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Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« on: July 19, 2010, 03:46:55 AM »

Hello, All.  Christ is in our midst!  I was reading alot lately about the saints of North America.  I have a question.  this icon is the Synaxis of North American saints.  but why does it only include six saints, when the one below, depicting all American saints, depicts thirteen? 





also, if you look at the first icon, why are the vestments of St. Tikhon and St. Innocent the same, but just different colors?  I've often wondered this.  I know they weren't BOTH Met. of Moscow.
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2010, 04:13:38 AM »

Re the different number of saints in the two icons: It is quite possible that some of the saints shown in the second icon had yet to be officially glorified by the Church.

If you look closely, the vestments of Sts Tikhon and Innocent in both icons are not quite the same, because each was of a different episcopal rank. St Innocent, being a metropolitan, is wearing a white klobuk (headgear) with a cross made of diamonds and a blue mantiya (outer cloak). St Tikhon, being a patriarch, wears a white cowl with a golden seraph over the forehead and a gold cross at the top, and a green mantiya.

To compare, look at the second icon, where St John of San Francisco is shown in his vestments, instead of his monastic "civvies": Being an archbishop, he is wearing a black klobuk with a diamond cross, and a purple mantiya.
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2010, 06:40:28 AM »

I hope someone will soon write an Icon depicting the Saint Slave Martyrs who suffered for the Gospel in this "strange land" of America. As Father Damascene Christensen writes:

"Every nation has its own 'canopy of grace,' a storehouse of divine energy gathered from the sufferings and prayers of all those of that nation who have lived and died in devotion to Christ. This canopy acts as a protecting influence on the nation, and this energy can be tapped by the nation's people at any time, if only they will love and value the sufferings of their Christian forebears. In the United States of America, we have a special canopy of grace arising from the righteous Christian African-American slaves, who are now in heaven praying for us. But their miraculous Christian witness is almost entirely overlooked by our contemporary society, both black and white, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox."
[From An Unbroken Circle: Linking African Christianity to the African-American Experience p.87]



Selam
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2010, 08:53:56 AM »

I hope someone will soon write an Icon depicting the Saint Slave Martyrs who suffered for the Gospel in this "strange land" of America. As Father Damascene Christensen writes:

"Every nation has its own 'canopy of grace,' a storehouse of divine energy gathered from the sufferings and prayers of all those of that nation who have lived and died in devotion to Christ. This canopy acts as a protecting influence on the nation, and this energy can be tapped by the nation's people at any time, if only they will love and value the sufferings of their Christian forebears. In the United States of America, we have a special canopy of grace arising from the righteous Christian African-American slaves, who are now in heaven praying for us. But their miraculous Christian witness is almost entirely overlooked by our contemporary society, both black and white, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox."
[From An Unbroken Circle: Linking African Christianity to the African-American Experience p.87]



Selam

Unfortunately, that would be an affair of the Protestants, the Vatican and the Muslims, as for the Orthodox, the only one in contention for the Orthodox that I know of is the Cretan Demetrios Fundulakis, who came as an indentured servant to New Smyrna.
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2010, 09:03:42 AM »

I hope someone will soon write an Icon depicting the Saint Slave Martyrs who suffered for the Gospel in this "strange land" of America.

Only possible if these slaves were baptised Orthodox, and were martyred for upholding their faith, not for political or other causes.

The last thing we need is Robert Lentz or someone of his ilk going all politically correct again and painting yet another sociopolitical piece ...  Tongue Tongue Tongue

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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2010, 09:27:35 AM »



I haven't seen this one before.  Where does it come from?
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2010, 09:40:20 AM »



I haven't seen this one before.  Where does it come from?

I googled "North American Saints" and this link came up http://www.flickr.com/photos/a_whistling_train/3480689583/

the only thing I don't like about it is, my patron, Tikhon of Moscow, looks like he needs a hug!
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« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2010, 09:24:39 PM »

I hope someone will soon write an Icon depicting the Saint Slave Martyrs who suffered for the Gospel in this "strange land" of America.

Only possible if these slaves were baptised Orthodox, and were martyred for upholding their faith, not for political or other causes.

The last thing we need is Robert Lentz or someone of his ilk going all politically correct again and painting yet another sociopolitical piece ...  Tongue Tongue Tongue


That's what I'm talking about. Not slaves being venerated for being slaves, but "Orthodox" Christian slaves who suffered and were martyred for their witness for Christ against the heresies of "Christians" who oppressed them in the name of a false gospel.


Selam
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2010, 09:27:03 PM »

I hope someone will soon write an Icon depicting the Saint Slave Martyrs who suffered for the Gospel in this "strange land" of America.

Only possible if these slaves were baptised Orthodox, and were martyred for upholding their faith, not for political or other causes.

The last thing we need is Robert Lentz or someone of his ilk going all politically correct again and painting yet another sociopolitical piece ...  Tongue Tongue Tongue


That's what I'm talking about. Not slaves being venerated for being slaves, but "Orthodox" Christian slaves who suffered and were martyred for their witness for Christ against the heresies of "Christians" who oppressed them in the name of a false gospel.


Selam
your speaking of African slavery of the 19th century and earlier?  I think it would be hard to find Orthodox Christians out of African American slaves.
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2010, 09:51:15 PM »

I hope someone will soon write an Icon depicting the Saint Slave Martyrs who suffered for the Gospel in this "strange land" of America.

Only possible if these slaves were baptised Orthodox, and were martyred for upholding their faith, not for political or other causes.

The last thing we need is Robert Lentz or someone of his ilk going all politically correct again and painting yet another sociopolitical piece ...  Tongue Tongue Tongue


That's what I'm talking about. Not slaves being venerated for being slaves, but "Orthodox" Christian slaves who suffered and were martyred for their witness for Christ against the heresies of "Christians" who oppressed them in the name of a false gospel.


Selam
The only Orthodox slaves in America, besides the indentured Fundulakis, I know of are the ones in Alaska, but that's questionable, as the Christian Aleuts etc. tended not to be enslaved, and the Mission, as it grew in influence, while redeeming slaves from the natives, stamped out the instiution.
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« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2010, 10:56:09 PM »

^^Trevor, Ialmisry:

One of the tenets of the book from which I quoted is that many of the slaves were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters. We know historically that the Orthodox Church was not yet present in this country, however that does not mean that Orthodox truth was not mystically revealed to many of these slaves who chose to suffer and die for Christ. Mind you, I'm not talking about a "social gospel" or a "liberation theology." I'm talking about slaves who willingly endured additional suffering - and even death - simply because they humbly but boldly professed Christ and His Truth in the face of idolatry and evil.

Father Damascene Christensen writes:

"Orthodoxy is universal Truth. It embraces all that is true, wherever it may be, and rejects all that is false. It is the fullness of Christ's revelation; and Christ's revelation is the fullness of God's revelation to the human race. According to the Orthodox world-view, the experience of black Americans under slavery was an expression of the very essence of Christianity: the most profound expression of it in America outside the formal limits of the ancient Orthodox Church herself. Although the slaves were not directly exposed to Orthdoxy, they became much more Orthodox in spirit than the white people who introduced them to Christianity. They are a bridge to true, otherworldy Christianity here in America: a bridge that leads ultimately to the Orthodox Church."

I think Father Damascene is absolutely right; and thus I believe these slave-martyrs are deserving of our veneration and worthy to receive prayers on our behalf.


Selam
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2010, 11:41:22 PM »

^^Trevor, Ialmisry:

One of the tenets of the book from which I quoted is that many of the slaves were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters. We know historically that the Orthodox Church was not yet present in this country, however that does not mean that Orthodox truth was not mystically revealed to many of these slaves who chose to suffer and die for Christ. Mind you, I'm not talking about a "social gospel" or a "liberation theology." I'm talking about slaves who willingly endured additional suffering - and even death - simply because they humbly but boldly professed Christ and His Truth in the face of idolatry and evil.

Father Damascene Christensen writes:

"Orthodoxy is universal Truth. It embraces all that is true, wherever it may be, and rejects all that is false. It is the fullness of Christ's revelation; and Christ's revelation is the fullness of God's revelation to the human race. According to the Orthodox world-view, the experience of black Americans under slavery was an expression of the very essence of Christianity: the most profound expression of it in America outside the formal limits of the ancient Orthodox Church herself. Although the slaves were not directly exposed to Orthdoxy, they became much more Orthodox in spirit than the white people who introduced them to Christianity. They are a bridge to true, otherworldy Christianity here in America: a bridge that leads ultimately to the Orthodox Church."

I think Father Damascene is absolutely right; and thus I believe these slave-martyrs are deserving of our veneration and worthy to receive prayers on our behalf.


Selam

The invisible church has no canonized saints.

The overwhelming majority of slaves brought over were either Muslim or pagan, neither of which quallify for Martyrs of Christ status. The Kingdom of Kongo, at least its kings, converted when the Portuguese came: most of the slaves from there would have ended up in Brazil. Since Kongo sold war captives, and established regulation of slavery, how many Christian Africans came across the Atlantic is questionable.

Your quote unconfortably reminds me of Muslims that claim that since, in their minds or at least their words, the US Constitution embodies the principles of Islam, that it is a Muslim document.  There are no doubt moral lessons to learned from the history of slavery (in the US and elsewhere, although the lessons of Middle Eastern slavery is different), but we cannot canonize them. Just like the Church viewing Plato and Aristotle as prefiguring Christian theology, nonetheless they cannot be canonized, and their "icons" are found on the outside of the Churches.

Of course, that doesn't preclude known only to God, celebrated with All Saints.
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2010, 11:46:16 PM »

^^Trevor, Ialmisry:

One of the tenets of the book from which I quoted is that many of the slaves were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters. We know historically that the Orthodox Church was not yet present in this country, however that does not mean that Orthodox truth was not mystically revealed to many of these slaves who chose to suffer and die for Christ. Mind you, I'm not talking about a "social gospel" or a "liberation theology." I'm talking about slaves who willingly endured additional suffering - and even death - simply because they humbly but boldly professed Christ and His Truth in the face of idolatry and evil.

Father Damascene Christensen writes:

"Orthodoxy is universal Truth. It embraces all that is true, wherever it may be, and rejects all that is false. It is the fullness of Christ's revelation; and Christ's revelation is the fullness of God's revelation to the human race. According to the Orthodox world-view, the experience of black Americans under slavery was an expression of the very essence of Christianity: the most profound expression of it in America outside the formal limits of the ancient Orthodox Church herself. Although the slaves were not directly exposed to Orthdoxy, they became much more Orthodox in spirit than the white people who introduced them to Christianity. They are a bridge to true, otherworldy Christianity here in America: a bridge that leads ultimately to the Orthodox Church."

I think Father Damascene is absolutely right; and thus I believe these slave-martyrs are deserving of our veneration and worthy to receive prayers on our behalf.

Selam

Unfortunately, my dear Gebre, despite your great longing for your beloved Africans under slavery to be recognised as Orthodox martyrs, it is highly unlikely that this will ever be so.

Firstly, the chances of any Africans who were brought to the Americas were Orthodox is negligible or non-existent (in my reading of history, few, if any, would have come from the north-eastern part of the continent, which had some semblance of Orthodox presence).

Secondly, even if there were Orthodox believers among the slaves, why did they meet their earthly end? Were they killed defending their Orthodox faith, or were they killed for any number of other reasons? A good example of an "early", and genuine, American martyr was Peter the Aleut. He was tortured and killed because his Roman Catholic adversaries refused to believe that he was a Christian, baptised by Russian Orthodox missionaries.

Do we have any accounts of similar stories of African slaves who met their ends defending Orthodoxy? Unless, and until, such accounts come to light, it is, I'm afraid, not possible to venerate as Orthodox saints any of those unfortunate Africans who were brought to the Americas for the purpose of use as slave labor.

I must also add, that, unlike the notion of the "unknown soldier", a noble concept which dates back to the ancient Greeks, and has been maintained in many present-day cultures, Orthodoxy can only recognised named, "real" people as saints and martyrs.

There is a liberal Episcopal church in San Francisco which has seen it fit to paint an "icon" of an anonymous "Alexandrian washerwoman". Their justification for this is: The anonymous woman who prays ceaselessly as she works washing dishes. She represents the holiness of all that is ordinary and routine. Rubbish. There are perfectly good examples of real saints who represent these qualities, such as St Euphrosynus the Cook, and any number of other humble saints who baked prosphora, tilled gardens, or quietly got on with other "lowly" work, even though they may not have been given credit for their efforts during their earthly life. But, we do know their names, and we know that they were Orthodox. It is impossible and wrong for an Orthodox Christian to venerate fictitious or imaginary characters.

"Political correctness" has no place in Orthodox sanctity.
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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2010, 02:20:29 AM »

^^Ialmisry and LBK,
 
You guys seem to ignore everything I have said, as well as the points Father Damascene makes. I'm not talking about political correctness. I'm not asserting that all slaves were Christian martyrs. I did not say that all the slaves who came from Africa were Christians when they arrived here. I'm not saying that all slaves should be canonized. What I said is that there were indeed certain slaves who were martyrs for the Gospel. There were certain slaves who directly opposed idolatry and heresy and were tortured and killed because of their Christian witness.

I encourage you to read the book, An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African-American Experience, from which I quoted Father Damascene Christensen. In the book, Professor Albert Raboteau states:

"The suffering witness of slave Christians constitutes a major spiritual legacy not only for their descendents but for the nation as a whole, for any who would take the time to heed the testimony of their words and lives. If asked to discuss the history of the persecution of Christianity, most of us would first recall the early centuries of the Church as the era of persecution, when thousands of Christians became confessors or martyrs by suffering or dying for their faith at the hands of the Roman authorities, until the emperor Constantine gave official state approval to Christianity in the fourth century. And we probably would mention the modern waves of persecution that swept over Christians in the twentieth century under the anti-religious regimes of Communist states in Eastern Europe. Few, I think, would identify the suffering of African-American slave Christians in similar terms, as a prime example of the persecution of Christianity within our own nation's history. And yet the extent to which the Christianity of American slaves was hindered, proscribed, and persecuted justifies applying the title 'confessor' and 'martyr' to those slaves who, like their ancient Christian predecessors, bore witness to the Christian gospel despite the threat of punishment and even death at the hands of fellow Christians."


Selam
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2010, 03:12:43 AM »

My dear Gebre, have you read and considered what I have written in my posts on this thread? Fr Damascene and Prof. Raboteau may say what they wish but if it goes against proper Orthodox tradition, it don't matter a hill of beans. Orthodox hymnography and iconography is not about acknowledging demographic minorities, political stances, or sociological causes. Orthodox iconography and hymnography are all about proclaiming the truths, doctrines of the Orthodox faith, given to us by Jesus Christ through His apostles and their descendants, the Holy Fathers.

Let's return to Fr Damascene's words:

the extent to which the Christianity of American slaves was hindered, proscribed, and persecuted justifies applying the title 'confessor' and 'martyr' to those slaves who, like their ancient Christian predecessors, bore witness to the Christian gospel despite the threat of punishment and even death at the hands of fellow Christians.

This cannot square with the historical record which even a non-Orthodox scholar can easily show that African slaves were derived from regions where Orthodoxy had never taken root. How can we know that the slaves of which you speak truly were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters, without corroboration?

Moreover, I draw your attention again to the following:

I must also add, that, unlike the notion of the "unknown soldier", a noble concept which dates back to the ancient Greeks, and has been maintained in many present-day cultures, Orthodoxy can only recognised named, "real" people as saints and martyrs.

There is a liberal Episcopal church in San Francisco which has seen it fit to paint an "icon" of an anonymous "Alexandrian washerwoman". Their justification for this is: The anonymous woman who prays ceaselessly as she works washing dishes. She represents the holiness of all that is ordinary and routine. Rubbish. There are perfectly good examples of real saints who represent these qualities, such as St Euphrosynus the Cook, and any number of other humble saints who baked prosphora, tilled gardens, or quietly got on with other "lowly" work, even though they may not have been given credit for their efforts during their earthly life. But, we do know their names, and we know that they were Orthodox. It is impossible and wrong for an Orthodox Christian to venerate fictitious or imaginary characters.


What say you, Gebre?
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« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2010, 04:06:39 AM »

My dear Gebre, have you read and considered what I have written in my posts on this thread? Fr Damascene and Prof. Raboteau may say what they wish but if it goes against proper Orthodox tradition, it don't matter a hill of beans. Orthodox hymnography and iconography is not about acknowledging demographic minorities, political stances, or sociological causes. Orthodox iconography and hymnography are all about proclaiming the truths, doctrines of the Orthodox faith, given to us by Jesus Christ through His apostles and their descendants, the Holy Fathers.

With respect, I cannot understand why you insist on arguing against a positon I do not hold. I have repeatedly stated that I am not advocating the canonization of all slaves simply because they were slaves. I have repeatedly stated that I am not advocating a social gospel or a political stance. This is not about liberation theology or "demographic minorities." Instead, it is about Christian witnesses who endured torture and death for the sake of Christ and His Gospel.

Let's return to Fr Damascene's words:

the extent to which the Christianity of American slaves was hindered, proscribed, and persecuted justifies applying the title 'confessor' and 'martyr' to those slaves who, like their ancient Christian predecessors, bore witness to the Christian gospel despite the threat of punishment and even death at the hands of fellow Christians.

This cannot square with the historical record which even a non-Orthodox scholar can easily show that African slaves were derived from regions where Orthodoxy had never taken root. How can we know that the slaves of which you speak truly were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters, without corroboration?

History demonstrates that Orthodox Christianity was present in Africa long before Islam even existed. Because the nature of Orthodox Christianity is inherently evangelistic, it is quite reasonable to assume that the gospel had reached people on the West coast of Africa. There are accounts of slaves who recited the Jesus Prayer as they were being whipped. Do you think they learned this prayer from their masters?

Moreover, I draw your attention again to the following:

I must also add, that, unlike the notion of the "unknown soldier", a noble concept which dates back to the ancient Greeks, and has been maintained in many present-day cultures, Orthodoxy can only recognised named, "real" people as saints and martyrs.

There is a liberal Episcopal church in San Francisco which has seen it fit to paint an "icon" of an anonymous "Alexandrian washerwoman". Their justification for this is: The anonymous woman who prays ceaselessly as she works washing dishes. She represents the holiness of all that is ordinary and routine. Rubbish. There are perfectly good examples of real saints who represent these qualities, such as St Euphrosynus the Cook, and any number of other humble saints who baked prosphora, tilled gardens, or quietly got on with other "lowly" work, even though they may not have been given credit for their efforts during their earthly life. But, we do know their names, and we know that they were Orthodox. It is impossible and wrong for an Orthodox Christian to venerate fictitious or imaginary characters.


What say you, Gebre?

I have never advocated the canonization of anonymous slave martyrs (although if the Church decided to do such a thing, I would certainly approve of it.) The book I've been citing includes the testimonies of specifically named slaves who suffered for the Gospel. According to the theological knowledge they had, they embraced authentic Orthodox Faith as best they could and opposed the heresies and idolatries with which they were confronted. Shall we say these specific individuals are unworhty of our veneration simply because they did not have access to any established Orthodox Christian Church?


Selam
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« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2010, 10:59:25 AM »

^^Trevor, Ialmisry:

One of the tenets of the book from which I quoted is that many of the slaves were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters. We know historically that the Orthodox Church was not yet present in this country, however that does not mean that Orthodox truth was not mystically revealed to many of these slaves who chose to suffer and die for Christ. Mind you, I'm not talking about a "social gospel" or a "liberation theology." I'm talking about slaves who willingly endured additional suffering - and even death - simply because they humbly but boldly professed Christ and His Truth in the face of idolatry and evil.

Father Damascene Christensen writes:

"Orthodoxy is universal Truth. It embraces all that is true, wherever it may be, and rejects all that is false. It is the fullness of Christ's revelation; and Christ's revelation is the fullness of God's revelation to the human race. According to the Orthodox world-view, the experience of black Americans under slavery was an expression of the very essence of Christianity: the most profound expression of it in America outside the formal limits of the ancient Orthodox Church herself. Although the slaves were not directly exposed to Orthdoxy, they became much more Orthodox in spirit than the white people who introduced them to Christianity. They are a bridge to true, otherworldy Christianity here in America: a bridge that leads ultimately to the Orthodox Church."

I think Father Damascene is absolutely right; and thus I believe these slave-martyrs are deserving of our veneration and worthy to receive prayers on our behalf.


Selam



I understand what you are saying, but I wouldn't go as far as saying "deserving of our veneration and worthy to receive prayers on our behalf". They are worthy of respect! And what they went through should be told, and I do believe they will be in Heaven, but I look at the situation as a form of Prevenient light, truth, grace........etc. or common ground between East and West. We both went through suffering, and so those who suffer can understand the suffering of others.

When I visited a huge beautiful Serbian Monastery in Chicago some years ago, I saw alot of beautiful historical and Sociopolitical Icons about the homeland of Serbia and the real horrors they went through. And so I don't see anything wrong in preserving ones culture by decorating a building with a historical and sociopolitical message, but I wouldn't go as far as venerating a pre-Orthodox past and asking for their prayers on our behalf. That is where I would personally draw the line.

The Alaskan Natives preserved the history of their pre-Orthodox past, the same with alot of different cultures, but I don't think they go as far as venerating their pre-Orthodox past. We can respect and honor the good things in our pre-Orthodox past without Venerating them to the same degree as we would Orthodox things.

I know it's tautology when saying words like "respect", "honor", and "veneration". But I was trying to make a distinction in degree/level.

I hope this helps!

But yeah, I understand what you are saying, but I wouldn't go that far. This is one of the reasons why I want to reach more African Americans with the Orthodox Faith.

Starting a mission is ruff, but it's my ultimate dream/goal in life. ....well to be honest I want to reach everyone, but I would love to see if I can really penetrate my culture.












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« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2010, 11:48:58 AM »

My dear Gebre, have you read and considered what I have written in my posts on this thread? Fr Damascene and Prof. Raboteau may say what they wish but if it goes against proper Orthodox tradition, it don't matter a hill of beans. Orthodox hymnography and iconography is not about acknowledging demographic minorities, political stances, or sociological causes. Orthodox iconography and hymnography are all about proclaiming the truths, doctrines of the Orthodox faith, given to us by Jesus Christ through His apostles and their descendants, the Holy Fathers.

With respect, I cannot understand why you insist on arguing against a positon I do not hold. I have repeatedly stated that I am not advocating the canonization of all slaves simply because they were slaves. I have repeatedly stated that I am not advocating a social gospel or a political stance. This is not about liberation theology or "demographic minorities." Instead, it is about Christian witnesses who endured torture and death for the sake of Christ and His Gospel.

Then name names. A witness has to be identified to have his icon written.

Quote
Let's return to Fr Damascene's words:

the extent to which the Christianity of American slaves was hindered, proscribed, and persecuted justifies applying the title 'confessor' and 'martyr' to those slaves who, like their ancient Christian predecessors, bore witness to the Christian gospel despite the threat of punishment and even death at the hands of fellow Christians.

This cannot square with the historical record which even a non-Orthodox scholar can easily show that African slaves were derived from regions where Orthodoxy had never taken root. How can we know that the slaves of which you speak truly were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters, without corroboration?

History demonstrates that Orthodox Christianity was present in Africa long before Islam even existed. Because the nature of Orthodox Christianity is inherently evangelistic, it is quite reasonable to assume that the gospel had reached people on the West coast of Africa.

No, it is not. It's not the nature of Orthodoxy but the nature of geography.


Quote
There are accounts of slaves who recited the Jesus Prayer as they were being whipped. Do you think they learned this prayer from their masters?
If they learned it elsewhere, why would they say it in English? I'd have to see said accounts, but I recall a sermon years ago that made the point that the prayer of the Geresene demoniac uncomfortably resembled the Jesus prayer.

Quote
Moreover, I draw your attention again to the following:

I must also add, that, unlike the notion of the "unknown soldier", a noble concept which dates back to the ancient Greeks, and has been maintained in many present-day cultures, Orthodoxy can only recognised named, "real" people as saints and martyrs.

There is a liberal Episcopal church in San Francisco which has seen it fit to paint an "icon" of an anonymous "Alexandrian washerwoman". Their justification for this is: The anonymous woman who prays ceaselessly as she works washing dishes. She represents the holiness of all that is ordinary and routine. Rubbish. There are perfectly good examples of real saints who represent these qualities, such as St Euphrosynus the Cook, and any number of other humble saints who baked prosphora, tilled gardens, or quietly got on with other "lowly" work, even though they may not have been given credit for their efforts during their earthly life. But, we do know their names, and we know that they were Orthodox. It is impossible and wrong for an Orthodox Christian to venerate fictitious or imaginary characters.


What say you, Gebre?

I have never advocated the canonization of anonymous slave martyrs (although if the Church decided to do such a thing, I would certainly approve of it.) The book I've been citing includes the testimonies of specifically named slaves who suffered for the Gospel. According to the theological knowledge they had, they embraced authentic Orthodox Faith as best they could and opposed the heresies and idolatries with which they were confronted. Shall we say these specific individuals are unworhty of our veneration simply because they did not have access to any established Orthodox Christian Church?


Selam
The problem is that the Orthodox Church is not an invisible Church. But even before getting to that, we would have to some corrobaration of these accounts as to their Orthodox, as opposed to solely moral, value.
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« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2010, 11:50:57 AM »

^^Trevor, Ialmisry:

One of the tenets of the book from which I quoted is that many of the slaves were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters. We know historically that the Orthodox Church was not yet present in this country, however that does not mean that Orthodox truth was not mystically revealed to many of these slaves who chose to suffer and die for Christ. Mind you, I'm not talking about a "social gospel" or a "liberation theology." I'm talking about slaves who willingly endured additional suffering - and even death - simply because they humbly but boldly professed Christ and His Truth in the face of idolatry and evil.

Father Damascene Christensen writes:

"Orthodoxy is universal Truth. It embraces all that is true, wherever it may be, and rejects all that is false. It is the fullness of Christ's revelation; and Christ's revelation is the fullness of God's revelation to the human race. According to the Orthodox world-view, the experience of black Americans under slavery was an expression of the very essence of Christianity: the most profound expression of it in America outside the formal limits of the ancient Orthodox Church herself. Although the slaves were not directly exposed to Orthdoxy, they became much more Orthodox in spirit than the white people who introduced them to Christianity. They are a bridge to true, otherworldy Christianity here in America: a bridge that leads ultimately to the Orthodox Church."

I think Father Damascene is absolutely right; and thus I believe these slave-martyrs are deserving of our veneration and worthy to receive prayers on our behalf.


Selam



I understand what you are saying, but I wouldn't go as far as saying "deserving of our veneration and worthy to receive prayers on our behalf". They are worthy of respect! And what they went through should be told, and I do believe they will be in Heaven, but I look at the situation as a form of Prevenient light, truth, grace........etc. or common ground between East and West. We both went through suffering, and so those who suffer can understand the suffering of others.

When I visited a huge beautiful Serbian Monastery in Chicago some years ago, I saw alot of beautiful historical and Sociopolitical Icons about the homeland of Serbia and the real horrors they went through. And so I don't see anything wrong in preserving ones culture by decorating a building with a historical and sociopolitical message, but I wouldn't go as far as venerating a pre-Orthodox past and asking for their prayers on our behalf. That is where I would personally draw the line.

The Alaskan Natives preserved the history of their pre-Orthodox past, the same with alot of different cultures, but I don't think they go as far as venerating their pre-Orthodox past. We can respect and honor the good things in our pre-Orthodox past without Venerating them to the same degree as we would Orthodox things.

I know it's tautology when saying words like "respect", "honor", and "veneration". But I was trying to make a distinction in degree/level.

I hope this helps!

But yeah, I understand what you are saying, but I wouldn't go that far. This is one of the reasons why I want to reach more African Americans with the Orthodox Faith.

Starting a mission is ruff, but it's my ultimate dream/goal in life. ....well to be honest I want to reach everyone, but I would love to see if I can really penetrate my culture.












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« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2010, 05:35:09 PM »

My dear Gebre, have you read and considered what I have written in my posts on this thread? Fr Damascene and Prof. Raboteau may say what they wish but if it goes against proper Orthodox tradition, it don't matter a hill of beans. Orthodox hymnography and iconography is not about acknowledging demographic minorities, political stances, or sociological causes. Orthodox iconography and hymnography are all about proclaiming the truths, doctrines of the Orthodox faith, given to us by Jesus Christ through His apostles and their descendants, the Holy Fathers.

With respect, I cannot understand why you insist on arguing against a positon I do not hold. I have repeatedly stated that I am not advocating the canonization of all slaves simply because they were slaves. I have repeatedly stated that I am not advocating a social gospel or a political stance. This is not about liberation theology or "demographic minorities." Instead, it is about Christian witnesses who endured torture and death for the sake of Christ and His Gospel.

Then name names. A witness has to be identified to have his icon written.

Quote
Let's return to Fr Damascene's words:

the extent to which the Christianity of American slaves was hindered, proscribed, and persecuted justifies applying the title 'confessor' and 'martyr' to those slaves who, like their ancient Christian predecessors, bore witness to the Christian gospel despite the threat of punishment and even death at the hands of fellow Christians.

This cannot square with the historical record which even a non-Orthodox scholar can easily show that African slaves were derived from regions where Orthodoxy had never taken root. How can we know that the slaves of which you speak truly were "Orthodox" in their understanding of the Gospel, in spite of the fact that they were constantly being taught unOrthodox heresies by their ostensibly Christian masters, without corroboration?

History demonstrates that Orthodox Christianity was present in Africa long before Islam even existed. Because the nature of Orthodox Christianity is inherently evangelistic, it is quite reasonable to assume that the gospel had reached people on the West coast of Africa.

No, it is not. It's not the nature of Orthodoxy but the nature of geography.


Quote
There are accounts of slaves who recited the Jesus Prayer as they were being whipped. Do you think they learned this prayer from their masters?
If they learned it elsewhere, why would they say it in English? I'd have to see said accounts, but I recall a sermon years ago that made the point that the prayer of the Geresene demoniac uncomfortably resembled the Jesus prayer.

Quote
Moreover, I draw your attention again to the following:

I must also add, that, unlike the notion of the "unknown soldier", a noble concept which dates back to the ancient Greeks, and has been maintained in many present-day cultures, Orthodoxy can only recognised named, "real" people as saints and martyrs.

There is a liberal Episcopal church in San Francisco which has seen it fit to paint an "icon" of an anonymous "Alexandrian washerwoman". Their justification for this is: The anonymous woman who prays ceaselessly as she works washing dishes. She represents the holiness of all that is ordinary and routine. Rubbish. There are perfectly good examples of real saints who represent these qualities, such as St Euphrosynus the Cook, and any number of other humble saints who baked prosphora, tilled gardens, or quietly got on with other "lowly" work, even though they may not have been given credit for their efforts during their earthly life. But, we do know their names, and we know that they were Orthodox. It is impossible and wrong for an Orthodox Christian to venerate fictitious or imaginary characters.


What say you, Gebre?

I have never advocated the canonization of anonymous slave martyrs (although if the Church decided to do such a thing, I would certainly approve of it.) The book I've been citing includes the testimonies of specifically named slaves who suffered for the Gospel. According to the theological knowledge they had, they embraced authentic Orthodox Faith as best they could and opposed the heresies and idolatries with which they were confronted. Shall we say these specific individuals are unworhty of our veneration simply because they did not have access to any established Orthodox Christian Church?


Selam
The problem is that the Orthodox Church is not an invisible Church. But even before getting to that, we would have to some corrobaration of these accounts as to their Orthodox, as opposed to solely moral, value.

I recommend you read the book. I can't keep quoting every page here. But I do respectfully ask that you address my points, not the points you want me to make that I'm not making. When did I talk bout the "invisible Church." Where did I say anonymous slaves should be canonized? And, BTW, how do you know Orthodox Truth had not reached the West Coast of Africa? Orthodoxy is indeed inherently evangelistic, only in a much different and more authentic sense than Protestant or Catholic evangelism.  

By all means corrobarate the accounts. That's what I hope to see happen. That's all I'm saying. I just think it's sad that the witness and sacrifice of the Christian slave martyrs is completely ignored and unappreciated.


Selam
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« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2010, 07:17:57 PM »

And, BTW, how do you know Orthodox Truth had not reached the West Coast of Africa? Orthodoxy is indeed inherently evangelistic, only in a much different and more authentic sense than Protestant or Catholic evangelism.
I don't know that anyone is saying with any certainty that Orthodox Truth had not yet reached the African West Coast.  I just see them asserting the logical truth that one cannot automatically draw from Orthodoxy's inherent evangelical spirit the conclusion that Orthodoxy must have, or even may have reached western Africa.  Without any more evidence from you than an idea you call "reasonable", it is fair to point out how the geographical distances between traditionally Orthodox eastern Africa and the African west coast make your undefended thesis less reasonable than you think.

Is it possible Orthodox Christianity may have reached western Africa?  It certainly is.  But you have to cite more than just Orthodoxy's inherently evangelical nature as evidence that this likely did happen.
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« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2010, 07:36:39 PM »

I recommend you read the book. I can't keep quoting every page here.

Quoting some specifics (as an account of a slave saying the Jesus prayer, etc.) would be a start.  So far you have quoted only general principles.

Russia, Ukraine etc. suffered terribly under the Communists. There is a commemoration of the Neo-Martyrs under the Bolshevik Yoke (the WRO have a fantastic office for them, btw), in which they are all commemorated.  But that was instituted not because of the general principle that communism is oppressive and dehumnanizing, but that there are specific accounts of the confession of Patriarch St. Tikhon, and other individual cases, accounts of nameless villagers killed for holding icons etc.  There is something concrete to go on.

Quote
But I do respectfully ask that you address my points,

The Church cannot glorify general principles, just their embodiment.

Quote
not the points you want me to make that I'm not making. When did I talk bout the "invisible Church." Where did I say anonymous slaves should be canonized?

I haven't seen any specifics as to who would be canonized, to put a face to the icon.

Quote
And, BTW, how do you know Orthodox Truth had not reached the West Coast of Africa? Orthodoxy is indeed inherently evangelistic, only in a much different and more authentic sense than Protestant or Catholic evangelism.

That is true, but we know that the Portuguese arrived on the West Coast and converted the Royal House of Kongo in 1485, which set up a church complete with bishops.  

The Orthodox (and heretical) Christian Berbers were pushed down to the Senegal river.  Eventually the remnants of the Christians coallesced and congregated into Tunisia, and finally migrated as their predecessors had to Spain, Italy, etc.  We have the proof of their existence until the 14th century. Evtually, those who did not leave were Islamicized (except for the Jewish ones).  If there is proof of the survival on the Church in Senegal and beyond, I'd be more than happy to see it. But I can't assume it.

The Orthodox Church came with the Norse Leif Erikson and the Greenlanders.  Centuries after the Motherland lost contact with the Norse, in 1721 a Norwegian Luther pastor led an expedition for the King of Denmark-Norway, to see if the Norse survived, and if they did, if they retained Christianity, and if they did, to "reform" them to the Lutheran faith.  They found no Norse, nor Christian Inuit, so they began to evangelize the latter.  Theoretcally, Orthodox Chrisitanity could have spread in North America from Greenland. We in fact have no facts to conclude that though.

Quote
 By all means corrobarate the accounts. That's what I hope to see happen. That's all I'm saying. I just think it's sad that the witness and sacrifice of the Christian slave martyrs is completely ignored and unappreciated.
I have no facts to go on to corroborate.
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« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2010, 07:45:13 PM »

And, BTW, how do you know Orthodox Truth had not reached the West Coast of Africa? Orthodoxy is indeed inherently evangelistic, only in a much different and more authentic sense than Protestant or Catholic evangelism.
I don't know that anyone is saying with any certainty that Orthodox Truth had not yet reached the African West Coast.  I just see them asserting the logical truth that one cannot automatically draw from Orthodoxy's inherent evangelical spirit the conclusion that Orthodoxy must have, or even may have reached western Africa.  Without any more evidence from you than an idea you call "reasonable", it is fair to point out how the geographical distances between traditionally Orthodox eastern Africa and the African west coast make your undefended thesis less reasonable than you think.

Is it possible Orthodox Christianity may have reached western Africa?  It certainly is.  But you have to cite more than just Orthodoxy's inherently evangelical nature as evidence that this likely did happen.

I agree, and I'm not asserting the possibility as a fact. But likewise, I don't think we can say with certainty that Orthodox Christianity had not reached any people on the West coast of the African continent. Of course we need verification to officially canonize any of these slave martyrs, and I am simply suggesting that research and investigation be done in order to see if some of these heroic "Fathers of the Faith" in America can eventually be canonized. I think it is at least is worthy of consideration.

Selam
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« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2010, 07:57:51 PM »

I recommend you read the book. I can't keep quoting every page here.

Quoting some specifics (as an account of a slave saying the Jesus prayer, etc.) would be a start.  So far you have quoted only general principles.

Russia, Ukraine etc. suffered terribly under the Communists. There is a commemoration of the Neo-Martyrs under the Bolshevik Yoke (the WRO have a fantastic office for them, btw), in which they are all commemorated.  But that was instituted not because of the general principle that communism is oppressive and dehumnanizing, but that there are specific accounts of the confession of Patriarch St. Tikhon, and other individual cases, accounts of nameless villagers killed for holding icons etc.  There is something concrete to go on.

Quote
But I do respectfully ask that you address my points,

The Church cannot glorify general principles, just their embodiment.

Quote
not the points you want me to make that I'm not making. When did I talk bout the "invisible Church." Where did I say anonymous slaves should be canonized?

I haven't seen any specifics as to who would be canonized, to put a face to the icon.

Quote
And, BTW, how do you know Orthodox Truth had not reached the West Coast of Africa? Orthodoxy is indeed inherently evangelistic, only in a much different and more authentic sense than Protestant or Catholic evangelism.

That is true, but we know that the Portuguese arrived on the West Coast and converted the Royal House of Kongo in 1485, which set up a church complete with bishops.  

The Orthodox (and heretical) Christian Berbers were pushed down to the Senegal river.  Eventually the remnants of the Christians coallesced and congregated into Tunisia, and finally migrated as their predecessors had to Spain, Italy, etc.  We have the proof of their existence until the 14th century. Evtually, those who did not leave were Islamicized (except for the Jewish ones).  If there is proof of the survival on the Church in Senegal and beyond, I'd be more than happy to see it. But I can't assume it.

The Orthodox Church came with the Norse Leif Erikson and the Greenlanders.  Centuries after the Motherland lost contact with the Norse, in 1721 a Norwegian Luther pastor led an expedition for the King of Denmark-Norway, to see if the Norse survived, and if they did, if they retained Christianity, and if they did, to "reform" them to the Lutheran faith.  They found no Norse, nor Christian Inuit, so they began to evangelize the latter.  Theoretcally, Orthodox Chrisitanity could have spread in North America from Greenland. We in fact have no facts to conclude that though.

Quote
By all means corrobarate the accounts. That's what I hope to see happen. That's all I'm saying. I just think it's sad that the witness and sacrifice of the Christian slave martyrs is completely ignored and unappreciated.
I have no facts to go on to corroborate.

I really don't know why you insist on talking about "general principles" of oppression, dehumanization, etc. I am making no such argument, and I have repeated myself many times now. I am talking about those slaves who suffered and were martyred for standing for Orthodox Christian Truth in opposition to heresy and idolatry. Now, that in and of itself could be considered a "general principle," and yet it is the general principle upon which Christian martyrdom is essentially defined.

Just because you or I do not have the historical facts to corroborate these testimonies does not mean they do not exist. Therefore, I am not arguing that we canonize an amorphous and anonymous group of hypothetical people who may possibly have been martyrs for the Faith. What I am arguing is that there may very possibly be specific slave martyrs who are indeed worthy of canonization, and that this issue is worthy of research and investigation. I imagine some of the contributers to the book I've mentioned may be looking into the matter themselves. I hope someone is.


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« Reply #24 on: July 21, 2010, 12:19:58 PM »

Hi Gebre,

I get what you're saying.  I also get that it's a far cry from "political correctness" and that to automatically condemn anything involving black people as such is an unwarranted knee jerk reaction.  Thanks be to God that we are living in a pluralistic society and that the days when the Westerner was lionized and all others were to one degree or another marginalized are waning. Smiley

That being said, I've read An Unbroken Circle and I don't know that any of the enslaved Africans who suffered for Christianity whose stories are told therein could ever be canonized by the Orthodox Church.

Granted, they suffered for Christ.  Granted, their so-called masters were hardly what I would call Christians at all, and were perhaps heretics at best.  It is to the great credit of these enslaved men and women that they continued to embrace the Christian faith when all that was represented to them as Christianity was barbaric, heretical, warped, and false.

Yet and still, I think that the form of Christianity to which they themselves subscribed could best be defined as "mere Christianity".  It defintely wasn't the so-called Christianity of their masters, but we cannot say for certain that it was Orthodox, and we certainly cannot say that any of these brave folks were ever formally received into the Church.  Perhaps their blood was their Baptism, but that is between them and their Creator, and it is not for us to say.

We on these boards can only hope that we would be so brave as to endure suffering for Christ.  Many of us would likely buckle if faced with what these men and women faced.  However, we must conclude that all of what happened in these instances: the bestial brutality of the so-called Christian "masters", the bravery, dignity, and love of Christ displayed by the enslaved African Christians, occured outside the Church.

Can you ask for their intercessions at the Throne of God in your private devotions?  I'd imagine that the answer to that is the same as whether or not Orthodox Christians can ask for the intercessions of Francis of Assisi or Mother Theresa.

I may be off base on this, and stand to be corrected, but it occurs to me in passing that your cause is also not entirely a lost one, as St. Isaac of Syria (may his intercession be with us) lived his life outside of the Orthodox Church, as did the Emperor Constantine.

As to your postulations that perhaps Orthodoxy reached West Africa at some time in history, I'd defintely say that's worthy of research.  Why not take up the gauntlet and see what you can uncover yourself?

In the meantime, I've found a couple of articles which might be encouraging to you.

Black slavery as it was practiced in the Americas was, to my mind, the most blasphemous and anti-Christian form of slavery ever practiced on the face of the Earth, in that it was based on the blasphemous and fallacious notions of white superiority and black inferiority.  At least a slave in the ancient world, or in pre-colonial Africa was assumed to be the equal of all other men in basic humanity, and was not considered as a beast.  Of course the satanic idea of white supremacy has left scars on your soul as well as mine.  I encourage you to find comfort in the words of St. Nephon quoted in the article below.

http://www.oodegr.com/english/atheismos/diafwt_ratsism.htm

Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Atheism

Voltaire and the `Blacks'

The true, repugnant face of the "Enlightenment"

By George Kekavmenos

Source: http://www.antibaro.gr/articles/theory/enlightenment.html


Saint Nephon (4th century A.D.) had proclaimed that "just as the Earth produces both white and dark grapes, thus does it also give light and dark-skinned people; however, all of them are children of God, destined for Paradise." Ever since the 5th century, the Church also honors and celebrates the memory of the blessed Moses the "Ethiopian" (=with reference to his dark skin) – not forgetting to also mention the other "Ethiopian" Eunuch of the 1st century: perhaps the first black person to become a member of the Church (as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles). The important Father and Teacher, Gregory of Nyssa ("Precise Exegesis on Ecclesiastes", Homily 4, PG 44,664 etc) has been expounding from the 4th century the views of the Gospels, which certain others tried to copy, many centuries later:

"I have acquired slaves and servants"... Can you see the magnitude of one's arrogance here? These words constitute a mutiny against God... if that person considers himself the lord and master of men and women he has - if anything - surpassed human nature with his pride. [ ... ] You condemn to slavery a human being whose nature it is to be free and self-governing, and you erect your own law opposite the law of God, thus overturning the law that governs the life of a human being. Him - who was forged precisely to be the lord of the earth and who was appointed by the Creator to rule – you have subjected to the yoke of slavery, which contravenes and opposes the divine commandment. [...] "I have acquired slaves and servants"... At what price? tell us. What did you find in nature that is equal to them? [... ] Somebody gave birth to them and likewise to you; your lives are common; the passions of the soul and the body are the same for all: joy and impatience, sorrow and pleasure, anger and fear, sickness and death. Does a master differ at all to his slave in all these? Don't they both breathe the same air? Don't they both see the sun in the same way? Won't they both turn into the same dust after death? If therefore you are the same as all the others, tell me, where do you possess the advantage over the others, so that even though you are a human being yourself, you consider yourself the master of another human being?

When putting together all my studies regarding the 25th of March anniversary and the "Secret School", I was obliged to read all the "wisdoms" of progressive historians on these topics as well. That was where I noticed how the "refrain" common to all of them was their condemnation of the Church as something obscure and medieval, supposedly because She was opposed to progress and the light that the enlightenment movement had brought to mankind. And naturally, they never ceased to point out that the Church was also opposed to the 1821 revolution in Greece - the appearance of which we supposedly owe exclusively to the Enlightenment, which is the most progressive thing ever to have appeared on earth, given that we people all owe our "human rights" to it.

So, all people are indebted to the Enlightenment…..

All people?

Well, almost all, but not quite….

Because all those - who so vehemently label as an obscurantist anyone who dares to express any opposition to the enlightenment movement – have "forgotten" to show us another, not-so-enlightened aspect of the "century of lights"…

In other words, they omit to tell us that human rights -albeit a good and perfect idea- apply exclusively to ... the white race! Yes, all those magnificent and outstanding anti-racists of our time happen to be the staunch supporters and fiery heralds of the cruelest racist movement ever to have appeared, which is none other than the Enlightenment. This explains why all the major representatives of the Enlightenment are also the toughest kind of racists – in fact, with a racism so savage, that it profoundly shocks every person who has noticed it…

We will now begin with the views expressed by the Enlightenment's "cream of the crop", namely Voltaire, on negroes and … their "rights"; this philosopher had made the following… non-racist statement when describing our negro fellow-men :

«Leurs yeux ronds, leur nez épaté, leurs lèvres toujours grosses, leurs oreilles différemment figurées, la laine de leur tête, la mesure même de leur intelligence, mettent entre eux et les autres espèces d'hommes des d i f f é r e n c e s prodigieuses »: Essai sur les moeurs, INTRODUCTION.[1]

(Their round eyes, their flattened nose, their lips which are always large, their differently shaped ears, the wool of their head, that very measure of their intelligence, place prodigious differences between them and the other species of men.)

Ε]t on peut dire que si leur intelligence n'est pas d'une autre espèce que notre entendement, elle est fort inférieure. Ils ne sont pas capables d'une grande attention; ils combinent peu, et ne paraissent faits ni pour les avantages ni pour les abus de notre philosophie»: Essai sur les moeurs, κεφ. CXLI.[3]

(And one could say that if their intelligence is not of another species than ours, then it is greatly inferior. They are not capable of paying much attention; they mingle very little, and they do not appear to be made either for the advantages or the abuses of our philosophy.)

And the best quote:

«C'est une grande question parmi eux s'ils son descendus des singes, ou si les singes sont venus d'eux. Nos sages ont dit que l'homme est l'image de Dieu: voilà une plaisante image de l'Etre éternel qu'un nez noir épaté, avec peu ou point d'intelligence! Un temps viendra, sans doute, où ces animaux sauront bien cultiver la terre, l'embellir par des maisons et par des jardins, et connaître la route des astres. Il faut du temps pour tout»: Lettres d'Amabed, Septième lettre. D'Amabed.[4]

(And it is a big question whether among them they are descendants of monkeys, or if monkeys come from them. Our wise men have said that man is the image of God: behold a pleasant image of the eternal Being with a flat black nose, with little or no intelligence! A time will come, without a doubt, when these animals will know how to cultivate the earth well, to embellish it with houses and gardens, and to know the routes of the stars. Time is a must, for everything.)

What repulsion that supreme Enlightener and FOUNDER of human rights –Voltaire- must have truly felt for black people! And how the teachings of the Holy Bible must have annoyed him (that all people originate from one sole couple, Adam and Eve!) And how could it be otherwise, given that for all racists this specific teaching of the Bible is like a red rag to a bull (see the amazing analysis by William B. Cohen, The French Encounter With Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530-1880, Indiana University Press 2003, p. 84 etc.).

Of course the above are just a small sample of the beautiful non-racist things that Voltaire had written about negroes.

So, was it only Voltaire who had such…humanitarian and very anti-racist views? Of course not! Listen to what the equally great, enlightened philosopher David Hume says:

«I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men, to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences... Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction between these breeds of men»: Of national characters, in Essays: Moral, Political and Literary.[5]

It is a well-known fact that the great American president Thomas Jefferson – who, while in Paris had actually participated in the drafting of the famous Declaration of Human Rights for man and citizen – was himself the owner of more than a hundred negro slaves…

We will now apprehend that great philosopher of MORALITY in an … anti-racist explosion of his (and this is where we all die laughing): Mr. Emmanuel Kant (yes, the famous Kant!), who says the following:

«Die Negers von Afrika haben von der Natur kein Gefühl, welches über das Läppische stiege. Herr Hume fordert jedermann auf, ein einziges Beispiel anzuführen, da ein Neger Talente gewiesen habe, und behauptet: daß unter den hunderttausenden von Schwarzen, die aus ihren Ländern anderwärts verführt werden, dennoch nicht ein einziger jemals gefunden worden, der entweder in Kunst oder Wissenschaft, oder irgend einer andern rühmlichen Eigenschaft etwas Großes vorgestellt habe, obgleich unter den Weißen sich beständig welche aus dem niedrigsten Pöbel empor schwingen und durch vorzügliche Gaben in der Welt ein Ansehen erwerben. So wesentlich ist der Unterschied zwischen diesen zwei Menschengeschlechtern, und er scheint eben so groß in Ansehung der Gemüthsfähigkeiten, als der Farbe nach zu sein»: Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen, Vierter Abschnitt.[6]

(The Negroes of Africa have not received any intelligence from Nature that rises above foolishness. Mr. Hume challenges anyone to suggest even one example of a negro who has displayed any talent. As he himself verifies, among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who have wandered far away from their homelands, even though many of them have been liberated, not one exists who has succeeded in anything great, either in the arts or the sciences or in any other noteworthy thing. On the contrary, among the whites, people continuously rise above the low point that they were and they evolve through their superior qualifications, attaining worldly fame. The difference therefore between the two races is an essential one: It appears to be equally big, both with regard to the capabilities of the mind, as well as to the color.)

And I will close this brief walk through the wonderful and… enlightened world of the Enlightenment, with the revealing words that Abraham Lincoln had said with regard to the rights that negroes in America could have, following their liberation:

«I will say, then, that I AM NOT NOR HAVE EVER BEEN in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races---that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with White people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the White and black races which will ever FORBID the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race»: 4th Lincoln-Douglas debate, 18 ix. Collected Works, Vol.3, pp.145-146.[7]

And this was the great liberator of negroes, Abraham Lincoln…

Behold, the disgusting brutality of the Enlightenment in all its glory; an enlightenment which had proclaimed human rights and equality in many ways, but with one condition: that they apply exclusively to the white race. And as we all know, these "radiant" teachings of the enlightenment did not remain in written form, but were implemented with the utmost precision and fastidiousness during the years that followed, both through colonization but also through the racist discriminations that were officially established in the larger countries of the "enlightened" West, with America –naturally- first and foremost.

This, my friends, is the enlightenment that the "enlightened" intellectuals of our land want us to embrace as "progress" and "light". This is the enlightenment that whoever dares to reject or even doubt is characterized as an obscurantist enemy of progress, of science and all the other things that we are aware of. This is the philosophy in whose name all the dynamic anti-racists of our time swear by.

Just so that we are fully aware of what they are "promoting" to us….

Footnotes with links to the excerpts

----------------------------------------------------------

[1] See it here

[2] See it here

[3] See it here

[4] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Voltaire

[5] See it here

[6] With reference to several books

[7] See it here


Translation by A. N.

Article published in English on: 30-8-2008.

Last update: 30-8-2008.

UP


Also, it is interesting to note that Orthodoxy entered the Americas centuries before Leif Ericson and his Norsemen, and it came with Byzantine North Africans.  See here:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/connecticuts-5th-century-church.pdf

Take care, brother, and keep me in prayer.
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« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2010, 03:58:36 PM »

Hi Gebre,

I get what you're saying.  I also get that it's a far cry from "political correctness" and that to automatically condemn anything involving black people as such is an unwarranted knee jerk reaction.  Thanks be to God that we are living in a pluralistic society and that the days when the Westerner was lionized and all others were to one degree or another marginalized are waning. Smiley

That being said, I've read An Unbroken Circle and I don't know that any of the enslaved Africans who suffered for Christianity whose stories are told therein could ever be canonized by the Orthodox Church.

Granted, they suffered for Christ.  Granted, their so-called masters were hardly what I would call Christians at all, and were perhaps heretics at best.  It is to the great credit of these enslaved men and women that they continued to embrace the Christian faith when all that was represented to them as Christianity was barbaric, heretical, warped, and false.

Yet and still, I think that the form of Christianity to which they themselves subscribed could best be defined as "mere Christianity".  It defintely wasn't the so-called Christianity of their masters, but we cannot say for certain that it was Orthodox, and we certainly cannot say that any of these brave folks were ever formally received into the Church.  Perhaps their blood was their Baptism, but that is between them and their Creator, and it is not for us to say.

We on these boards can only hope that we would be so brave as to endure suffering for Christ.  Many of us would likely buckle if faced with what these men and women faced.  However, we must conclude that all of what happened in these instances: the bestial brutality of the so-called Christian "masters", the bravery, dignity, and love of Christ displayed by the enslaved African Christians, occured outside the Church.

Can you ask for their intercessions at the Throne of God in your private devotions?  I'd imagine that the answer to that is the same as whether or not Orthodox Christians can ask for the intercessions of Francis of Assisi or Mother Theresa.

I may be off base on this, and stand to be corrected, but it occurs to me in passing that your cause is also not entirely a lost one, as St. Isaac of Syria (may his intercession be with us) lived his life outside of the Orthodox Church, as did the Emperor Constantine.

As to your postulations that perhaps Orthodoxy reached West Africa at some time in history, I'd defintely say that's worthy of research.  Why not take up the gauntlet and see what you can uncover yourself?

In the meantime, I've found a couple of articles which might be encouraging to you.

Black slavery as it was practiced in the Americas was, to my mind, the most blasphemous and anti-Christian form of slavery ever practiced on the face of the Earth, in that it was based on the blasphemous and fallacious notions of white superiority and black inferiority.  At least a slave in the ancient world, or in pre-colonial Africa was assumed to be the equal of all other men in basic humanity, and was not considered as a beast.  Of course the satanic idea of white supremacy has left scars on your soul as well as mine.  I encourage you to find comfort in the words of St. Nephon quoted in the article below.

http://www.oodegr.com/english/atheismos/diafwt_ratsism.htm

Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Atheism

Voltaire and the `Blacks'

The true, repugnant face of the "Enlightenment"

By George Kekavmenos

Source: http://www.antibaro.gr/articles/theory/enlightenment.html


Saint Nephon (4th century A.D.) had proclaimed that "just as the Earth produces both white and dark grapes, thus does it also give light and dark-skinned people; however, all of them are children of God, destined for Paradise." Ever since the 5th century, the Church also honors and celebrates the memory of the blessed Moses the "Ethiopian" (=with reference to his dark skin) – not forgetting to also mention the other "Ethiopian" Eunuch of the 1st century: perhaps the first black person to become a member of the Church (as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles). The important Father and Teacher, Gregory of Nyssa ("Precise Exegesis on Ecclesiastes", Homily 4, PG 44,664 etc) has been expounding from the 4th century the views of the Gospels, which certain others tried to copy, many centuries later:

"I have acquired slaves and servants"... Can you see the magnitude of one's arrogance here? These words constitute a mutiny against God... if that person considers himself the lord and master of men and women he has - if anything - surpassed human nature with his pride. [ ... ] You condemn to slavery a human being whose nature it is to be free and self-governing, and you erect your own law opposite the law of God, thus overturning the law that governs the life of a human being. Him - who was forged precisely to be the lord of the earth and who was appointed by the Creator to rule – you have subjected to the yoke of slavery, which contravenes and opposes the divine commandment. [...] "I have acquired slaves and servants"... At what price? tell us. What did you find in nature that is equal to them? [... ] Somebody gave birth to them and likewise to you; your lives are common; the passions of the soul and the body are the same for all: joy and impatience, sorrow and pleasure, anger and fear, sickness and death. Does a master differ at all to his slave in all these? Don't they both breathe the same air? Don't they both see the sun in the same way? Won't they both turn into the same dust after death? If therefore you are the same as all the others, tell me, where do you possess the advantage over the others, so that even though you are a human being yourself, you consider yourself the master of another human being?

When putting together all my studies regarding the 25th of March anniversary and the "Secret School", I was obliged to read all the "wisdoms" of progressive historians on these topics as well. That was where I noticed how the "refrain" common to all of them was their condemnation of the Church as something obscure and medieval, supposedly because She was opposed to progress and the light that the enlightenment movement had brought to mankind. And naturally, they never ceased to point out that the Church was also opposed to the 1821 revolution in Greece - the appearance of which we supposedly owe exclusively to the Enlightenment, which is the most progressive thing ever to have appeared on earth, given that we people all owe our "human rights" to it.

So, all people are indebted to the Enlightenment…..

All people?

Well, almost all, but not quite….

Because all those - who so vehemently label as an obscurantist anyone who dares to express any opposition to the enlightenment movement – have "forgotten" to show us another, not-so-enlightened aspect of the "century of lights"…

In other words, they omit to tell us that human rights -albeit a good and perfect idea- apply exclusively to ... the white race! Yes, all those magnificent and outstanding anti-racists of our time happen to be the staunch supporters and fiery heralds of the cruelest racist movement ever to have appeared, which is none other than the Enlightenment. This explains why all the major representatives of the Enlightenment are also the toughest kind of racists – in fact, with a racism so savage, that it profoundly shocks every person who has noticed it…

We will now begin with the views expressed by the Enlightenment's "cream of the crop", namely Voltaire, on negroes and … their "rights"; this philosopher had made the following… non-racist statement when describing our negro fellow-men :

«Leurs yeux ronds, leur nez épaté, leurs lèvres toujours grosses, leurs oreilles différemment figurées, la laine de leur tête, la mesure même de leur intelligence, mettent entre eux et les autres espèces d'hommes des d i f f é r e n c e s prodigieuses »: Essai sur les moeurs, INTRODUCTION.[1]

(Their round eyes, their flattened nose, their lips which are always large, their differently shaped ears, the wool of their head, that very measure of their intelligence, place prodigious differences between them and the other species of men.)

Ε]t on peut dire que si leur intelligence n'est pas d'une autre espèce que notre entendement, elle est fort inférieure. Ils ne sont pas capables d'une grande attention; ils combinent peu, et ne paraissent faits ni pour les avantages ni pour les abus de notre philosophie»: Essai sur les moeurs, κεφ. CXLI.[3]

(And one could say that if their intelligence is not of another species than ours, then it is greatly inferior. They are not capable of paying much attention; they mingle very little, and they do not appear to be made either for the advantages or the abuses of our philosophy.)

And the best quote:

«C'est une grande question parmi eux s'ils son descendus des singes, ou si les singes sont venus d'eux. Nos sages ont dit que l'homme est l'image de Dieu: voilà une plaisante image de l'Etre éternel qu'un nez noir épaté, avec peu ou point d'intelligence! Un temps viendra, sans doute, où ces animaux sauront bien cultiver la terre, l'embellir par des maisons et par des jardins, et connaître la route des astres. Il faut du temps pour tout»: Lettres d'Amabed, Septième lettre. D'Amabed.[4]

(And it is a big question whether among them they are descendants of monkeys, or if monkeys come from them. Our wise men have said that man is the image of God: behold a pleasant image of the eternal Being with a flat black nose, with little or no intelligence! A time will come, without a doubt, when these animals will know how to cultivate the earth well, to embellish it with houses and gardens, and to know the routes of the stars. Time is a must, for everything.)

What repulsion that supreme Enlightener and FOUNDER of human rights –Voltaire- must have truly felt for black people! And how the teachings of the Holy Bible must have annoyed him (that all people originate from one sole couple, Adam and Eve!) And how could it be otherwise, given that for all racists this specific teaching of the Bible is like a red rag to a bull (see the amazing analysis by William B. Cohen, The French Encounter With Africans: White Response to Blacks, 1530-1880, Indiana University Press 2003, p. 84 etc.).

Of course the above are just a small sample of the beautiful non-racist things that Voltaire had written about negroes.

So, was it only Voltaire who had such…humanitarian and very anti-racist views? Of course not! Listen to what the equally great, enlightened philosopher David Hume says:

«I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men, to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences... Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction between these breeds of men»: Of national characters, in Essays: Moral, Political and Literary.[5]

It is a well-known fact that the great American president Thomas Jefferson – who, while in Paris had actually participated in the drafting of the famous Declaration of Human Rights for man and citizen – was himself the owner of more than a hundred negro slaves…

We will now apprehend that great philosopher of MORALITY in an … anti-racist explosion of his (and this is where we all die laughing): Mr. Emmanuel Kant (yes, the famous Kant!), who says the following:

«Die Negers von Afrika haben von der Natur kein Gefühl, welches über das Läppische stiege. Herr Hume fordert jedermann auf, ein einziges Beispiel anzuführen, da ein Neger Talente gewiesen habe, und behauptet: daß unter den hunderttausenden von Schwarzen, die aus ihren Ländern anderwärts verführt werden, dennoch nicht ein einziger jemals gefunden worden, der entweder in Kunst oder Wissenschaft, oder irgend einer andern rühmlichen Eigenschaft etwas Großes vorgestellt habe, obgleich unter den Weißen sich beständig welche aus dem niedrigsten Pöbel empor schwingen und durch vorzügliche Gaben in der Welt ein Ansehen erwerben. So wesentlich ist der Unterschied zwischen diesen zwei Menschengeschlechtern, und er scheint eben so groß in Ansehung der Gemüthsfähigkeiten, als der Farbe nach zu sein»: Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen und Erhabenen, Vierter Abschnitt.[6]

(The Negroes of Africa have not received any intelligence from Nature that rises above foolishness. Mr. Hume challenges anyone to suggest even one example of a negro who has displayed any talent. As he himself verifies, among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who have wandered far away from their homelands, even though many of them have been liberated, not one exists who has succeeded in anything great, either in the arts or the sciences or in any other noteworthy thing. On the contrary, among the whites, people continuously rise above the low point that they were and they evolve through their superior qualifications, attaining worldly fame. The difference therefore between the two races is an essential one: It appears to be equally big, both with regard to the capabilities of the mind, as well as to the color.)

And I will close this brief walk through the wonderful and… enlightened world of the Enlightenment, with the revealing words that Abraham Lincoln had said with regard to the rights that negroes in America could have, following their liberation:

«I will say, then, that I AM NOT NOR HAVE EVER BEEN in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races---that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with White people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the White and black races which will ever FORBID the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the White race»: 4th Lincoln-Douglas debate, 18 ix. Collected Works, Vol.3, pp.145-146.[7]

And this was the great liberator of negroes, Abraham Lincoln…

Behold, the disgusting brutality of the Enlightenment in all its glory; an enlightenment which had proclaimed human rights and equality in many ways, but with one condition: that they apply exclusively to the white race. And as we all know, these "radiant" teachings of the enlightenment did not remain in written form, but were implemented with the utmost precision and fastidiousness during the years that followed, both through colonization but also through the racist discriminations that were officially established in the larger countries of the "enlightened" West, with America –naturally- first and foremost.

This, my friends, is the enlightenment that the "enlightened" intellectuals of our land want us to embrace as "progress" and "light". This is the enlightenment that whoever dares to reject or even doubt is characterized as an obscurantist enemy of progress, of science and all the other things that we are aware of. This is the philosophy in whose name all the dynamic anti-racists of our time swear by.

Just so that we are fully aware of what they are "promoting" to us….

Footnotes with links to the excerpts

----------------------------------------------------------

[1] See it here

[2] See it here

[3] See it here

[4] http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Voltaire

[5] See it here

[6] With reference to several books

[7] See it here


Translation by A. N.

Article published in English on: 30-8-2008.

Last update: 30-8-2008.

UP


Also, it is interesting to note that Orthodoxy entered the Americas centuries before Leif Ericson and his Norsemen, and it came with Byzantine North Africans.  See here:

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/connecticuts-5th-century-church.pdf

Take care, brother, and keep me in prayer.


Thank you for that excellent and in depth response my brother.



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« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2010, 06:54:26 PM »

Since we do not really know them as saints, and it is unlikely we ever will, why not simply celebrate the moral victory of these men and women, giving thanks to God for however much of His light he shone on them in the midst of their sufferings, and pray for their souls?

As for asking their prayers, I would feel uncomfortable praying to people whose names I don't know and whose Orthodoxy is at best uncertain. But I do find their lives inspiring and I think they serve as an example to us in many ways.
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« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2010, 07:56:19 PM »

Since we do not really know them as saints, and it is unlikely we ever will, why not simply celebrate the moral victory of these men and women, giving thanks to God for however much of His light he shone on them in the midst of their sufferings, and pray for their souls?

As for asking their prayers, I would feel uncomfortable praying to people whose names I don't know and whose Orthodoxy is at best uncertain. But I do find their lives inspiring and I think they serve as an example to us in many ways.

Just for the record, what exactly is the Orthodox position on asking for the intercession of those (apparently) outside of the Church?  As I said before, St. Isaac of Syria was a communicant of the body we now call the Assyrian Church of the East and Emperor Constantine was baptized by an Arian prelate.

As Gebre pointed out, some of these folks identified by Fr. Damascene and Professor Raboteau as martyrs and confessors are named and their stories recounted in the Unbroken Circle book and in other slave narrartives.  

(Fr. Damascene postulates that some of these individuals were taught Orthodoxy, even down to making the sign of the cross in the Eastern Orthodox fashion - right to left - by God directly.  But this is another discussion...)

I'm not going to type out their "complete hagiography" here, but a few who spring to mind are:

*A man named Ezekial, who was murdered for praying that God would soften the heart of his master.  The master later admitted to his Baptist pastor on his deathbed that he had "killed Zeke for praying" and was afraid that he would go to hell.

*A man named Martin who was whipped to death by a master who thought his praying was "subversive".

*A man named "Praying Jacob" who would pray three times a day...at dawn, noon, and evening...regardless of what he was doing, and was whipped repeatedly for doing so.  He told his master to do what he liked, but he would always keep the hours of prayer as God had commanded him, because "My body may belong to you, but my soul belongs to my Master Jesus".

There are pages of others, men and women.

If Gebre (or someone else) wanted to entreat their prayers in their private devotions, would that be permissable?

I'm not advocating carte blanche to ask for the intercession of everyone from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr., but there are some post-schism Roman Catholic saints I could never deny as righteous and could see as potential intercessors.  I mean, if St. Maria Goretti didn't make it past the Pearly Gates, I might as well cash my chips in right now!

http://www.mariagoretti.org/mariabio.htm
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 08:08:11 PM by Antonious Nikolas » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: July 22, 2010, 12:06:20 PM »

The sanctity of people outside the Church or who cannot be proven to have been part of the Church is a mystery best left up to God. Clearly, there will be surprises at the Day of Judgment, but it is not for us to speculate from our very limited perspective. Only God knows. There are many unknown saints whose names and stories God has hidden from us for his own purposes. They are commemorated at the feast of All Saints. But we have a great many known and named saints right here in America who are still unknown to many and unvenerated. It is wise to leave mysteries to God, but shameful to ignore what he has already revealed to us.
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« Reply #29 on: July 22, 2010, 12:54:55 PM »

Agreed.  But how, for example, did the Church decide that someone like St. Isaac of Syria could be venerated?  Granted, he was a member of an ancient, Apostolic church (the Assyrian Church of the East), and that is a far cry from any of the Protestant factions, black, white, or otherwise, here in the New World, but nevertheless, his Orthodox wiki page says, "Veneration for him grew, and he came to be incorporated into the Orthodox calendar of saints. His inclusion is thus an indication that the Church does not regard canonical boundaries as being the litmus test of Orthodoxy."

I know that the Orthodox Church doesn't "make" saints, but that the community recognizes the holiness of a departed person, begins asking for their intercession, miracles occur, a request is made to the Church, an investigation follows, et cetera.

But how does that work in the case of someone beyond the canonical boundaries of the Church, such as St. Isaac (may his prayers be with us)?  How does the Church decide if they'll even consider investigating someone outside the Church or not?  Is it because in addition to his holiness, the saint's writings were extant and able to be examined, and were found to be wholly Orthodox?  But how does this jibe with his receiving Communion within the Assyrian Church until his repose?

I'm not saying these slave martyrs and confessors should be canonized, but what if those Orthodox who consider them worthy of veneration (such as Gebre, and apparently Fr. Damascene and perhaps Professor Raboteau and others) begin the "ground up" process described above?  How would the Church decide if an investigation should even occur?

I guess I'm having a little trouble processing the fact that St. Isaac is an Orthodox saint, but the monks in front and in back of him in line for the Eucharist, as well as the priest who communed him, would be considered Nestorian heretics, or at least heterodox.  Huh
« Last Edit: July 22, 2010, 01:05:01 PM by Antonious Nikolas » Logged

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« Reply #30 on: July 22, 2010, 02:04:32 PM »

With regard to St. Isaac the Syrian, I think it is hard to make a rule from an exception. Albeit, whether there is something exceptional about him is a matter for debate. There is no Nestorianism in his writings, as far as I know. It is not known just how Nestorian his local church was. The Eastern Orthodox Church has a rather flexible view of things, but not SO flexible that it accepts saints without good evidence. Among our saints we have St. Elesban, King of Ethiopia and contemporary of St. Justinian. (We also have St. Thodora.) There's also St. Edward the King Martyr and other saints of the West who reposed after 800 (a year which some misguided people think is a proper cut-off for Western Orthodox saints). There are good reasons why we have these saints, and not others. Anyway, as Elder Iakovos of Evia said, some saints on our calendar are not saints, and there are certainly many saints not on the calendar. We do what we can, we venerate whom we are given to venerate. It is not a perfect science. In many cases, it's really quite arbitrary. Saints appear and disappear from the synaxarion based on historical events and human error. Some forgotten saints appear to people in dreams and perform miracles, and we add them to the calendar where they belong. Other saints are great saints, maybe they're on the calendar, but it is impossible to find icons of them and there are no services celebrated or hymns written for them. It's just how it is. We see from his writings that St. Isaac had the Orthodox Faith. He was a man of highly exalted spirituality. We don't know that about the people before or after him. St. Isaac was simply an exceptional man of heroic virtue--and that is what saints are. Nowadays, people want to glorify anyone who seemed good in some way. Well, this has already happened, even with doubtful evidence. But, this is what we are given.
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Quote from: GabrieltheCelt
If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
Quote from: orthonorm
I would suggest most persons in general avoid any question beginning with why.
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