Monday, August 31, 2009

Historical Comparisons and Fulfilled Prophecies According to Gennadios Scholarios

St. Gennadios Scholarios (Feast Day - August 31)


Following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans, Gennadios Scholarios was chosen to be Ecumenical Patriarch by Sultan Mehmet in January of 1453 (pictured above) since he was respected by both Orthodox and Muslims alike and was very vocal in his opposition to western innovations.

Gennadios left no detailed account of the Ottoman conquest of Constanintople. However he did compile a series of chronological observations on the ways in which the hand of providence could be seen to have influenced the dreadful events of his lifetime. He noted the following:

1. The Christian Empire of the Romans and New Rome originated with Emperor Constantine I and his mother Helen and had come to an end when another Constantine, son of Helen, was Emperor and killed in the conquest of New Rome in 1453. Between the first and last Constantine there had been no other Emperor of the same name whose mother was Helen.

2. The first Patriarch of Constantinople under Emperor Constantine I was Metrophanes and the last Patriarch was also called Metrophanes, who died in 1443; Gennadios never recognized Metrophanes' successor Gregory III because he fled to Rome and died there. There was no other Patriarch with the name Metrophanes between the first and the last.

3. The city of Constantinople had been founded on May 11 (330), finished on May 3 and captured on May 29 (1453), so that all the events of its birth and death occurred in the month of May.

4. Gennadios recorded the prophecy that when an Emperor and a Patriarch whose names began with the letter "Jo-" reigned at the same time, then the end of the Empire and its church would be at hand. So it had come about. For the men who had brought ruin on the church at the Council of Ferrara-Florence in Italy were Joannes the Emperor and Joseph the Patriarch.

Coincidence? Maybe. But worth noting anyway.

It was to Gennadios that the angry people went after seeing the Uniate services in the Great Church of Hagia Sophia. It is said that he hid himself in the cell of his monastery, but left a notice on the door of his cell: "O unhappy Romans, why have you forsaken the truth? Why do you not trust in God, instead of in the Italians? In losing your faith you will lose your city!"

Prophecy fulfilled!

An Orthodox Christian Method of Ending Abortion

Holy Trinity Church in Perm

Half of Pregnant Women in a Town Near Perm Refuse to Make Abortion After Priest's Sermon

Perm, Russia
August 28, 2009
Interfax

In Chaykovsky, the Perm Region, 40 percent of women visiting the women's health clinic refused to terminate their pregnancy after talking to an Orthodox priest.

Women in Chaykovsky are issued an abortion appointment only after a mandatory sermon of Father Igor, a priest in Holy Trinity Church, a Perm issue of Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reports Friday.

During such meetings, women are asked to fill in questionnaires which include such questions as "If you have a child already, and you learn that he/she has drowned a kitten, will you punish your child for that?", "Are you ready to meet the soul of your child after death?", "If a criminal states in court that he murdered someone because his apartment was too small, will he be acquitted?", "Could you ever have a look after abortion on what has been taken out of you?"

Father Igor talks to Muslim women, too.

Albanians Protest Serbs at Church Consecration


Provocations in Djakovica

August 28, 2009
Serbian Orthodox Church Official Site
Milena Bajovic

Several hundreds Albanians protested against Serbs who were coming to a consecration of a church in Djakovica. Thanks to the heavy forces of the Kosovo police and special units, Serbs managed to leave Djakovica after the liturgy. The Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija condemned the today's incident.

On the occasion of the Assumption of Virgin Mary couple of tens of Serbs participated in Djakovica during the Holy Liturgy and the consecration of the church of Assumption of the Mother of God. They came for the first time after 1999 in their home town.

Though, several hundreds of Albanians gathered in front of the church and they prevented by shouting "Chetniks" and "criminals" and swearing, Serbs to leave the church courtyard in three vans and go to the monastery of Visoki Dechani.

After the police reinforcements to displaced Serbs had arrived, eyewitnesses said that they managed to set off with the police escort through other streets on the way to Visoki Dechani where are about 200 displaced Serbs from Djakovica, who had not come to Djakovica because of the security reasons.

On the Feast day of Assumption of Virgin Mary many faithful gathered, displaced people form Kosovo and Metohija and Serbs who live in enclaves.

Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan with the concelebration of monastery brotherhood served the Liturgy in a presence of great number of the faithful.

Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan gave a statement to the Internet portal of the RTS that today's great number of the faithful gathered in the monastery of Visoki Dechani means that people really care for sanctuaries even though they had been living very far from them for many years.

Vicar Bishop Teodosije of Lipljan also sent a word that Kosovo and Metohija were not lost forever and that he hoped that Serbs would start to come back to Kosovo and Metohija.


Condemnation of the incident in Djakovica

Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija has condemned the incident in Djakovica and stated that those kind of acts are not in favor of pacification of the situation but they are provoking further conflicts and instabilities.

On the occasion of gathering the Albanians who were in front of the Orthodox church and who called visiting Serbs "chetnicks" and "criminals" and cursing them is just a quasi evaluation and calling anyone a criminal without any evidence is completely unacceptable.

In communiqué it has been said that the Ministry regrets for all innocent victims in Kosovo and Metohija and supports actions in finding the missing of any nation and faith, as well as arresting those responsible for crimes.

Turkish Prime Minister Visits Orthodox Monastery


Erdoğan Open on Minorities, Makes First Visit to Disputed Patriarchate Buildings

Asia News
Istanbul, Turkey
August 20, 2009

Prime Minister makes surprise visit to Bartholomew I and Büyükada Island, home to buildings owned by the Patriarchate, seized by the Turkish government, but recognised as Orthodox Church property by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The Turkish prime minister continues on his path as a Janus-faced leader, in favour of democracy and minority rights on the one hand and playing the Turkish nationalist card on the other.

An important event took place on 15 August, feast day of the Dormition (Assumption) of Mary. For the first time a Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited the orphanage and monastery of Ayia Yorgi (Saint George) of Kudunas on Büyükada (Prince or Foremost) Island in the Sea of Marmara.

Although each April Muslims come on pilgrimage to the reputedly ‘miraculous’ monastery, the importance of Erdoğan’s visit lies in a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which in June 2008 attributed ownership of the disputed property to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

On his arrival Erdoğan and four of his cabinet ministers was met by Patriarch Bartholomew I who welcomed them. The prime minister’s visit, the first one ever by a Turkish head of government to either building, is seen by many as an implicit recognition of the status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Just before the meeting with Bartholomew, Erdoğan had lunch with representatives of Turkey’s religious minorities (Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Assyrian Orthodox and Catholic), invited by the administration that run the Princes’ Islands, a group of islands inhabited in the past by non-Muslims.

The prime minister told the minority leaders that he hoped that his presence “could help find a solution to the difficult issues that minorities face in the country since the principles of our party, the AKP, are against every form of discrimination, be it regional, religious or ethnic.”

“In our country there should be no differences between the various ethnic groups like the Kurds, Laz, Circassians, or Georgians,” he said, adding that “as a secular state Turkey does have some shortcomings but it also has the capacity to overcome these shortcomings. And we shall do all we can to fulfill the tasks we have undertaken.”

In an ecumenical spirit, Erdoğan cited what could be considered the essence of the Mevlevi Order1 namely that “my neighbour must be met with love because he too was created by God.”

In ending his address Erdoğan cited a Persian saying: “They gathered, talked and dispersed.’ We should not be of those who gather, talk and disperse. A result should come out of this.”

“He gave us a lot of hope and so we are optimistic,” Patriarch Bartholomew I told AsiaNews when asked to comment Erdoğan’s visit and words. “Let us hope that with the help of Our Lady everything works out in the end. His [Erdoğan’s] presence honoured us and gave us an opportunity to directly voice our concerns even if he already knows them.”

Lastly, “We invited the prime minister to come to the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to Halki,” the patriarch said. “He thanked us for that.”

In covering the visit Turkish newspapers described the prime minister’s move as the second initiative taken by his party to further democratisation.

In Istanbul’s diplomatic circles the gesture is seen as important, as something of great significance, but it must be viewed in light of Erdoğan’s Janus-faced reputation2.

For instance, by December of this year, the prime minister must report on Turkey’s progress in meeting demands for European Union membership. He will have very little to show though, for little has been achieved since the 2007 parliamentary elections, which is a great disappointment since his party successfully used the EU membership in its campaign against Turkey’s Kemalist establishment, centred on the military, currently paralysed by the Ergenekon affair3.

This said, diplomatic sources have also noted Erdoğan’s other face, one, which “with ill-concealed nostalgia, hints at the rebirth of the Ottoman Empire thanks to the new trans-Caucasian pipelines backed by Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, with Turkey as hub, now even willing to acknowledge (on its own terms) the Armenian genocide.

The election of a nationalist AKP leader, Mehmet Ali Şahin, as speaker of the Turkish parliament in replacement of the more progressive Köksal Toptan is another sign of this two-faced policy.

Minority leaders have reacted to Ergogan’s visit to Büyükada Island with cautious optimism. “Time will tell,” said Father Dositheos, an Orthodox priest.

Devlet Bahçeli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), instead reacted angrily to the visit, telling the prime minister that the European Union really wants to destroy Turkish identity and undermine the integrity of the Turkish state.

The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also said that by seeking international legitimacy Erdoğan is trying to shield himself from problems within his party.

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

1 A Shia fraternity founded in the 13th century in ancient Iconium, where the Christian presence was strong, and influenced the Mevlevi Order and the Alevi.

2 The god Janus is known for his two faces, hence terms like two-faced, Janus, Janus-faced. Erdoğan has been dubbed Janus-faced because of contradictions in his politics.

3 Ergenekon is the name of an underground nationalist organisation accused of terrorism with close ties to the Turkish military. Last year some prominent individuals were charged with encouraging attacks and stirring up popular unrest in order to promote a coup.

HOUSES OF CHRISTIANS IN ISTANBUL MARKED WITH RED AND GREEN LABELS

Pogrom. Painting of Manuil Shechtman (1927)

Jürgen Gottschlich
Istanbul, Turkey
DER STANDARD
August 26, 2009

Christian houses in the Ferikoy und Kurtulus, areas in Istanbul, where many Armenians and Greeks live, were marked with red or green labels in the past weeks.

Kurdish representatives in the Turkish Parliament requested clarification after Agos, Istanbul based Armenian newspaper, had reported about the incident. It is still unclear who was behind the action.

Agos editor Aris Nalci confirmed to the Austrian news-source, Der Standard, worried and mainly older members of the Armenian community called the newspaper and reported about the fact of small red or green papers hung on their houses. After Agos investigated, they noted that about 100 houses in which, not always but very often, Armenians still live were plastered with these labels.

“We do not know what all this means,” Nalci said, but some people are worried. Demands at the city administration and the police brought no results until now. “Nobody knows about it,” says Nalci. “It can be a bad joke; it can however also have a serious background,” said Nalci.

The indictment against the nationalist Ergenekon group is accused of having planned a coup against the government of Prime Minister Erdogan, including planned attacks on Armenians as a tool for targeted destabilization.

Agos newpaper and Sebahat Tuncel are now demanding that the police carry out an official investigation to reassure the people concerned. “They should publicly take a position,” said Nalci, “so we know what’s going on.”

Kosovo and Ongoing De-Christianization


August 27, 2009
Tokyo News
By Lee Jay Walker

The ongoing de-Christianization of Kosovo continues and unlike the past frenzy of the anti-Serbian mass media in the West, we mainly have a deadly silence about the reality of Kosovo and the continuing Albanianization of this land. However, how is it “just” and “moral” to persecute minorities and to alienate them from mainstream society; and then to illegally recognize this land without the full consensus of the international community?

How ironic it is that the same United States of America and the United Kingdom, two nations who were in the forefront of covertly manipulating the mass media; remain mainly silent about the destruction of Orthodox Christian churches, Serbian architecture, and of course the past killings of Serbians and other minorities in Kosovo.

After all, according to America and the United Kingdom the initial conflict was about human rights, democracy, and liberty. However, what about the liberty and freedom of Orthodox Christian Serbs, Gypsies, and other minorities in Kosovo? Are these minorities free in modern day Kosovo and can they move around without the fear of discrimination, persecution or death?

Obviously, vast parts of Kosovo are out of bounds for the majority of minorities in Kosovo, therefore, the answer is no and many areas which were cleansed of Serbians and other minorities remain cleansed.

According to Minority Rights Group International (MRG) which is based in the United Kingdom, it is apparent that exclusion and discrimination is rife. Therefore, minorities face a bleak future and Serbians, Bosniaks, Roma, Croats, Turks, Gorani and Ashkali Egyptians are either being forced out because of alienation or because of limited economic opportunities.

The MRG is not alone in thinking that minorities have been badly betrayed because it is clear that Kosovo remains in limbo and minorities will continue to leave because of the ongoing situation.

Patriarch Pavle (His Holiness the Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovci, Patriarch of Serbs) is highly respected and a man of reason. He stated the following many years ago ( http://kosovo.net ):

“This humble publication is our cry and appeal to the Christian and civilized world. It is distressing to learn that in the year of the greatest Christian Jubilee, at the end of two millenniums of Christianity, Christian churches are still being destroyed, not in a war but in the time of peace guaranteed by the international community. We hope that these photos of the destroyed and desecrated Orthodox shrines will awaken the conscience of those who are able to stop the crimes and believe that they who already stood up against one evil will not remain just passive witnesses of another evil happening now in their presence.”

“We also make our appeal to all Kosovo Albanians, who reasonably see their future in their joint life with Serbs, to resist and prevent the acts of insanity.”

“In Kosovo and Metohija there will be no victory of humanity and justice while revenge and disorder prevail. No one has the moral right to celebrate the victory complacently, as long as one evil is being replaced with another and the freedom of one people is becoming the slavery of another.”

Patriarch Pavle stated this many years ago and sadly his words of wisdom have been ignored and instead America and the United Kingdom decided to create a new world order; this new world order was to carve up Serbia and to break international law. This breach of ignoring international law ultimately had greater repercussions because the Russian Federation would support Abkhazia and South Ossetia after conflict erupted in Georgia.

Therefore, a “new can of worms was opened” and the “Kosovo model” could inspire future mayhem because it is clear that international law was rendered to be unimportant.

Like I stressed in my last article about Kosovo (Kosovo and Systematic Persecution by KLA) it is clear that all sides committed atrocities, just like what happens in all wars. Pain can be felt on all sides and sadly many innocents were killed during the various civil wars which engulfed the former Yugoslavia.

However, the Serbian story war largely untold and the same can be said about the persecution of other minorities in Kosovo. Yet what is clear is that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was involved in running brutal death camps and this even applies to the killing of people for organs.

At the same time the KLA supported the ethnic cleansing of Serbians and other minorities, and the same applies to the destruction of Christian churches, monasteries, and other historical architecture which was a clear reminder of the roots of Kosovo.

Also, the hard sell by America, the United Kingdom, and other nations who support independence, is that independence was justified on the grounds of Serbian atrocities. Yet if the KLA was found to be involved in killing civilians for organs then “the spin machine” collapses and “democracy” rings hollow.

Therefore, in one part of Europe we are a seeing the silent destruction of Serbian Orthodox Christianity and the ongoing persecution and alienation of minorities in Kosovo.

It would appear that the violation of international law is deemed to be a viable policy for both America and the United Kingdom. Therefore, important questions, for example the role of the KLA in killing innocents for organs, the rise of the KLA in such a short space of time and a host of other vital questions remain unanswered.

However, it is vital to counter this cover-up and blatant violation of international law because it is clear that murky covert acts have been implemented by higher powers. Also, the world is still divided about the future of Kosovo but why did some nations behave so hastily without the full facts, and without taking into consideration the ongoing persecution and alienation of minorities in Kosovo?

Turkish Renovation Work Turns Church Into Mosque

Ortakoy Mosque

Protests Rise as Turkish Renovation Work Turns Church Into Mosque

Earth Times
August 25, 2009
Istanbul, Turkey

Restoration work that would result in an historic Greek Orthodox Church being recognized as a mosque has caused uproar in Turkey, reported the daily Milliyet newspaper on Tuesday. At issue is the 178-year-old St Dimitrios Church in the northern Turkish village of Silivri.

The village was once a Greek settlement but, after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, ethnic Greek residents had to leave in a forced resettlement that swapped 1.5 million ethnic Greeks from Turkey for 600,000 ethnic Turks living in northern Greece.

After the resettlement, the church was briefly used for prayers while work was underway to build a mosque for the new Muslim residents. A minaret was attached to the building, but its cross was never removed.

Later, the church was used for storage and as a stall.

However, current work on the church is being billed as "restoration of the Ortakoy Mosque," causing an uproar.

"There is no doubt that this structure is a church. It's a church even if it was briefly used as a mosque," said Turkish architect and college instructor Oktay Ekinci.

Adding to the grievances is the fact that the renovation work was approved by local leaders of the AKP Justice and Development Party, which runs the government at the national level. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said in the past that protecting minority rights is a priority in Turkey.

Representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey have not commented on the issue.


The Genocide of Iraqi Christians


Letter to President Barack Obama

The oppression of the Iraqi Christians started when Arabs occupied the land in the seventh century. Their method of wiping out Christianity from the region involved the implementation of a simple rule; either convert and follow the Islamic banner, or pay heavy taxes (which many Christians could not afford) or war.

Looking at more modern history, the first genocide of the 20th century began on April 24, 1915. By 1918, 2.65 million Christians including 750,000 Assyrians, 1.5 million Armenians, and 400,000 Greeks were killed by the Ottoman Empire and the Kurds. The Assyrians called this genocide “seyfo” which means sword. In 1933, the massacre of Semel, in Northern Iraq resulted in the death of 3000 Christians at the hands of Kurds and the Iraqi Army. This was the first atrocity committed by the new Iraqi state under Prime Minister Bakir Sidqi, after gaining independence from the British in 1932. My village Tin, in Northern Iraq, shared a similar fate in 1961.

The American occupation in Iraq did not end the struggles of the native Christians. Under the watch of our Democratic government and the newly established Iraqi government, Christians continue to face persecution. Here is a list of some of the acts f violence committed as reported by the Assyrian News Agency:

-A two month infant was kidnapped, beheaded, roasted, and returned to his parents.

-14 year old Ayad Tariq was considered a “dirty Christian sinner” and decapitated.

-Fr. Paulos Iskander (Paul Alexander) was kidnapped, beheaded and dismembered.

-Five priests were kidnapped and released after ransom was paid. Five other priests and three deacons were murdered.

-59 churches were attacked or bombed since June 2004: 40 in Baghdad, 13 in Mosul, 5 in Kirkuk and 1 in Ramadi.

-At least 13 young women were abducted and raped, causing some of them to commit suicide.

-Female students were targeted in Basra and Mosul for not wearing veils; some had nitric acid squirted onto their faces. Elders of a village in Mosul were warned not to send females to universities.

-Mahdi Army circulated a letter warning all Christian women to veil themselves.
-Christian businesses were targeted. 95% of liquor stores were attacked, defaced or bombed. 500 Assyrian shops in a Dora market were burned in one night

-Children were kidnapped and forcibly transferred to Arabs and Kurdish families.

Property was confiscated by Kurds in the North and in the south by Shiites and Sunnis.

-Kurdish authorities forced public works projects to divert water and other vital resources from Assyrian Villages to Kurdish villages.

-While the Arabs protest for one Muslim killed in Europe, they are silent for what happen to the Christians of Iraq, the people of Darfur, or the Coptic in Egypt.

Yes Mr. President, I did like your message to the Arab world in Cairo. I am not against your action of praising Islam or the Quran, but you failed to address their oppression against non-Arabs or non-Muslims who live in the Middle East. We build 12,000 Mosques in the United States, and many thousands more in Europe, yet not one church is allowed in Saudi Arabia. Mr. President , you failed to ask why. I know the answer, because we are infidels and forbidden in their land.

I know we are a democratic and civilized nation and they are not. I know we are strong and forgiving while they are weak and loud. We should not have to improve our image to the Middle East, for we have freedom that millions of Arabs and Muslims enjoy and take advantage of. I have lived in Iraq for 33 years; I know how they treat their people in the streets and in the prisons. Their prisons are many times worse than what occurred in Abu Ghraib. In your message you try to build a bridge to the Islamic world, but you left the non-Muslims in the middle easy angry and alone. They deserve your support, they love freedom as much as we do, and now they face extinction. Fifty percent of the Christian population has left Iraq with the other half face the continuation of a long bitter genocide and it will be under our watch. An Islamic nation without Christians, a Middle East without diversity will only become more radical.

www.paulbatou.com.

www.mylastthoughtsaboutiraq.com.

Painting by Paul Batou

Turkish Government Uses Bribery and Blackmail To Hide Armenian Genocide


FBI Insider Links Turkish Lobby to Bribery and Blackmail

The Armenian Weekly
By Paul Chaderjian
August 10, 2009
Washington

Sibel Edmonds talks under oath about Turks buying votes against Genocide Resolution.

Less than 72 hours ago, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds testified under oath about shocking details connecting the Turkish government to an intricate network of individuals and organization that bribed, persuaded, and—at least in one case—blackmailed U.S. lawmakers and government officials. Corruption. Espionage. Bribery. All to ensure that the U.S. does not recognize the Armenian Genocide ever again.

For years, the Turkish government and its representatives here in the United States have stopped at nothing to fight the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. This far-reaching campaign of denial and cover-up stretches from well-funded efforts to block education about the Armenian Genocide to ensuring that the American media does not address or acknowledge the genocide as a historic fact.

The Turkish government and Turkish lobby have for years pressured the local, state, and federal governments, and the American and global media to rewrite American, Ottoman, Turkish, and world histories so that they exclude the Armenian Genocide.

But only now are we beginning to understand exactly how far the government of Turkey, and its agents and proxies, were willing to go to undermine the Armenian case

Sibel Edmonds

The FBI hired linguist Sibel Edmonds as a translator after 9-11. But she was fired less than a year later after reporting the illegal activities of Turkish citizens being covered up by her bosses. Edmonds has been bravely battling the legal system for years for the opportunity to tell her story. On Sat., Aug. 8, Edmonds was able to speak freely thanks to David Krikorian, an Armenian American who is running for a Congressional seat in Ohio.

“Ms. Edmonds is a very credible witness,” said Krikorian, “and she has direct information pertaining to how, when she was a member of the Department of Justice, she uncovered relationships between the government of Turkey and U.S. officials…where the government of Turkey was pushing its agenda on U.S. officials…in what people many people believe to be an illegal way.”

David Krikorian is the Democratic candidate in the 2010 elections for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional district. The seat is now held by Republican Jean Schmidt, who was the largest recipient of money from the Turkish lobby in the 2008 elections. Schmidt also fought the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

When Schmidt’s challenger, David Krikorian, pointed out that she was receiving blood money from Turks for helping deny the Armenian Genocide, Schmidt complained to the Ohio Elections Commission. Representing Schmidt and the Turkish American Defense Fund at the deposition on Aug. 8 was none other than Bruce Fein, the attorney and longtime voice of the Turkish lobby.

Sibel Edmonds

Bruce Fein

According to Krikorian, the Turkish lobby was interested in Sibel Edmonds’ testimony on Aug. 8 because she’d be linking bribes accepted by U.S. lawmakers to the Turkish campaign of denial.

“I think they’re concerned because this exposes their campaign of denial regarding the Armenian Genocide,” said Krikorian, “and how they’ve been able to buy off certain members of the U.S. Congress in support of the Turkish government’s position on this issue. So they have an interest.”

Bruce Fein claims that Edmond’s testimony has no relevance in Schmidt’s case against David Krikorian.

We asked Fein about Krikorian’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the right to talk openly about his opponent’s opposition to the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

“We totally support his right to state anything he wants about the Armenian Genocide,” said Fein. “What you’re not entitled to do under the first amendment as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, who we think is the authoritative interpreter, is knowing state lies, and what we have alleged, and what we have to prove, and we understand and accept it, is that Mr. Krikorian knowingly and intentionally told lies about Jean Schmidt including she received money from the Turkish government, and we fully expect we will discharge that burden and we agree that we ought to be able to. We must be shouldered with that burden in order to protect free speech. We don’t want close anybody’s mouth when it comes to arguing one way or another about the Armenian Genocide.”

Fein and the Turkish Defense Fund are, however, trying to stop Krikorian from speaking the truth. Schmidt did receive huge sums of contributions from the Turkish lobby. And Sibel Edmonds says that the same lobby bribed public officials to enforce the Turkish agenda in the United States.

Gag Orders

The government has tried to gag Edmonds and has sent threatening letters to stop this type of talk about corruption inside the FBI, the State Department, the Department of Justice, and in the halls of Congress.

“I am able to talk about the kind of information they used to retaliate against whistle blowers, to gag people, to issue states secrets privilege, or to use the excuse of classification,” said Edmonds. “Nothing that has to do with national security but to cover up criminal activities, embarrassing information. And today that is happening, and this is the biggest significance. It’s very significant. I believe Mr. Krikorian is a very brave and courageous person to push this and bring it to this point. He’s actually serving the interest of United States citizens, and not only those in Cincinnati, Ohio, but everyone here in this country. So, we should be all thankful to him for providing us with this opportunity.”

During the deposition on Aug. 8, Edmonds talked in detail about the scandalous bribes accepted by then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and former lawmakers Dick Gephardt and Stephen Solarz. She also spoke about the blackmailing of another un-named member of Congress—a married woman with children, who was lured into a homosexual affair by a female prostitute sent by the Turkish lobby. This Congresswoman was then blackmailed to abandon her support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

“It’s the Turkish government,” said Edmonds, “but also other entities and layers of these operations and some of these covert operations and the way they are done is completely illegal. I was able to discuss those in detail, and that information within the next couple of hours I hope will be available to the public, and the public will get a chance to decide for themselves and see what the government does to gag and quash necessary information like this and stamp it as classified. I think this may end up inflicting the best and the worst damage to arbitrarily, criminally done classifications, and let’s hope that it does.”

Vanity Fair

Sibel Edmonds says the allegations she made in an August 2005 Vanity Fair article were confirmed by several FBI agents and Department of Justice officials. The piece by Vanity Fair reporter David Rose said that Hastert was the recipient of various bribes. Edmonds says it is amazing that neither Hastert nor his attorneys reacted to the article. Hastert did not issue a denial to the allegations, but he resigned a year later. Now he is part of the Turkish government-orchestrated network that Vanity Fair says paid him the big bribes when he was the most powerful member of the House of Representatives. The most recent federal filings show that Hastert, one of several registered foreign agents for Turkey, now receives $35,000 a month to push the Turkish government’s agenda on Capitol Hill.

How deep do these corrupt Turkish operations go? Vanity Fair reported that the FBI began investigating Turkish citizens living in the U.S. in the late 1990’s, and they found evidence of attempts to bribe U.S. officials. However, as Edmonds says, the government has used the phrase “state secrets” and security reasons to keep this information from the public and media.

The Ohio Election Commission’s Probable Cause hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13, and the final hearing in the case against David Krikorian, where all the evidence will be heard, is scheduled for Sept. 3.

***

Q&A with Bruce Fein

Q: Is this part of the series of cases you’re opening up, whether it’s in Massachusetts or suing the Southern Poverty Law Center, to try to quash speech with regard to the Armenian Genocide?

BF: No, what we are trying to do is promote freedom of speech because what’s been done is that other organizations have accused various members who dispute their version of history of criminal activity of compromising scholarly integrity. It is they who are trying to suppress freedom of speech by intimidating, harassing, and calling criminal those individuals who happen to dispute their version of history.

Q: Would you then also support Holocaust denial entrance into the Massachusetts school system or pushing other publications like the Southern Poverty Center’s publication to talk about denial as well?

BF: What the Southern Poverty Law Center alleged is that various academics are receiving money from the government of Turkey to compromise their scholarship and we will not accept accusations that are knowingly false of that sort, period.

Turkish War Crimes Uncovered in Mass Graves in Cyprus


August 11, 2009
The London Daily News

The Turkish army has been accused of war crimes during its illegal invasion in 1974 of Cyprus, which has provoked Greek Cypriots to prepare law suits to prosecute Turkey for war crimes. Following the discovery of human remains in a mass grave confirmed using DNA evidence to be the bodies of five Greek-Cypriot soldiers who appeared in an "iconic" photograph depicting the ferocious military attack instigated by Turkish troops on the Mediterranean island.

The families of the Greek Cypriots have said that the evidence found in the mass graves of the bodies to be that of the men presumed missing for 35 years, were in fact murdered in the custody of Turkish troops.

"It's a cold-blooded execution," Andreas Hadjikyriakos, a brother of one of the soldiers told Cyprus state TV. "I can never accept this." (Associated Press)

The Associated Press in a report said:

"The remains of the soldiers and 14 other people were exhumed from an abandoned well in late 2006 near the northern village of Tziaos, Elias Georgiades, an official with the United Nations-led Committee on Missing Persons, said. He said the soldiers' families were informed Friday that the remains had been identified."

Greece's Foreign Ministry on Monday also said the latest discovery "confirms ... crimes committed during the invasion."

The Turkish government have made no comment on the reports and the Turkish army did not according to UNFICYP (the UN force in Cyprus) provide any sort of credible co-operation in the process of recognition of the remains.

The revelations of the mass graves comes on the day when the vice chairman of the parliamentary group for the "Friend of Cyprus" Andrew Dismore Labour MP for Hendon, and chairman of parliament's human rights committee outlined how he was determined to pursue anyone who has committed war criminals and said in The Guardian:

"The UK must not be a safe haven for evil. The message to those who have perpetrated the most heinous crime imaginable must be clear: they are not welcome here, not to visit, not to live, not to holiday, shop or get medical treatment. The UK should close these loopholes in the law. We also need to establish a specialist war crime unit".

The London Daily News has been made aware of London based Cypriot organisations preparing law suits against the Turkish government for war crimes that may implicate London based Turkish diplomats and citizens who have been accused of complicity in war crimes during the 1974 invasion of Cyprus. There are around 3,000 Greek-Cypriots living in the Hendon constituency of Andrew Dismore; which may according to senior sources in the Greek-Cypriot community provide enough justification to pressure the British parliamentary human rights committee to pursue Turks in the UK involved in war crimes in Cyprus in 1974.

A dossier of the information will be submitted, according to a senior Greek-Cypriot source, to the parliamentary human’s right committee for review on UK based Turks who were involved in war crimes in 1974.

The five men whose remains have been discovered are:

Korellis Antonakis Michael, age 30, from Kythrea
Nicolaou Panicos Chrisostomos, age 26, from Ekso Metoxi
Hadjykyriakos Philippos Stephanos, age 19, from Ammochostos
Papayiannis Ioannis Charalambos, age 24, from Aglangia
Skordis Christoforos Georghios, age 25, from Dhali

In January this year a leading Turkish actor confessed to murdering 10 Greek-Cypriots live on a Turkish talk show. Atilla Olgaç confessed that he executed in cold-blood ten Greek Cypriot prisoners of war during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Indian Orthodox Church to Build the Largest Cancer Care Centre in Asia


Indian Orthodox Herald
August 18, 2009
Written By: Binu Thomas
Parumala, India

The foundation stone laying ceremony of the dream project St. Gregorios International Cancer Centre (Research and Training) under St. Gregorios Medical Mission Hospital, Parumala will be held on August 24, 2009 by the Supreme head His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didymos I at Parumala Hospital at 3pm.

Catholicos Elect Paulose Mar Milithios and Metropolitans -Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthatheos (Sr. Metropolitan), Thomas Mar Athanasios (Chengannur), Dr. Thomas Mar Athanasios (Kandanad East),Yuhanon Mar Milithios (Thrissur),Kuriakose Mar Clemis (Thumpamon), Zachariah Mar Anthonios (Kollam), Dr. Mathews Mar Severios (Kandanad West), Job Mar Philoxenos (Delhi), Geevarghese Mar Coorilos (Mumbai), Paulose Mar Pachomios (Mavelikara), Dr. Yakoob Mar Irenius (Kochi), Zachariah Mar Nicholovos (Asst. North East America), Dr. Gabriel Mar Gregorios (Thriruvanathapuram), Dr. Zachariah Mar Theophilus (Malabar), Dr. Yuhanon Mar Chrisostomos (Niranam), Yuhanon Mar Polycarpos (Ankamali), Mathews Mar Theodosius (Idukki), Joseph Mar Dionysius (Calcutta), Abraham Mar Epiphanios (Sulthan Bathery), Dr. Mathews Mar Timotheos (U.K.- Europe – Africa), Dr. Yuhanon Mar Dioscorus (Chennai) will grace this occasion with their presence.

St. Gregorios International Cancer Care Centre is mainly aimed at providing treatment for cancer patients at an affordable cost. The St. Gregorios Medical Mission already possesses all the clinical facilities, except the radiotherapy facility to start a cancer centre. A full fledged cancer centre with an eight storied building will be opened hopefully in next 3 years with exclusive cancer wards, qualified and experienced personnel and radiotherapy treatment facilities. 100 crore rupees is estimated to complete the hospital building. The new facility will have 17 different departments including palliative care, hospice, nuclear medicine, radio therapy, etc.

Fr. Alexander Koodarathil is the Chief Executive Officer coordinating the new project to complete it in a timely fashion

The readers can also be a part of this great endeavour with their contribution and support to make the dream of rendering help to the needy patients into a reality.

Donations made to St.Gregorios Medical Mission Hospital, Parumala, Mannar, Thiruvalla will be eligible to the benefit of deduction u/s80G Approval from Govt: of India.

For more information, contact:

Executive Officer
St. Gregorios International Cancer Care (Research and Training),
C/o St.Gregorios Medical Mission Hospital,
Parumala P.O. Pathananthitta (Dist), Kerala, Pin-689 626
Tel: +91 479 2312266, 2312465, Fax.: +91 479 2312866
Email: sgmhospital@sify.com, fr.alexanderkoodarathil@gmail.com
Website: www.sghospital.org

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Teachings of Elder Paisios on the Purification of the Heart


- You must look after the purification of your soul on a daily basis. Do your spiritual work and say the Jesus Prayer. Your thoughts, will and desires are where your mind is. The submission of our spirit is the most important thing. In order to acquire a virtue, we must be humble and careful, so we can detect its opposite evil, and then pray to Christ to help us get rid of it. We don’t need to try too hard or be concerned how, when and in what way our heart will be able to acquire this virtue.

- A man once asked the Elder: "Father, when we read the writings of the Fathers of the Church, we notice the following phenomenon: some saints say that praying is of utmost importance and others talk about obedience or voluntary poverty. It is hard for someone to understand exactly what Christ is asking from us. When we think we must apply all these virtues at the same time, then we despair, as it is impossible to struggle for all of them at once. Our endeavor becomes a lot easier, when we realise that the acquisition of these virtues is the result of a single struggle. Could you please help me understand what exactly I should do in order to find the way leading to Christ?"

Elder Paisios responded: "Purification, divine justice, humility, love, obedience, voluntary poverty, and all virtues are one and the same. Christ wants us to eliminate our will to zero. If you obtain a single one of these virtues, bear in mind, that the rest are found in the one you just acquired; the same thing applies to our passions; one passion includes all others. Purification requires the soul to be pure and clean from our own will; divine justice is the abandonment of our own will to the will of God; humility is to humble our will and elevate God’s will; obedience means not to have a will and thus obey other people; prayer means to take our mind off our wishes and desires and concentrate on God. So, you see whichever virtue you apply, you are led to the same result, that is, to the elimination and purification of your own will. Man will spiritually progress and be benefited only when he manages to eliminate his will to zero. When the Americans want to send a missile to space, they do the same thing; they count from ten to zero. When they reach zero, then the missile is fired. The same applies to our soul; when our wills are eliminated to zero and our soul is cleansed, then it is elevated towards God!"

- The grace of God entered our soul through Holy Baptism; it is a gift granted to all of us. Sometimes, we think that God gave to a saint more gifts than others; this is wrong. Christ loves all of His children the same; it is we, however, who do not value and appreciate God’s gift to the same degree. When someone is grateful and believes that the grace of Christ, which he received through Holy Baptism, is inside his soul, he humbles his own will and purifies himself in order to allow divine grace to function. When divine grace functions inside a soul, it makes us think that God favored this person with more gifts. However, the truth is that this person loves Christ more, and through his humility, permits God to act on his behalf.

- We are in no way inferior to the Apostles. The Apostles were physically close to Christ, who helped them; however, we, too, have Him inside our soul since a very young age, through the grace of Holy Baptism. We should unload our soul from our passions and let divine grace dwell inside us. The more we purify ourselves, the more we allow for divine grace to function. When a soul is completely clean from its will and is totally humbled, then it can experience the grace of Christ and the fulfillment of all His promises.

- Since the term 'purification of the soul' was in a way unknown to me, I frequently asked the Elder to analyse it in detail. He suggested reading some sections of the Holy Bible, which would make it possible for me to turn inwards and face the ugliness of my soul, and thus gradually begin its purification.

Following are some of these texts:


2 Cor 6:16-18, 7:1 - "For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, 'I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore touching nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."

2 Tim 2:20-21 - “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble. If anyone purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work."

2 Cor 7:1 - “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God.”

2 Cor 10:3-5 - “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Phil 2:5-9 - “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.”

Mt 5:8 - “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Mt 23:26 - “You blind Pharisee! First cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Lk 11:39 - "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness.”

Recommended Patristic Studies on Saint John the Baptist


Below I am posting links to two texts from Google Books that will hopefully spark some interest in Patristic studies relating to Saint John the Baptist that I recently came across. Both are limited previews on their sites, so if the books interest you enough you may want to purchase them.

Since today we celebrate the Apodosis of the Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, this first text is significantly appropriate. It is titled Homilies of Leo VI in which the profound and theologically astute homilies of Emperor Leo VI are analyzed. I am posting specifically pages 143-151 which deal with "Homily 13 on the Beheading of John the Baptist" and "Homily 42 on the Birth of John the Baptist". What I like about the information in these 8 pages is that author, Theodora Antonopoulou, reflects on the history of patristic homilies on these subjects that I find useful for further study.

The second text is a book titled The Diet of John the Baptist by James A. Kelhoffer. The author goes into quite a bit of detail concerning the interpretation of "locusts and wild honey" described in the Synoptic Gospels as the diet of St. John and asks whether or not this was in fact a vegetarian diet but misunderstood due to a faulty translation. What I especially found interesting was chapter 5 which goes into the patristic interpretation. I found the whole thing fascinating.

Saint Daniel the Stylite Counsels on Vain Disputations and Questionings in the Church


Through the Devil's working a tumult once arose in the most holy churches, for tares had sprung up from vain disputations and questionings, so that some monks, who were renowned for good living, through their simple-mindedness and through their failure to consider the matter with precision, left the most Holy Church and seperated themselves from the holy fellowship and liturgy. These mischief-makers came to the holy man (Daniel) and tried to confound him with similar arguments, but he who kept the foundation of the holy faith unmovable and unshakable answered them saying:

"If the question which you raise is concerning God, your inquiry is no simple or ordinary matter, for the Divinity is incomprehensible; and it will be sufficient for you to study the traditions of the holy Apostles about Him and the teaching of the divine Fathers who followed in their steps and not trouble yourselves any further. But if the matter in dispute is about human affairs, as, for instance, if one priest has removed another, or has accepted one to whom the others object, all such things must be submitted to the judgement of God and to the rulers themselves to judge according to the divine canons; for we are sheep and they are shepherds, and they will give account to God for the flocks entrusted to them; let us abstain from vain and dangerous questionings and let us each consider that which concerns ourselves knowing that is not without danger that we seperate ourselves from our holy mother, the Church. For her bridegroom is the true Shepherd who is able to recall to His fold the sheep that have strayed and to lead those who have not strayed to better pasture. Therefore it suffices us to believe unquestioningly in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to receive the incarnate dispensation of our Lord Jesus Christ and His birth from the Virgin in the same way as He Himself was pleased to do in His own lovingkindness, for it is written: 'Seek not out the things that are too high for thee'" (Ecclesiasticus 3:21).

With this and similar counsel and warning he led their hearts away from the soul-destroying questionings and kept them unshaken in the faith.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Marital Advice from Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi


Do Not Complain About Your Spouse

Now then, today I am forced to speak about this matter also; it is a somewhat daring endeavour, but necessity has caused me to bring up the subject, when every day I hear men say "my wife is like this, my wife is like that, all women are devils...".

So, I ask: "Excuse me dear fellow, but this woman you are referring to - weren't you the one that married her?"

"Yes."

"Well then, when you married her, didn't you find every love, tenderness and happiness in her person?"

"Yes."

"So, why have you changed now? She is the same person. Both when you married her, and now. Can you see that you are to blame?"

Looking at Marriage From an Eternal Perspective

I met an elderly couple some years ago, approximately in their eighties, who had so much bitterness between them that, if it were possible, they would kill each other. I felt sorry for them; I sat down next to them and began to search deeper and discovered that they had reached that point out of ignorance. They had no idea what Christianity was, or anything about ethics - nothing whatsoever. When I sat down to talk to them, I saw that they were quite receptive and they would pay attention to whatever I told them. Well, after trying to briefly show them that mankind has origins from God and has eternity, and that we will not be in this world forever, and that the conjugal relationship is not dissolved here but continues into eternity, they were both moved and they accepted all that they heard. I left them, and after some time, they sent me a letter in which they said: "Elder, it is as though we are reliving the first month of our marriage." This from those who were ready to kill and to slaughter each other. Can you see the evidence now?

The Faithful Husband That Did Not Abandon His Adulteress Wife

I will tell you of another characteristic of a proper spouse, which is extremely difficult to find in our day. But we did encounter one such person. He was in every way a perfect character, a Christian, and completely social. He married late, around thirty years old, not because he was averse to marriage, but because he thought that was how it should be. So he said his prayers with faith, and found himself a young girl and married her. The girl was young, ten years younger than him. Soon after he married her, she began her mischief. He pretended not to notice; he regarded her as his daughter and himself as her father. However, they had important business interests overseas and they had to go there, even if only temporarily. So he took her and they went abroad. When they arrived, she became very obstinate, and would say to herself: "He did this on purpose, to estrange me from my environment. I will desert him." So she abandoned and left him. She came back to Greece, and where do you think she went? To one of those "casino" places, and began to live the life of a free woman - one who is paid.

The husband however, from the day that she left him, never stopped praying with tears and insisting - in fact exhorting God: "All Good One, I will not retreat, I will not leave you alone; You were the One who gave me my wife. 'By the Lord is a man and woman harmonized' (according to the Bible). I want my wife. If the young girl has been deceived, must she be lost? Why did You come down to earth? Didn't You come to find the lost ones, to heal the sick, to resurrect the dead? I will not retreat. I will not let You rest. I want my wife; bring her back to me." He wept for two whole years.

His prayer was eventually heard and the young woman came to her senses. "Oh my," she confessed, "God will have to create another Hell, because this one is too small for me!"

So she sat down and wrote him a letter, saying: "I dare not address your name; I have no such right. If I return, will you accept me as your servant?"

He replied: "My love, why did you mention that word and hurt my feelings? Wasn't it me who sent you on a vacation and I was longing for my love to return to my open arms?"

So, he went and waited for her at the airport, as they had arranged. When she arrived, she fell down and began to beat herself and cry. He took her in his arms.

"My love, why are you like this and hurt my feelings? I was longing to see you again. Let's go home now; we never parted - I was always with you."

And this young girl proved herself to be a faithful wife from then on.

And that is the stance that a man - a husband - should take. If spouses are like these, then show me what woman is bad?

Documentary on Constantinople (Video)

Konstantinoupoli (ZDF)
This is a German documentary on Constantinople subtitled in Greek. I'm not sure if its available in English however.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Holy Synod of Bulgaria Objects, But the Madonna Show Will Go On


The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church this past Tuesday officially issued a statement aimed at preventing Madonna's much anticipated Sticky and Sweet tour from taking place in Sophia on August 29, saying that it collides with the strict day of fasting in honor of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

The purpose of the Holy Synod is to present the ideal response to matters like these from an ecclesiastical perspective, and in this regards they did what they were supposed to do. However, is this a case of being better off late than never? I don't think so.

What comes off with bad taste is that the statement comes out a bit late and seems very detached. 50,000 people are expected to attend tomorrows much anticipated concert, but the Holy Synod decided to give their counsel just four days prior to the event after the tickets had been sold for weeks and the city made its very expensive arrangements. And in a country where over 65% of the population lives in poverty, it seems unfair that the attendees would have to give up their expensive seats to this event just because of a fasting day in which they would probably stay home and watch TV anyway.

I believe the Holy Synod made a serious error here that could tarnish their reputation. I respect the fact that they stand for their Orthodox Christian values, but such a detached papal-inspired statement (which has become all too common in the Orthodox world these days) will probably do little more than make a few people guilty for attending an event they planned on attending anyway. To be honest, if I were put in the same situation as the Bulgarians planning to attend the concert, I would probably proceed in attending the concert while keeping the strict fast according to my own pious conscience.

It would have served the interest of the Holy Synod much better if they made their proclamation when it was officially announced months ago that Madonna was going to be coming to Sophia and prior to ticket sales officially opening. Also, since the Holy Synod has close ties with the government, they could have quite easily arranged for Madonna to show up on a different date than August 29. But they failed to notice these things until a few priests started making their protests. Now in less than a week before the concert and after all the preparations have been made the Holy Synod makes an unwise decision that only makes them look foolish in the eyes of the people for not taking notice any sooner. Now the only thing the Holy Synod has done is put a burden on the conscience of the faithful who may be attending this event.

It would have been wiser if the Holy Synod, even though it was made aware of this concert late in the game, to express their error in not addressing this issue sooner. Acknowledging their error they should have allowed the show to go on with their and maybe just offered some advice regarding the spectacle they were about to witness. Having done this, they should have ended their statement with the encouragement to keep the strict fast nonetheless and to make sure to be in their respective local churches the following morning for the Divine Liturgy. As an added bonus, if they really wanted the concert goers to give up their seats, they could have offered a reimbursement for what they paid for their tickets. In this way they would have showed their humble error and in return made right something that is wrong.

Ideals aside, now the show will go on and the people are left without shepherds and to the voice of their own conscience. What's worse is that Madonna comes off as the winner in this match and the media has a heyday with the controversy. They would have been better off leaving the matter alone and allowing Madonna to disappoint the overly-eager crowd like she did in Romania or allowing fate to take its course.

But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that it is a shame a concert of this magnitude will be occuring in an Orthodox country on a day in which all celebrations ought to be avoided in memorial of that vile feast that brought about the death of the Holy Forerunner.


The Holy Myrrh-Streaming Hawaiian Iveron Icon Visits Greek Church in San Jose, CA


Famous Icon Visits San Jose church

Aug 19, 2009
By Chuck Flagg
The Gilroy Dispatch

St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church in San Jose, California (1630 Bose Lane) was visited by a famous icon from Hawaii on Aug. 16. This small picture (7 inches by 9 inches) of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus has a short but interesting history.

Myrrh is a fragrant gum resin that comes from certain trees in the Mideast. There seems to be a tradition of icons that begin to miraculously exude this substance, often in the form of teardrops that possess the fragrance of roses. The icon visiting St. Basil is an exact replica of a famous myrrh-streaming icon in Montreal of the Theotokos ("Mother of God") of Iveron. It is a paper print mounted on wood, manufactured in Russia and purchased in Toronto by a priest who gave it to a Russian Orthodox believer in Honolulu in 2007.

In October of that year, the owner, Nectarios, noticed the sweet smell of roses in his study. An investigation caused him to discover this icon was exuding small drops of myrrh, coming from the Virgin's eyes and dripping down the panel.

He later took it to his parish church where it continued to emit this sweet-smelling substance. It became quite famous in Hawaii, and a large number of visitors from all Christian traditions have come to visit the icon, "feeling the grace of God" in its presence. Some days the icon is dry and others it is completely covered in myrrh. Yet it continuously gives off the scent of roses.

In June 2008, the Holy Myrrh-Streaming Hawaiian Iveron Icon was "officially recognized by Archbishop Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church as miraculous and genuine and given the blessing to travel to churches of Holy Orthodoxy." At St. Basil's on Sunday, the icon was introduced to the parish with a procession at the 9:30 a.m. Divine Liturgy. Surrounded by priests and robed assistants, it was ushered with clouds of incense down the center aisle and placed on a special stand before the iconostasis (screen in front of the altar).

The morning's sermon explained that the point of the icon's streaming was to show the love of Mary, Mother of God. The myrrh from the icon has reportedly caused great miracles in Hawaii and elsewhere.

Following the worship service, Nectarios, the original owner of the icon, spoke briefly about it. He assured everyone that the streaming was no trick, but a genuine miracle and told of some miraculous cures attributed to the icon, suggesting the tears are "a reaction to our sinful ways."

Afterward, members of the congregation lined up to reverently kiss the icon and receive a blessing from priests who anointed them with myrrh collected from the painting. Parishioners took the Q-tips used for this procedure home in sealed small plastic bags.

For more information about the icon, call St. Basil's Church at (408) 268-3214.

Another Sign of Extremism: Jimmy Carter Leaves Church


[Former President Jimmy Carter is yet another Protestant abandoning the conservative Southern Baptists for a more liberal version of his own interpretation of Christianity. Essentially he is going from one extreme to another, but this extremism is exactly the type of spiritual confusion that is going on in America these days. It seems we have gone from Modernism to Postmodernism and now into Extremism. - J.S.]

Jimmy Carter Leaves Church

by Tommi Avicolli
Aug. 24‚ 2009
Beyond Chron

Former President Jimmy Carter has left the Southern Baptist Convention, a religion he belonged to for 60 years. Carter’s departure came as a result of his growing frustration over the Protestant denomination’s unbending sexism towards women and girls, according to an op-ed the former deacon and Bible teacher recently penned.

“It was, however, an unavoidable decision,” Carter wrote, “when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.”

It’s not the first time Carter has spoken out against the Christian right and its idiocy. In an interview with the gay publication, The Advocate, in 2006, Carter said: “The fundamentalists in religious circles believe that they have a unique relationship with God; therefore their beliefs are absolutely right, and anyone who disagrees with any aspect of their beliefs is wrong and inherently inferior.”

A couple weeks after resigning from Southern Baptist Convention, Carter gave a half-hour speech before the New Baptist Covenant, a more moderate religious group he helped found. At the gathering in Norman, Oklahoma recently, Carter posed a series of questions for the 1,000 people who came to hear him speak.

“How many of you believe women should serve as deacons, pastors and military chaplains or do you believe women are supposed to be submissive to their husbands and not allowed to be leaders and teachers of men?” he asked. “How many of you believe homosexual Christians should be treated with respect and accepted into our congregations or that the sin of homosexuality is paramount above all other sins and warrants their complete exclusion?”

Carter complained that the fighting within Christian denominations over such hot-button issues as homosexuality, abortion and the equality of women is “like a cancer that is metastasizing in the body of Christ.” He says he wants to unite Christians of all races and ideologies.

It’s no easy task.

Especially if Carter wants to unite them around a social and economic justice agenda. Christianity does not have a history of promoting human rights or economic justice for all. The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. with over 16 million members nationwide, actually broke off from the northern group in 1845 because of its (the southern convention’s) support for slavery and white supremacy.

It wasn’t until 1995 that the denomination officially repented for its racist history. Imagine how long it will take for the church to denounce its sexist and homophobic actions and beliefs? Not to mention its current opposition to single-payer healthcare.

Carter and his supporters have their work cut out for them.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of "Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus", and editor of "Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation", which has just been nominated for an American Library Association award. His website is www.avicollimecca.com.

Marilyn Manson Discusses His Reputation as a Nihilist


[I've long considered Manson among the most intelligent and creative minds in rock and roll history and certainly the most entertaining, but he is also its most misunderstood and rumor-filled figure. Since misunderstanding alienates people, it has always been my goal to seek the truth in all things and listen to what everyone has to say. In the September 2009 issue of Metal Hammer, Marilyn Manson was interviewed while on his US tour for Rockstar Mayhem (which I had the opportunity to attend). In the interview he discusses his reputation of being a Nihilist, and I thought he gave an interesting answer that others may be interested in as well. - J.S.]

"I think I've started to understand, in the midst of essentially having an identity crisis over the past year or two, not knowing or understanding who I'm supposed to be, that there's a part of me that has to go on stage and be in front of strangers, sharing my most intimate thoughts and there's part of me that does the same thing, but with people I know. So it's not two different people, it's more trying to come to terms with exposing your deepest secrets in front of people I don't know, which is kind of fucked.

“It’s a weird thing because I’ve thought about this concept of when someone says, 'I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ll do whatever I do!' To me that’s a misnomer because I do care what people think in different ways: I care about the people I know and love the most, but I also care about what the people I don’t know think in the sense that I want them to think and understand me in a certain way. I don’t base my life around either one and I don’t change the way I live to please either set of people, but I do care.

“If I didn’t care I wouldn’t be an artist, I’d be a nihilist and nihilism seems very exhausting. There’s no point in being any sort of artist or writer or painter or mime or whatever the fuck you want to be if you don’t care. You have to care in order to be able to put something into the world otherwise there’d be no point. It doesn’t mean that I’m positive all the time or that I’m a humanitarian or democrat or republican or any specific thing, except I can’t possibly be a nihilist because it contradicts art. You can be completely reckless and hate the world, you can be agnostic or many things, but nihilism, if you want to talk about what people define or misdefine me as, is not really possible. Yes, I’m reckless and sometime express no concern for my own well being and I express a misanthropic view of the world, but to have an opinion you can’t be a nihilist.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus Declares He Is Taking Turkey to Court


Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus visited Poland last week to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ, since the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland follows the Old Calendar. The Archbishop of Poland had visited Cyprus in May.

He celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration at the famous shrine of the Holy Mountain of Grabarka. About 100,000 pilgrims from all over Europe attended this festal celebration, and the Archbishop was especially impressed to see the young people outnumbered the older and possessed a great amount of zeal for their Orthodox Faith.

"The Church of Poland is also a martyric church, as is ours, which is why they understand us more than the other Orthodox churches, as we also understand the troubles and problems which they endured and continue to endure", said the Archbishop.

When Archbishop Chrysostomos arrived in Larnaka, Cyprus following his successful and edifying visit to Poland, he had some strong words to say concerning the Turkish occupiers of Cypriot lands, saying: "The colonists have no right to be in Cyprus, they are intruders". He further declared, "The colonists must leave and go back to their own homeland and their own houses".

In explaining why the Turkish colonists are indeed intruders into Cyprus, the Archbishop said, "Ankyra brought them here to overturn the demographic composition of our island".

He further emphasized that "the church waited 35 whole years and I think that is a lot. Next month we will depart to the European Courts for a three-fold lawsuit against Turkey." Laying out what this three-fold lawsuit consisted of, the Archbishop explained, "First, that they do not allow us to go back to our places of worship to pray and to conduct the services of our Orthodox Church, they do not allow us to maintain our churches, and they do not allow us to make use of our property to upkeep and take care of it."

"This is a three-fold lawsuit and already our lawyers are more than ready, and I think with the help of God next month we will lay down a lawsuit", he said.

Significant Bulgarian Medieval Archeological Discoveries


Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Unique Medieval Byzantine Seal

August 21, 2009

Bulgarian archaeologist, Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov, has discovered a unique medieval seal at the site of the Knyazhevski (i.e. "Princely") Monastery near the Eastern city of Varna.

The seal is dated back to the 10th century and belonged to the Byzantine dignitary Antonius, who was an imperial protospatario in Constantinople. Antonius had correspondence with a representative of the Knyazhevski Monastery, who is believed to have been the Bulgarian Knyaz (i.e. king) Boris I (r. 852-889 AD) himself.

The team of archaeologist Popkonstantinov from the University of Veliko Tarnovo has also discovered fragments of Byzantine ceramics and a book lock near the seal, which is seen as a proof that the Knyazhevski Monastery was a scriptorium of the Bulgarian royal family in the 9th and 10th century when the Slavic literature was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire.

During their excavations in the summer of 2009 so far, the archaeologists have discovered very well preserved monastery vaults from the 9th century. They have stated that those vaults were the only ones preserved in Bulgaria from the medieval monasteries, and that the scriptorium of what once was the Knyazhevski Monastery was the only one in the lands of the Byzantine Empire that was preserved so well.

The Knyazhevski Monastery, located in the Karaach Teke area, is believed to have been the largest literary and cultural center in Northeast Bulgaria in the 9th-12th century. The archaeologists have discovered there over 40 book locks, pieces of parchment, lead seals. They believe that some of the disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodius most likely worked there.

Bulgaria's first formally Christian ruler, St. Knyaz Boris I Mihail, is believed to have been the sponsor of the Monastery in question.

The First Bulgarian Empire (681-1018 AD) formally converted to Christianity in 863-864 AD even though large parts of the Bulgarian population are believed to have converted earlier. In 886 AD, Bulgaria welcomed three of the five disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodius - St. Naum of Preslav, St. Kliment (Clement) of Ohrid, and St. Angelarius, who fled from Great Moravia, and brought the recently created Slavic script to Bulgaria.

Under the auspices of St. Knyaz Boris I (852-889) and his son, Tsar Simeon I The Great (893-927), the Slavic literature in Old Bulgarian, also known as Church Slavonic, flourished and was later used when other Slavic states such as Russia and Serbia converted to Christianity.


Bulgaria Archaeologists Find 14th Century Medallion with Christ

August 27, 2009

Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a unique glass medallion with Christ Pantocrator at the excavated fortress of Kastritsi near Varna.

The archaeological team is led by Valentin Pletnyov, head of the Varna Regional History Museum.

The medallion, which is dated back to the 14th century, the later period of the Second Bulgarian State (1186-1396), is an extremely rare find. It was discovered in the wooden floor of one of the large buildings in the fortress Kastritsi, which is close to the Euxinograd palace on the Black Sea coast.

Pletnyov said the medallion was made of copper enamel, i.e. a type of glass produced in Byzantium after the 13th century. The medallion has a diameter of 4 cm, and shows Christ Pantocrator holding the Gospel, and giving a blessing with his other hand. Nothing of this kind has ever been discovered in Bulgaria so far.

The archaeologists believe that the medallion was made in the Byzantine Empire, and was then imported to Bulgaria. They also found nearby a medieval scale for coins dated to the second part of the 14th century.

Diving Under Hagia Sophia and Discovering Its Rich History


More Discoveries at Hagia Sophia

August 6, 2009
Medieval News

In its nearly 1,700 years, the Byzantine church Hagia Sophia in Istanbul has been harbouring many exciting mysteries, which today are brought to light one by one.

According to the Bulgarian News Agency, a team of Turkish divers and speleologists uncovered some of the underground secrets, kept by the church during the ages. The team's findings, which are featured in a 50-minute documentary, throw light on some of the mysteries buried beneath, while at the same time dispel some of the myths.

The team went down 283 metres and filmed two underground stone-tiled passages. According to one theory, the Byzantine emperor Theodosius II used one of the passages when he wanted to sneak unnoticed to the Hippodrome. The Hippodrome was an arena where races and gladiator fights were held, which is why some call it Istanbul's Colosseum.

In the floor right under the magnificent dome of Hagia Sophia lies the cover of the main water reservoir, which is 12 m deep. The team has found two rooms of 5 sq m each, containing bones and fragments from drinking vessels. The remains are believed to be of Saint Antigenos, a child saint, who is the only human being buried in Hagia Sophia up until the 13th century and of Patriarch Athanasius, who died in the 15th century and was buried in the church. The two rooms are most likely burial chambers.

Meanwhile, Turkish media report that three more mosaics of angels will soon be uncovered. Turkey's Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Güna was commenting on the recent discovery of a mosaic depicting an angel in the church. “For the first time in my life, I am a part of an endeavor this exciting,” Günay said at a press conference he held at Hagia Sophia, where he added that three more similar mosaics will be uncovered in the future.

“This endeavor made at the northeast quarter of the dome is a very important one for Hagia Sophia and, I believe, for Christian theology,” Günay added. The angel mosaic’s true age will be assessed after an analysis by the Hagia Sofia Science Board compares it to similar mosaics. Its six-winged figure depicts the seraphim, an angel described in the biblical book of Isaiah.

“The last ones to see those [the mosaics] were Sultan Abdülmecid and Fossati the architect. Today, after 160 years, we will announce them to the world. We will let people who visit Istanbul, the 2010 European Capital of Culture, witness them too.”

The minister said he hopes to learn all about Hagia Sophia, preserve the important building and promote it to the world.

Present day Hagia Sophia was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 532-537. But even earlier, during the time of Emperor Constanine the Great a church stood on the site. For over 900 years Hagia Sophia was the main church of the Christian world and Turkey's principal mosque for over four centuries. Today, the church, which features on the UNESCO World Heritage List, attracts over 2 million visitors every year.


Diving Into the Secrets of Hagia Sophia

Friday, August 7, 2009
Serhan Yedig
Hürriyet - Istanbul

With unprecedented access to underground tunnels and reservoirs that permeate the earth around Hagia Sophia, filmmaker Göksel Gülensoy sets out to discover their histories in his new documentary. In the film he explores spaces untouched by man for centuries. ‘I believe what is beneath Hagia Sophia is much more exciting than what is above the surface,’ Gülensoy says.

Chasing 1,700-year-old secrets hidden beneath Hagia Sophia is no easy feat, but documentary filmmaker Göksel Gülensoy has navigated the labyrinths, ancient and bureaucratic, and will soon release his cinematic chronicle of the subterranean adventure.

Gülensoy’s team of two divers and four spelunkers searched the reservoirs connecting the famous Byzantine building to Topkapı Palace and the Yerebatan Cisterns. The spelunkers tried to find the secret passages said to extend from Tekfur Palace, next to the old city walls, to the islands of the Marmara Sea.

Although Gülensoy started shooting his documentary back in 1998, he finished work on it only recently due to obstacles with the budget, official permissions and restoration work on the Hagia Sophia museum. His 50-minute documentary, “Ayasofya’nın Derinliklerinde” (In the Depths of Hagia Sophia), will compete at international festivals starting in the fall.

Beneath the Hagia Sophia

On the floor of the main hall under the gigantic dome, the reservoir door close to the entrance was opened first. Judging by the concrete around it, it had not been used for a long time. According to records about the building, it had been decided in 1945 to empty the water under the floor for research purposes, but that attempt failed when the water level did not go down. The idea was given up all together after the pump’s motor burned out.

Thus, the doors were opened for the first time in 64 years, and for the first time in history, a diver was going underneath Hagia Sophia. It was 9:30 on a December morning and the water temperature was 6 degrees Celsius. Cameraman Engin Aydın and photographer Ozan Çokdeğer were the first to go down into the reservoir. During the exploratory work done the week before, they had lowered a camera down and saw passages below the building. As the entrance was too narrow to accommodate the oxygen tanks of the divers, a 50-meter-long hose was prepared so they could breathe in case the passages extended to the depth of the building.

The reservoir under the first door was 12 meters deep. Near the bottom, Çokdeğer saw two thick pieces of wood, resembling shovel handles, in what looked like fine condition. They turned into dust when he touched them. Then he saw a bucket, which also broke to pieces when he touched it, and an animal’s skeleton. Çokdeğer studied the walls of the reservoir for 50 minutes, and then returned to the surface.

An exciting photograph

The research team had permission to work for only a day, so they rapidly moved to the second shutter, closer to the center of the dome. Years ago, Erdem Yücer, one of the former directors of the museum, had shown Gülensoy a photograph that was taken of the foundations of Hagia Sophia. The photo showed researchers in a boat in a place filled with water, resembling the Yerebatan Cisterns. Seismic research had also demonstrated that the area underneath the big hall was empty. The team, which had previously lowered a camera down from the second door during the first exploration, was thrilled to see two passages extending to the center of the building and to the exit door – passages that might extend to Yerebatan and Topkapı.

Holy water flasks

Diving supervisor Levent Karataş and diver Kenan Ergüç lowered the cameraman and the photographer with a rope down to the bottom of the second reservoir. The floor was covered with ooze up to their knees. The first things Çokdeğer noticed were around a dozen flasks dated 1917. British soldiers likely dropped them while trying to get some of the holy water during the invasion that year. Next they found glass from the giant chandeliers that used to light up Hagia Sophia. A further search led to a chain with two rings at the end. Perhaps a prisoner met his death there. Chilled by the thought, Çokdeğer next found what looked like pieces of stained glass in seven colors. He sent some of the pieces up for better examination; later, they were returned to the water.

The two divers were in the reservoir for 50 minutes and left after they finished recording the sealed passages inside the stone walls. They went straight to the mobile x-ray machine, where Ministry of Health personnel confirmed that the divers had no foreign objects on their bodies. Permission for exploration had been granted on the condition that everything found was to be left in its original place and that no changes to the structure of the building were to be made. That is why the sealed passages were left untouched.

283-meter underground tunnels

The research and recording work in the tunnels beneath Hagia Sophia’s main hall was undertaken by the International Speleological Society of Boğaziçi, or BUMAD. Four experienced spelunkers with professional cameras on their helmets had eight hours to explore as deeply as they could.

First, a team from the Istanbul Gas Distribution Industry and Trade Joint Stock Company, or IGDAS, checked the entrance of the passage for poisonous gases and decided there was no threat. Just in case, the team of four was still equipped with gas detectors. Assoc. Prof. Haluk Dursun, the director of the Hagia Sophia Museum, joined the spelunkers this time. The hall they first stepped into was long, like a corridor, and strengthened with pillars. Two stone tunnels of approximately 70 centimeters in height extended in the direction of Sultanahmet Square and Topkapı Palace – presumably the tunnels the mighty 5th-century Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II had used to go to Tekfur Palace and the hippodrome without being seen by the public.

The spelunkers split into two teams and entered the tunnels in opposite directions. Both of the tunnels were strengthened with brick arches and split into two after 50 meters. One branch of each tunnel led to a spot under the dome, but those passages were closed. Yaman Özakın and Emrah Çoraman took measurements with a laser and drew a sketch while Pelin Kurt and Aydın Menderes continued to move in the direction of Topkapı Palace.

After a while, Menderes resumed his journey, starting to crawl as the tunnel height decreased to 25 centimeters. When he saw daylight between the stones in front of him, he used his pen camera and saw he had reached the palace yard. Menderes returned the way he had come and entered another tunnel to discover two rooms approximately two meters high and five square meters in size. Bones and broken jugs were scattered around. This place, it seemed, was likely the gravesite of St. Antinegos, the first person to be buried in Hagia Sophia, in the 13th century, and Patriarch Athanasius, who was interred 200 years later. It was the most exciting discovery of the day.

Director Göksel Gülensoy: ‘What is underneath is more exciting than on the surface’

“My friend Assoc. Prof. İhsan Tunay, a student of Semavi Eyice, took me on a tour of Hagia Sophia in 1990 and told me legends about the structure. Thanks to him, I became passionately devoted to the building,” said Gülensoy.

In 1992, he shot a documentary on the building and its legends, “Hagia Sophia,” that won awards at the San Sebastian, Tampere and Ankara film festivals. Further motivated by this, he started work on a second film about the tunnels and reservoirs that hide the building’s secrets. “I searched for the mystery under the floor with the help of Assoc. Prof. Haluk Çetinkaya. I believe what is beneath Hagia Sophia is much more exciting than above the surface,” he said. “I want to follow the traces of the two rooms under the abscissa for my third film. The room believed to be the place where the first priest of Hagia Sophia was buried with his belongings has not been thoroughly searched before.”

Hagia Sophia Museum Director Haluk Dursun: ‘The museum should be closed for a while’

Though foreign and domestic researchers have been inspecting Hagia Sophia since 1935, many of the building’s characteristics are still unknown, says Dursun. “I believe Gülensoy’s team made important discoveries, including discovering the rooms mentioned in archives as priests’ graves.”

The director believes those findings should be examined from an archeological perspective and that Hagia Sophia should be closed for a while so the building can be extensively scanned. “All restorers in Turkey should gather and quickly restore the mosaics and other parts,” he said, adding that there should be a “Classical Istanbul” or “Eastern Roman Civilization” museum in the city where the findings could be displayed.

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