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
)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.