Church

This Is How You Go…

I’m going to draw a rather unhelpful comparison. But I’m going to do it anyway. Why? Because reading of the recent ‘resignation’ of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, who was asked to step down by his fellow Bishops (and I have no idea why, or the politics/thinking behind the request), I could not help but ponder on just how different his approach, his words, and his conduct are, as when compared to that of a certain ‘former-Primate’, who was also asked to go by his Bishops (obviously, for different and possibly far graver reasons).

This is text of His Beatitude’s letter:

“To the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America,

“Brothers,

“As per your unanimous request, as conveyed to me by Chancellor Fr. John Jillions, I hereby tender my resignation as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and humbly request another Episcopal assignment.

“I had come to the realization long ago that that I have neither the personality nor the temperament for the position of Primate, a position I never sought nor desired.

“It is my hope that due consideration will be made for my financial situation, both in any interim and in consideration for any future position. I am the main financial support for both my parents and my sister, beyond my own needs.

“I will appreciate your consideration in this, and beg forgiveness for however I have offended you, and for whatever difficulties have arisen from my own inadequacies and mistakes in judgment.

“Asking your prayers, I remain faithfully yours, “Metropolitan Jonah, Archbishop of Washington”

[A pdf. of the above is here]

And that’s how you do it. With your dignity and Christian conduct intact. You don’t self-destruct. You don’t destroy. You don’t run to the secular media/blogs crying foul for the world to see. You don’t advocate schism or start-up rival Synods. What  you do, as a man of God, is turn to your brothers in Christ, and seek reconciliation with as much as lies within you. That is how you go…

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.  Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

– St Matthew 5:1-12

Bible Archaeology

Muslims and Archaeology

What is it about Islam that leads so many Muslims to see their cultural patrimony as something to be despised and even destroyed?

Harking back to the Taliban’s destruction of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001, Muslims in northern Mali last week moved against their own country’s heritage. The Islamic supremacist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Religion) raised international concern when they began destroying some of the ancient shrines of Muslim saints in Timbuktu, “the city of 333 saints.” According to Ishaan Tharoor in Time magazine, “UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, says as many as half of the city’s shrines ‘have been destroyed in a display of fanaticism.’”

Why would a Muslim group destroy the tombs of Muslim holy men? “The destruction is a divine order,” an Ansar Dine spokesman explained; another added that they planned to destroy all the city’s ancient tombs, “without exception.”

UNESCO and the international media have portrayed Ansar Dine’s stance on this as unthinking fanaticism, contradicting Islam’s tenets: UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova declared that “the attack on Timbuktu’s cultural heritage is an attack against this history and the values it carries — values of tolerance, exchange and living together, which lie at the heart of Islam.”

Unfortunately for Bokova, however, Ansar Dine has ample support from within Islamic tradition for considering these shrines to be idolatrous, even though they commemorate Muslim heroes. According to a hadith attributed to Aisha, Muhammad’s favorite wife and notorious child bride, as Muhammad lay dying, “he drew his sheet upon his face and when he felt uneasy, he uncovered his face and said in that very state: Let there be curse upon the Jews and the Christians that they have taken the graves of their apostles as places of worship. He in fact warned (his men) against what they (the Jews and the Christians) did” (Sahih Muslim 1082).

Another tradition has the dying Muhammad saying, “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians, for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets,” and Aisha adding: “And if that had not been the case, then the Prophet’s grave would have been made prominent before the people. So (the Prophet) was afraid, or the people were afraid that his grave might be taken as a place for worship” (Sahih Bukhari 2.23.472).

Muslims who consider the shrines of saints to be idolatrous reason from those traditions that if the grave of Muhammad himself was not to be taken as a place of worship, neither should the graves of lesser Muslims become shrines for prayer and pilgrimage…

Do read on here.

Along the same line, a complaint has been laid over the building material and scaffolding that has been placed on the “rock” of the Dome of the Rock by the Wakf (HT).

Activist group Temple Mount Faithful filed an emergency petition with the High  Court of Justice on Monday to stop construction work at the Temple Mount, which  they claim is damaging holy Jewish artifacts.

According to chairman  Gershon Salomon, Wakf Muslim religious trust officials who are conducting  renovations at the Temple Mount have built scaffolding over the Foundation  Stone, which was part of the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

Jewish  tradition holds that the Ark of the Covenant rested on this stone in the First  and Second Temple Periods.

Salomon said that the workers carrying out  renovations on the Dome of the Rock are using the stone as a workbench, resting  buckets of building materials on it and causing damage to one of Judaism’s  holiest relics.

“For years, they’ve been building and therefore  destroying Jewish history [on the Temple Mount], and they did terrible things  over the years,” said Salomon. “There is a feeling that the sovereignty of Israel and our laws are not honored there, there’s no stopping them… But this is  the worst thing that they’ve done.”

The Wakf did not return multiple calls requesting comment…

 

Church

The Latest from the Episcopal Organization

Ad Orientem:

The High Church wing of Unitarianism, sometimes known as the Episcopalians, are holding their General Convention and have approved three significant new resolutions.

1. They have forbidden any discrimination against transgendered persons seeking ordination.
2. They have approved rites for homosexual unions.
3. They have approved communing persons who have not been baptized, albeit with the caveat that baptism should normally precede the reception of Holy Communion. But they made it clear that the act is now permissible.

I wish I could say that I am shocked, but I’m not. The TEO ceased to be Christian in all but name sometime ago. They jumped off the cliff in the late 70’s and have been in free fall ever since. But that fall is now gaining speed. We can bicker about some of Metropolitan Jonah’s actions but one thing I think almost all Orthodox can agree on is the wisdom of his decision to sever all ecumenical dialogue with that body.

I have said this in the past, with as much delicacy as I could muster. The time for delicacy is over. If you are a member of the Episcopal Organization… GET OUT!

Now I see that the Diocese of South Carolina has walked-out of the General Convention in protest. May they keep on walking!