How the West is Helping to Destroy Christianity in Syria

pic-1I’m sorry but my personal animus towards the Assad family aside, I can’t really believe that he unleashed the gas attack last week in which some hundreds of civilians died. It made no strategic sense given that he’s handily winning the war.

I was heartened to see senior, retired military analysts on FOX News –a hotbed of Neocon War-partying–say the same thing. Buchanan says it best: Cui bono?

Source: Alfred the Great Society | Robin Phillips | HT: AOI

Syrian Christianity goes back to the earliest days of the Christian faith, with language, traditions and practices that have remained largely unchanged since the time of Christ. Despite popular misconceptions, the nation of Syria is not an Islamic state. The Christian population living in Syria has enjoyed a measure of stability under the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. This tenuous stability is now being undermined by Islamic rebels who, supported by Western powers, are attempting to overthrow the government and destroy the native Christian population.

Christianity in Syria

Not long after Christ’s ascension, the church at Jerusalem was scattered following Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 11:19). Many Christians fled to Antioch in modern day Turkey, where Barnabas was later sent to check on the church (Acts 11:22-27). Barnabas found that the gospel had taken deep root in Antioch, as evidenced by the fact that it was here that the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The city of Antioch became a thriving centre of Mediterranean Christianity and one of the five major Apostolic sees (the others being Jerusalem, Constantinople, Rome and Alexandria).

As a centre of apostolic Christianity, the Antiochian church sent missionaries throughout all of Asia Minor. It was from these missionaries that the gospel was reinforced in Syria. Partly because of this, the largest grouping Christians living in Syria call themselves Antiochian (the official title of their church is the ‘Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch’).

Christianity flourished so much in Syria that when the Ottomans invaded Antioch in the 14th century, the Antiochian church moved its headquarters from Antioch to Damascus in Syria. Damascus was also a stronghold of ancient Christianity since the earliest days. In fact, it was because the church at Damascus was thriving that Saul, later the Apostle Paul, decided to travel there to persecute the Christians of the city, prior to his miraculous conversion experience on the Damascus road.

The Damascus-based Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch (or the ‘Antiochian Orthodox church’ for short) has one million members in Syria, with worship and practice that has remained relatively unchanged since the early days of the Apostle’s successors. An interesting testament to this is the fact that it is only among Christian communities in Syria that Aramaic, the language in which Jesus spoke, still survives as a living tongue.

More recently, missionaries and immigrants from the Middle East have spread the traditions and practices of the Antiochian church throughout the world, giving millions of Christians a chance to connect with some of the oldest Christian prayers and practices. The church in Syria is thus responsible for 2 million Christians worldwide, including many in America. (My own family attends the Damascus-based Antiochian Orthodox Church, which was planted in our village by a missionary priest.)

Syria also has a strong presence of Christians from other traditions, including the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Oriental Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church and a minority of various Protestant groups.

Back in the 1920s Christians made up as much as 30% of Syria’s population, but throughout the 20th century they were subject to fierce persecution. The Christian population in Syria now amounts to about 10% of the total population.

The church in Syria came to enjoy relative stability under the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad’s family, who have ruled Syria since 1971. al-Assad has never insisted that Islam be the nation’s state religion, although the constitution requires the President to be a Muslim. For many years Syria has been looked upon as a safe haven for Christians, and thousands of Iraqi Christians recently fled to Syria to escape the persecution in their homeland in the wake of Western intervention.

Recent Challenges

The equilibrium in Syria began to be disrupted after the, so called, ‘Arab Spring’ hit the country in 2011. Rebel groups, many of whom have links to Al-Qaeda, began seeking to overthrow the government. Syria’s Christian population became engulfed in the crossfire of this civil war. Because most Christians in Syria have remained neutral in the two-year civil war and some have supported the government, the insurgents with the ‘Free Syrian Army’ perceive Christians as enemies. Consequently, they have begun systematically confiscating land belonging to Christians, in addition raping women and killing children. Dozens of churches have also been desecrated or completely destroyed, mainly around Homs and Aleppo.

Astoundingly, the anti-government ‘Free Syrian Army’ is considered moderate by the West and is supported by the David Cameron, the Obama administration, NATO and the EU.

In March the New York Times reported that the America’s Central Intelligence Agency had expanded an airlift of arms and equipment to insurgent militants that had been occurring since early 2012, totalling around 3,500 tons of military equipment in total. This coincided with a series of rebel victories. America has kept up the momentum, and last month Ben Rhodes, U.S. deputy national security adviser, revealed that America was stepping up the assistance it was giving to rebel groups, hoping to finally tip the balance to help the insurgents overthrow al-Assad’s government. The announcement coincided with the emergence of new lethal weapons in the hands of rebel forces.

If the rebels do succeed in overthrowing the government, the worst case scenario could be a repeat of what happened in Yugoslavia during the late 90s, after Western troops supported Islamic Albanian rebel groups seeking to overthrow the government. Once the Muslim rebel groups had successfully separated from the lawful Yugoslavian government based on Serbia, they formed the, so called, Republic of Kosovo. Christians living in Kosovo were then targeted for destruction and sacred monasteries that were hundreds of years old were levelled to the ground.

This pattern is being repeated in Syria as Muslim rebel groups seek both to overthrow the lawful government as well as to eliminate the native Christian population. Consequently, Christians in Syria are frightened to worship publicly and many have had to flee to refugee camps in neighbouring countries

‘Disproportionate Violence and abuse’

A special ‘Vulnerability Assessment’ report conducted by the World Watch unit of Open Doors International from June 2013 warned that Syrian Christians are the victims of “disproportionate violence and abuse.” They warned further that Christian women in Syria are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse.

There is a sad irony here. The intervention of American and Britain in Iraq resulted in a hard-line Islamic takeover and the eviction or extermination of the native Christians living in Iraq. Many Iraqi Christians died, while countless others fled to Syria where they thought they would be safe. And now Western powers are seeking to empower the very forces that are persecuting the Christian population in Syria.

Metropolitan Hilarion, the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, lamented that “in those places where the authorities are replaced by the rebel groups, Christianity is being exterminated to the last man: Christians are expelled, or physically destroyed.

He recalled that “Syria has taken more than two million Iraqi refugees, thousands of whom are Christians.” But now the Metroplitain says “thousands of militant extremists under the guise of opposition forces unleashed a civil war in this country. Extremist groups armed and trained by means of foreign powers are deliberately killing Christians.”

Rebel Groups Kidnap Archbishop

pic-2The situation in Syria reached crisis proportions last April when insurgents groups kidnapped two Archbishops who were on their way back to Aleppo after accomplishing a humanitarian mission. The two church leaders (Yohanna Ibrahim, archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox church and Paul Yazigi, Metropolitan of the Antiochian Orthodox church) had been traveling outside the besieged northern city of Aleppo in an effort to provide aid and comfort to war-torn regions and to negotiate the release of two priests. Their driver, a church deacon, was shot dead and the two archbishops were abducted at gunpoint. As of writing this article, the whereabouts and condition of the clerics remain unknown.

Unfortunately, this high-profile kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg. Writing in The Huffington Post this April, Hieromonk Peter Preble observed that “Since the war began in March of 2011, more than 70,000 people have died. A February estimate places the internally displaced at 3.6 million, and an additional 1.3 million have been forced to flee Syria for neighboring countries as refugees, all the while the government of the United States continues to support the very people responsible for the killing.”

Rebels target monasteries

Ancient Christian monasteries are being regularly plundered in Syria by anti-government forces. In May of this year, rebels attacked the 1500-year-old monastery of the Prophet Elijah near the city of Al-Qusayr. They stole the sacramental vessels, destroyed the altar and the baptismal font, blew up the bell tower, and knocked down the sacred statue of Elijah.

On June 23, a Syrian Catholic priest was murdered in a monastery in Gassanieh, Idlib. François Murad, 49, was a member of the Franciscans and lived a life of prayer at the monastery. Gunmen entered the monastery, plundered it, burned the building and executed Murad. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the head of all Franciscans in the Holy Land, told the Vatican News Agency that “The world must know that the support of gunmen by the west is helping extremists in killing Syrians.”

Christian Villages Completely Destroyed

On 27 May this year, the ‘Free Syrian Army’ raided the Christian-populated village of al-Duvair in Syria’s Western province of Homs. Arriving in the village they proceeded to massacre all its civilian residents, including women and children. The army of the Syrian government intervened to protect the Christians, but only after most of the population had been slaughtered.

On 11 June, a massacre was reported in the town of Hatlah, close to Deir el-Zour city. An organisation of armed militants converged on the town to ‘cleanse’ it. At least 60 people were slaughtered.

In other Christian villages, rebels have suddenly appeared and declared, “Flee or be killed.” With nowhere to go and little hope of finding employment, thousands of Christian families face little prospect of a hopeful future. Many have fled to refugee camps, though conditions there are little better since they make “soft targets” for criminals and Islamic thugs.

London Mayor Warns of ‘ a terrifying Islamic state’

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, warned that Cameron is supporting ‘hate-filled thugs."


Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, warned that Cameron is supporting ‘hate-filled thugs.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, issued a stinging rebuke to David Cameron’s naïve support of Syrian rebels. He warned that as Britain supplies rebels with weaponry, they will have no means of preventing those weapons ending up in the hands of “al Qaida-affliated thugs” associated with government opposition. As an example of the radical Islam of the rebels, Mr Johnson described an incident in Aleppo where a 15-year-old boy was taken away and beaten and then summarily executed by Islamist rebels for making a joking reference to the Prophet Mohammed.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson joined other prominent spokespeople, including the Archbishop of York, in warning the British Government not to meddle in the Syrian crisis.

“Odious, twisted, hate-filled thugs; arrogant and inadequate creeps, intoxicated by the pathetic illusion of power that comes with guns; poisoned by a perversion of religion into a contempt for all norms of civilised behaviour,” the London Mayor wrote.

He continued “They are fighting not for freedom but for a terrifying Islamic state in which they would have the whip hand – and yet there is no dodging or fudging the matter: these are among the Syrian rebels who are hoping now to benefit from the flow of Western arms.

“How is it supposed to work? How are we meant to furnish machine guns and anti-tank weapons to one set of opposition forces, without them ending up in the hands of men like the al Qaida-affiliated thugs who executed a child for telling a joke?

“This is not the moment to send more arms. This is the moment for a total ceasefire, an end to the madness.

“We can’t use Syria as an arena for geopolitical point-scoring or muscle-flexing, and we won’t get a ceasefire by pressing weapons into the hands of maniacs.”

Boris Johnson is not alone. Tory backbencher Julian Lewis said that Britain’s involvement could be “suicidal” leading to extremist elements among the rebels gaining control of the regime’s arsenal of chemical weapons.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has also warned that arming the rebels is “very, very naïve.”

Supporting the Wrong Side

A problem with American and Britain involving itself in Syria’s conflict, apart from the fact that it is none of their business, is the simple fact the Western powers have chosen to support the wrong side. No one is claiming that al-Assad’s authoritarian government has been godly; however, the prospect of what might emerge if his government is overthrown is almost unthinkable. Yonadam Kanna, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly and Secretary General for the Assyrian Democratic Movement warned that the collapse of the Syrian state would be a jihadist triumph and endanger Christians throughout the entire Middle East. We must pray that this does not happen and that the Lord would grant special protection to Christians living in Syria. We must also pray for those Syrian Christians who have had to flee to refugee camps in Turkey and Lebanon.

Even those Syrian Christians who have not had to flee are suffering acutely from the conditions of the civil war. There is a shortage of basic supplies, including gas, electricity, food and many basic supermarket products. Moreover, dangerous criminals are always too ready to take advantage of the chaos and plunder the houses and shops of innocent people.

This article originally appeared in the monthly magazine of Christian Voice, a UK ministry whose website is http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/. The article is published here with permission of Christian Voice.

Comments

  1. Jonathan Johnston says

    I’ve said it before, when the rebellion broke out two years ago in N. Syria, Assad’s response was to use military jets to bomb civilians. He continued his bombing campaigns, engaged tanks against civilians and finally now, linkage to gasing civilians. Two years ago, the U.N. wanted to get involved to stop the slaughter, but Russia & China vetoed any action to do anything. So, here we are. A country in shambles, thousands murdered by Assad’s army, thousands of refugees that fled to surrounding countries and Assad pretending all is OK. ASSAD MUST BE REMOVED. He is the problem. After him, a moderate, humanitarian govt must be set up and Christians & Muslims must be respected. Easier said than done, but Assad created this mess and he can’t stay. The Russians are supporting him because they want control in the Mideast and with Iran, Russia has influence. Both will go away soon. Then there is Egypt. A mess, a true Mideast mess. Dump using oil. All cars and trucks need to be converted to NG or go electric.

    • lexcaritas says

      Mr. Johnston, your allegations make no sense. They wreak of propaganda as have all the so-called “news” reports received and repeated for the past three years–always with the rebels as the “good guys” fighting for freedom and with the government of Syria as malicious, ruthless thugs. The melodramatic unbalanced portrayal speaks volumes about the unreliability of such disinformation.

      Meanwhile the reports from Christians in the country is and has been diametrically opposed to what you say. But they are virtually never heard.

      lxc

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Lexcaritas! I think the word you wished to use is “reek”, not “wreak.” It’s true that if President Assad is removed in favor of a rebel government, the Syrian Christians are dead meat.

  2. After the debacle of how the Bush administration tricked the American public into supporting an unnecessary and immoral war in Iraq, there can’t be any doubt that the Obama administration is attempting the same thing with Syria – the similarities are so glaring that they can’t be denied. Under cover of a false flag attack, perpetrated by American-paid and -supplied mercenaries and blamed on the Assad administration, Obama is attempting to gin up support for an invasion of Syria. An American military officer described the blueprint for a chemical attack in Syria, done by American stooges, that would be blamed on Assad as an excuse for invasion, several years ago. If this is allowed to go through, the result will only be more thousands of dead American soldiers, more tens or hundreds of thousands of dead Syrians, and an upward spike in the persecution of Christians by the radical Muslim terrorist groups that Obama supports. This has already happened in Iraq, Libya, and Egypt, and is even now happening in Syria, and will only get worse. Pray for the failure of Obama’s scheme, and pray for guidance about what we as Christians can do to stop the suffering in the Middle East brought on by American intervention.

  3. Joseph Schumpeter says

    The article had me until the last section, “Supporting the wrong side.”

    Governments, politicians, and voters are the ones who have to pick between two evils, and choosing between the rebels and Assad is just the job for them.

    The Church, however, transcends this game. It sets forth what’s right. And when two sides are evil, it doesn’t have to pick.

    The Church has a real opportunity here to condemn violence, across the board. To condemn the use of WMDs, across the board. To condemn Assad’s murderous tyranny. And to condemn the rebels’ vile slaughter.

    It can (and should) condemn both sides, without any fear of what will happen to its property and the Christians in Syria. Unfortunately, the Church is acting on fear, and has sided with Assad out of concern for its people and property. Instead, the Church should side with God, and it should remember that if God wants a church in Syria, there will be a church in Syria. Wasn’t one of the Church’s greatest foes converted on the road to Damascus? What’s to say God won’t intervene like that again?

    Let’s leave the politics to the politicians — they can sleep at night, after having made a choice between supporting either a dictator or a pack of murderous animals. Fortunately, the Church can transcend this dilemma — if only it would put its faith in God.

    • Disgusted With It says

      I’m sorry, but that’s right up there with “Let’s leave our church doors wide-open and unattended 24 hours a day and trust God that nobody will steal anything.”

      Even with faith, there is still such a thing as being naive.

      • Joseph Schumpeter says

        Well, count me naive. Especially if it means that I’m still able to claim that maybe, just maybe, the Church shouldn’t run into the open arms of a dictator who 1) doesn’t have any compunction killing his own people and is 2) likely, cynically, using support from the Church to bolster international opinion of him.

        I think the arguments, especially as they relate to the Church, have left room only for an awful either/or decision: either back the rebels or back Assad. The article explicitly endorses Assad. I’d simply suggest that the Church can chose a third way: repudiate both alternatives and avoid the politics. Meanwhile, it can serve as a loud, righteous voice condemning the violence, dictatorship, and factionalism rife in Syria and the Middle East. But when it sticks with Assad, it really can’t do any of these things with any credibility.

        More on your point: would any body in the class raise their hand if they really believe the West (or anybody else) can destroy Christianity? Isn’t this an impossibility? And wouldn’t the assertion that it’s impossible be a cornerstone of our faith?

        So, why are we letting fear that “Christianity is going to be destroyed” force us to take sides with one of the world’s last remaining tyrannical dictators? Instead, let’s drop the fear, and stand for the right thing.

        • Disgusted With It says

          Okay, then why don’t you go stand on a street in the middle of Damascus and publicly proclaim a plague on both their houses? I’m sure that will go very well for you. My bet is that you’d quickly fall victim to the terrorist rebels because the government certainly wouldn’t bother protecting you. But hey, at least you would make your theoretical point of condemning everyone.

          I agree Assad is no angel. However, the alternative is radical muslims with the goal of exterminating all Christians from Syria and the middle east — savages who have brutally murdered and kidnapped Christians, including priests and bishops. At least there’s a chance Assad could change his ways. We Christians could speak reasonably with him. The terrorist rebels will not stop until they either conquer or are conquered. You must understand that mentality in the middle east. There is NO moderation in jihad. These are not “freedom fighters” or “revolutionary rebels”, these are jihadists out to bring down a moderate government plain and simple.

          I assume you mean well, but it’s easy to preach an ideal form of morality when you’re not actually there with your life on the line.

          • Joseph Schumpeter says

            Shouldn’t the Church be teaching “an ideal form of morality” ?

            If not, what do we say about the martyrs for the Church? That it’d probably have been better if they saved their own skin?

            For that matter, should Christ have abandoned his talk of a kingdom not of this world? Maybe he would have avoided the crucifixion, if only he were a little more pragmatic?

            Ghandi spoke against the British occupation of India and the Islamic breakaway of Pakistan and lost his life for his efforts. Would it have been better if he were a little less naive?

            I completely understand what you’re saying. Thinking as a purely political animal, I’m in total agreement with you — Assad is a better alternative than the Islamic radicals. But here’s my point, again: that the Church shouldn’t be a political animal. It’s mission ought to be what you said: to preach an ideal form of morality.

            Seriously, who’d want to belong to a Church that preached a compromised form of morality?

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              Read this
              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10289944/Syria-crisis-al-Qaeda-seizes-village-that-still-speaks-the-ancient-language-of-Christ.html

              St. Thekla’s monastery is one of the oldest Orthodox monasteries in the world.
              It is true that Assad is a brutal dictator, but it takes a brutal dictator to prevent the radical Muslims from persecuting Christians in the Middle East. Democracy and majority rule will not work in any majority Muslim country because their religion teaches that Muslims must force non-Muslims to submit to Muslim domination. We have a whole category of martyrs, called new martyrs who were killed by Muslims. I cannot understand why Obama thinks that it is in our national interest to support the establishment of a radical Muslim government in Damascus. Every time that I have to go through security when I take a flight somewhere, I am reminded of all the trouble that Islam has caused us.

              • Joseph Schumpeter says

                “But it takes a brutal dictator to prevent the radical Muslims from persecuting Christians …”

                This does seem to be rationale behind the Church’s endorsement of Assad, and it’s disgusting and inexcusable. Rule No. 1: Under no circumstances should the Church support a gas-happy dictator who finances international terrorism and slaughters his own people by the thousands.

                This is so much more important than the political question everybody likes to talk about.

                I don’t know why it’s so hard for the Church to repudiate terror — on both sides! Or, failing that, at least stay neutral. Instead, the Church is playing the role of an Assad partisan, and I’m not so sure if the misery it is experiencing isn’t a form of divine retribution. I hate to go there, but look, the Church is supposed to be the handmaiden of God — not the handmaiden of Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran. What the Metropolitan has said and what the Syrian church is doing is a mistake. I hope they figure that out before there really isn’t a Church in Syria any more.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  It would be rather difficult not to support an army that delivers you from radical Muslim persecution. The rebels took Maaloula terrorized the nuns and orphans of St. Thekla’s Monastery, and completely destroyed an Orthodox and a Catholic Church. They forced the people to stay in their homes for 4 days and shot anyone who went out. Then Assad’s troops came and drove them out of the city, delivering the Orthodox Christians from Islamic persecution. How would the Orthodox Christians in Syria not support Assad who protects them from Islamic radicals? Remember during the Second World War the U.S. was allied with Stalin, one of the greatest mass murders in history.

              • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                An Open Letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip to President Obama

                His Eminence Metropolitan Philip writes:
                September 6, 2013
                President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC
                Dear Mr. President:
                We write to you with a heavy heart having heard the recent news of the attack on the ancient Christian city of Maaloula, Syria by the rebel forces.  This city houses one of the oldest and most important monasteries, the Monastery of St. Thekla, which is considered a holy place by both Christians and Muslims.
                This attack by the rebel forces, who are supported by the U.S. government,  is an unspeakable act of terror, and speaks volumes to the viciousness of those rebel forces who seek to overthrow the Syrian government.  Apparently there is nothing that is sacred to these people, and it is very disturbing that these same people are being supported by our government.
                Mr. President, we appeal to your humanity, and compassion for people to halt consideration of any U.S military action against the Syrian government.  This would be a deadly and costly action, and nothing can be gained by it.  If indeed chemical weapons have been used (and this is still to be determined by the UN inspectors who recently returned from Syria), there is no compelling evidence which points to the use of these weapons by the Syrian government.  On the contrary, there is some compelling evidence that the rebel forces had both the means and the will to launch such a heinous attack against innocent people, Christians and Muslims alike, who are all the children of God.
                May our Lord and God guide you to find a peaceful solution which relies on negotiation and not bombs.
                Sincerely
                +Metropolitan PHILIP Saliba
                Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America

  4. Michael Bauman says

    Insanity. Politics, foreign and domestic, has become totally criminally insane. Anyone who expects anything else or attempts to apply logic, humanity or decency to any of it is going to be abused even more.

    This is one area where Michael Stankovich’s experience might be useful (I am serious).

    • lexcaritas says

      I agree with you, Michael. I recoil at the now brazenly accepted fact that we have fallen so low as to see absolutely nothing wrong with quotidien targeted killings by our government. (No wondering random killings on the streets are growing in frequency.)

      Now we have come the the point were this country, acting through its president without Congressional or popular support, and in the face of opposition by the United Nations which was established for situtations like this, is willing to assert itself, willy nilly and with a high hand, as “policeman” of the world or bully on trumped up pretexts which are obvious in the mantra that we cannot allow a dictator to murder his own people–as if he just woke up one day and decided to do it for no reason other than supposed malice because everyone knows he’s wicked.

      But wait, we have no proof he used these weapons and there is no reason at this juncture that he would have. Furthermore, he did not start this two-year old conflagration, did he. He has been under unrelenting attack from rebles associated with the so-called “Arab Spring” parading as advocates of “democracy”. Why not blame them for all the deaths. They started the situation and have killed, maimed and tortured many.

      lxc

  5. Michael Kinsey says

    It is the time to stand up. Most Americans will not be fooled by this chemical warfare false flag attack. Most Americans will know the truth, but who among us will actually take effective action to stop it? The real question is ,Is it possible to stop it? The legislation since 911 makes civil disobedience impossible. Who can the fight the beast? As a pro-life activist, we addressed this deleima. Our answer, and hopefully America’s will be, as Theoden answered, when confronted by his aid who said. We cannot win this battle, Perhaps was Theodens answer, but we going to fight it. It is doubtful we will ever rise, if we do not do it now. Americans do not want a war in Syria.

  6. Engaged Observer says

    Assad may be ruthless, but he isn’t stupid. He has been handily winning the war against the Al-Qaeda rebels since about June. He knew about the “red line,” where Obama and the West threatened to retaliate if chemical weapons were used. Why would he now use chemical weapons. To goad the West into bombing him, when he is defeating the Al-Qaeda rebels?

    The evidence that Assad’s government unleashed the chemical weapons is about as sound as the evidence that Saddam Hussein “definitely” had weapons of mass destruction. The entire basis to garner support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on evidence from an Iraqi expatriate who eventually admitted to making the whole thing up, just because he wanted the West to take out Saddam Hussein.

    Assad isn’t stupid. It would be the height of stupidity for him to unleash chemical weapons at this stage in the game. Russia doesn’t believe he was the one using chemical weapons, but we automatically don’t believe whatever Russia says since in the West, we have a long history of not trusting the Russians. Maybe now we need to learn to trust the Russians a bit more and to not trust the Obama administration.

    In Syria, it’s the Assad-Iran-Hezbollah side versus the Al-Qaeda side. It’s two insane sides fighting it out. What is our national interest in Syria? Yes, chemical weapons are awful, and whoever used them should be found and punished if possible.

    But for us to bomb Syria and Assad’s regime because of some flimsy evidence — and because Obama is being told by his advisers that he “must do something because he said before that he would” if chemical weapons were used — would be a foreign policy mistake of a magnitude that we haven’t seen before. It would do way more than stir up a hornet’s nest.

    My opinion is that, evil as they are, Al-Qaeda is probably behind the chemical weapons attack as an act of desperation because they are losing in Syria and they are losing in Egypt. The West is doing exactly what Al-Qaeda wants it to do.

    We can forget about Obama and America or Britain caring about protecting Christian or Jewish minorites in the region. Virtually all those in political power in the West are secular humanists, who think of churches the way we think of museums — old and historical and maybe nice to visit sometimes, but not necessary for daily life.

    Some, especially President Obama and his crew that he surrounds himself with, seem to truly believe that as a historically suppressed and a group exploited by the (previously) Christian West, it may be high time for Muslims to assert themselves and come to dominate half the world once again. Why else would Obama and his crew want so badly to cripple the only power in Syria that is keeping Al-Qaeda at bay? Al-Qaeda is Sunni Muslim, but Assad-Hezbollah-Iran is Shia Muslim. I’ve heard that Obama has Sunni Muslim sympathies due to past family ties and from schooling when he was growing up. Could it be that the highest leadership in the West is helping Al-Qaeda to succeed? This also relates to the Benghazi cover-up. There is some good evidence that America was funneling weapons to Al-Qaeda for whatever reason.

    There’s way more to this potential Syria bombing story than America “feeling bad” for those affected by the chemical weapons and wanting to help out out of the goodness of our hearts. We must pray for those affected and help however we can, but bombing Syria is not the answer and would be a disaster. Sadly, though, I think that those in charge are well aware of this fact and want it to happen anyway?

    Most Holy Mother of God, on the Feast of your Dormition today, pray for us and save us!

  7. Metropolitan Jonah Sermon says

    on the Dormition of the Theotokos

    http://youtu.be/Kx2WDMpEAc4

  8. Just out of curiosity, Jonathan J., how do you think electricity is made?

  9. Francis Frost says

    I am always surprised at the almost mystical belief in the invisible “power” of the US or “the West” in the mind of those overseas.

    The fact is that neither the US, nor “the West” played any significant part in the development of the “Arab Spring”. The US has played at best a reactive and extremely reluctant role in this history. To date, the Obama administration is still pondering a response to the gas attacks perpetrated by the Assad regime against civilians in the Damascus suburbs. It has, however, already stated that such response will be limited to what amounts to a symbolic gesture.

    For a less histrionic and more nuanced view of recent events, your readers would be well advised to consult Fr Touma Bitar’s “Notes on Arab Orthodoxy web-site:

    http://araborthodoxy.blogspot.com

    After all, the writers on that site are far more close to the action, not only geographically; but linguistically and culturally.

    As an aside, As Safir reports that the kidnapped Archbishops were taken hostage by a Chechen jihadist group. These Chechen jihadists originated in the “Union of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus”, a Muslim confederacy, created and funded by the Russian government in the 1990’s and used as proxy armies in the three invasions of Georgia – invasions that resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians, the ethnic cleansing and exile of 300,000 orthodox Georgians, the destruction of two entire Orthodox dioceses, the desecration and obliteration of Orthodox temples, and the illegal occupation of Georgian territory. Now these same jihadist groups created by Russia’s leaders are doing their dirty work attacking Christians in Syria.

    This fact alone should put to rest the myth that the mass murdered Putin is some sort of protector of the Orthodox.

    The entire As Safir article can be found on the Arab Orthodoxy web blog for this month. You might also note several articles on the current crisis by Fr. Georges Massouh.

    Hi Holiness, Patriarch John’s sermon for the Dormition is also posted.

    Excerpt from the As Safir article:

    Numerous sources agree that the group “Jund al-Khilafa” [Army of the Caliphate] led by Abu Umar al-Kuwaiti carried out the bishops’ kidnapping last April 22, minutes after their passing through a “Free Syrian Army” checkpoint in Mansoura, three kilometers from the northern entrance to Aleppo.

    According to experts on Syrian jihadism the kidnapping group, made up of eight Chechens, belongs to  Abu Umar al-Kuwaiti’s group, which until a few months ago was known as “Jund al-Khilafa” before changing its name to “Liwa’ al-Muslimin” [Banner of the Muslims]. Abu Umar al-Kuwaiti leads a group of foreign fighters, including 200 Chechens. Al-Kuwaiti is of Shi’i origin, but his father converted to Sunnism. His real name is Husayn Lari and he has pledged obedience to Muhammad al-Rifa’i, one of the leaders of “Afghan Jihad” residing in London, as caliph of the Muslims.

  10. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/356945/wmd-excuse-again-alan-reynolds

    How does a ruler retain power? By killing those who wish to take it. Were there sections of the country controlled by and supporting the “rebels”? Yes. Did Assad attack these “civillians”? Yes. So what? Everything hinges on whether you think his regime is the best of alternatives. If it is, he is doing what he must to survive.

    We are engaged in a neocon/progressive adventure to somehow democratize the Middle East by force. Repeated failure is no barrier to the next insane excursion. And the Salafists are laughing their heads off, since they know who will win rebellions and “democratic” elections alike. The ones they organize, arm and fund. Who would have thought 12 years after 9/11 that we would be arming al-Qaida and helping them to take over Syria? Well, perhaps those who recall our intervention in the former Yugoslavia might have guessed it.

    The entire reportage of this conflict is a disgrace. Assad has protected Christians and is not an Islamist. Islamists in Egypt just got a government elected, attempted the widespread imposition of shariah, only to be overthrown by the military in a coup that we seem to be supporting. Now we want to put Islamists in power in Syria. The consul is a horse.

    It is utterly insane. Assad is the best man standing. We are on the wrong side of this conflict, supporting evil – – period. I pray we lose. And, unfortunately, the only way for that to happen is for Russia to intervene. It seems disloyal to America to say it, but we are Christians before we are Americans. If my country (at least for the time being) is actively engaged in unspeakable evil, praying for its resounding defeat is an act of piety. Only then will it learn its lesson. Success would reinforce it in its evil.

    The thing that is really a tragedy besides the innocent victims involved is the fact that US personnel might become casualties. America is about to commit an atrocity – – fighting for the side of darkness to prevail. Supporting militarily the willful murderers of Christians (because they are Christians) to prevail makes one an enemy of Christ. May God have mercy on us all. From its domestic morality, to its financial bankruptcy, to its international behavior, America is becoming thoroughly evil, another Babylon.

    • nit picker says

      Misha,

      It is not unreasonable to suspect that these chemical attacks were carried out by rebel forces against civilian targets. Why is the United States in such a hurry to attack? I would like you to name for me one, just one way in which these attacks against the local population by a local population a risk to the United States and require foreign intervention that the United States should intervene? This entire situation reeks (badly) of former intelligence director George Tenet and the war in Iraq. On the wrong side? Very likely. So who is likely on the other side trying to push the U.S. into this war to destroy Muslims and Christians entirely?

      Come on everybody, you all know the old saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Israeli government and Zionist agenda anyone?

  11. And Met. Phillip sends his gratitude to the Patriarch of Moscow for the Russian Church’s support for the Church in the Middle East now and historically:

    http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/63727.htm

  12. This story was sent to me by a friend. If it is true, it blows the top off of the Syrian situation. It fits in with other things we know but I can’t say for sure if it’s reliable. We know that Assad has no motive to use the chemical weapons. We know he has a fairly strong motive not to. We have seen the footage of rebels allegedly loading chemical warheads onto launchers. We have the US rushing to war and Britain rejecting the effort, all while the results of the UN testing are still pending. We also know that the Saudis support the rebels. Moreover, we have reports that several rebels were treated at locations for exposure to chemical agents.

    Now we have a news story with rebels and other eyewitnesses stating that the “attack” was actually the result of the mishandling of chemical arms by clueless rebels who were provided these weapons by Saudi Arabia but not told of their nature:

    http://www.examiner.com/article/breaking-news-rebels-admit-gas-attack-result-of-mishandling-chemical-weapons

    If this story is true, it confirms the statements of the Russians regarding the events and thoroughly refutes the narrative propagated by the US. And we’re on the verge of war because of this narrative.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-sharply-steps-up-criticism-of-us-over-syria/2013/08/31/532c48ea-1238-11e3-a2b3-5e107edf9897_print.html

  13. Elderly Parishioner Hurt says

    HOMESTEAD (KDKA) —

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/08/29/teen-arrested-in-smash-grab-incident-involving-elderly-woman/

    An 82-year-old woman went home Thursday after spending two weeks first in the hospital, and then in rehab.

    She was discharged hours after 18-year-old Michael Duku of the North Side was taken into custody on charges including robbery, assault and conspiracy.

    Police say Duku and another man shoved the elderly woman to the sidewalk two weeks ago after she attended Sunday church services in Homestead. Duku ran off with her purse.

    Rev. Robert Buczak of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, where the woman has been a long-time member of the congregation, said he paid several visits to the woman since she was assaulted.

    Buczak told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti that she’s in good spirits, adding, “She suffered a broken shoulder, broken orbital bones in her face and a big cut above her eye. She’ll be in a sling for six to eight weeks now.”

    Buczak said the woman forgives the robbers who attacked her, and then he said he felt “they would have gotten more in church, than they got out of her purse.”

    Duku was identified by an eyewitness who recognized his mug shot. He was picked up by a constable.

    Homestead Mayor Betty Esper said she was relieved to hear that at least one suspect has been arrested.

    “You don’t want any church to feel that [parishioners] can come out of Sunday services after praying and they are afraid, you just don’t want that,” Esper said.

    Duku is being held on $75,000 bond.

  14. cynthia curran says

    Well, I went against our intervention in Kosovo and Bosnia, and at first supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars but they were ill conceived so I went against them as well. This intervention is stupid, there would not have been a civil war if Obama didn’t pushed the Arab Spring. thinking in that region.

  15. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
    Please consider signing this White House petition and sharing it:
    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/refuse-intervene-militarily-syria-and-express-solidarity-syrias-persecuted-christian-communities/W7cCjTzd
    For those on Facebook, please see, like, and share: https://www.facebook.com/ChristianSolidaritySyria
    In Christ,
    Kentigern Siewers

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Thanks. Just registered and signed the petition. Also, please do not forget to send a similar request to your US Senators and Representative; you may be able to do so through their Facebook pages.

  16. Archpriest John W. Morris says
  17. cynthia curran says

    The National Association of Evangelicals conducted a poll of its member pastors and found that 62.5 percent oppose U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war.

    “Should Congress authorize direct U.S. military intervention in Syria?” the survey asked. Only 37.5 percent answered “yes,” NAE President Leith Anderson announced in a statement to Jonathan Merritt at Religion News Service.

    The National Association of Evangelicals represents 40 evangelical Christian denominations and over 45,000 local churches. Not all evangelical denominations are NAE members, though.

    The largest evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, for instance, is not a member. So, the views of Southern Baptist pastors would not be included in the results. (Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, does not support a military strike against Syria.)

    Anderson does not take a definite position himself on the issue in his statement. Rather, he outlines several reasons that the issue is difficult and that evangelical pastors are in disagreement.

    On the one hand, he points out, there has been an international consensus against the use of chemical weapons, and not taking action now could encourage further use of those weapons in the future. On the other hand, whether a military strike against Syria would help or hurt the situation is unknown. It could make the situation worse by leading to a broader regional conflict.

    Follow us

    Anderson also expressed concerns about the Christians in the region. Persecution of Christians living in the Middle East has increased in recent years, he pointed out.

    “Christians in Syria have been victims during the past two years of civil war. We don’t want to make their lives worse.”

    Anderson ended by encouraging Christians to pray for political leaders in both the United States and Syria.

    “The Bible teaches us to pray for our leaders,” he wrote. “This is a week for extra prayers as our Congress and President decide what to do about Syria. And, let’s add Syrian leaders to our prayer list. Our request is that God will give wisdom to make choices for a lasting peace in the region.”

    The Christian Post recently asked three Christian thinkers to address whether the proposed military action in Syria would be a “Just War.” You can read their responses here.

    Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com, @NappNazworth (Twitter)
    VIDEOS THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

    • “The Christian Post recently asked three Christian thinkers to address whether the proposed military action in Syria would be a “Just War.”

      I wonder if they asked our own ROCOR Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster, PhD and publisher of “The Virtue of War”?

  18. Daniel E Fall says

    I’m a pacifist, so not at all glad to hear about the prospect of war.

    I think Obama is a pacifist as well; which gives me pause when he suggests military action.

    Ask yourselves a few simple questions. Did Metropolitan Philip mention the gassing of children in an objective fashion in the letter to Obama? The answer is simple. If you read the letter closely, the Metropolitan used horrible grammar….and he suggests there is no evidence the Syrian government did it.

    How does Metropolitan Philip know there is no evidence? Bizarre.

    Christiana Amanpour interviewed the Syrian Ambassador to the UN or US and asked him a simple question that answered all my doubts. She asked if the Syrian government would turn over its chemical weapons. He said that wasn’t the issue.

    If the Syrian government were honest in this matter; they could easily ask the Russian government to come in an remove the gas, but won’t.

    Hit ’em.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      and hit em hard

      • Actually, Daniel, you are an emotionalist. You are led by your emotions and not by reason. Pacifists don’t advocate war – – ever. And reasonable people ask for proof to be presented to prove who it was that gassed children. 0-2, Daniel.

        • Suggesting a man is emotional is just an offensive cheap shot Misha. You know it. I don’t care.

          The Germans said their intel has Syrian military commanders asking to use gas on 9 occassions. Proof?

          Assad supposedly said no, but just the asking is enough to understand the realities. Syrian commanders wanted to use it to stop the rebels for a long time running.

          Assad might have given a quieter nod than on an intereceptable line.

          As for their sovereignty, when they violate international law, their sovereignty is no longer important to me. No more important than Iraq when they might have bought uranium tubes…maybe.

          • So, Dan, let’s see what we have. You claimed to be a pacifist. Yet you advocate “hit ’em hard”. What impels this violation of principle? Dispassionate reason?

            The Germans say Assad refused to allow his troops to use poison gas. You conjecture he gave a wink and a nod? The evidence from this comes from . . . dispassionate reason?

            Above, on the morning of the 8th, you wrote: “If the Syrian government were honest in this matter; they could easily ask the Russian government to come in an remove the gas, but won’t.”

            Now, the Syrian government has agreed not only to turn over control of their weapons, not just to the Russians but to the UN. And they did it immediately after the Russian proposal emerged.

            You sound like a liberal interventionist to me. And one easily played by the Saudi’s and neo-cons.

            “As for their sovereignty, when they violate international law, their sovereignty is no longer important to me. No more important than Iraq when they might have bought uranium tubes…maybe.”

            Sure, of course. But Saddam Hussein broke lots of rules, international and ceasefire agreements alike. So if his sovereignty otherwise went out the window then why bitch about “uranium tubes”? And what kind of “pacifist” doesn’t respect national sovereignty when it is used to argue against the use of violence by a short list of countries without widespread international support? Jesus, the Brits couldn’t even get their government behind this.

            Obama Kool-aid drinkers and neo-cons are the ones behind this, egged on by the Saudi’s, etc.

            Now, even Obama seems to be having second thoughts. That’s the tasty part. He would be god-awful at chess. It must have just occurred to some of these fools that if they go in and it drags out, candidate Hillary is going to have to go on record in a detailed manner on the subject. She can torpedo the president, possibly lose his supporters and divide the party, or she can support the president and alienate leftists she can’t afford to lose. Either way, she lowers her chances of winning the election. With Obama’s popularity down to about 40% in some pols, I’m sure this realization has acquired legs and influence.

            So they should be damn grateful for Putin’s perezagruzka (“reset”, spelled correctly).

            • Daniel E Fall says

              I’m very sorry Misha, but I’m still in shock the good bishop said he’d prefer Lenin to Bachman or Coulter, so I’m having trouble getting into your post.

              As with all things, chronological facts have entered into our debate. The Syrian ambassador wouldn’t discuss turning over weapons in an interview with Christiane Amanpour. Now, it seems the buzz.

              If children were gassed and this is a violation of international law; that ought to mean something to you. I guess dispelling it as a rebel façade seems to do it for your pen name.

              Were any of the gas victims Christian?

              German intelligence also intercepted 9 requests to use sarin.

              Hmmm.

              Could I get a rocket scientist in here?

              Perhaps he meant Lennon, but that would only upset George.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                Oh, how interesting, Daniel! Who is the good bishop of whom you write? And did he say in what capacity he’d prefer Lenin to La Bachmann or La Coulter? As a co-entrant on Concentration?
                Those women are mostly comedians, while Lenin was an ideological politician. Christiane Amanpour…is that the Albanian who was such a hawk in Serbia?

                • Your Grace, Bachmann is indeed a most sinister comedienne. Would you agree with me that Sarah P. is less sinister (at least now, when this wicked old world no longer faces the ’08 risk that she could be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.) Coulter’s distinction and greatest merits, however, are in that modern riff on the oldest profession: the political-porn actress. IMHO. Her 15 minutes on the casting couch appear to have expired, though (evidently she’s grown too radioactive even for contemporary Republicans. “Straight” ones, anyway. {Don’t even get me started on the obliquely alluded-to subcultural phenomenon here. I’d probably have a stroke from nausea and boiling blood.} . . .). I wrote a diamond-in-the-rough étude inspired by her, if that’s the right word (both ambiguities operative), a year or two ago. I was quite fond. Before I had got a real good whiff of George M., I even honored his list with it (a tender shoot I planned to expand on, water, feed, prune delicately and then offer to a wider audience who might actually appreciate it). He censored/disappeared it. Or Hans did. Or some other similar sort. I assure you it must have struck many, many nerves.

                  I’d bet Apollo’s pharm that Misha dreams of Ann — and none too “virtuously,” either. These bloated-souled old reactionaries addicted to firing out online platitudes about “virtue” and “morality” — God, what a sordid stink they make, these pseudo-holy cyberfarters. Between them and “Christian”ists like George W. Bush and the recently received Blair, it’s a wonder the whole world hasn’t yet ganged up on the Real Presence of the Body of Christ still resident in space/time, here on God’s Good Earth. There’s a miracle of Grace for you.

                  Misha’s another one of that crew of evil workers, in man-beast mode, professional class (einem der modernen Schergen des Männerbund redivivus); however, this one’s not even close to ready for prime time. We’ll have to steel ourselves for an onslaught of these hypocrites and false prophets in what remains of the Western democracies, especially here in our nearly terminal republic, no doubt. I’m afraid we ain’t seen nothing yet.

                  Probably not much future for you though in this growth industry, Misha. So don’t quit your day job.

                  Whoever you are, anonymite spark-hurler and fascist agent provocateur: you desperately need to grow up, if it’s not too late for you. Recall Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein. The list of tragicomically incompetent, absurdist monarchs, czars and other assorted autocrats, and autocrats manqué, is a nearly endless one. You disgust me.

                  Soul doctor Mike prescribes the very great artiste & prophetess Joni Mitchell for your very, very sorry ass. Start with her first compilation, “The Beginning of Survival.”

                  And you’re welcome, bozo.

                  • This thing wouldn’t let me correct my post:

                    The list of tragicomically incompetent, absurdist monarchs, czars and other assorted autocrats, and autocrats manqué, is a nearly endless one. The Kingdom of God is an Aristocracy, serving ONE MONARCH. You disgust me.

                    Better.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Mike, you’ve got some serious anger management issues. Take a deep breath, engage the arguments, drop the cultural references and stop it with the ad hominem. Really.

                    • George, you’ve got some major league stupidity issues. Which “argument” would you wish me to engage? Can do.

                      (Be specific. Also: be careful what you wish for.)

                      “Drop the cultural references” — What’s that supposed to mean? If you even know. Which I doubt.

                      Curious about something: why is ad hominem OK for you and so many of your other correspondents? Some special hall pass that y’all Dixie Orthodox get? Evidently it’s one we less holy ones are unworthy of. How does that work?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mike, I’m gonna have to take a day off to take you up on that offer. But first you gotta help me out: what exactly ARE your arguments? Your “arguments” are mostly invective: “Stupid,” “Baseless,” “Bozos,” “miasma,” etc.

                      I’m serious, I really want to know what you believe. Other than your advocacy of homosexual rights, I’m at a loss. Just because you toss some ancient Greek references as an aside really means nothing. It’s rather facile.

                    • Just because you toss some ancient Greek references as an aside really means nothing. It’s rather facile.

                      Rational discussion with you is not possible. The “ancient Greek references” were not “an aside,” but evidence, part of a case made to support a reasoned point. The point had to do with something Bishop Tikhon wrote in the course of correcting your erroneous and poorly informed assertion about “Jews in the West taking up Attic Greek.” I respectfully disagreed with a couple of his ideas, which I thought were somewhat exaggerated, at least as written. His replies were rationally framed, insightful, free of rhetorical fallacy, balanced, nuanced and multi-leveled in signification, rich in relevant facts and quite well worth reading, as his posts almost always are. Why he consents to grace your sordid blog mystifies me, but his charitable presence is one of the very few reasons I can see to take the phenomenon of “Monomakhos” seriously.

                      His Grace is someone with whom one can have an edifying, fruitful and most pleasant chat. You simply aren’t. And as I’ve told you many times before, I’m not here to play with you, not anymore. I was castigating your latest hellmouth correspondent, Misha. The lawyer (sic) whose persona at any rate professes to ardently desire and even pray for a military coup in order to overthrow the constitutional government of the United States of America and its Republic. He thinks it should be replaced with an autocracy (or a czar — e.g., V. Putin?). The guy who, if he’s not merely a lame parodist, is practically begging for FBI scrutiny. The guy who gets all the thumbs up from your seedy, clinically fascinating cyberentourage of demented crackers and low-rent social sorcerers. And hypocrites extraordinaire.

                      You, I’m pretty much done with. You’ve proved yourself to be utterly unteachable. I would definitely be interested in a very solemn chat with the priest who communes you, however. That’s a discussion I’d truly relish.

                    • geo michalopulos says

                      OK, I’ll make it easy: give me one argument you’ve made which I haven’t (or couldn’t) answer in a rational manner.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    That’s completely unfair. Tyrants arise out of chaos and anarchy. You criticize Lenin, Stalin, etc., but why do you think they arose in the first place? Because they first ran for dog-catcher and the people liked the way they looked in a suit and tie?

            • Daniel, every poor devil feels compelled to comment on this, through us. We probably all need to be exorcised. Today’s public service: I heartily nominate world-historical hypocrite Charles Krauthammer to be first in line for the exorcism. Do I hear a second? A competitive group rate could probably be negotiated.

              So far this monstrous incident looks to me like just another Rohrschach test. People who “weigh in” on it generally say much more about their own psychology (and ignorance of history) than anything they could possibly be in a position to know to be objectively true about what happened in Syria these past few weeks. I’d bet only a few on earth really know what occurred, and not many more who know beyond a reasonable doubt. Although I suppose I could be wrong, I rather doubt it. I do know there’s no reasonable doubt what the Ba’ath regime has done to the Syrian Sunnis (mainly) since March 2011. He didn’t do it to Syrian Christians though so it’s all good, apparently, to most of y’all on Monomakhos. I don’t suppose many of you are capable of perceiving what moral cretins that opinion makes you, so I won’t bother trying to spell it out. Read Romans 2, and see if you recognize anyone.

              What I do know for sure is that the tone of certainty one hears way too often in pundits and “journalists” is usually merely absurd, and, in government officials, also usually culpable. We saw this first ad nauseam in the West of course, and then yesterday it was committed by V.V. Putin, right in the middle of his NY Times Op-Ed. I hope it was badly translated.

              No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.

              Who can believe a word coming out of Washington, New York, Jerusalem or the Kremlin these days, or from any Arab capital (excluding Amman, maybe)? Who doesn’t know that we’re all deeply implicated in this huge world mess? Who doesn’t realize there’s more than enough blame to go around? Sorceror’s apprentices galore, stupidly metastasizing madness and mayhem. God’s patience is unfathomable.

              Such watcher’s quizzes seem to pop up more and more often these days. Or maybe it’s just that I’m more sensitive to them and more rigorous about maintaining and extending my own budding nepsis, infantile as it is.

              Let’s marvel at and dissect Misha’s gallstone here:

              . . . So they should be damn grateful for Putin’s perezagruzka (“reset”, spelled correctly).

              A few questions for you to ignore, counsel, before I issue your path report. A bit of due process. Heard of that?

              1). Should we be “damn grateful” for all those highly motivated, profoundly anti-Christian Chechen terrorists VVP was so instrumental in creating, Mr. Misha? — Thanks so much for all that spawn of Satan, Vlad. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?

              (Evidently, they are something else. And what a loathsome vista their synergy with the ones midwifed in Iran and Iraq by Reagan & Bush & Bush and Co. presents. — Thanks above all to you guys.)

              2.) TBC, God willing. I need to pray about the next questions.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mr Fall, that is a non sequitur. Syria is a sovereign nation. It is under no obligation to turn over ANY of its weapons. Any more than the US has.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      The German intelligence agency has concluded that there is no evidence that Assad was responsible for the gassing of children. It is entirely possible that the rebels did it to blame it on Assad. What is the moral difference between shooting a priest who is minister to the dying and gassing him? Why should the U.S. help the rebels who are heavily infiltrated by radical Muslims with strong ties to Al Quaeda? As an Orthodox Christian, I object to my tax dollars going to help people who persecute Orthodox Christians in Syria. As an American, I object to my tax dollars going to people who support radical Islamism. Have we already forgotten 9/11, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, and all the attempts at terrorist acts against us by radical Islamists? I have not. I remember all the trouble that they have caused us every time that I have to take off my shoes to go through security so that I can fly somewhere. Does it not make a mockery of all the American soldiers who have been killed or handicapped for life by radical Muslims to help them take over Syria?

  19. http://eadiocese.org/News/2013/sept/synodstmnt.en.htm

    ROCOR’s synod has lamented the persecution of Christians in Syria and condemned the prospective American attack on the country.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      Thank God for the courage of the leadership of ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate. Has the OCA issued a similar statement, or are you too busy fighting among yourselves to care about what happens to the Orthodox Church in Syria which is threatened with extinction at the hands of U.S. backed radical Muslims ? It is too bad that the rest of Orthodoxy has not expressed support for the Orthodox Christians of Syria who are facing brutal persecution by the rebels. Our country is about to assist in the destruction of the Orthodox Church in Syria by sending our missiles to support the Islamic radicals in Syria and most American Orthodox seem to be silent. We should all be united in trying to persuade our Congress to vote against Obama’s ill conceived plans for Syria.

      • Fr. Morris,

        You are just wrong. Russia is directly responsible for the murders of thousands in Syria. 2 1/2 years ago when this began in Syria, the U.N. wanted to stop the violence, but Russia & China stopped any action. Russia and it’s political arm of the ROC has blood on it’s hands.It’s not clear-cut of radical Muslims via Christians. There are many old tribal wars going on there and when chaos arises, the radical Muslims step in. Assad must be removed and then a moderate govt must be set up.

        • Ted,

          Nonsense. Assad has simply been resisting the “Arab Spring” which ostensibly was supposed to install democratic governments but has failed in each and every country in which it has been perpetrated (by the West). The US has been the evildoer in Syria, Egypt and Libya. The neo-cons and liberal interventionists have the blood of many, many innocent people on their hands due to their fools errands.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I agree. The “Arab Spring” was one of the most useless locutions foisted upon the West by the Neocon/Neoliberals. The Trotskyites at The Weekly Standard as well as The New Republic actually believed in that crap.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          Democratic forms of government will only work in the Muslim world when the Muslims give up Sharia Law and recognize the rights to full equality of non-Muslims. Until then, democracy will only allow the Muslims to do what they have done to the Christians in Egypt and Iraq, and what they are trying to do to the Christians in Syria. Read the Quran. It is a hate filled book that teaches that Muslims must subdue non-Muslims and accept Muslim dominance. It even has a chapter on how to divide the possessions stolen from non-Muslim caravans. How can a religion that teaches that its followers have a right to attack and seize the possessions of followers of another religion be tolerant? You need to face reality when dealing with Islam. It is an oppressive religion that was founded by a bandit and warrior not a man of peace and love like Christ.

  20. I want to say a word or two about the Powers doctrine (i.e., Samantha Powers, the driving force behind our current follies regarding Syria). The neo-cons seem to want to invade everyone and anyone without nuclear weapons in the Middle East and North Africa in the interest of democratizing them all and thus making them safe for us and for Israel. That democratization has not made one of these countries safe for anyone is a fact that seems not to stand in their ideological way. Full speed ahead toward creating a larger and larger Jihadistan!

    Now, paleoconservatives, like Buchanan, are much more circumspect about all of this. They see our little international adventures as imperialism and generally disapprove unless there is a compelling national interest involved. I don’t agree with their republicanism (small “r”), but I respect their research as to facts.

    Alas, a new form of insanity has infected the US – – liberal interventionism (the aforementioned “Powers Doctrine”). The theory behind this is that if we see some leader somehow mistreating his people (in our humble opinion, with our evolving standards – – what I mean is, we coddled most of these autocrats just decades or years prior), then we have the right, nay, the obligation, to create or support armed resistance within their countries or to use our military to assist in unseating the present government. It’s just another form of humanitarian aid.

    The true perversity of this is that we have some of the most vociferous opponents of a war against a Middle Eastern dictator who gassed his own people and was ostensibly overthrown because he possessed WMD (Saddam Hussein), now supporting a war to oust a Middle Eastern dictator, accused of gassing his own people, because he possesses WMD (Bashar al-Assad). There are only two differences. There is precious little evidence that the present dictator in question actually did gas his own people, whereas the prior dictator most certainly did (the Kurds). And the other difference being that the prior dictator was ousted by “conservative” neo-cons pursuant to their ideology whereas the present dictator is in peril because progressives seem to see it as a humanitarian imperative (to bomb his country and kill more people). More perversely, the progressive, humanitarian warmongers can count on the support of the neo-cons who, for different reasons, wish to oust the dictator.

    NOTE: To give a perspective on the word “dictator”, just substitute the word “king” or “emperor” or “prince” for it. The Orthodox have traditionally been governed by “dictators”, many of whom are saints, and we lament the demise of Christian dictatorships such as Constantinople and the Russian Empire on an almost daily basis.

    Meanwhile, back in reality, the Saudis and other Salafists are laughing at the success of the pro-Sunni fundamentalist expansion that they are creating. And we are helping al-Qaida overthrow a leader who has kept fundamentalism at bay in his country so that these fanatics can exterminate our fellow Christians (and Shiites and Alawis, etc).

    There seem to be two good things that could emerge from this, despite all the evil that America is engaged in. One, Russia’s reputation is getting a shot in the arm. Two, we know now that Obama is clueless and incompetent when it comes to international relations, dangerously so regarding the use of the military. I have looked forward to the perfect storm which could change our form of government away from democracy. I assumed that a revolution or coup could be precipitated by the combination of an incompetent president combined with a clear and present danger to the United States such that some critical mass of the commanders of our armed forces would surmise that leaving the president in charge at a particular critical juncture would spell doom for the country. I still think this is possible and the present circumstances give me encouragement. Were there some serious threat to national security combined with the type of conduct we have seen come out of the White House in the last couple of weeks, I could easily see a military coup here.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Wishing for a military coup in the US? This is either satire or the raving of a madman; hard to tell from the context.

      I’m assuming it’s satire.

      • No satire, Tim. An ardent prayer. Not wedded to the idea of a “military” coup, just a change in the form of government since democracy is evil and begets a multitude of evils. Governments don’t last forever. Just ask the residents of the former Soviet Union. I do think that a military coup would be the most likely to happen here since that would stand the greatest chance of success. Or it may decay and pass from the scene in some other unforeseen way. Godspeed.

  21. So few in our day speak healing words, truthful words, prayerful words, godly words. Once in a great while there is a highly notable exception, and it is more than worthy of re-posting here.

    Please…do what he asks at the end. Take a moment – even if only a moment – regardless of your opinions on the matter and pray.

    Bishop Basil of Wichita on the Syria Crisis

    ” This week will be a very important week, an historical week, one way or another–our church, our Patriarchate in particular, and this world in general. This week our elected representatives will be asked to vote either for or against supporting aggression in the Holy Land. As I said it’s important first and foremost for our church. It’s where our spiritual roots are, the roots of all Christians. Not just us, but we as Antiochian Orthodox in particular, as our Father in God (Patriarch John of Antioch) lives there along with a million and a half Orthodox Christians.That’s more than we have total in the US. The Orthodox in Syria and Lebanon is not negligible, it’s 10 percent of the population. In our country, we’re less than 1 percent, our country being the United States.

    Syria in particular but Lebanon as well, which is an integral part of greater Syria just by its geography and the majority of its history, is dotted with holy places. Holy places made holy by the presence of our Savior. Remember his conversation with the Canaanite woman, the Syro-Phoenician woman when he visited Tyre and Sidon in south Lebanon. It’s not in Disney World or Never Never Land. Its a real place with real people with real Orthodox Christians living there. You’ve heard of Caesarea Philippi, where our Savior went and had conversation with his 12 apostles saying, “Who do men say that I am?” and then to Peter “Who do you say that I am?” Caesarea Philippi is in Golan Heights, what now is the occupied portion of the Golan Heights. It belongs to our sister archdiocese, the archdiocese of Bosra-Hauran. And the Golan Heights itself is dotted with now empty, they were depocketed by the Israelis, Christian villages, Orthodox villages, whose churches during the occupation have been totally desecrated. Stripped. Not only of the icons and the chandeliers, but of windows, and water faucets. Their dead in Konetra were taken out of their graves, and teeth–gold teeth–taken from their mouths and wedding rings taken from the corpses’ fingers. These are holy places. Our Saviour walked there, the apostles walked there. Sweida, Bosra-Hauran in south Syria is where Timon, one of the original seven deacons as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, one of the original seven deacons was the first bishop. Paul the apostle made his way from Jerusalem up to Damascus, and the road is still there, the spot where he was knocked off his horse by the presence of our Saviour Jesus Christ when he was struck blind. There’s a monastery there, an Orthodox monastery. These are not just places in books, brothers and sisters. These are holy places where Christians, your spiritual ancestors, and for many of you your physical ancestors have lived the Holy Orthodoxy for the past 2,000 years. It’s why what happens this week is important. It’s important.

    We ask your prayers first and foremost for our president. That God might speak as we say in the liturgy “good things to his heart.” That God might speak reasonableness and peace to the heart of our president. That he might speak peace to the heart of our elected officials, that they indeed become our representatives, that they speak the voice of the people. God speaks through his people, not through a congressman alone, or a president alone. He speaks through his people. May God hear our prayer for our armed forces. Men and women who sit on the edges of their seats to know whether they will be going to war or not. And don’t believe this “no boots on the ground.” It’s impossible. We’ve heard the promise many times. May God give strength to the parents. The spouses first and foremost of those soldiers, and their children, and their parents and their families, that he might grant them grace during these next coming days to prepare for the tension that must be laid upon them. And God be with the people of Syria. All of them, whether they’re Muslim, they’re Druze, Christians, Orthodox and not. May he be with our Father in God (Patriarch John of Antioch) who has already lost thousands of his people, and priests and deacons and monks and nuns in the war already. Whose monasteries and churches have been occupied and many destroyed by the so-called Free Syrian Army. Whose own brother was kidnapped and still remains kidnapped, Metropolitan Paul along with Archbishop Yohanna, since April 22 by freedom fighters. Freedom fighters–people who rape women, abduct bishops, desecrate churches, open peoples’ chests and pull their beating heart out and eat it in their presence. That’s the Free Syrian Army and their allies, Al Qaeda.

    Two days ago I received a call from our Metropolitan Saba Esper, who you know, he has visited here. He is the archbishop of our own Wichita diocese’s sister diocese in south Syria. He spoke by telephone, right before he called me, with Mother Belagia. Mother Belagia is the abbess of the monastery of Saint Thekla in Maalula. It’s only like a 20-30 minute drive north of Damascus. It had been occupied for 3 days (the town). The town is one of three where they still speak Aramaic–Aramaic which our Saviour spoke. The only 3 towns left in the world. The majority of the people in Maaloula are Christians–Orthodox Christians. There’s a smattering of Catholics there, and there’s also some Muslims there, and they live there in peace. The beginning of this week they were occupied by the Free Syrian Army. It turned out to be Al Qaeda, and they turned out to be Chechens–the same ones who abducted our 2 bishops. The nuns took the children there, orphan girls there of St. Thekla, and they and the nuns, many who are aging, into the caves of the village to hide for 4 days. They didn’t even go out to buy bread. The villagers didn’t leave their homes for 4 days. And if you’ve never been to the Middle East, they don’t shop like we do. They go every morning to buy their bread and food for the day. So they were locked in their homes for 4 days. Those who went out were shot, so they knew to stay in their homes. Saba called me on Wednesday. Mother Belagia, and they were ringing all the bells in the town’s churches–the Syrian Army, you know the one that we’re told is so bad. The Syrian Army finally came and drove Al Qaeda out. And what did they find? They found 2 churches in the village completely destroyed. St. Elias, which is ours, the Orthodox church in the village, and St. Rita, which is a Catholic church in the village–completely destroyed. On the inside, the icons, the holy books, everything had been desecrated. Not just ripped off the walls, but covered in urine. Real desecration by that wing of the Free Syrian Army. God knows what the people of Syria, and by extension the people of Jordan, the people of Lebanon, the people of Turkey and the people of Iraq–because if there’s a war there’s a regional war–God knows the burden they may have to carry this week. Lighten their burden as you can. And that’s by your prayers. Have a soft heart towards the people. Wrongs were done on both sides–vicious wrongs on both sides. But as we’ve heard from some honest politicians this past week, there’s really no good armed force over there. No one we can trust. None. So the choice is between the evil that we know and that we’ve had for 30-40 years in that part of the world, or another evil we don’t know about except what they’ve shown us in this awful civil war for the past 2 and a half years.

    So this week, really pray. Thank God that we live in a country that is safe. Where we can send our children to school, where you can go out and buy your groceries. But realize that that blessed country where we live can also be a disruptive force in other parts of the world, as it has been. Remember Bosnia. Remember Kosovo. Remember what happened in Belgrade, the capital of an Orthodox country, bombed by our armed forces on Pascha night, while people were going to church for the midnight service. God bless America–but a lot of evils have been done in her name. We pray that God will restrain our leaders from being the cause for any more evil and sorrow and hurt in this world. That we might extend a healing hand, to bring enemies together like we’re supposed to. Where we teach people to turn the other cheek, where we teach people to bless those who curse them, to love our enemies. That’s the gospel we preach, the gospel we die for. It’s the gospel which Orthodox Christians have been and I guess will continue to die for. Remember them in your prayers, and as I said, most especially our leaders, who will make the decisions. That God might pour out his Holy Spirit on them, and speak good things to their hearts.”

    Source: Notes on Arab Orthodoxy.

  22. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_RUSSIA_SYRIA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-09-10-07-47-43

    And Syria seems to have agreed to the Russian proposal, and quickly. But I’m sure Moscow cleared it with them before making it. This looks pretty bad for Obama. War supported by false pretenses averted by cooler headed, non-democratic, non-ally. What a strange world we have progressed into. And the “rebels” oppose the proposal and are feeding the US suggested targets. Now, if Assad thought he needed to use chemical weapons to defeat the rebels, he would not agree to this. But we all know that is not the case because he was winning before their alleged use. German intercepts say he explicitly ordered that sarin not be used.

    So, do we have false flag? Probably. All definitive evidence which has been made public points to one. But even the NYT is still saying 1400 were killed when in fact others have admitted that that was greatly exaggerated. I do not mention that to suggest that Assad didn’t kill as many as alleged. I don’t think he used gas in the first place. I mention it to underscore that the Times is still in pro-war, give O the benefit of the doubt mode. Contrast this to the lead up to the Iraq War where the Times’ front page was one long editorial against the war.

    At some point you just have to start laughing and not taking the whole society seriously. Saying that our founding fathers created a “republic, if you can keep it” is all fine and well. But any government has to account for human nature, and democracy does it very, very poorly.

    • Human nature selfishly wants to kill its own children. Democracy enables it. Human nature wants to behave in all manner of licentious ways and make them the norm rather than decadent or perverse. Democracy enables this. Human nature wants to destroy the institution of Christian marriage and replace it with co-habitation and/or serial monogamy and/or perverse lifestyles. Democracy enables it. Human nature wants to export progressive morality to the rest of the world, using force if necessary. Democracy enables this . . .

      Drink the “Spirit of ’76” kool-aid if you wish, but it is an anti-Christian tool of the evil one.

      Monarchy/Empire is the historical norm of Orthodoxy. If democracy had been the dream of man from the beginning, we would have it universally by now. It has failed in the past and is failing again, hence the old saying about democracies self destructing in about 200 years, give or take. Ancient Greece’s democracy was not even as egalitarian as our American democracy, and it passed. Modern Greece is bankrupt and the people riot to keep retirement at 50. Franco’s Spain was a Catholic autocracy. It’s economy was just fine until after Franco’s reign. Now it’s a basket case.

      The canard about monarchy in the Bible overlooks a few important facts. First, there was no democracy before the monarchy, neither Moses nor the Judges were democrats. The reason given in the Bible for the people’s clamor for a king was the corrupt incompetence of Samuel’s sons as judges, for some of the same offenses as were predicted for a king. Saul ends up being a bad king. David considerably more positive, although with some flaws.

      And so the evils of monarchy are commemorated in the Church by us referring to Christ as the “Son of David” and “King of Kings” and monarchy is so interwoven into canon law and the Orthodox worldview that it prevailed unchallenged until the Enlightenment, which gave us all the ills listed in the first paragraph in the name of making man the measure of all things and turning the voice of the people into the voice of God. “Put not your trust in the sons of men.” Trusting “the sons of men” sounds a lot like democracy.

      No thank you. But, it is no big deal. If I’m right democracy will self destruct regardless of what either of us wish. God willing, and I pray, Christ will return soon. Maranatha!

      BTW: Vigilance is not a trait for which humans are known, certainly not humans living in democracies. Sure, given a righteous, responsible electorate, democracy would work just fine. The operative word there is “given”. Such things are not given but perpetually re-created, but certainly not by democracy.

      • “Misha, if you are an American have faith in God and in our Democracy and in the works of our Founding Fathers. Never dispare [sic]. Prayer does away with this. Democracy, Republicanism, Liberty, the Rule of Law, these are things to fight for, not throw away.”

        Well, it shouldn’t matter if I’m an American, if they are good and to fight for then they are, regardless of where. But that’s the point isn’t it? Are they good? I have faith in God and no faith whatsoever in the electorate. None. They have become progressively more evil because of the inherent flaws in democracy as a form of government. There is nothing to despair about though. God is in charge ultimately and He will deal with democracy.

        I will make this remark though, my hope (or rather prayer) for a revolution or coup in this country is only based on the love I have for many here. The alternative, retaining the status quo, will result in an increasingly totalitarian state (not a monarchy but a state that asserts itself as the end all, be all, god of all within it), devaluation of the currency through inflation, lowering of standards of living and further moral decay; i.e., descent into second or third world status in terms of culture. If that is to be the fate of the US, so be it. I cannot say America does not deserve it. There are other places in the world that do not wish to share this fate and would be happy not to receive America’s export of its twisted values.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          This is a contentious board, but even so, I wouldn’t usually say something like this, but Misha, if you are serious, you are simply out of your mind (metaphorically speaking, of course).

          Your “coup” (which, of course, is just a figment of your imagination) would unleash generations of bloodshed here. Why would you pray for that? You know this would be true, as the rest of us know it would be true.

          Why in the world did millions flee here from Their Most Catholic Majesties, Their Holy Roman Emperors, their powers and principalities, their Tsars, their Defenders of the Faith and all the rest of the “Christian” tyrants and satraps ? Maybe they knew something you don’t.

          Yes, let’s pray for anarchy and mass murder here in our country, and good “Christian” rulers of Texia, Nova Anglia, Holy Dixiana, the Trans-Mississippian Kingdom and the rest of the science-fiction nightmare….

          Well, it is a just a blog in cyberspace, I do get that….Maybe, though, you’re onto a good idea for a fiction series, sort of an Orthodox “Left Behind”. Perhaps told from the point of view of an ecclesiastical underling in the Principality of Montana-Wyoming; regretful, but dutiful, about the imposition of the rigor of canon law on some remnant Protestant-Democratic sect. Lot of human interest there, not to mention good doctrine!

          • George Michalopulos says

            Tim, I’ll let Misha speak for himself, but what I see is that type of bloodletting is on the horizon anyway. Do I want it? No. I doubt Misha does either. But it’s well-nigh inevitable given the slow-motion collapse of our society. The loss of religion and virtue have not been without consequences. It’s possible that the gradual collapse can be accelerated.

            How so? Even those Putin pulled our chestnuts out of the fire, and so far prevented a war that nobody in America (save for the Israeli lobby wanted), the Saudis are seething with rage. In their eyes, because Obama failed them, they may rethink their insistence in accepting only dollars for oil. If another currency (say, the Pound, Yen, or Ruble) is accepted –or, more likely gold–then all of the quantitative easing that Bernanke has undertaken will result in a massive hyperinflation of the sort that was seen in Weimar Germany.

            In this scenario, Welfare payments would slow to a trickle, EBT (“food stamps”) would not be cashed, Medicaid and Medicare would go belly-up, and so on. Not a pretty scenario.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Well, I am sure you’re wrong, George, but then I can’t prove that at all.

              However, these scenarios will not be part of my own Orthodox witness and evangelism! Indeed, I do think they would be rather counterproductive!

              It must be my English background (and, I am compelled to say, my American background as well). I do not see the world as a place of brutal armies marching by night, burning the villages on the plain. These are to be kept ever across the sea, in ancient, sad Eurasia.

              I find that to a large degree we are reflections of our temperaments and experiences. Naïve? If so, our “naivete’ ” is a priceless treasure, which took centuries of hard struggle to build.

              • George Michalopulos says

                As for myself, I can envision an apocalyptic, Thunderdome-style future for an America on the skids. Especially if Amnesty is passed and the 11,000,000 illegal alien population swells to 30,000,000 via family reunification. Let’s call it Detroitistan, where murder and mayhem are the order of the day. Just because I can envision it (because it already exists in certain cities) doesn’t mean that I think it will necessarily happen.

                However I think that the genius of our Constitutional Republic allows parts of America (perhaps the majority) to escape such a scenario. That’s because I have a feeling that the States are pressing their sovereignty in many subtle ways. Of course, it’s a damn shame that they lost a lot of their sovereignty after the Wilson Terror but the laws which enshrine States’ Rights are still on the books and can be reclaimed by those States choosing to do so.

                Some cities in America are gone. Detroit, Gary, East St Louis, Oakland, Memphis, etc. They ain’t coming back at least in our lifetime or even our children’s lifetimes. The question remains can these cities drag down their respective States? Or can Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, etc. contain the pathology and destruction to those cities? That’s the question and I think it’s a dicey one.

                Of course all bets would be off if the dollar stops becoming the world’s reserve currency. That’s not an impossibility, especially since Putin has now stepped into the vacuum of international leadership that was caused by America’s recent bumbling on the world stage. It may be that even the Saudis might get tired of propping us up and start looking to “the Strong Horse.”

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I agree with you assessment of our current global and American situation. I was simply defending our principal of government as handed down to us by our founding fathers. That vision and creation of a constitutional republic is still hands down the best system of government known in the history of humanity.

              Where I think Misha is getting confused is in the degradation of the culture. All cultures that lose sight of God degrade, but before that degradation happens what is the best form of government to live and thrive in? The answer is still The United States of America.

              Peter

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                I agree with Peter. Give me the Sceptered Isles, the Oceans Blue, and North America!

              • Michael Bauman says

                It is easy to forget the fact that a republic as outline in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere was hierarchical. Suffrage was restricted, power was diffused as well.

                Most people I have encountered don’t understand that. They look at all of the degradation that has occurred since and apply the degradation to the original vision.

                The only active political group of which I am aware that is attempting to implement the original principals is the 10th Amendment Center.

                It is also easy to forget that God did not institute a monarchy as the favored form of government. He chose a confederation with a council of elders. The basic structure of the Orthodox Church follows that form as did the framers of our Constitution.

                Somewhere along the way, we became inebriated with monarchy. It was a big mistake, IMO, a mistake that has weakened the Church enormously. But that is another debate.

                • The problem, Michael, is that that early republic led naturally to the expansion of the franchise and the subsequent decadence. You had competing parties vying for greater and greater shares of the electorate. Of course they will expand the franchise. And the rest is American history. Moreover, if enough people favor it, they can amend the Constitution to do just about anything, including outlawing abortion, etc. But they won’t.

                  God actually did institute authoritarianism as the favored form of government. Whether led by patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, or the subsequent kings, none of the early forms were democratic even to the extent that the earliest days of our republic were. Little monarchies or one big monarchy – – neither are democracies. It was simply a foreign concept to the Israelites and to the Church until fairly recently. Though bishops have been elected at times, the first bishops (i.e., the Apostles) were appointed and St. Matthias was chosen by lot to fill out the Twelve after Judas’ betrayal. After consecration, of course, bishops do not rule by referendum. They are answerable to their synod, composed of other “despotes”. You can make believe it’s a senate if you want, it’s just that the “senators” never did nor ever will have to stand for election.

                  We really need to get away from the notion that democracy is the only legitimate source of government, that somehow the legitimacy of a government derives from the consent of the governed. It only derives from its adherance to Christian teaching, nothing else. It is good to the extent that it does, evil to the extent it does not. Democracy is no better than having children vote on bedtime and when to get ice cream. They are not competent to decide. The Founders did not believe in universal suffrage. The Church has never for a moment taught democracy.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Misha God did not and never has instituted dictatorships and despots. If this was God preferred way of dealing with humanity then why endow us with free will and choice? I will pray for you that you see the light and recognize not only the innate freedom of Man that we have been given by Almighty God, but how truly great our Republic is, flawed and all. I bid you peace.

                  Peter

                • geo michalopulos says

                  Michael, thank you for pointing this out. America never believed in the absurd egalitarian notions of the French Revolution. The American Republic was hierarchical, diffuse, and cognizant of man’s sinfulness. Hence the whole Separation of Powers, 9th & 10th Amendments, and States’ Rights.

                  Lexcaritas is right when he talks about the 14th Amendment (at least its tortuous use), the direct election of Senators, and of course the Federal Reserve, the Federal Income Tax, etc.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              To this day, this is the question: “Who do you say that I am?”

            • geo michalopulos says

              Secularists and skeptics never want to answer that question. They refuse to go to where the evidence leads.

          • Oh, if I am insane then so were the Fathers of the Church and most Orthodox before the twentieth century. That’s what your assertion reduces to, Tim. As to past immigration, yes, the word got back to the old countries that America needed labor, that the pay was better here and that it was easier to make a living. The same reason the Mexicans were coming. If you contemplate how many of these refugees were greeted and the discrimination they faced when they got here, it should dispel your notions about “yearning to be free”. Yearning to make a better living is more accurate. And now that the people’s elected president, re-elected after veering as hard to the left as he felt he could, has trashed our economy, even the Mexicans aren’t as keen to get here as they were a few short years ago.

            Any form of government which is separate from the Church and which relies on the people to guard morality and the purse will fail miserably and sink into a cesspool. It’s happening all throughout the democratic world and we’re so indoctrinated to value democracy and “freedom” above all things that we simply can’t face the truth squarely. The project is a miserable failure and if it continues we will only get more of the same. Freedom is always relative. It exists to some degree everywhere. It is possible to have too much of it. We needn’t argue about that unless you are suggesting that we should live in anarchy.

            One last thing: The United States will not exist forever. In fact, it has already gone through several internal metamorphoses that could almost be described as revolutions. One during the Civil War, one during the New Deal, and one under the Warren Court that signaled the death of federalism. I recall the climate from undergraduate school in political science during the late eighties. No one “in his right mind” thought that the Soviet Union was going to collapse or turn from socialism. Three short years later, the USSR was history. America has risen and America will fall; what goes up must come down. The only question is when and under what conditions.

            I do not intend to remain here any longer than necessary, mostly because I feel the future of human civilization, certainly of Christian civilization, does not lie in America but in the Eastern Europe and, arguably, the Southern Hemisphere. American culture is disintegrating and becoming increasingly decadent. The family is decimated. Illegitimacy and cycles of poverty pervade in the African American community. A fully alternative culture is arising in the Latin community which now and at least in the near future will support the Democratic Party. The major political parties here simply cannot and will not control spending and have decided to print money, unleash inflation and effectively devalue the currency instead of controlling spending. Morally, we’re even more bankrupt. There is no pendulum. People are too spoiled. Only something outside the system can save the society caught in this defective, self-destructive system.

            All of this belief in America assumes that somehow, some way, some day, the American people, by consensus, will return to the type of government we had 200 years ago and the level of morality we had 200 years ago. That assumption is unrealistic. There’s no way to get there from here in a democratic system.

            So, we are left with two serious possibilities: Either the form of government changes or our Western civilization self destructs. Don’t kid yourselves. That’s what we are facing.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              And this adds up to prayer for a military coup?

              The Southern Hemisphere covers a lot of ground….where in particular is the place of safety?

              As for me, I gave my hostages to fortune long ago. I won’t be going anyplace.

    • But Misha, the Founding Fathers of this country did account for human nature, which is why they designed a government of separated and limited powers, reserving all rights not granted to it to the states and to the people and it was not a democracy, except indirectly, but a commonwealth of layered and separated respresentation. Remember at one time only freeholders/heads of households voted. Senators were elected by the State legislatures for the first 140 years and only become directly elected during the era of Woodrow Wilson, completing the elimination of state power begun by the 14th Amendment. The Supreme Court only got its own building in about 1936 under Franklin Roosevelt and had only begun to assert its authority define what the law is (constitutionally) under Charles Evans Hughes (also about the time of Wilson). It was then we got the income tax as well and the beginning of the biggest threat to freedom: a gargantuan bureaucracy. The failure to attend to human nature is ours and our fathers and grandfathers, not the Founding Fathers. It is we who have surrendered the subsidiarity and vibrant local government that had been intended to characterize this county. It is a capitulation, however, that is, from all signs, irreversible.

      lxc

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I simply suggest to people that they read the Federalist Papers. I know that many here have. There is nothing quite like them in history.

        These men knew human nature, and they knew self-government. Their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers (and more) had governed themselves, serving in town counsels, colonial assemblies, and many other bodies, for a century and a half before the Revolution. Most of that time, Royal power was extremely attenuated.

        They didn’t create a democracy, they created a representative Republic. They knew that virtue was indispensable, but that it is not in ample supply at all times.

        I will take their great work over these “Christian” monarchs, emperors, latter-day so-called “presidents” and the rest. I am sometimes amazed at the stuff I read here on the subject, I’ll admit. What did all those Europeans, west, central and east, come here for in the first place? I’ll tell you, my wife’s Croatian grandparents knew why they had come here!

    • “any government has to account for human nature, and democracy does it very, very poorly.”
      Au contraire, Misha, most modern democracies derived more or less by inspiration from the Greeks also included a healthy admixture of Christian realism. Thus checks and balances were built into their systems to guard against the foibles and corruptions of human nature. This is something that neither Fascism nor Communism, not to mention absolute monarchy, ever did. Unhappily, over time, those democratic checks and balances have been weakened, but the potential exists to reform the abuses. In any case, as Winston Churchill said, democracy is the the worst of all political systems…apart from all the rest!

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Yes. It always bears repeating, too, that “self-government” and “democracy” are not identical by any means, although any self-government must contain some democratic features.

        I don’t know that there are more “non-democratic” features of any modern, so-called democracy, than the US Senate and the constitutional requirement of consent of 3/4 of the states to effect amendments thereto. These are, at the same time, both “representational” and non-democratic.

        So “monarchies” could be good, just as republics can be, if they incorporate significant representational elements with some democratic features. This does not seem to be, however, what our “monarchists” here have in mind!

  23. Archpriest John W. Morris says

    Residents of Ma’loula write a letter to the USA Congress: “What will happen when the USA bombs Syria?”

    Ma’loula, September 7, 2013

    On September 6, the residents of Ma’loula sent a letter to the Congress of the USA, in which they tell what happened as a result of criminal acts in one of the oldest towns of the Christian world, reports Linga.

    “First, let us tell you what has happened today in Ma’loula and then explain what Ma’loula is like,” the letter said. “At 4.00 AM (Damascus time), gangs of the ‘Free Syrian army’, terrorists and killers… attacked the town, violating the security of houses, monasteries and churches, desecrating icons, and demanding that people renounce their faith and accept Islam.

    “Yes, that is what has happened today at dawn in Ma’loula, when the armed gangs burst into the town, shot in the square, desecrated the icons, and closed the gates.

    “These are the crimes aimed at Christian towns, and the terrorism directed against Christians; and this is only a part of the larger plan of wiping out Christians from our native homes.

    This is happening now, when our state is still strong. But what will happen when it weakens, when the air force of the USA is bombing Syria?

    “What awaits Christians in the towns and villages? It is terrible and it is scaring us. What happened in Ghassaniyeh (A Catholic priest-monk, Fr. Francois Mourad, was brutally killed there), in the Monastery of St. Simeon the Stylite, and in Holms, where terrible attacks on churches and monasteries took place. What has happened in all these places, arouses one’s conscience, makes one suffer. What have I done to stop terrorism in Syria? I am not even speaking about the massacres that have happened in all towns to the Christian minority.”

    Further in the letter the story of this very ancient town is related. The people here speak Aramaic–the language which was spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ in His earthly life–to this day; and it was here that St. Thecla, Equal-to-the-Apostles, a disciple of Apostle Paul, came through the mountain that had cleft apart before her. Her holy relics are preserved in a local Convent to this day.

  24. Michael Bauman says

    Misha, think about Peter’s point: our free will. Neither he nor I are advocating democracy though.

    Think about why governments become centralized (there are both good and bad intentions). Read the OT about Saul becoming king.

    John Adams said that the form of government he and his fellows created was only suited to a Christian people. It was wholly unsuitable to any other. Why do you suppose he said that?

    Egalitarian democracy is an agent of nihilism but so is despotism. The RC Pope is more akin to a despot than any of our bishops. Why not follow their thinking?

    Real despotism in this world is about the imposition of power on those who don’t have any by those who do. Is that Christian?

    In your discourse I don’t see anything concerning the kenotic love required of those who exercise authority. Did I miss it?

    In the end, people get the form of government and the quality of government we want. A corrupt people will have a corrupt government which tends toward tyranny.

    We lost our Republic because of the corruption in our heats and, IMO, the corruption of slavery that was not dealt with at inception.

    Tyranny is not Christian; neither is egalitarian democracy or corruption masquerading as virtue.

    A virtuous people will have a virtuous government. Our freedom like our virtue is a product of our willing submission to the loving will of our only King.

    Most people I know are profoundly uncomfortable with freedom. I suspect that is because we realize how deeply seated is our own rebellion against the love of God.

    Rather than taking up the full armor of God to root out our own rebellion in concert with His grace. We look for someone outside to impose an erstatz virtue that is lacking in love and real authority.

    I think we can do better than that. A naive hope perhaps but a genuine hope nonetheless. If we apply ourselves to the tasks God had given us in the Great Commission through worship, prayer, mercy, fasting, chastity, forgiveness and repentance, that hope could be realized.

    All of those acts require that we be free even under a tyrant. That God given freedom when lived by enough people in community produces the fruits of freedom of many others.

    The saints show us that. By their prayers!

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      I wish I could put things as good as you Michael. Excellent as always. I agree.

      Peter

    • Michael,

      It’s a canard. People have free will under any form of government. The question is, do their actions have consequences? Even in God’s direct rule in Eden, man had free will. Under Stalin, man had free will. Under either, they had consequences.

      Now, does free will mean there should not be consequences for ones actions? No, of course not. That has absolutely nothing to do with the form of government that God wishes for us though. It is just as easy to make the argument that free will demands representative democracy. But this is totally outside the Orthodox experience. If I choose to break a law here, I suffer the consequences. If I choose to break a law in Saudi Arabia, or Russia, or Jordan, etc., I suffer the consequences. I always have the choice. That is free will. The form of government is a totally different issue. But free will is one of those tired canards that the “Spirit of 76” crowds wheels out every time the conversation goes down this road.

      I simply have rejected modern Enlightenment based ways of framing the issue of what is a “Christian” form of government. They are logically incoherent if you actually look at what the Church has done over history.

      But I’m going to let this one go. It is never fruitful to introduce the truth on this issue on such a forum. The discussion turns to all sorts of non sequiturs, anything to defend a failed form of government because many simply can’t face the alternative, having been brainwashed against the notion of Christian monarchy.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Misha it is simply untrue that I have been brainwashed. I have considered the matter for mist of my adult life and often came down on the side of monarchy even as a young man.

        It just no longer holds water for me, not as it is typically practiced. A monarchy does no more to assure the virtue of its people, it just limits the spoils of corruption to fewer people.

        Noticed though that you did not answer any of my questions. Is that the monarchial way?

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        I wonder if you are aware of how many Christian monarchs persecuted the very same fathers you are devoted to Misha? I agree with you that introducing such truth to someone like you is not going to be fruitful.

        Peter

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          It’s good to recall Samuel’s warning to the people of Israel about kings; which the Lord instructed him to deliver:

          So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him.

          He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.
          And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
          He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
          He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
          He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.
          He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work.
          He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.
          And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

      • Michael Bauman says

        Since the proper inter-relationship between Church and State is not a matter of salvation, I think it better to approach each other with much more charity, humility and patience.

        With the collapse of the Constantinian era understanding of synergy (deeply flawed IMO); we need a discussion of what our stance should be both as the Church and as Her members. Neither a Christian Republic nor a Christian monarchy is ever going to happen soon. We are dealing with states that are increasingly hostile to the Church and her people Orthodox or heterodox.

        It seems to me we are better off taking a prophetic role as did the Forerunner, St John Chrysostom and many others. “It is not lawful….”. ‘Course the swords would definitely come out then.

  25. cynthia curran says

    Oh, if I am insane then so were the Fathers of the Church and most Orthodox before the twentieth century. That’s what your assertion reduces to, Tim. As to past immigration, yes, the word got back to the old countries that America needed labor, that the pay was better here and that it was easier to make a living. The same reason the Mexicans were coming. If you contemplate how many of these refugees were greeted and the discrimination they faced when they got here, it should dispel your notions about “yearning to be free”. Yearning to make a better living is more accurate. And now that the people’s elected president, re-elected after veering as hard to the left as he felt he could, has trashed our economy, even the Mexicans aren’t as keen to get here as they were a few short years ago.
    Well, I never thought the Mexicans who lived in the US in Los Angeles county got that good of deal. LA is expensive, in order to afford to live on 8 to 15 per hr jobs, you have to have more than one family rent an apartment or tract house. Mexicans do have it better in Texas where its cheaper but their poverty rate is higher than the average Texan. Mexicans do better than in Mexico but the places they come to live in the US are not always the best places for upward mobility. My slogan, improve things in Mexico instead of living with 10 to 15 people in a household like you sometimes do in the city of Santa Ana which is about 40 miles south of LA.

  26. I remarked on the case of the Judges and Saul elsewhere. The ironic thing is that Samuel’s sons were accused of the same things that were prophesied shortcomings of the king to come, Saul. No doubt Saul was a bad king. Nonetheless, David is remembered so favorably as to be consistently remembered as a progenitor of the Messiah.

    Vladimir Moss addresses the issue nicely here:

    http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/273/must-an-orthodox-christian-be-a-monarchist/

    He essentially points out that there are two strands of Orthodox thought from the Fathers on the subject. One is that the Orthodox can get along in a wide variety of government types. The other being that Orthodox monarchy is the only system of government ordained by God. He traces from biblical times through the centuries of Fathers regarding the issue, showing both how monarchy is commended and how democracy is explicitly condemned, and for what reasons.

    Enjoy.