Jerusalem, Israel and the Jews throughout the world come to the end of the second month called Mar ‘Heshvan of “new” year 5771. It is an intriguing month: after all the good wishes for a blessed new year toward autumnal season’s greetings, good luck wishes and mostly a “safe and sound and favourable oman” for good luck, Mar ‘Heshvan reflects another very human aspect of our destiny. We have to sweep, to clean up, to wipe out, remove, erase. This is so much Autumn! The Ukrainians have it too as the Poles: In both languages “Listopad” means “November”, the European and worldwide adopted international month that shall start on Monday 2010. The calendar is deeply rooted in the Mid-Eastern traditions. There is a time when we face the necessity to switch to other directions. Jesus has it when he is asked whether it it makes sense to keep a tree that does not grow any fruit… Wait one more year and then it will be possible to cut it.
We live in a Sumerian civilization. I presume that we come to the end of this Sumerian cycle as the Jewish culture would call it, or a tekufah/a specific period of history that moves forward, launched on a thrust of dynamics that will never be in our Earthly control. There must be different cradles for human presence and development. We know that Africa may be the cradle of some large part of mankind, from the very beginning to man as a thinker. We also know that the Indo-Europeans could have started from the Ukraine their long-term and long-distanced pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. Ukraine refers to a “border-listed” frontier region. It spread to India through this exceptional Mesopotamian and Persian Plateau and Valleys areas.
Our civilization has been developing along the same fundamentals born in the scheme of Euro-Asian continent as a consequence of Judeo-Christian apostolic extension. We assisted to the unique connection that got installed between the Indo-Germanic or Indo-European languages as described by Profs. A. Meillet – J. Vendryès followed by Otto Jespersen (a follower of Rasmus Rask) and Emile Benveniste with regard to the “logoi/tales and mythologies”. These “parlances” and roots, though foreign to each other got linked to the Semitic linguistic zones for the sake of religions. From Zaratushtra to Buddha in Sanscrit, Indo-European Weltanschauung got imprinted by Semitics and vice versa. One of the very first splits happened when Buddha’s message spread and got inculturated in Asian cultures and languages (Tibetan and Manchu i.a.).
The situation in Iraq and the exodus en masse of the Christians from the cradle of monotheistic faith (Mesopotamia, Persia, Middle-East) may suggest a planetary development that we hardly can anticipate. We cannot wipe out the human and living memories of the places where redemption and faith came led our “historic cycle” to redemption. This seems to change, due to the human flows throughout the world as it showed since the end of the 18th and tall over the 19th century. Remember that Sicilians were harvesting twice a year: once in the home land and then in South America. The Ukrainians settled as agricultural seasonal workers in North America. Seasonal work evolved in many senses. In Israel, we have the Filipinos that came to give a hand and now many did settle in the Israeli society and became a part of it. Ariel Sharon had called many Chinese agricultural workers and they also feel now “at home”…
On the other hand, manpower and human think-tank capacities can move very quickly all over the planet. For some weeks, months, for decades or for ever. This is basically simple for many “Western countries”, it may be difficult for some Eastern European citizens, but North and South change the way we understand life, societies, work, cultures and also faith. It is quite possible that Asia is waking up, just as India and Africa do. This may give another tempo to new faith habits and the launching of new “traditions”.
From the 4th until the 8th century AD, Western Christianity had to face the heathens, the real pagans and their beliefs. On the wake of winter, one the very rooted Celtic belief was the celebration of Samhain/Samhuin that means “weakening process”. It dealt with winter, cold, snow, darkness and the many fears generated by such periods of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Judaism and Christianity came rather late to the Southern hemisphere (South America, Africa, Australia and in general Asia as a whole.
At the present, there is a wide revival of Paganism everywhere in the Christian world. Halloween shows something of this, in particular because of the strong connection of the festival with winter fears, ghosts and nature. “Samhain” is a part of the feast and not only pumpkins. The West has always been frightened and fascinated by death and “darkening moments” of history. Interestingly, the Eastern Orthodox traditions have retained that the Saints are those human individuals who lived to the fullest by the power of the Pentecost and the gifts of the Holy Trinity as representing God’s total Presence and Action in the Universe. The Saints were, to begin with, the faithful who lived in the city of Jerusalem because the Divine Presence made there “sanctifying and progressively sanctified human beings and true believers”. Then the Saint were those who witness, up till now, to this Divine Oneness of redemption. whatever the faithful, bodies or structures do, this Oneness can not be split, no way.
But till nowadays, it seems that the Church cannot get reconciled into One Body. Or that dogmas, behaviours, decrees cannot overcome the break that happened inside of the former Roman Empire and artificially created the Catholic and the Orthodox parts, then from the West the various “Protestant denominations and congregations.
This is why the recent Synod on the Mid-East is but a step en route to more understanding of Revelation. All synods and meetings on the situation of the Church in Iraq, in the cradle of the monotheistic faith fail to take real and concrete decisions to correct the thrust to eradication. On All Saints’ eve, churches burn in Baghdad…The same process is basically in process in Israel, Palestinian Territories and many other countries.
Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky was the great primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He died on November 1st, 1945. We also commemorate this year the 145th anniversary of his birthday. He faced exactly the same questions raised during the Synod on the Mid-East. Are the Oriental patriarchs equal to the cardinals of the Roman Church? Do they have the right to follow-up the development of their faithful who live outside of their “patriarchal territory”? Should they systematically depend on the Latin Church once the faithful left the “Oriental territories”? Should all the priests be celibate and be obedient to the local Latin hierarchy? Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky has shown to be very insightful on these matters all through the world. He faced these realities with much wisdom and realistic actions.
I write this article in my South African blog. I always have something in my blogs in Afrikaans. But, there is more: South Africa is also a laboratory for interfaith and intercultural relationships, on the way to the difficult process of “Healing the memories/Genesing en Geheue”. On November 1st (or October 19th), South Africa enters Summer time and there have been heavy rains these days in Pretoria and others areas. This will also be Summer in Australia, Ne Zealand, South America… There is no weakening of nature, or early dusk time schedules! On the contrary.
The one redemption is though celebrated in all parts of the world. Christmas is reversed in South Africa because it is a Summer feast! Things are no revolving in vain. They show that the Earth that can be easily “sight-googled” and in general the whole of the universe with billions of galaxies that are similar to our Earth, have been also saved and redeemed by the Lord of the Universe and the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It sounds bizarre at first. But we are not framed in fenced and limited circles that swing on ourselves. Redemption requires a spirit of widening expansion. There is one rule that exists in all Canon laws governing the Church (as also Judaism). We call it “eikonomia/economy = the rule governing the house = the local place = the Church”. Any decree can be suspended for the sake of salvation and for the spiritual care of the faithful.
In various circumstances the Church does behave as if we still live in the Middle Ages. It is not a negative judgment. Something very powerful happened by a process of estrangement from the 11th to the 16th century in the area of the original Pentarchy, mainly located on the bases of the Roman Empire. This split maybe the consequence of the first schism between the Jews and the Christians. It evolved with Islam.
All Saints is a feast that can show the way through the darkness of our societies; it remains mainly a feast full of light and full conviction that the Spirit is not a ghost or a dwarf, nor a pumpkin. it is not a day for the departed. The Eastern traditions have kept every Friday and some Saturdays to pray for the dead because when people are gathered to pray they are ingathered with both the living and departed. We are all together, visibly and invisibly.
It is quite possible that the reluctance to track back to what happened in the 11th century and abandon power games lead to revolving actions. Just as South Africa or Southern hemisphere may cause the world to change our views on history and humankind. The resurgence of the Eastern Churches, Orthodox and Oriental, everywhere on the planet can review the equilibrium that the Roman Empire Churches could think fixed for a rather long period. This is not the case.
We are only at the dawn of faith. History of redemption only starts and this is a dynamic move that is under no human control.
av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel) in: South African blog “Cradle of the World/Wieg van die Wêreld”