Saturday, August 30, 2014

Reclaiming the Beard on Behalf of Christianity

Cathie Adams, former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, stated recently in her speech "Radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood" that a beard is a sign of a man's Muslim identity.

In the speech, which is posted online by the Far North Dallas Tea Party, Adams can be heard saying that Grover Norquist, a conservative Republican and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is showing signs of being Muslim, citing his beard as evidence. Norquist is "trouble with a capital T," Adams added, "As you can see he has a beard, and he's showing signs of converting to Islam himself."

Adams highlights an important stereotype: that having a beard means that you are a Muslim. I am frequently confronting this stereotype because while I am not a Muslim, I do have a beard. As a doctoral candidate who researches the experiences of young Pakistani men in Dublin, Ireland, and Boston, Mass., I am often asked if my beard is a sign of my "Muslimness." Even my family and friends have wondered if my ever-growing beard is a sign of my conversion to Islam.

A recent article in the Guardian by actor Alex Andreou sums up my experiences of having a beard. Andreou, who grew a beard for an acting job, wrote about an experience in getting on a bus, at which point passengers gave a collective "oh crap" roll of the eyes. One woman even pointed at him, leaned over and said: "Stop it, or I'll call the terrorist." Feeling like the "monster under the bed," Andreou experienced emotions which many people with a "Muslim appearance" deal with regularly.

My beard, like Andreou's, is not a sign of my Muslim identity, but rather a different identity. For me, it's a Catholic identity. That's right, my Catholic identity. In fact, there is nothing wrong with a Catholic or any other Christian man having a beard.

The Bible and other artifacts of Christian history show us the long history of the beard in Christianity. The most clear biblical passage to condone beards comes from Leviticus (19:27): "You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your heads, neither shall you clip off the edge of your beard." To cut off another man's beard, according to Samuel (10:4) is an outrage.


For those of my readers who are Orthodox, beards are always present. Our clergy usually have beards as do some of our laity. It has pretty much always been this way (not including that one time in Russia). It was part of Christian culture to have a beard. If you look at icons of our saints most men are sporting beards (with some notable exceptions). We are accustomed to seeing beards on Christians because the earliest Christians had beards.

For my non-Orthodox readers, Christians have always worn beards (except that one time in Russia). I know that you aren't use to the sight of beards on men. It's ok. I know that beards are coming back into fashion (or perhaps falling out? I don't really keep up) so it's going to be a little more normal to see beards on men than a few years ago. But just know that in the West there was this cultural phenomenon where beards were not ok for some reason, so they were done away with. Clergy as well as laity are usually clean shaven. This gave rise to a fear of all things bearded back when the war on terror started; I remember my brother telling me a story of how a priest in Florida was mistaken as a terrorist and beaten.

I wish I could say that beards are just one of the many things that Muslims stole from Eastern Christians (like prostrating for prayers, praying at certain times, chanting, facing a certain way whilst praying, etc.) But truth be told that wearing a beard is part of the overall culture of the area where Christianity and Islam both grew it's roots. I mean obviously Christians did it first as we were around before the Muslims were, but it's part of the culture. That culture became part of Christianity and also Islam.

Wearing a beard does not make one a Christian or a Muslim, it just means the man has good sense. That shouldn't hinder Christians from wearing them as we have always done (except for that one time in Russia).

Friday, August 29, 2014

Iraqi Christian Village: From Sanctuary to Ghost Town in 2 Months

By Peter Kenyon
The northern Iraqi village of Al-Qosh was humming with activity — and some jitters — when NPR visited back in June. The Assyrian Christian villagers had opened their schools and homes to Iraqis fleeing the takeover of nearby Mosul by Islamist fighters calling themselves the Islamic State.

But these days, most of Al-Qosh is as silent as the 6th-century monastery overlooking the village from a hill. A few Kurdish security men guard the entrance to the village, primarily concerned with keeping potential looters away from the tidy stone and cement homes.
The villagers fled en masse in early August, when Islamist fighters made a move in Al-Qosh’s direction. Now, as Kurdish forces begin to retake territory around Mosul, including the strategic Mosul dam, some families have begun to trickle back to Al-Qosh. Most stay only during daylight hours, however, afraid to stay overnight with Islamic State forces a mere 20 miles away.


Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

On August 29, we commemorate Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John:


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Arabodox: A Study of Arab Christian Tribal History

“I am an Arab by birth, a Greek by primary education, an American by residence, a Russian at heart, and a Slav in soul.” -Saint Raphael of Brooklyn

Surviving countless persecutions and conquerors who wished to eliminate their sacred Orthodox tradition and trample their civilization, the Arab Christians are an inspirational model to all right-believing Orthodox Christians. Along with the rest of the church, the Arab Christians are a living portrait of the beauty of the fruits of martyrdom as they have kept the light of Orthodoxy burning with in their civilization after countless attempts to extinguish it by dark heretical swords. The history of this community and is most distinguished.

Early beginnings.

One of the earliest Arab Christian communities, Najran (in Yemen, now in present-day Saudi Arabia) was formed during the 4th century A.D. when the tribal leader, Abdullah bin al-Thamir and the Najraniyya were converted by Phemion, a pious Christian bricklayer. Christianity flourished in this desert oasis and soon ran into severe tribal conflict with the ancient Yemenite Jewish community which had been there since the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Known for their close relationships with Orthodox Roman Byzantium and Christian Axum (Ethiopia), the staunchly Anti-Christian Yemenite Jewish warlord and King of Himyar, Yusuf As’ar Dhu Nawas (Dunaan in South Arabian and Ge’ez), viewed them as heretical Byzantine, Axumite puppets who stood in the way of his goals of a Davidic Israelite kingdom and Jewish proselytization within Arabia.

So, in 524, Dhu Nawas invaded Najran and martyred 20,000 of the Christian inhabitants. After hearing a survivor, Dus Dhu Tha’laban al-Saba, recount the massacre, Byzantine Roman Emperor Saint Justinian I in furry, ordered Ethiopian Axumite Emperor Saint Kaleb Elesbaan to annex Himyar (Yemen) and kill Dhu Nawas in in 525. The martyrs of Najran and their leader, Mar al-Haarith (Saint Arethas) are commemorated by the Orthodox Church on October 24th. Emperor Saint Justinian also sent the evangelist Saint Gregentios the Wonderworker to establish the Bishopric of Himyaritia (Yemen) and oversee the revival of Orthodox Christianity in the Himyar (Yemen), then under the rule of Christian Axum (Ethiopia) after the death of the tyrant Dunaan (called Masruq the Crucifier by Arab Christians). Before and after the massacre, many of the Najraniyya migrated to Bilad ash-Sham (the Levant). Today, there exists a tribe of them in Palestine at Beit Lahm (BethLehem) and Jordan. They have the family name Najajreh and continue to predominantly adhere to the Chalcedonian Rum Orthodox Church.

Read more at Krishan the Orthodox Singh

Burning Incense is Psychoactive

"Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses.

"In spite of information stemming from ancient texts, constituents of Bosweilla had not been investigated for psychoactivity," said Raphael Mechoulam, one of the research study's co-authors. "We found that incensole acetate, a Boswellia resin constituent, when tested in mice lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive-like behavior. Apparently, most present day worshipers assume that incense burning has only a symbolic meaning.""


I would like to add that in the Orthodox Church the use of incense is seen as representative of the prayer of the saints being lifted up to heaven before God:

Psalm 140:2 - "Let my prayer be set forth before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."

Revelation 5:8 - "Now when He has taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

Revelation 8:4 - "And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand."

And traditionally the Church does make use of frankincense.

Synaxis of the Kiev Cave Fathers

On August 28, we commemorate Synaxis of the Kiev Cave Fathers :


Job of Pochaev

On August 28, we commemorate Job of Pochaev :


Moses the Black

On August 28, we commemorate Moses the Black of Scete:


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bowing Down to a Faceless Idol

Before the Incarnation, it was idolatrous to make an image of God.

Now that the Incarnation has taken place, it would be idolatrous not to make images of Him.

When a religion rejects images of God, it sends the message that God is only a spirit, and that He has no physical body. Before the Incarnation, that was true. After the Incarnation, it is false, and is therefore idolatry.

There are two types of idolatry:
1) Worshiping false gods
2) Worshiping the true God in
a way which misrepresents Him

Read more at The Orthodox Life

Pimen of Palestine

On August 27, we commemorate Poimen of Palestine:


Holy Martyr Phanurius

On August 27, we commemorate Holy Martyr Phanurius:


Pimen the Great

On August 27, we commemorate Pimen the Great:


Monday, August 25, 2014

Titus the Apostle of the 70

On August 25, we commemorate Titus the Apostle of the 70:


Return of the Body of Bartholomew

On August 25, we commemorate Return of the Body of Bartholomew the Glorious Apostle:


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Translation of the Holy Relics of Saint Peter

On August 24, we commemorate The Translation of the Holy Relics of Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow:


Saint Cosmos of Aetolia

On August 24, we commemorate Saint Cosmas of Aetolia, Equal to the Apostles:


Eutyches the Hieromartyr & Disciple of St. John

On August 24, we commemorate Eutyches the Hieromartyr & Disciple of St. John the Theologian:


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Enthronement of Metropolitan Joseph Scheduled

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the events related to the Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph will take place during the weekend of December 5 through 7, 2014, at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York.


Holy Martyr Agathonicus

On August 22, we commemorate The Holy Martyr Agathonicus:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Samuel the Prophet

On August 20, we commemorate Samuel the Prophet:

Christianity without Repercusions: Salvation Pt. 1

In my first post of this series I realized that I did not go in to much depth of each category that I touched on. This was on purpose, as I did not want an overly long blog post (despite my post on the rapture); instead I wanted to be able to go back and expand on those areas I touched upon in their own separate posts as they can be quite extensive subjects. This week I present a comprare and contrast on Salvation.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Syria's Forgotten Christians

By Edward Dark
ALEPPO, Syria — Walking through the largely Christian neighborhoods of Aleppo city — Azizieh, Siryan, Sulaimaniyah and Midan — you can still see the posters of the two bishops kidnapped by Islamist militants last year hanging on shop windows, walls and even cars. The people here haven’t forgotten them; the event is still as painful and fresh as if it had happened just yesterday. The bishops’ kidnapping was a symbolic event, indicative of the larger collapse of interfaith communal relations in a country under the strain of a sectarian civil war, and marked the end of a long era of relative peace and safety for the Christians of Syria.

MORE from Orthodox Christian Network

Andrew the General & Martyr

On August 19, we commemorate Andrew the General & Martyr & his 2,593 soldiers:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why I Don't Believe in the Rapture

I don't believe in the Rapture, and quite frankly I'm a little tired of seeing and hearing about how we all need to make sure our lives are in order if we want to avoid the Tribulation.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Myron the Martyr of Cyzicus

On August 17, we commemorate Myron the Martyr of Cyzicus:

How to live according to the faith

[How to live according to the faith (]

Monday, August 11, 2014

Christianity Without Repercussions

I remember when I was growing up one of the things that I always heard against the Roman Catholics is how they go and live their lives how ever they want, then they just confess their sins to a priest and start the cycle all over again. They pretty much believed that they would just get a free pass as long as they confessed to their priest every once in a while. They supposedly had no repercussions for their sins, no consequences.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Why I Don't Believe in the Rapture

I don't believe in the Rapture, and quite frankly I'm a little tired of seeing and hearing about how we all need to make sure our lives are in order if we want to avoid the Tribulation.

ISIS, Palestine, Israel and Why We Should Care

The Middle East, the Near East, Southwest Asia - whatever you want to call it - has been ablaze in constant war fare from "civil war" in Syria to the ongoing conflict between Gaza and the modern State of Israel.