Friday, June 16, 2017

Remember the Suffering Christians of the Near East, and Study Their Ancient Heritage

My reading on my day off today. Christians in the Near East are part of communities that go all the way back to the Apostolic age. They include the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Church of the East. Their Scriptures and liturgies are the most ancient in the world. I am studying both the Western Syrian Church tradition, represented by the Syrian Orthodox and Catholic Maronite Churches, and the Eastern Syrian Church tradition, represented by the Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church.

Today, Christians in Iraq and Syria are suffering true persecution, and are even in danger of having their communities wiped out. The Christians being persecuted include Greek Orthodox and Catholic Christians as well. The Coptic Christians in Egypt, who are also Oriental Orthodox Christians, are experiencing acute persecution at this time as well.

This week, ICE rounded up and arrested Assyrian Christians in Michigan for deportation. This deplorable act by an administration that promised to protect these communities.

This is a heritage that needs to be preserved and celebrated, and should be studied by all Christians. I get really angry when certain American evangelicals treat these Christians as though they were not Christians. These Christians are our elder brothers and sisters and faith. We should study and see that we conform to their tradition, theology and liturgy.. We owe it to them to pray for them and to advocate for them, and we owe it to ourselves to familiarize ourselves with this most ancient, authentic, Semitic tradition of Christianity.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Three Spiritual Heroes

A friend of mine from church recently said of me that I am one who studies "ancient orders." This seeking of the Ancient Way is has led me to follow these three of my spiritual heroes.
 From left to right:

1) Bede Griffiths, an Oxford-educated Benedictine Monk who led the Shantivanam Christian Ashram in India, incorporating the Rule of St. Benedict, the Syrian Rite, and Hindu modes of prayer and symbolism. Bede was a great teacher, and a leader in of ecumenical dialog, especially between Christianity and Hinduism. He has inspired me to recognize the Eternal Word and the Kingdom of God within us, and to cultivate a spirit of prayer and meditation. The symbol underneath his picture is the Cross from Shantivanam, which is the cross with the OM symbol on it.

2) His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I, of the House of Solomon, Emperor of Ethiopia and Defender of the Faith. He preached Jesus Christ, promoted the Bible, and was devout in his own practice of the Ethiopian Orthodox Hours of Prayer and Scripture reading. He has inspired me to value the throne of David, and devout prayer and scripture reading. I was led to study His Imperial Majesty's teachings from my interest in the Rastafarian Movement and the music of Bob Marley. The symbol underneath his picture is the Lion of Judah.

3) George M. Lamsa, Assyrian immigrant to the United States, and translator of the complete Bible from Aramaic into English. His translation is my daily reading Bible and has inspired me to value the Aramaic and Semitic origins of Christianity.
The symbol underneath his picture is the Aramaic symbol of the Holy Trinity, which is often featured on editions of his Bible translation.

I value the writings and teaching of these three saints and prophets, for they have inspired me to seek Allaha and to a greater devotion to Mar Eshoo Mashikkah (Our LORD Jesus Christ).