Voices from Russia

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Malankara Patriarch Calls Upon Government to Ensure Religious Freedom

00 Malankara Baselius Mar Thomas Paulose. 13.12.14

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Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose Paul, head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, underscored the need for the authorities to take steps to ensure constitutionally given religious freedoms to uphold communal amity and secularism in India. On Friday, he talked to the media here to announce the valedictory of the 50th anniversary observance of the death of his predecessor Catholicos Baselios Gheevarghese Kallaserri, the pontiff said that while incidents of forced reconversion attempts and burning of churches reported from north India upset him, he viewed them as isolated incidents. The Catholicos, who had courted controversy by praising then-Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his administrative acumen during the run-up to the last general elections, said that he still stood by his earlier stance on Mr Modi.

He said that the important thing was for the government to put things in order and rein in the extreme fringes who engaged in such activities. He thought that unless those in power take steps to ensure the confidence of all sections of society, they wouldn’t be able to put the developmental agenda into practise. Reacting to a question, the Catholicos said that corruption pervaded society and the political leadership had to take corrective measures, noting, “People are losing faith in their leaders and the nation witnesses a major crisis on account of the leadership vacuüm, not only in politics, but in all sections of society”.

He observed that there was a dire fall in adherence to values and that unbridled consumerism had led to a scramble to make money at any cost. He believed that the political leadership wasn’t insulated from this trend, so they had to address the issue and take steps to regain the confidence of the people. Referring to the schism in the Church, the Catholicos said that he hadn’t received any information from the Patriarch of Antioch (Mar Ignatius Afram al-Tani Karim) regarding any peace moves. Reacting to a question, he said that the Orthodox Church thought that the government was moving back from its avowed policy on the liquor issue.

13 December 2014

The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/ensure-religious-freedom-catholicos/article6688817.ece?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

Editor:

The Oriental and Eastern Orthodox form one sociological family. No, we’re not in communion, but we’re related, and far closer than we are with the papists. Russian Orthodox have always been friendly with Oriental Orthodox… much closer than the Greeks are. We wish them well… so should you…

BMD

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Statement by President Obama on the Occasion of Orthodox Easter

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo. Easter 2012 01

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This weekend, Michelle and I extend our best wishes to members of the Orthodox Christian community here in America and around the world as they observe Holy Friday and the Feast of the Resurrection. For millions of Orthodox Christians, this is a joyful time, but it’s also a reminder of the sacrifice Christ made so that we might have eternal life. His decision to choose love in the face of hate, to hope in the face of despair, is an example we should always strive to follow. However, it’s especially important to remember this year, as members of the Orthodox community have been confronted with persecution and violence, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. For centuries, the region and the world has been enriched by the contributions of Orthodox communities in countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. As a nation, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting universal human rights including the freedom of religion. Moreover, in this season of hope and restoration, we celebrate the transformational power of sacrificial love.

00 Barack Obama4 May 2013

Barack Obama

President of the USA

http://www.Whitehouse.gov

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/04/statement-president-occasion-orthodox-easter

Saturday, 4 May 2013

4 May 2013. Read n’ Heed… Pentecostalist Propaganda from a Secular Newspaper in Texas… This is Why We Can’t Have ANY Official Contact with “Evangelicals”, Pentecostalists, Mormons, or Other Radical Sectarians

pentecostalists

THIS is Christianity? I think NOT…

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Editor’s Foreword:

READ THIS.

It’s false… it’s revolting in its dishonesty… it’s full of hatred for Our Lord Christ and His Church. Yet… you must know what the enemies of Christ say… and that many of them cloak themselves in pseudo-Christianity. Nasty world, ain’t it? THIS is what the Evangelicals truly think of us… the “nice” people aren’t so nice, are they?

BMD

******

The aroma of tobacco lingered on the tips of his fingers and stalled on the fold of his collar. He agreed not to smoke for the duration of the church crusade, but his two-and-a-half-pack-a-day habit had Roy Jacob longing for a cigarette. The then-31-year-old Jacob knew he didn’t belong among the charismatic churchy types surrounding him, who found joy and meaning praising Jesus under a tent in the middle of nowhere, India. However, he was obligated to stay and fake his comfort. He was in charge of the musical entertainment, including 75 musicians and choir members. He’d learned all the church songs so he could teach them to his musicians. Jacob, who now lives in Victoria TX and works as a DuPont lab analyst, didn’t realise it then, but he was about to embark on a journey that would take him far from his roots in a Christian tradition that stretched back 2,000 years in Kerala, India.

The Journey Begins

Jacob knew the conference would soon end, and he’d be free to go home and wrap his lips around a pint of whiskey and inhale a few drags of nicotine. That was the usual sundown routine… a contentious point for his wife, Elsie. He agreed he wouldn’t drink through the weekend. It was a request from the crusade’s organiser, an evangelical preacher who paid him good money during the week to teach his daughter to learn guitar. The preacher and the request, Jacob respected. He’d do about anything to be able to play Western music in front of a crowd. Jacob sat in a chair next to his cousin, Jimmy, in the back of the revival tent, where hundreds of traditionless Pentecostals gathered in Kerala, India, for a weekend of wholesome Christian fellowship.

The crusade was polar opposite from the piety and religiosity of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Orthodox church tradition he was raised in. He was used to high bishops, three-hour-long communions, repeating liturgy on command, and ordered sitting and standing during service. Sitting in the chair, Jacob heard something unusual. Confused, he thought he heard a voice telling him to speak to a pastor. He said he later realised it was the voice of God, guiding him to speak to a man at the front of the room. Jacob had no idea he was about to surrender his life to Jesus, even if it required that he leave his family, and his country and walk away from a 2,000-year-old Orthodox religious family tradition that he had always been told was the only way to heaven.

Growing Up Orthodox

When he was a child in Kerala, India, it wasn’t unusual for his family to entertain high bishops of the Mar Thoma Orthodox church in their home. His father, a respected layman of the church, helped build the Korba Mar Thoma Church from the ground up when the family moved to Korba. Jacob’s father would often invite the high priests to stay in their home and Jacob, now 55, remembers as a young boy, sitting on the bishops’ knees when they’d visit. He remembered what a coup it was for his father, recalling, “My dad was a hard-core Mar Thoma. He had a lot of influence with the bishops. They were always close to us. They always saw big things in our life, and they always thought we’d do something big in the Mar Thoma church”.

Church was never missed on Sunday; Sunday was always respected as a day of rest. Jacob said, “Sabbath meant Sabbath. We couldn’t play radios or work, and if you did anything, it’d have to be Christian. That church was just so traditional… We all hated it as kids”. Even with years of exposure to godly men and his father’s impressed importance of the church, Jacob said he never accepted Christianity. Church was simply something his family did, like watching soccer or drinking tea, noting, “I didn’t have anything to do with God. I was pleasing my dad, I guess”. Still, his father had high hopes for Jacob in the church and was grooming him early to learn and perform musical instruments so he could perform for the church. With a talent for bass, guitar, drums and other instruments, Jacob was put to use as early as sixth grade, conducting choirs and leading music for the church’s youth programme. He said, “My dad’s goal was to make us famous musicians for the church. We were kind of big at one point”. Jacob enjoyed his guitars and performing them for an audience. God didn’t keep him in church, but his love of music and performance did.

History of Orthodox Church (sic)

When St Thomas, one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles arrived on the coast of Kerala state in 52 AD, he left behind more than the gospel of Jesus. He introduced Christianity to the region, where to this day, Orthodox and Catholic believers in Kerala are quick to inform foreigners their church traditions are rooted in more than 2,000 years of antiquity. By the sixth century, Christianity was firmly planted in the state. The St Thomas Christians, who still practise the faith in Aramaic, the tongue of Jesus’ time, existed peacefully among the Hindus for more than 1,000 years until the Portuguese arrived on a second expedition in the 16th century. Upon their arrival, they forcibly converted many to Roman Catholicism and forced Indian Orthodox believers to acknowledge the Pope above others. Protestantism didn’t arrive until the 19th century, brought by British and American missionaries. It’s still not quite as popular as Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

In subsequent years, many of the Orthodox churches went through periods of branching off and beginning new churches in Kerala, each of them recognise St Thomas as the bringer of Christianity. His Holiness Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose Paul, the supreme head of the Malankara Orthodox Church, a breakaway from Jacob’s Mar Thoma Church {this is laughable… the Malankara Church IS the Mar Thoma Church… what a maroon! It shows the ignorance of American Evangelicals: editor}, acknowledged the divisions inside Orthodoxy, but said he doesn’t feel they weaken Indian orthodoxy or Christianity in general, saying, “When colonisation occurred, some divisions happened. Roman Catholics came, and other denominations came. With the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500s, slowly our freedoms were lost”. He said the other churches, both Orthodox and Catholic, may be separated by name, but they’re together in worshipping the same God, noting, “We keep a traditional faith as it is. We are in communion with other churches. We are one group… same church, same faith”.

However, Jacob said the Mar Thoma church takes its role in preserving the history too seriously. Because members claim their lineage to Syria, and history to St Thomas, no one is admitted as a member of the church unless they’re part of the pure bloodline of Syrian descent. Jacob said, “They’re very prideful of it. Because they claim that’s first church. That’s what they believe”. Members marry only other members of the church, even if it means marrying first and second cousins to preserve the bloodline. Jacob said, “That doesn’t happen as much anymore unless you’re in the smaller villages where the communities are smaller”, mentioning his arranged marriage to wife, Elsie, the day after their engagement. “But, yes, sometimes”. Jacob knew his entire life his marriage would be arranged to a girl of the Syrian Mar Thoma church. Elsie, an educated Orthodox woman from Kottayam, a city about four hours from where he lived in Trivandrum {it hasn’t been called that for 20 years now… it’s Thiruvananthapuram… another case of Evangelical stupidity: editor}, was the perfect match for Jacob. They had nothing in common, except they were single and Orthodox, the only necessary qualifiers. “When we started our life, I wasn’t a Christian. I hated Christians, and always thought they were phonies”.

Born Again in the USA

Sitting in the chair at the back of the crusade, Jacob listened to an American preacher share the gospel with a room of Christian Protestants. He wasn’t thinking about God, but an audible voice crept into his mind and told him to go speak to a man at the front of the room. Jacob said, turning to his cousin, “Jimmy, someone just told me to go speak to that man”. “That was the voice of God”, Jimmy replied, urging him to walk to the front of the tent. Jacob finally went up to the man and explained they were supposed to meet. “You’re not saved, are you?” the man asked. “No”, he replied. “You’re leading all this music at this big event, and you’re not saved?” “I’m not ready to get saved”, Jacob said, flatly. “Why not?” Jacob replied, “I have yet to see a Christian who’s real”. “So you evaluate God based on every Tom, Dick and Harry?”

That was the question that captured Jacob’s heart. That’s when he realised he’d spent his entire life judging everyone else’s relationship with God and realising their imperfections rather than where God had stretched them. He said, “What he said, it hit home for me. I realised I was running away from God. That was the day I got saved. I quit drinking and smoking, and I lost half my vocabulary because I stopped using all curse words”. Jacob got serious about going to church. He was water baptised {“water baptised”… what a maroon! It proves that this article was written by a sectarian fanatic with no real knowledge of actual Christianity: editor} a few weeks later and then spiritually baptised, in which he accepted the gift of speaking in tongues {there’s no such sacrament… it’s a fable of the Pentecostalists: editor}.

Six months later, Elsie was saved. Jacob said, “She came up out of the (baptismal) water speaking in tongues”. Lamenting the years they spent in an unhappy marriage, Jacob said his beloved wife most certainly would have left him if he hadn’t been saved that day. Jacob was ordained in 1989 and felt God leading him to the USA to learn more about church life. He sold his guitars and most of his valuables to pay for his trip to New York. He also gave up a lucrative sales job in India where he was earning a top salary and the respect of his family to follow God’s path in a foreign land. His journey to the states wasn’t easy, but he said God was always near, making sure he was provided for. He left Elsie and their two sons behind for about a year, so he could establish himself in South Carolina and set up a home and job for his family. From New York, he travelled to Virginia, then to Pennsylvania. From there, he travelled to South Carolina, where he and Elsie lived for 22 years with their two sons.

Jacob said they helped launch a church in South Carolina, where Jacob preached and grew a music ministry greater than any he ever envisioned in India. Their sons never felt the burden of church, Jacob said, “Our kids learned the easy way. They didn’t struggle with faith the way we did”. Elsie said, “We had to unlearn a lot of things that were taught by the church. Our kids didn’t have that”. Jacob said that the traditions of Orthodoxy he learned growing up prevented him from knowing the true gospel of Jesus and that he can have a relationship with him. He realised he didn’t have to wear his hair a certain length or dress in a certain type of suit to be a Christian. He said, “These are cultural things. They’re religious spirits, the same as what the Pharisees did. I couldn’t believe at first that a pastor could come preach in jeans. I thought he had no reverence for God. But I learned that God doesn’t care about that. And eventually those things were broken off for us”.

Three years ago, the couple moved to Victoria. Their sons are grown, dating American girlfriends, and Jacob went back to an engineering profession at DuPont. Every morning he reads his Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, a version named after an American Pentecostal minister. For many years, family back home in Kerala, especially Jacob’s father, weren’t accepting of the couple’s conversion to Pentecostalism. However, as the Jacobs continued to follow God and preach the gospel to their Indian friends and family, members of their family started leaving the Orthodoxy, too. Jacob said, “Her two sisters were saved. My mother was saved. And my father was saved about a year before he died. He told me, ‘I’m going to do what you did, and become a Pentecostal’. He thought he was serving God his entire life, but he wasn’t. He realised there was something more”.

The Jacobs said their sons, who are both studying to become doctors, are considering mission work in India in the next few years. The Jacobs also are considering a return to Kerala to start a church and help others find God the way they did. Jacob said, “There are so many in India who have never heard about Jesus. Our part is to preach, and the Father brings them to Christ. So, I’d love to go back. It’s something I dream of”.

3 May 2013

Jennifer Preyss

Victoria (TX) Advocate

http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2013/may/03/jp_india_christianity_050413_208404/

Editor’s Afterword:

Let’s be frank. The Evangelicals (and all radical sectarians, by the way) hold us in contempt. They believe that their late-blooming American-grown heresy is the Truth of the Ages, hence, they believe that we aren’t Christians at base (they also believe the same of Catholics, by the way). They hate history, they hate art… they hate anything that isn’t “religious”. That is, they hate the secular… even though God created that too (which is not to mention their addiction to vitiating intellectual flapdoodle such as Young Earth Creationism)! They proselytise aggressively amongst our people… and they’ve taken over the US Republican Party. This is why decent right-believing Christians can have nothing to do with the Republican Party or the Pro-Life movement… both have sold out to the sworn enemies of Christ and His Church.

You can believe in Christ or you can believe in Jayzuss… it’s up to you.

BMD

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

President Obama Visited Damaged Malankara Orthodox Church on Staten Island: “He Spoke to Us as If He Knew Us for a Long Time”

This is the damage to the present building of the parish… there’s a link below for the parish… click on it, and there are directions on how you can contribute to them. Send ’em a fin or two… repairs ain’t cheap and money doesn’t grow on trees.

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When US President Barack Obama visited Staten Island on 15 November, the New York City borough devastated by Hurricane Sandy, he met with members of St George Malankara Orthodox Church, which suffered moderate damage. Sunny Konniyoor, a member of the church, told India Abroad, “We didn’t expect to meet the President. We stood near the church, hoping to see the President going that way. Instead of driving through, Obama walked in the New Dorp Beach neighbourhood, inspecting damage and interacting with residents. Only those who live in the area can remain there. Konniyoor said, “Since we’re members of the church, the Secret Service allowed us to stand near the church”.

When the President saw the group, which included Vicar Fr Alex Joy, Dr Skaria Oommen, Konniyoor, and his son Martin, he walked towards them. Martin, an accountant, congratulated Obama on his election victory. The president inquired about his work. The team described to the President the extent of damage to the church, which was the first Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church building in North America. The church didn’t have flood insurance. They didn’t expect much help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Konniyoor, an Obama supporter, said, “He spoke to us as if he knew us for a long time”.

The President suggested they take a photograph. A state lawmaker took a camera from Martin and clicked a photograph. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and several top officials accompanied Obama. After walking down a block that had been all-but-demolished in the storm, Obama said, “We’re reminded that we’re bound together and have to look out for each other. We’re going to have to put some of the turf battles aside. We’re going to have to make sure everybody’s focused on doing the job, as opposed to worrying about who’s getting the credit, or, who’s getting the contracts, and all that stuff that sometimes goes into the rebuilding process”. Of 43 deaths attributed to the storm in New York City, 23 were on Staten Island.

29 November 2012 (IST)

Rediff News

http://www.rediff.com/news/report/he-spoke-to-us-as-if-he-knew-us-for-a-long-time/20121129.htm

Editor’s Note:

You hear much bloody noise from Paffhausen, Dahulich, Reardon, Freddie M-G, Dreher, and Mattingly about how the Church is allied to “conservative” rightwing politics. Nothing could be further from the truth. The majority of real ethnic Orthodox (and converts in real parishes, as opposed to konvertsy conventicles) voted for the President. Don’t forget, ethnic Orthodox votes put the President over the top in the Valley. Real Orthodox came home… as for the loudmouthed konvertsy, they lie… there’s no kinder way of expressing it. St Aleksei Toth blessed the Wobblies… not the greedy bosses. HH blessed Hugo Chávez Frías… not the warmongering Republican Party.

Get with the programme…

BMD

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