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Postby GOCPriestMark » Thu 17 June 2010 4:07 am

It is almost as if we are talking about two different subjects.

Are you forgetting how many times in the history of the Church the merciful God protected his people from the fiercest onslaughts because they repented and begged His mercy with contrite hearts and fervant faith?
Repentance is not taught at seminaries.
Yea, and not Christians only, but even the immense city of Nineveh was spared through repentance.

Islam has no power or ability to take the faith from someone's heart. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

Very timely is the epistle reading for this Thursday from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans:
"Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?"

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Postby jgress » Thu 17 June 2010 12:57 pm

You are quite right, Fr Mark. Pravo is also right, but only in the sense that external attacks on Christianity are in many cases the cause of betrayal. However, they do not EXCUSE the betrayal; that remains the responsibility of the individual faithful. To lay ALL the blame for the decline in Orthodoxy on these external forces is to deny the free will of the Orthodox people to choose truth over falsehood.

Also, while the closure of the seminary on Halki and other punitive measures of the Turks against the EP certainly prove that the modern Turkish 'secular' government has continued to harbor severe animosity towards Christians, it is worth bearing in mind that the EP ALREADY had fallen away from the Church in 1924 when they defied the anathema of the Church against the Papal calendar. In other words, the Turks closed a heretical seminary, not an Orthodox one. Indeed, don't you think the oppression of the EP by the Turkish republic is a sign of God's anger against the EP's betrayal of Orthodoxy?

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Postby Catherine5 » Thu 17 June 2010 6:45 pm

I think the discussion is a very interesting one - at least the sensible contributions of Fr Mark and Jonathan.

Whereas Prav gets on his propaganda bandwagon, reiterating immovable but skewed point of view.

First of all, it's Princes Islands - I've been there. They are a vacation place for wealthy citizens.
Second, did the Documentary check with the Turkish govt to find out THEIR side of the story as to why they closed the seminary. NO!

Perhaps there were next to no students left. Perhaps the EP didn't pay its taxes, perhaps...Jonathan's right, it was a heavenly hint that the EP is not on the right track.

Aside from the age-old prohibition on the ringing of Church bells, there are actually very few restrictions on Orthodox or Catholics in Istanbul. That's what a Christian merchant friend in the Grand Bazaar told me.
About a firebombing, I would have to research that. Things happen EVERYwhere, though. What about all the crimes in this country?

However, the secular system of government started by the suspicious Ataturk who was ANTI-ISLAMIC as well as ANTI-RELIGION in general, may have a role.
Were there a more Islamic govt, for sure there would also be more kind official attitudes toward the Orthodox.

For specific evidence, not vague generalities, look at the famous model of religious toleration promulgated by Istanbul's conqueror way back in :
1463 !!!!
It is with regard to a Catholic monastery in the Balkans. But how many OTHER Imperial Firmans were issued to protect ORTHODOX properties? I believe there is one known for Mt Athos.
However, many may have been lost -- OR suppressed by Greek leaders to rally those - as Jonathan said rightly - European enlightenment values of nationalism in incite Greek subjects to rebel against their overlords.

A fair and balanced viewpoint has almost never been disseminated about Ottoman overall fairness. The Turkish Republic is something else. Islam was squashed too, so no religions were helped by the State. I would be so happy to see the end of that system.

Here is the firman, like a ukaz or order:

“I, the Sultan Khan the Conqueror,

hereby declare to the whole world that,

The Bosnian Franciscans granted with this sultanate firman are under my protection. And I command that:

No one shall disturb or give harm to these people and their churches! They shall live in peace in my state. These people who have become emigrants, shall have security and liberty. They may return to their monasteries which are located in the borders of my state.

No one from my empire notable, viziers, clerks or my maids will break their honour or give any harm to them!

No one shall insult, put in danger or attack these lives, properties, and churches of these people!

Also, what and those these people have brought from their own countries have the same rights…

By declaring this firman, I swear on my sword by the holy name of Allah who has created the ground and sky, Allah’s prophet Mohammed, and 124.000 former prophets that; no one from my citizens will react or behave the opposite of this firman!”

The original edict is still kept in the Franciscan Catholic Monastery in Fojnica.
It is one of the oldest documents on religious freedoms.
Mehmed II’s oath was entered into force in the Ottoman Empire on May 28, 1463.
In 1971, the United Nations published a translation of the document in all the official U.N. languages - from Wikipedia

Furthermore, Prav, it's the opposite. In most of these countries with mixed Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim populations, the actual PEOPLE got along very well.
It's in the WEST where all the prejudices and misconceptions get whipped up into what translates as hatred for Muslims.
Why not - again - travel there, interview many people and seek to discover the true realities of intercommunal relations?
What often happens is that some external event, who knows from where, but certainly from the devil, stirs up animosities and terrible events occur.
But prior to those, and even afterward, the different communities get along well.

In the US, it's due to the abysmal ignorance and one-sided approach, such as were displayed in the Documentary clip on the EP - [did they interview Muslim leaders to find out THEIR attitudes toward Greek Orthodox citizens? Not a word! Only one person filled the frame: the sour Bartholemew. I wondered if he had phoned them and asked them to come over! I doubt the producers initiated the idea on their own!] - that all sorts of wrong assumptions based on drummed-up hate and age-old attitudes left over from the Crusades and before are inculcated subtly everywhere.

Europeans are more cosmopolitan overall and understand the history of some of the Islamic countries, where Americans are famously ignorant, dwelling in their own dream world where the whole planet revolves around them.

Hence such distortions get propagated easily here and gather steam.
It's better to have a fair perspective than to buy into all that hate-stirring up propaganda easily available everywhere today. Why wasn't it around 20 or 30 years ago, by the way? Could there be a very conscious campaign to get Americans hating all Muslim countries so they will endorse every evil deed perpetrated either by or on behalf of Israel?
There is a good 17 or so part series on youtube about this topic. I haven't watched the end of it, but I plan to. It concerns how American governments always need to have a scary specter pounded in to cow the people into abdicating their reason and handing over a blank check to oppress anybody which fits the scheme at the moment.
Prav you are too smart to fall for this stuff!
Myself, I prefer to live back in the time of Sultan Mehmet II, with THAT enlightened attitude. Not the ones of inter-religious hatred permeating this woefully under-educated country in this prejudiced era.

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Postby Pravoslavnik » Fri 18 June 2010 4:19 am


Before posting further comments disagreeing with the facts I have posted on this thread, please go to the following website and study the clearly documented statistics and descriptions of the almost daily worldwide Islamic jihadist acts during the past decade. It will take hours to read the entire lengthy list:

As for the Phanar-- it was firebombed in 1999. I know, because I met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew there in June of 2000, and also spoke at some length with the EP's Archdeacon Tarasios. There have been numerous terrorist acts directed against Orthodox Christians in Turkey in modern times-- including the desecration of Orthodox cemetaries. Also, the Neva Shalom Synagogue was bombed by Turkish Moslems in 2004-- with many casualties.

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Postby Catherine5 » Fri 18 June 2010 5:12 am

Prav, I was going to ask what you thought of Bartholemew when you first mentioned a meeting with him.
How much time did you spend with him?
In reality, though, I would want to meet a Mason, as he is considered to be.
Besides, or maybe because of that, he looks difficult and off-putting in that 60 Minutes program.
Notice too that Turkish authorities rush in to sound an alarm for a potential attack at the Phanar.
Obviously the Turkish government takes their protective role very seriously.

There are crazy people in every country and religion.
Even the American Christian Faulkner with the forty-inch sword found foraging in Chitral [how's that for alliteration?] is quoted as saying he had a dream where God appeared to him [God appeared? How?? -Did he see an Icon of the Holy Trinity ? Since presumably a Protestant, did a Bible appear and speak to the guy ->! ] and told him to attack Bin Laden with a saber? George Bush claimed God came to him and told him to invade Iraq.

Prav, it's evident you are trying to scrape for details of terrorism against non-Muslims in Turkey. Why not look elsewhere in the world to make a fair assessment, instead?

Look at street crime. Even in a huge metropolis like Cairo, most Western visitors concur that they feel safer on the streets at night - and in the daytime too - than in any major European or American city. It's true! Middle Eastern people are much better brought up and hence do not do all these horrific crimes that Westerners read about every day in their news. Too much to even mention.

What I'm saying is, due to their cultural background and belief in religion, many Muslims of the Middle East are much better behaved than Americans.

One reason is that Americans are chronically attention-deprived. There is absolute craving for attention in our society here; negative attention is not considered bad, but often applauded instead of punished harshly, whether by parents or teachers, or society.

Whereas in Muslim society, it's a huge source of shame if a family member goes out and does some awful deed.

Children are lovingly trained by their mothers - no child care or other substitutes need apply - to be considerate of each other and the family unit, as well as the honor of the family.
That last is considered one of the more important commodities in life to accrue: not money or flashy executive job as it is in the U.S.

In the West, the youth are barely brought up these days! At least, not by watchful parents. Usually a single mother, according that article referenced by Ian.
Except by the appallingly violent films they are encouraged to watch by advertising, peer pressure, and of course because there is no one to teach about religion and the consequences of one's deeds for eternity. Muslim mothers STRESS the moral formation.

Most mothers are proud to have the occupation of launching their children into a decent, God-abiding life. They consider going out of the house to get a job as a distraction from this more important task.
The last thing they want is to be "liberated" by American feminists who go over to Iraq, etc. trying to tell them how to live their lives!
Of course there are always those children who go astray - everywhere, I repeat!

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Postby Pravoslavnik » Sat 19 June 2010 11:41 pm


I can tell by reading your most recent comments that you have still not studied any of my references about current and recent Islamic jihadist attacks on non-Muslims in Turkey and throughout the world. It is a very, very long, detailed list-- including many references to religious violence in Turkey. Take a look, since you appear to have strong opinions about this subject, without, apparently, having much accurate data. Indidentally, do you know much about the history of Serbia and the Ottomans? My own family is from the Balkans, so one might say that I have had a longstanding interest in the subject.

It is one thing for a mentally ill American to travel to Pakistan in search of Osama Bin Laden. It is another matter for sane, devout Moslems throughout the world to plot and kill non-Muslims on a daily basis in the belief that they will gain paradise through jihad.

I received the blessing of Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar, but did not speak to him at length, beyond a greeting and a few polite words. There were a number of people waiting to meet with him, including a relatively young bishop or priest from Estonia, as I recall. I did speak to his Archdeacon Tarasios for about half an hour. (BTW, I am from the old ROCOR, and have not shared many of the modern ideas and practices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.)

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Postby Catherine5 » Sun 20 June 2010 11:17 pm

Prav, that very same afternoon, by chance, without seeing your post, in fact I went to a library to take a look, as I didn't want my computer to be polluted by this gross stuff collected by what must be fanatics - themselves. I gamely looked at one story but couldn't stand to look any more.
The mentality of those who "track" this type of thing and sensationalize it is so repellent. Most looked invented. I did not see actual citings of news agencies, though I may have missed those.

As if stepping in to get me out of there, the computer shut down by itself before I could investigate further!
Even so, I was glad I had waited and even braved a Saturday afternoon at a noisy library rather than view this type of propaganda on my screen. This shows you that I did take your mentions seriously. I only looked at the latest link.

By the way, Muslims don't have "ChristianWatch". They dignifiedly stick to real casualties caused by "Christian" nations - such as lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. at the hands of the U.S. and its [ostensible] allies.

Going back to that earlier discussion about WWII and the performance of Americans, I want to give two different aspects.
This below is the negative side that came out over the weekend. Here is a big goof-up which I maintain was caused by the fact that America has no "religion" in any public place. [Unlike many parts of the Muslim world - and other religions too - such as the Tibetans before they were stamped out by these same unfortunately alert Chinese Communists].

This was back in the 50s, though. What about today, when the CIA has been heavily pressed into service to kill opponents of the American disastrous invasion of Afghanistan, through drones and other means?

This is shocking to me that though the objective was a good one, a certain hubris dictated how such an operation was conceived and conducted.
NEVER did anyone apparently PRAY and ask : "What is the Will of God here? Is this the right way? Should these kids be sent out or should their risky mission be scrapped due to the uncertainties?".

American officialdom there and everywhere relied on HUMAN reasoning, NEVER ASKING GOD or His Angels for ASSISTANCE in getting out of a bad flop.
No, everything they did was perfect - which is how a Narcissist is, by the way. It's NOT good that our country has become so self-centred, and irresponsible.

That was THEN, the early 50s.

What about today?? How many more horrible blunders take place regularly>and are even more glibly lied about -- as the American govt. did back then ? How much are we all being deceived ?! [These jihadwatch sites aide and abet the govt streamlined package: Muslims are your enemies. Look what they do.]

How can we then trust Obama or Bush to dictate to us, the American people, who is the 'foe du jour' ? For starters. Then why should they define for us what are the country's priorities: fighting "terrorists"? Or cleaning up our own back yard and tackling the walloping national debt?

Did anyone - or LOTS of people - beseech God to obtain HIS opinion about this or any other important topic ? Of course not.
These govt officials believe they are omnipotent gods - especially clearly seen in the neo-cons. But the Obama team is probably a hair WORSE!
You should hear how bitterly Pakistanis complained about Hillary Clinton's lecturing them as though she were their dictator and they her bad children. Of course you will NEVER hear it unless you read their local media like I do. Such hostile reactions on the part of foreign countries to US policies are conveniently sanitized out of American news.
In fact what really is happening is that the U.S., lacking a mature and/or spiritual outlook, immediately blames any old scapegoat for its own failures. Like a teenager who hasn't grown up!

Eric Margolis, the sharp conservative Canadian columnist, wrote about this in a great article back in 2008, when this knee-jerk reaction was not near as apparent: "Can't Win in Afghanistan? Blame Pakistan!" Of course, his incredibly insightful column was published nowhere in the mainstream US media; only on a few blogs but barely that. People here don't want the Truth. If you do, here is the article:

In my opinion, God may let disasters like The Manchurian Episode below occur so that Americans will wake up and ask for HIS direction and intercession. But so far Americans fail to get the point. This egomania of telling the rest of the world = ESPECIALLY Muslim nations - what to do has spiraled downwards into the current messes, needlessly costing so many lives! FOR NO GAIN and MUCH loss!

Prav you may be interested where the guy went after his release...

What can we do to help this situation? Not swallow the Bush-Obama bait and get more angry than ever at Muslims.
But: PRAY that God will direct completely this country and the entire world, and take control out of the hands of the devils and their agents: Bilderbergers, Zionist lobbies, etc. Probably your sites are all funded by either the latter OR both those! So much for objectivity.

"By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer
Sun Jun 20

WASHINGTON – Detail by painful detail, the CIA is coming to grips with one of the most devastating episodes in its history, a botched cloak-and-dagger flight into China that stole two decades of freedom from a pair of fresh-faced American operatives and cost the lives of their two pilots.

>>>In opening up about the 1952 debacle, the CIA is finding ways to use it as a teaching tool. Mistakes of the past can serve as cautionary tales for today's spies and paramilitary officers taking on al-Qaida and other terrorist targets.<<<

At the center of the story are two eager CIA paramilitary officers on their first overseas assignment, John T. Downey of New Britain, Conn., and Richard G. Fecteau, of Lynn, Mass., whose plane was shot from the night sky in a Chinese ambush.
The mission was quickly smothered in U.S. government denials, sealed in official secrecy and consigned to the darkest corner of the spy agency's vault of unpleasant affairs.

Downey was the youngest of the four. At 22, with one year of CIA service, he was destined to spend the next 20 years, three months and 14 days in Chinese prisons. His CIA partner, Fecteau, was 25. He was behind bars for 19 years and 14 days.
Both survived. Their pilots, Robert C. Snoddy, 31, a native of Roseburg, Ore., and 29-year-old Norman A. Schwartz of Louisville, Ky., did not.

Bits and pieces of the story surfaced over the years. But the lid was largely intact until a series of disclosures — some required of the CIA, some not — revealed a tale of tragedy, miscalculation, misery and personal triumph, as well as the agency's misplaced confidence it could manipulate events in China.
Three years ago, the CIA declassified an internal history of the affair. Now it's hired a filmmaker to produce an hourlong documentary. The CIA does not plan to release the film publicly. But the agency premiered it for employees on Tuesday at its Langley, Va., headquarters, and an AP reporter attended.

Downey and Fecteau declined through CIA officials to be interviewed for this story.
Their tale forms part of the backdrop to today's uneasy U.S.-China relationship, especially Beijing's anger over American military support for China's anti-communist rivals on Taiwan.
In the early years of the Cold War, the CIA had a rudimentary paramilitary force — those with specialized skills to conduct high-risk, behind-the-lines operations.

Downey and Fecteau were assigned to a covert program called "Third Force," intended to create a resistance network. Small teams of noncommunist Chinese exiles were airdropped into the Manchuria area of China to link up with disaffected communist generals.
The goal was to destabilize Mao Zedong's new government and distract it from the Korean War, which Chinese forces had entered two years earlier.
The plan failed — badly.

"The CIA had been `had,'" the late James Lilley, who helped train agent teams for insertion into China, wrote in his 2004 memoir, "China Hands." There were no dissident communist Chinese generals to be found, and the Chinese on Taiwan and Hong Kong who sold the idea turned out to be swindlers, Lilley wrote.

"The whole program smacked of amateurism," CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic says.

Donald Gregg, who came into the CIA with Downey in 1951 and had dinner with him the night before his ill-fated flight, faults those in the CIA who oversold the program.

"That was a wild and woolly, swashbuckling time in the agency's history," Gregg said in an interview. "There was pressure from presidents for regime change here and there, and it was a very damaging time."

On Nov. 29, 1952, above the foothills of the Changbai mountains, Downey and Fecteau flew into Chinese air space in an unarmed C-47 Skytrain. They planned to swoop low over a rendezvous point marked with three small bonfires and use a tail hook to pick up a Chinese agent off the ground without landing. Downey was to reel in the agent with a winch aboard the plane.

As they descended, the sky suddenly exploded in bursts of gunfire. It was a Chinese ambush. The agent had betrayed the Americans, luring them by promising to provide important documents from a dissident leader.
After the C-47 slammed through a grove of trees, the cockpit burst into flames and skidded to a halt near the village of Sandao.

Downey and Fecteau, stunned and bruised but alive, were captured on the spot. They were hauled off to prison — first in the city of Mukden, then in Beijing — interrogated and isolated in separate cells. Each spent long stretches in solitary confinement, alone with their fears.

It was an intelligence bonanza for the Chinese. Both Americans, after a psychological battering, spilled the beans, to varying degrees.

Here lay one of the lessons: Agency officers with close links to a covert action program should not fly on such missions.
Another blunder: At a CIA base on the Pacific island of Saipan, the Chinese agent teams lived and trained together, inevitably learning of each other's missions. So the capture of one team risked compromising the rest.
Also, Downey was well known to the Chinese operatives because he trained them. When Downey was captured, a Chinese security officer pointed at him and said in English, "You are Jack. Your future is very dark." [C5: Imagine how your heart would sink if you were he and heard that statement.]

For two years, until China announced that Downey and Fecteau had been convicted of espionage and sentenced — Fecteau for 20 years, Downey for life — neither the CIA nor the men's families knew their fate. The families received letters in December 1953 saying the two men were "presumed dead."

The CIA concocted a cover story, telling the families that the four had gone missing on a routine commercial flight from Korea to Japan on Dec. 3, four days after the shootdown.

After China announced that Downey and Fecteau were being held as spies, Washington publicly denied it, claiming they were civilian employees of the Army.

Fecteau was released by China in December 1971 and Downey in March 1973, shortly after President Richard Nixon publicly acknowledged Downey's CIA connection.

Both said after their return that to cope with their confinement they stuck strictly to a daily schedule.
Downey, for example, said he would rise each morning and begin a series of activities in his cell: calisthenics, cleaning, eating, reading, listening to the radio and reviewing an occasional package of letters, books and magazines. Fecteau had a similar approach but varied his routine by the day of the week.

Remarkably, once home they resumed normal lives. Downey earned a law degree from Harvard and became a judge. Fecteau returned to his alma mater, Boston University, as assistant athletic director.

Dujmovic wrote that the CIA unit chief who approved the mission apparently made crucial misjudgments for which he was never held to account. For starters, the unit chief ignored a warning that the Chinese agent team — codenamed STAROMA — had been compromised shortly after it arrived in Manchuria."

[C5: Just think, then-Archimandrite Philaret was right in the area at the time and praying fervently every day. If he had known about this operation, maybe HIS prayers could have averted the problem.]

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