora of the Three Hundred [Church Fathers]’ are Ethiopian developments. The abundance of these Anaphora makes memorizing the Liturgy next to impossible. While the Mass of the Catechmens is constant and easy to remember the different Anaphora used according to the calendar are always changing and you never have enough practice before the Liturgy is conducted in a different order. I guess the traditionalists will get upset with us for having the appropriate Anaphora on a power point so everyone can read and follow.

Fr. Marcos Daoud was a Coptic Priest who served a Pastoral ministry in Ethiopia for some years. He is responsible for writing many educational books and for making English translations of key religious documents. It was very fortunate that he, as an Egyptian, understood and followed the non-Chanceldon theology. He was able to translate the documents as they should have been translated. People prior to him were usually European travelers, adventurers, and yes, ‘Orientalists’ usually interested in our religious literature as an exotic curio rather than as statements of belief. The other translators were many times Catholic and Protestant usurpers who had their own agenda and inserted un-Orthodox footnotes into these Orthodox documents. Fr. Marcos Daoud’s 1959 (and revised in the 1960’s) book is Liturgy of the Ethiopian Church. Cairo: The Egyptian Book Press. It is translated into English as well as Arabic. You can probably find it in a theologically sympathetic university library of through interlibrary loan. Just please promise to return it to the library after you are finished as these books are a rare find.

Since we are on this subject of literature let me ask you what is the best English Bible for Oriental Orthodox in your opinion? Is it he Orthodox Study Bible? Have any of you had an opportunity to look at Third Millennium Bible? Any reviews or opinions?

God Bless
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2002, 12:38:55 AM »

Hi Everyone,

I would agree with Aklie that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is doing excellent work among the Rastas, but I can see where that priest whom anastasios knows would call them wolves.  btw, anastasios, I am also in NJ, and I think I know the priest you are talking about personally.  I have visited his Church many times, and have seen the effects that certain stubborn and belligerent Rastas have wrought there (not to mention what I have seen them do to Churches in the Bronx and Church property in Jamaica).

Another priest I know has said that they "fight and fight against the Church".  The problem as I see it is this: the Rastas are, as Aklie said, a reactionary movement against white imperialism and racism.  They built up an image in their head of a Black messiah and a "pure" Black Church.  When they encountered the real deal, and it was not at all what they had envisioned, many couldn't handle it.

Of course some saw the folly of chasing the made-up dream when they had reality staring them in the face, and converted.  My best friend and god-brother is one of these.  However, others continued in their fantasy world, or worse yet tried to make the Church into what they wanted it to be, which is to say, a "Rasta" Church.  My god-brother was ridiculed, threatened, and even physically attacked for cutting his dreads and being baptized.  I have also seen a Rasta attack a bishop, being restrained only by the crowd, when he was refused admission to the Chalice (and rightfully so, since he was not even Christian, let alone Orthodox).  As the brethren removed him he yelled "Who are you do deny me Communion?!?  More fyah!".  All this after the bishop announced that one had to be an Orthodox Christian to partake of the Body and Blood.

Perhaps worst of all, many Rastas actively dissuade their bretheren from Christ and being baptized, or get baptized only to get an Ethiopian name (baptismal name) and in their heart still believe that H.I.M. Haile Selassie is God.  One Rasta friend of mine was quite vexed with me b/c I told him that I would inform the bishop of his true beliefs if he were to seek baptism under such shady circumstances.  I have also seen Caucasian people chased away from Ethiopian Churches by Rastas smoking ganja on the steps, telling them (in patois): "Dis yah Church a Black man Church.  Gwan wid you!"  One of these was one of our Armenian brothers.  Thank God I was able to catch up to him and persuade him to come into the Church and stick by me.

That being said, I don't think that Rastas should be turned away from the Church.  The Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.  I have seen many ex-Rastas be baptized and become much better Orthodox Christians than my sinful self.  I am of course biased, but my god-brother is a great role model for any Christian.  The biggest problem I have is with Rastas who want to co-opt the Church and remake it in their own image as a "revolutionary" nyabinghi house of idolatry, chasing out all of the Christians.  This must be fought against at all costs.  Many have bo intention of ever becoming Christian, hating even the name of the Lord Jesus, but want to use the Church as a means of legitimizing their hatred and idol worship.  But don't worry, the gates of hell shall not prevail against God's Church.

In Iyesus Kiristos,

Antonious
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« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2002, 10:15:41 AM »

Dear Friends,

The man who runs that site I referenced emailed me back and seemed to not know that some of his stuff was wrong.  He said he'd be willing to speak to my Ethiopian priest friend, BUT after having talked to the priest I realize that might not be a good idea.  Anyone who is interested may send me a private message and I will give you his email if you'd like to take a crack at maybe saving someone's soul!  I'd prefer it be someone Ethiopian or at least Black since we don't know how this fellow feels at the moment about the racial issues of Rastafarianism.

In Christ,

anastasios
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2002, 03:52:20 PM »

Dear Antonious,

You write from an excellent perspective!

My god-brother was ridiculed, threatened, and even physically attacked for cutting his dreads and being baptized.

Yes, the Rasta know how to persecute other Rastas that make the conversion to Orthodoxy; the story of Bob Marley is a prime example. When he converted to Orthodoxy his life was threatened and there were even riots.

They built up an image in their head of a Black messiah and a "pure" Black Church. When they encountered the real deal, and it was not at all what they had envisioned, many couldn't handle it.

Amen to that one! It is hilarious to watch them come to Church and get upset at the Icons. Traditional Ethiopian Icon make Christ and Mary to look like Ethiopians and therefore are Black. But there is no hang up about this. Ethiopians will just as quickly put up a Greek or Russian Icon or even a modern European Renaissance painting, which is of course White. There are no hang ups and no one really cares, except Rasta who see “‘dem blue eye Jesus.”

Perhaps worst of all, many Rastas actively dissuade their bretheren from Christ and being baptized, or get baptized only to get an Ethiopian name (baptismal name) and in their heart still believe that H.I.M. Haile Selassie is God.

lol. Yes, there is no shortage of  Black celebrities getting Baptized into our Church without even a clue of  conviction (the famous singer Lauryen Hill was Baptized in Lalibela a few years ago). In the last analysis this has to be blamed on the priests. The rule for Rastas is the same as the rules for Ethiopian adults that convert back home like Muslims and pagans. They are not like Orthodox children that are given over to their God father to guide them in living the faith as the grow up and their spiritual fathers who teach them and take their confession. Muslims (as should be the case with Rastas) have to become catechumen and learn for a lengthy process before getting Baptized. Another thing, maybe if the Priest started giving them more humble Christian names without ‘Selassie’ in it (i.e. Fikre-Sellasie, Berhane Selassie, etc.) they would be less excited about the whole name thing and would focus on Christ. Maybe they should start being named names that denote servility (like Gebre-Amlak; heck I wouldn’t mind if a Priest really pushed it and named a Rasta convert “yeMaryam barya.” [Slave of Mary]).  

Part of the problem has to do with the ethnic mix and geographical origin of Ethiopian Priests in America. Most of them are from the northern Amhara or Tigray ethnic groups. As such they are products of entirely Orthodox societies and culture and have never had to deal extensively with conversions. Oromo Priests, from the South and East, with more contacts with Muslims, have had more dealings with converts.

The biggest problem I have is with Rastas who want to co-opt the Church and remake it in their own image as a "revolutionary" nyabinghi house of idolatry, chasing out all of the Christians.

My God; when I think of the Rastas or the Nation of Islam I don’t know who I should be upset with, the Western Church for provoking or the Rastas for being provoked? No one, and I mean no one, should feel that bitter about Christianity. Shame!  But your right, the Church can not be hoodwinked into liberation theology or any other heresy, it is, as you say a hospital for sinners. Bekka; lela neger ayhonim!  

I have also seen a Rasta attack a bishop, being restrained only by the crowd, when he was refused admission to the Chalice (and rightfully so, since he was not even Christian, let alone Orthodox). As the brethren removed him he yelled "Who are you do deny me Communion?!? More fyah!". All this after the bishop announced that one had to be an Orthodox Christian to partake of the Body and Blood.

And I hope that the brethren gave him a good smack when they got out side. Who does he think he is?

To be honest, if we wanted to be a little more strict and 1st century about the situation he shouldn’t have even been in the Church at the time. After the Liturgy of the Catechumens the Deacon still does say tsasu ni’use kiristeeyan after all. Now that is Ge’ez, and I know as it gets translated to different languages it starts to lose its original categorical dismissal tone. The Amharic version is simply “YeKristiyan tenanashoch beselam hedu,” you know telling the non-Christians (those not Baptized) to leave in peace. The English version just says “Go forth, ye Catechumens.” But the Ge’ez is strong, if your not a Christian leave! And the Deacon still says it in the Ge’ez version. Of course no one moves and the Clergy don’t even pause to allow people to leave but if this is the behavior we can surely be a bit more strict!

Another thing, does the Rasta even understand the seriousness of the Holy Communion? Does he know that in the Ethiopian tradition it is not that Protestant petrified memorial service of eating a cracker and drinking grape juice? That it is the real Body and Blood of Christ? Even if he was a Christian, if the Priest doesn’t know that person it is not unheard of for that person to be denied communion. Communion can only come after confession and penance; penance is usually a week of fasting, almsgiving, and prostrations at the Church. In the final 19 hours before Communion a complete fast (no food, drink or anything whatsoever) has to be done. After that you must go home and not talk to much. Don’t eat with a fork, spoon or knife because you may accidentally take some of the flesh out of your mouth with it, and that constitutes rejection. Don’t eat too much because if you vomit, that’s a rejection. And for sure you can’t go home and smoke a fat joint of ganja with the Flesh and Blood of our Lord in your body. Rastas have a lot to learn, and the Church shouldn’t spare any punches. Quit the ganja, cut the locks (unless you are becoming a monk which are the only Christians allowed to have them), accept the God of King Sellasie, get Baptized, or get out. They shouldn’t be allowed to linger on if they are causing problems for others.
 
I have also seen Caucasian people chased away from Ethiopian Churches by Rastas smoking ganja on the steps, telling them (in patois): "Dis yah Church a Black man Church. Gwan wid you!" One of these was one of our Armenian brothers.

These un-baptized heathens tried to chase a fellow Armenian Orthodox, who we are in communion with, away from the Church!?!  Anathema!

As anyone who has seen them at a reggae concert will know, most of them have white girlfriends and a fetish for blonde hair, but then they turn around and display contradictory bizarre behavior like that described above.

One of my best friends is a teacher at the private Greek community school in Ethiopia. She once described an incident where a Jamaican expatriate Rasta mother of one of the school kids came to the school to complain about the way some of the white Greek kids were treating her daughter. Before my friend had a chance to say anything the woman started bad mouthing her about white people and accusing them of everything under the sun, including being demons. As she was continuing her ‘kill the white people’ charade her husband pulls up. And guess what he was? A tall British white man with dreadlocks!

It is beyond time for our Church to go on the offensive. The other week when we celebrated Medihanialem in Fresno California, we went to go eat afterwards at a Greek Orthodox Community center. I noticed some books that they had for sale things like “Orthodoxy’s answer to Islam.” It was a pretty good read. I think we should start putting similar books up like “Orthodoxy and Rastafarianim.” Thus far most responses to Rasta theology have been made by older Ethiopian priests who just say “no that is not our belief, we believe...” What we need is a polemic, it is best if it is written by a convert, an Ethiopian who grew up in the States and would be best if written by a convert who used to be a Rasta. Egzabiher yawkal.

Please extend my greetings and congratulations to your brother for me, tell him I said to keep his head up, stay strong in the faith, never stop praying, and keep his matab on tight.

Egzabiher ke-ante gar yihun!

Aklile-Semaet
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« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2002, 04:02:22 PM »

The man who runs that site I referenced emailed me back and seemed to not know that some of his stuff was wrong.  He said he'd be willing to speak to my Ethiopian priest friend, BUT after having talked to the priest I realize that might not be a good idea.  Anyone who is interested may send me a private message and I will give you his email if you'd like to take a crack at maybe saving someone's soul!  I'd prefer it be someone Ethiopian or at least Black since we don't know how this fellow feels at the moment about the racial issues of Rastafarianism.

Anastasios, take a crack at it. I would love to see how the princess makes outrageous claims like 1 John 5: 7 is not in the Ge’ez Bible when I am 100% certain that she doesn’t even speak it, read it or write it.

I have done some more background research on her and it turns out that she did her M.A. thesis on the Rastas and thus knows more about that cult than her own grandfather’s religion.

I don’t know what will come out of the exchange though, Rastas are so far off into the world of ‘lost’ books of the Bible that to hear something simple doesn’t fit well with them. All that can be said is that what the Princess represents as the belief of the Church is dead wrong and it spits on the legacy of all of her grandfather’s (Emperor Halie Sellasie) efforts at building and expanding the Church in the African Diaspora. That may get him to think a bit.
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2002, 09:25:58 PM »

Aklie and Antonious,

You both have me fired up reading your posts.

I feel insulted, as if my own Church had been attacked.

Akhee, do you want an Ethiopian/Arab coalition against these kinds of folk who would try to damage your Church?  Drop me a line, and I'll fly over there!

I had hoped that the Church would be cautious when taking in converts, and making sure Rastas would fully abjure their errors and genuinely convert instead of making a mockery of their baptisms and contaminating the ancient African Apostolic Church with their nonsense New World religion.  One would think they would be overjoyed to be able to give up these ideological creations of theirs and finally embrace a true African heritage and Church they can only have been long waiting for, one that would fullfill whom they are by giving them a cultural haven, and one that is in communion with other Apostolic Christians, that would be able to make them bond with other nations and peoples in the mystery of Christian fraternity and family.

Instead, with what I read here, I see hints of what I feared from the start: a strong chance that some frivolous baptisms are taking place, and that unconverted heathens are stepping into the Church of Ethiopia.  Both of you should take heed.  The comparison is of course far fetched, but let me say this to illustrate the principle. The Roman Church had suffered from destructive infiltrations by all manner of bad elements and scum, and the disastrous results of that are there for all to see.  Do not let your Church make the same mistake: be on the offensive!  Do not develop the sort of nauseatingly silly childish trust of outsiders that we old world natives have often proven to be to our detriment.  Guard the gates!!!  Do not tolerate any potential threats (simply reading Her Highness' shocking blasphemous remarks is enough to demand one's attention and warn him something is very wrong).

And yes, were that only possible, close the doors if you have to; shout it in your trumpeting Ge'ez; make the point to profaners of the Flesh such as the rat mentioned; Pious Ethiopians don't dare raise their eyes to the fire that is Qurbaneh.  That a mongrel like this creature would dare to try to commit sacrilege in front of the Papas....I say bring the platoons of the imperial guard!

And on the Princess, I'm sorry to say her words and ignorance cut painfully deeply.  That a member of the royal family would utter something stupid like this is very distressing, no doubt to her own pious grandfather (Stick to the venerable Amharic or Ge'ez languages your Highness; such wording on such a religious subject could never escape a person's lips in Arabic or any Ethiopian dialect with the keeping of a straight face, and without laughter exploding from the audience.) It is a cardinal duty that a monarch and his family be instructed in the religion to which the throne is subject and from which it and the monarch's rule derive their legitimacy. This sadly amateurish and childish nonsense and confusion, evident in the princess' words, is distressing, especially when the Name of the Holy Trinity graces her name, and that of her God-pleasing grandfather, Allah yirhamo.  I didn't think exile could be so deadly.

What we need is a polemic, it is best if it is written by a convert, an Ethiopian who grew up in the States and would be best if written by a convert who used to be a Rasta. Egzabiher yawkal.

Get to work then.

As Bob Marley, Allah yirhamo, is unfortunately not with us today, that task probably will have to go to you, even if you didn't hail from the regions of Rasta, and you're as Ethiopian as they come, as far as I'm concerned.

Please extend my greetings and congratulations to your brother for me, tell him I said to keep his head up, stay strong in the faith, never stop praying, and keep his matab on tight.

Your brave shabaab have my best wishes.  They'll pull through despite the intimidations by the idolators.  Let them remember from the mazmoor: "Naj'jinee minal latheena yet'tahiduunanee"  "Deliver me from those who persecute me."

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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2002, 07:04:05 AM »


One of my best friends is a teacher at the private Greek community school in Ethiopia.

Aklie, what is your friend's name? My wife went to Aristotle University, Thessaloniki with an Ethiopian girl (whose name eludes me) who is now teaching at a Greek school in Ethiopia. She studied English Literature and has a daughter I think. Ask her if she knows Francie Halepi.

<edit> Her name is Gynette </edit>
<re-edit>Sorry, Genet </re-edit>
« Last Edit: December 07, 2002, 08:24:50 AM by prodromos » Logged
Aklie Semaet
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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2002, 07:44:34 AM »

My wife went to Aristotle University, Thessaloniki with an Ethiopian girl (whose name eludes me) who is now teaching at a Greek school in Ethiopia... Ask her if she knows Francie Halepi.

Prodromos,

I will pass the message and get back to you as soon as possible.

God Bless
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Ethiopia ijochwan wede Egzabiher tezregalech
Aklie Semaet
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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2002, 07:57:18 AM »

Samiyae,

As usual you got me all hyped up and I was still outraged as it was. I agree with your assessment, totally.

One would think they would be overjoyed to be able to give up these ideological creations of theirs and finally embrace a true African heritage and Church they can only have been long waiting for

Yes, one would think. But as was pointed out this was not confrontational enough for them. It will take time, this is an uphill battle. It is not like dealing with western converts one at a time. This involves taking on a whole culture, and a difficult one, at once.    

Sami, let us clear up some conceptions up now, if more people get involved in this discussion I want to make sure that a misunderstanding does not develop.  

Rasta: These are people that follow the Rastafarian religion and believe Atse Halie Sellasie is the retuned Christ . They are hostile to Christianity. While their history may have made them hostile to western Christianity, they have since become hostile to Christianity in general. They have no intent on becoming a Christian (though miracles are not uncommon in our faith) and are know to persecute those that break rank with them and become Christians. They come to the Ethiopian Church for a variety of reasons but probably none include finding Christ. Some have even pretended to believe, and were baptized in the name of the Trinity, for the sole purpose of receiving an Ethiopian name (their baptismal name).

converted Orthodox of African descent These are people of African descent that have converted to the true Faith. Not all of them started off as Rastas. This is especially true in the United States where there is a core of African American professionals that have converted from one form of Protestantism or another, atheism, and even from Islam. In some places people from this group occupy prominent positions in the Church such as the chairman of the Church board of directors in Fresno, Ca. Medihanialem who is an African American. A number are also Deacons, Priests, and a few are Monks. It is important to realize that a Jamaican who is an Orthodox should not be called ‘Rasta’ any longer, anymore than a Muslim convert to Christ should still be referred to as a Muslim,  he is an Orthodox.

So let it be understood that the people that Antonious describes are Rastas and not converts. His brother is an Orthodox and not a Rasta.

middle ground folks There is a curious group, predominantly Ethiopian, in Ethiopia calling it self “Ortho-Rastas.” WAIT!!! Before you jump to judgment take a look at them with an open mind.

The former military dictatorship did everything that it could to tarnish the memory and legacy of Emperor Halie Sellasie. Yes, the King was a King, and like all Kings (including David and Solomon) had his contradictions, negative features, and unfortunate incidents. But the man represented a vision and built the Church like none other since the Middle Ages. Today’s Ethiopian youth are rediscovering that legacy and embracing it. In a time when the government represents ethnic division and all of the opposition parties represent squabbling power hungry sects; the King’s photographs hangs on the bedroom walls of high school and university youth and represents Ethiopian unity, culture, heritage, history, dignity, and best of all Orthodoxy. The ones who have made this post-dictatorship cultural re-discovery possible are the Rastas. Now, Tewodros Afro, the superstar Ethiopian musician of today is singing songs dedicated to Halie Sellasie; these types of songs used to be the sole domain of Rastas in the past and are now part of the everyday life of Ethiopian youth, thanks to the Rastas. In 1999 Ethiopians, in their overwhelming majority, voted for Halie Sellasie as the most influential Ethiopian of the 20th Century. This refuted the everything that the military used two decades to promote. This was in large part successful due to the consistency  of the Rastas.

These Ortho-Rastas embrace reggae, reject ganja, their parents won’t let them grow locks (though the girls braid their in a way that looks like locks), they love the King but don’t worship him and they have some very open minds. Currently, the Ethiopian ‘generation X’ are turning to Protestantism or if not becoming what used to be an exclusive western Catholic behavior, “lapsed Orthodox.” In the meanwhile the Ortho-Rastas have clung on to Orthodoxy and Ethiopianawenete (Ethiopianess), influenced by the Rastas.

The contradiction of this tendency is that brings the unwanted bag of liberation theology along with it. In order to fight this we have to 1) understand that this is the same type of theological crisis which deserves the same type of response as in the past when the Portuguese were attacking the Church. A period that produced such theological polemical classics as Sawana Nefs (Refuge of the Soul) and Hymanota Abaw (Faith of the Fathers). 2) the Rastas are just as obscurantist as the Gnostics were. As such they are just as difficult to deal with as they were when the Copts had to deal with the Gnostics. 3) realize that proper religious instruction is central. As important as it is to teach people what Ethiopian Orthodoxy is not, it is more important to teach the Ethiopian faithful what Orthodoxy is.

Ok time to go to bed.

God Bless.
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Antonious Nikolas
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2002, 04:16:56 PM »

Dear Brothers Aklie and Samer,

Man, y'all have me hyped up now!  You don't know how happy I am to hear what you had to say on this subject.  I'm with you 100%.

Aklie - You made a number of good points I would like to address:  Bob Marley was indeed threatened and harassed about his desire to become Orthodox.  From what I have heard, this is why he waited so long (until he was on his death bed, and in NYC, far from Jamaica and its repercussions to be baptized).  His ambiguity about his Faith towards the end of his life, however, has had repercussions.  Most of his sons, and his wife, still pay lip service to the Church, but wallow in idolatry.  I met Rohan and Lauren Hill once here in Jersey, and they are still very much Rastafarian.

With regards to the depiction of Our Lord and other Holy figures on the icons: we all know that historically Our Lord was Incarnated as a Middle Eastern Semitic Jew, He did not look like Brad Pitt, but He didn't look like Bernie Mac either.  Whatever race you want to portray Him as in iconography is fine.  I have seen the icon of Our Lord and Our Lady Mariam at Nikolai-Doi Russian Orthodox Church in Japan, which portrays them as Japanese, and I think it is beautiful.

I also agree with you that for the most part the blame for pre-mature Baptism must come to rest squarely on the shoulders of the clergy.  I have never been a fan of "mass baptisms" without the proper instruction and preparation of each individual involved.  Perhaps the fact that many of the North American priests are Amharan and Tigrayan and inexperienced with converts is a factor.  I am sorry to report that I know of (at least) one West Indian gentleman who was even ordained a priest and still smokes herb and holds racist views, especially as it pertains to the Jewish people.  I am so ashamed I could weep.

And the idea of baptismal names w/o "Selassie" in them, especially humble ones!  Great idea!  To be given a name such as Gebre Kiristos would be an HONOR!  Although I attended an Ethiopian Church for several years, I was received into the Faith in the Coptic Church (hence the Antonious).  Oriental Orthodox is Oriental Orthodox to me.  One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  We need another meeting like Addis 1965, or dare I say it, another "Council", to address all of our current issues (i.e. Cilicia vs. Etchmiadzin, Abuna Paulos vs. Abuna Mercurios, Indian Orthodox vs. Syriac Orthodox in India, Reunion w/ the Eastern Orthodox, not to mention the Rastas, etc.).

You are also right to point out that colonialism is responsible for creating the "hate that hate made", i.e., the N.O.I., Rastas, 5%er's, and others, but ultimately this does not exempt each man from resposibility for his own soul.  Rastafarianism is a separate religion and must be treated as such.  Although it proponents feel that it is not a "relig-wrong" but a "trod", other religions, such as Hinduism, are equally nebulous, inclusive, and syncretic, and are still regarded as non-Christian.  The the laws and strictures on the catechumins should be enforced stridently in the case of the Rastas.  It is better for everyone that way, especially the Rastas themselves.  Teach the people what the Holy Communion really is!  Lightening and Fire.  The Body and Blood of Christ!  If you eat and drink unworthily, you do so to your own condemnation.

You and Samer are also right about the need for a polemic.  I'm going to get started on one tonight, and since you appear to know the catechism, etc., better than me ("Who created you?"....I learned that too  Smiley)you should too.  Yours would probably be better than mine.

Thank you also for pointing out that an Orthodox former Rasta is no longer a Rasta!  At least not anymore than a former Muslim is still a Muslim.  My god-brother is by no means a Rasta in any sense of the word.  His mateb is on so tight, that St. Jacob Baradeus may have well as tied it himself.  At one time the Rastas had big plans for him.  They wanted him to be the "first dreadlocks on de altar".  His embracing the Apostolic Faith has burned them badly, hence his persecution.  May God strengthen him.

Also, I dig point # 3 on you list: education of the Faithful! Especially since so many Ethiopians are just so flattered by the adulation given to their culture by Rastas that they don't see the cult for what it really is.  I have to say that the words of the Princess come as a betrayal of the Church to me, and cut me like a knife.  I know that Her Majesty's righteous Grandfather in Heaven, our Betwoded Janhoi, the good friend of the saintly Baba Kyrillos (a saint whose intercession has worked many miracles in my own life), must be weeping for her.  If the Monarchy was still in power, perhaps we could have that conference I was talking about, and solve all of these problems.  

btw - I love the Haimonote Abew which was used to fight the diabolical teachings ofthe Jesuits and their offensive "mission" to Ethiopia.  It is indeed a classic work defining the Orthodox Faith of Alexandria.  I am unfamiliar with the other book, but I would like to read it.

Samer - If you want to start a pan-Orthodox coalition against this idolatry, sign me up!  You are right, there are frivolous Baptisms going on big time.  Some priests are strict, others just want to say how many New World converts they have supposedly reached.

"Guard the Gates?"....Yes!  With sword in hand!  Like I said, I'll get to work on the polemic tonight.  

Thank both of you for your prayers and best wishes for my god-brother.  

Alright, I've rambled enough.  Sorry for making you slog through this long thing.

Igziabeher Massagana,

Antonious Nikolas
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"According to the Orthodox Faith, the teachings and traditions one upholds and believes in will necessarily influence and inform one's spiritual orientation and the way one worships..." - Harry Boosalis
Tags: Rastafarianism Rastafarian Rasta Ethiopian Orthodox Church anaphora 
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