Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sulayman al-Ghazzi on Racial Harmony in the Church

In one of the most jaw-dropping incidents of gross pastoral oversight I have ever heard tell of, a notorious and outspoken neo-Nazi was received into an Antiochian Orthodox parish in Indiana on Saturday of Light this year. Thankfully, after widespread outcry over this, the priest (who had previously ignored multiple warnings over the course of a few months about the violent and racist activities of his catachumen) and his bishop have taken action.

What is even more bizarre is why someone harboring white supremacist ideologies would seek to join the Church of Antioch, which isn't exactly Aryan in character and has traditionally been one of the most ethnically diverse and open to diversity of any of the local Orthodox Churches.

Below is a translation of a part of a poem by the 11th century poet Suleiman al-Ghazzi that praises God for the diversity and racial harmony within the Church. It is taken from S. Noble and A. Treiger, eds. The Orthodox Church in the Arab World: An Anthology of Sources 700-1700, pp. 163-164.

[...] God has favored a Church
     Whose stones are gathered from all corners and climes.

Truth has built her an edifice
     Rising to heaven on pillars and columns,

Fashioned from chrysolite,
     Precious stones, sapphires, and pearls.

Her foundation is the rock of faith,
     Rooted deep with pillars and walls.

All bodily creatures are pleased to see it
      When it appears in races and colors.

Byzantines, Russians, and Franks
     Joined with Indians, Khuzestanis, Abkhaz, and Alans

Armenians and Pechenegs in agreement
     With the people of the Jazira, namely Harran.

And Copts too, in the Lower Egypt gather together
     From Upper Egypt to Qus and Aswan.

People of Shiraz and Ahwaz in harmony
     With Iraq, unto furthest Khorasan.

From the place of the sunrise to the place of its setting,
     To the Euphrates, to Sihon and Gihon

White, blond, and brown in their churches
     Praise God with the yellow and the black.

All of them have come to the religion of Christ
     And are guided, gaining profit from loss.


Anonymous said...

MAmnounak iktîr. May Rodrigo Khoury take note of al-Ghazzi's words. At times I become very saddened reading certain affirmations in NOCTOC.

Yes it is and always was the vocation of the Church of Antioch to receive many differetn peple into her fold, hence continuing the list of peoples ennumerated by Acts describing the event of the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the assembled believers calling them to be ekklesía in order to announce God'S bounties to the world inviting all people to become partakers of Life Divine, son and daughters of God in Time and Eternity. HEnce the Church is orthodoxê kai katholikê - it cannot be national as an intrinsic category of ecclesial identity.

Isa Almisry said...

An excellent example of Arab Orthodoxy at its best.