Friday, June 13, 2003

Brilliant
The founder and CEO of hip teen-20ager retail company Urban Outfitters is in his 50s and is... a free-market conservative! Yessss! I love it! (This link should work for the next four days.)

JAH rules OK
My ‘assigned’ psalm reading this morning (according to the system I use) was a long and familiar one to Eastern Orthodox, Ps. 67 (68 in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, whose psalter I use), ‘Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered’ (Да воскреснетъ Богъ), which figures in a big way at the services for Pascha (Easter). Anyway, this Tudor English rendering of the tetragrammaton (written with four letters in Hebrew), the Sacred Name which observant Jews to this day don't speak or write out (JHWH, which they render as 'G-d' - the written word as icon), struck me:

O sing unto God, and sing praises unto his Name; magnify him that rideth
upon the heavens; * praise him in his Name JAH, and rejoice before him.

Recently from a travelogue program I learnt that the Rastafarians in Jamaica, kind of an eclectic 'back to Africa' cult, call God 'JAH'. (Here's an example from reggae that quotes this very psalm.) Easy to see where they got that from. Rasta seems to make much of Ethiopia and the last Christian emperor there, Haile Selassie (photo above, at right - thanks to Samer al-Batal for the link), but doesn't seem at all connected really to Ethiopian Orthodoxy, one of the Oriental apostolic Churches. (Also, Ethiopians aren't related to American and Caribbean blacks - they're different ethnic groups from opposite sides of Africa!) Seems to have more to do with ganja. That's too bad.

There is a thriving little Ethiopian and Eritrean neighborhood, with at last count three restaurants/bars, in the city within bicycling range of where I live. A welcome sight in America - some God-fearing, apostolic Christian immigrants. Once got acquainted with the owner of one of these places, a fellow who seemed to radiate joy. The place had lots of Eritrean folk art (paintings), which looks like Eritrean/Ethiopian/Coptic church iconography - which in turn is based on the tomb art of the ancient Egyptians, who now are the Copts.

The tetragrammaton also is mistranslated as 'Jehovah' or 'Yahweh'.

Congratulations
To my good friend Dustin Anastasios Hudson, who has redesigned the main page of orthodoxchristianity.net - so beautiful I'm linking it here today. The site's forum is permanently linked below.

And thanks
To Clifton Healy, who has added this blog to his links on his: This is life: revolutions around the cruciform axis.

From 2001: orthodoxy (catholicity) is not racist
by A.N. Wilson
It has been announced that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are to attend a 24-hour residential course on racial awareness. These kind and good men have taken this decision after it was discovered that the Church of England, like the Metropolitan Police, was riddled with ‘institutional racism’.

Clearly, institutional racism, like dry rot, is a plague which can be present in a house without any of its inhabitants being aware of it. As a lifelong Anglican, attending various high churches, I had thought that the Church was rather ahead of the rest of society in racial matters. There actually seems something wicked in stirring up the fictitious notion that this group of well-intentioned Christians unconsciously harbour hatred in their hearts for other races. Was it not a group of Anglican monks, the Community of the Resurrection, in South Africa, and above all Father Trevor Huddleston, CR (link to audio file), who did more than any other group of Europeans to alert the world to the evils of apartheid? That was very nearly half a century ago. According to a recent report, to be debated at the General Synod of the Church of England later this month, non-white Anglicans now feel ‘alienated, lonely and excluded’ when they come to church. The report complains that there is a ‘glass ceiling’ which prevents many ‘ethnic minority Anglicans’ from becoming vicars.

All this sounds sad, but one wonders whether the explanations for it are to be found in the comparatively recent science of ‘race relations’ and political correctness rather than in observable human character traits? ...In the bricky, incense-laden shrines where I spent so much of my uncynical earlier life, and for which I still feel a strong affection, at least half the congregations would tend to be black. Singing hymns to the Eucharistic mystery, surrounded by beautiful women of Caribbean origin, I found it hard to think that the afterlife could provide any heaven more sublime. ...

While I sat with the mothers and daughters, their lanky sons, up to the age of about 11 or 12, would be seen in the sanctuary, serving the altar. It did
sometimes cross my mind to wonder whether any of them would choose to be ordained, but only a few seconds‘ reflection explained to me why, in the majority of cases, this was rather unlikely. ?All Gas and Gaiters’ and the novels of Barbara Pym might here come in more useful for the Archbishops than their 24-hour racial awareness course. ...The usual unfair jokes about the third sex, are untranslatable into an Afro-Caribbean context, where, for the most part men are men, women are women and indigenous whites are mild jokes. Of course, this is to rehash gross stereotypes, and it is obvious that there are exceptions to the rule. But if it is true that young men of African or Afro-Caribbean descent do not want to go to theological colleges and train for a no-hope, badly-paid job as a vicar where everyone assumes they are pansies, is this surprising? Go to any of the churches I describe ...and you will find the altar-boys, black and white, go off religion as soon as they discover girls. Like quiche, High Mass isn‘t for real men — it is for women, and homosexuals and sad people like me. In short, though it might surprise the racial awareness experts to realise it, more or less everyone in church feels ‘alienated, lonely and excluded’: that‘s why we go there.

While I am no doubt putting my foot in it badly, may I offer the Archbishops another generalisation? To anyone who isn‘t on a racial awareness course it should be blindingly obvious, but no doubt the kindly people in Church House are too polite to mention it: the [attempted] ordination of women [in Anglicanism] to the priesthood has put paid to the idea of many black men even considering it as a profession for themselves. There might have been some chance of persuading the black altar-boys to carry on going to church during their adolescence and then considering ordination, if the old ‘chauvinist’ ethos of the High Church world prevailed. But it doesn‘t. It has all been swept away — as most enlightened church members desire. But feminist and racial liberalism are not always culturally compatible.

If everything I have written above merely proves that I am unconsciously racist (which I know I’m not), then what positive, uncynical advice can one offer the Archbishops? If I‘m right, there is about as much likelihood of a streetwise young black man wishing to become a priest alongside women as there is of a miner‘s son choosing to become a ballet dancer. Why not a recruitment drive based on a film? ...Since unemployment among young black males is so high and since the shortage of ...clergy is so acute, it is obvious that the Church ...could, here, be on to a winner. The [church] is guilty of many follies, but not the sin of race hatred. It distresses all those who love it to see the archbishops flagellating themselves for a sin of which they are incapable. [End.]

On Poland joining the EU
While this is worrisome - first the Communists, now the New World Order swallow up Catholic Poland? - I'm not at all surprised considering Poland's history. Poles don't want to be considered part of Eastern Europe! They will point out that the geographic center of Europe is in their country and this worldview partly explains why they are Western Catholic and not Eastern Orthodox.

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