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ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS in peril as Christians flee homes in Iraq

In Iraq, Christians are fleeing for their lives. The ancient manuscripts are also in peril.  

Phillip Jenkins writes:  “The fall of Christian Mosul loomed in the beginning of the 20th century. Kurdish raids and bandit attacks repeatedly hit the monasteries and devastated their libraries. During World War I, the Ottoman Turks inflicted on local Christians the same attempted genocide they directed against the Armenians. By the 1920s, the once transcontinental Church of the East was reduced to about 40,000 survivors in the Mosul area…. The population included Assyrians, Catholic Chaldeans, Syrian Orthodox, and Orthodox Arabs, who hoped to benefit from the state secularism promised by Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath regime. If their ancient glories were long past, they hoped to remain unmolested in the land of the prophet Jonah and of the great patriarchs and abbots.The Ba’ath regime was shaken by the 1991 Gulf War and then overthrown in the 2003 invasion led by the United States, which brought Islamist resistance to the fore. The ISIS campaign will presumably spell the end of a Christian presence. We often read of the birth and growth of churches, very rarely of their deaths. In Mosul, however, we may be seeing the end of an astounding example of Christian continuity that lasted nearly two millennial.”

 

First, we learn some facts about on of the great monasteries of the area…St. Matthews.  

St. Matthews, Mosul, Iraq

St. Matthews Monastery, Iraq

History of St. Matthews:   “Located north of Mosul, St. Matthew’s Monastery—commonly known as Dayr Sheikh Matti—is perhaps the most ancient religious institution in Iraq. Although the Syriac life story of St. Matthew was published together with that of St. Behnam by Paul Bedjan in 1891, and translated into Arabic by Elias Behnam, this present account is more extensive and informative. It includes in-depth physical and spiritual descriptions of the monastery as an outstanding institution which played a significant role in the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church of the East. Mar Ignatius Jacob III offers insight into the monastery’s learned superiors, metropolitans and magnificent library. The monastery was a Seat of the Maphrianate of the East rivaling that of Takrit as a center of Syriac Christianity. The Patriarch laments adversities brought upon the monastery by the marauding Kurds who attacked it, killing monks and looting belongings including the monastery’s invaluable manuscripts. Not until the nineteenth century did some metropolitans retrieve it from the Kurds. Still, the attacks continued. In modern times, as monasticism has declined, the monastery has become more an attraction for summer vacationers than a place of retreat. Today St. Matthew’s Monastery remains a monumental Christian historical legacy revered by both Christians and Muslims of Iraq and neighboring countries. It is also held with great reverence by Western scholars since the most famous thirteenth-century Syrian writer, Bar Hebraeus, was buried there. ”  by Ignatius Yacoub III    Book available      

St Matthews Mosul Iraq.2

 60 minutes has given us an amazing view of what is happening there today.

CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO  (enlarge picture for best viewing)

60 Minutes PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS interview of Christians from St. Matthews.

Destruction vs Inspiration …for your pleasure!

My fellow blogger, Stephen Liddell, just wrote a blog about the terrible destruction  by ISIS of monuments that have lasted thousands of years.  Monument destruction    Why anyone would want to destroy something that has existed for so very long is beyond imagination.  Yet,beyond evil and destruction… there is in the heart of man the desire to create…to make beautiful things.  Unfortunately some things will not last for thousands of years!  Nevertheless those who want to give to the world, rather than take away from the world, can give us some unexpected things to appreciate and enjoy.

Even the tiny bee understands better than the unthinking, radical man.  As  Saint Francis de Sales said, “The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole…undamaged and fresh…just as he found them.    If only man had the wisdom of a bee.

Let me introduce to you a man not of destruction…but of creative beauty…..Ra Paulette

Ra Paulette takes nature and digs and digs.  Working with only hand tools, Ra wants people to find peace and purpose. A moment or length of time when a person finds a deeper understanding of themselves and life.   For your weekend pleasure…Ra Paulette.

Simplicity of Faith….The Stick in the Path

A friend of mine shared this thought recently about Brother Lawrence.  It seemed that when it came to love…and caring for others, Brother Lawrence said it this way, ” “It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.” A more modern way of saying this may be “because of our love for God, we will remove a stick from a path so someone will not trip over it.”    A simple act of caring may be something that only you know that you did,  but God knows and that is what matters.

Brother LawrenceWho was Brother Lawrence?  Born in 1611 and died in 1691, the Christian History gives us this account of him:

“Brother Lawrence began life as Nicholas Herman, born to peasant parents in Lorraine, France. As a young man, his poverty forced him into joining the army, and thus he was guaranteed meals and a small stipend. During this period, Herman had an experience that set him on a unique spiritual journey; it wasn’t, characteristically, a supernatural vision, but a supernatural clarity into a common sight.

In the deep of winter, Herman looked at a barren tree, stripped of leaves and fruit, waiting silently and patiently for the sure hope of summer abundance.

Gazing at the tree, Herman grasped for the first time the extravagance of God’s grace and the unfailing sovereignty of divine providence. Like the tree, he himself was seemingly dead, but God had life waiting for him, and the turn of seasons would bring fullness. At that moment, he said, that leafless tree “first flashed in upon my soul the fact of God,” and a love for God that never  ceased to burn.

Sometime later, an injury forced his retirement from the army, and after a stint as a footman, he sought a place where he could suffer for his failures. He thus entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris as Brother Lawrence.brother-lawrence and work

He was assigned to the monastery kitchen where, amidst the tedious chores of cooking and cleaning at the constant bidding of his superiors, he developed his rule of spirituality and work. In his Maxims, Lawrence writes, “Men invent means and methods of coming at God’s love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of Him?”

SIMPLICITY in faith…try it today.  Look at the smallest details of your life.  It may be making a bed. Do it for God and make it the best it has ever looked.  It may be mowing the yard…as unto God. Take notice of the flower that has just bloomed over night. Make your “Good morning” and a smile…a special one for someone you love. Let the sometime boredom of a job be the best because you have faith in Christ who wants you to be your best at whatever you are doing.

Taking a nap may not seem like something we do for God…yet He has told us that our bodies are the “temple of the Holy Spirit”..and we must care for it.  You health may be in need of it from the stresses of life…so take that nap for Him.

For your listening pleasure…and as unto God.

STRESS vs COMPASSION… a REAL Dilemma

I am truly puzzled. Mrs. Obama will be heading soon to Japan to bring her advice and encouragement to the Japanese girls that they not drop out of school.  She feels that she should do this  for the people of Japan.   If one looks at the ranking given to the countries around the world on education, Japan is ranking 2nd behind Korea. In another study, they ranked 7th in the world in Math; 4th in Science and Reading.    (Rankings)   This is why I am puzzled about this visit.

Education in the United States is in crisis over Common Core and Standardized Testing to name only a  few educational problems. Certainly our rankings in the world are not high.   Teen pregnancy, drop out rate, bullying, and other issues also need to be addressed. Children in Chicago need to be able to walk to school without the fear of being shot by gang members.   One would think that there is enough encouragement needed right here at home within the poorest parts of our country and in the inter-city schools.

The real question here is not anyone’s travel plans or good intentions, but  WHAT IS BEING TAUGHT AND THE FREEDOM OF THE TEACHER TO TEACH.    In a world of violence, fear, and distress, our children need to learn how to get along and compassion for each other as much as math, reading, and other subjects. students and testing More teaching

student taking test

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few quotes concerning what we are doing to our young people with the over-emphasis on testing rather than creative  thought and how to live in the real world.

“Teachers  were shocked by ambiguous test questions, based, as they saw it, on false premises and wrongheaded educational principles….. Others were dismayed to see that children were demoralized by the relentlessness of the testing process, which took seventy minutes a day for six days, with more time allowed for children with learning disabilities. One teacher remarked that, if a tester needs three days to tell if a child can read “you are either incompetent or cruel….” Another teacher said that during each day of testing, at least one of her children was reduced to tears. A paraprofessional—a classroom aide who works with children with special needs—called the process “state-sanctioned child abuse.” One child with a learning disability, after the second hour of the third day, had had enough. “He only had two questions left, but he couldn’t keep going,” a teacher reported. “He banged his head on the desk so hard that everyone in the room jumped.” (written by Rebecca Mead)   Parents are beginning to opt out of standardized testing around the nation. students and parents to stop tests

 

I need to mention that I had the privilege, as an American educator,  of being invited by the Japanese government to visit the schools in Japan…elementary through high school.  This was a “thank you” to the United States for sending educators to Japan after W.W II to help rebuild not only their country but their way of life.  This also included the missionaries who went to help the people during this terrible time of history.

While in Japan, I was extremely impressed with their curriculum and teaching methods, but also in the students themselves.  The children were happy in their classes.  The high school students had a wing of baby grand pianos to practice because there was an emphasis on the arts in the curriculum.  Just before classes were dismissed, I noticed two young men mopping the school corridor.  I asked if they were being punished?   The answer was “No, they are doing their responsibility.”  I also saw girls as interactive as boys in the educational process.  Nothing was mentioned about a drop out problem.  Some criticism has come in more recent years about the long hours of study in Japan that has possibly been the reason for some suicides.  Some middle class families have teens who have also more recently become part of violent gangs, which had not been a problem previously.  The Japanese are trying to find the reasons for these changes in social behavior.  Perhaps this is why the teacher of younger children that I am about to introduce you to has made a primary part of his teaching …the teaching of empathy.

The reason I am writing this blog, however,  is to share something much more important than the testing issue.  It has to do with, as mentioned above, with the actual teaching of young people how to live in this world.   STRESS…VS ….COMPASSION is my title.  Now meet a teacher in Japan who knows the importance of the child’s emotions…hurts and cares in the real world.  (I would encourage you to set some time aside for this viewing…to be able to read everything that is said…for otherwise, you may miss some crucial points.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(To see U.S. rankings in various areas of education, go to U.S. RANKINGS…comparisons to other countries )

Downton Abbey Parody…everyone loves a spoof!

At the Christmas season, the actors in Downton Abbey and guest actors did their best to entertain us for a charitable cause. It worked! Who does not love a parody or a spoof?  The Royalty or the high-born in society may not be so amused, but we at Boyer Writes thought it was “jolly good”!

What exactly is a spoof? It is “a humorous imitation of something while exaggerating its characteristic features for comic effect.”

 A parody is a “humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing”…or in this case a TV script.  It’s function is a “kind of comedy that imitates and mocks individuals or a piece of work. However, when it mingles with satire, it makes satire more pointed and effective. Most importantly, a parody appeals to the reader’s sense of humor. He enjoys the writer poking fun at the set ideals of society and becomes aware of the lighter side of an otherwise serious state of affairs. Thus, parody adds spice to a piece of literature that keeps the readers interested.”

Throughout history, the spoof or parody has been used by famous writers. Shakespeare used it in his Sonnet 13 when he wrote a parody on traditional love poems.  Don Quixote” written by Miguel de Cervantes is a parody of romances written in his days.  Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travel” is a parody of travel narratives as well as a satire on contemporary England. The more serious one takes the subject…the more ridiculous the spoof…but perhaps the most enjoyed.

“Tally ho”….I think I have spotted just the right modern-day video for your viewing pleasure.    Straight away.. let’s watch it!   (As you can see, I  love the phrases used by our friends, the British!   A “Toast to Happiness”…in this world of such unhappiness!   Carry On!… but be sure to watch the video to the very end…for more fun. There is a quick commercial for the charity in the middle and then resumes. )

 

The World at a Cross Roads…a Historic Speech or Prophetic?

Some are calling the speech made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a historic call to the freedom-loving countries of the world to wake up and see that there is a cross roads facing the world today.

Mr.Netanyahu was warmly welcomed with many standing ovations during his speech to the joint session of Congress.  This, being in spite of the fact, the President and Vice President of the United States refused to attend the speech…as did others within the democratic party. This fact alone may have looked to the Iranians as a “spit in the eye”to the Israeli Prime Minister. Most believe that the President of the United States does not have to agree with all that another leader thinks is the best route to peace. However,would it not be appropriate to the  dignity of the office of the President to show respect to another democratic leader and listen to his views? The American people also require an open forum for knowledge…and who is better to know about the Middle East than those who live there?

All this was happening as the Secretary of State was in Switzerland negotiating with the Iranians, who said a loud “NO” to time limits on their move to have nuclear capabilities. It is hoped that the Iranian people also saw the enthusiasm of the listening audience to Mr. Netanyahu’s speech…unless blocked by the government.

Fact by fact, Mr. Netenyahu laid out the reasons that the particular deal being worked on by this administration with Iran will never work. Israel is keenly aware that Iran has plans to “wipe them off the face of the earth” and the “Great Satan”, as the United States is called, would be next.

Below is this “historic” speech…or perhaps prophetic. It is shown in its entirety. (If not interested in the people arriving…slide forward to the speech.)

How would you fair…if war was in your backyard? Letter by eye witness in Ukraine

Exactly what would you do, if your community was on fire and destroyed from an invasion?   What would you do if the young people were not there to help you as an older person?   What about your grandmother or grandfather living some distance from you whose home is also in the middle of a war?  What about your lovely pets?   If you had no food, would you turn them out because there was nothing to feed them?   Terrible questions to consider.  Now, consider some of these pictures about the people of Ukraine, who had their own country separated from Russia after the collapse of the former Soviet Union:

Elderly woman watches a group of Pro-Russians storm office

Elderly woman watches a group of Pro-Russians storm office

Ukrainian woman cries as she is alone after a friend leaves war area on a bus.

Ukrainian woman cries as she is alone after a friend leaves war area on a bus.

Woman holding a baby also waits for a bus to take her away from her home to a safer area.

Woman holding a baby also waits for a bus to take her away from her home to a safer area.

 

 

Woman cannot live here any longer.

She  cannot live here any longer.

Nothing much left of this house after the Pro-Russian Separatist took care of it.

Nothing much left of this house after the Pro-Russian Separatist took care of it.

Priest and Old Woman

Priest and Old Woman view the dead in sorrow

Ukraine Volunteers are blessed before having to battle the Pro-Russian Separatist.

Ukraine Volunteers are blessed before having to battle the Pro-Russian Separatist.

Stray dog tries to get food from the elderly.

Stray dog tries to get food from the elderly.

Having spent time teaching in Donetsk, Ukraine, I am regularly updated with the REAL  story of what is happening to the people who are enduring the Russian separatists and living with what continues to go on there

So many elderly, sick and homeless have so much pain.   Even the college where I taught has been taken over by the soldiers. This was a lovely campus….thriving and vibrant.  Over the years, the curriculum had been made relevant to the people.  Oxford University in England, had some influence to the development.  I was there to teach English to a number of eager students. No longer do college students have a place to learn. Faculty, staff and families no longer have  a place to live and work for the good of Ukrainian youth.  Even former faculty children’s elementary classrooms has become a place for target practice as some of the Separatists posted on You Tube recently.

Ukrainian Emigrants to the U.S.A: Those of us who had the opportunity to travel in Russia and Eastern Europe, after the cold war was over, believed that things were changing for the better.  Some people from Russia and the Ukraine may have seen the handwriting on the wall.  Here in the USA, many Ukrainians have immigrated and settled off the Gulf Coast of south Florida.  They have built beautiful traditional  Russian style churches and they are thriving.  Even the public schools  in that area look for teacher who may be  bi-lingual in the Russian or Ukrainian languages.  This Ukrainian community  are hard-working people who have brought many skills with them to this country.   Many are strong in their Christian faith.

A little history:  After the collapse of the old Soviet Union,  many Russians around the Moscow area became rich people. There was a dark side to these new ways because the  old ways never really went away.  This can be confirmed by the “little man” or average person whose businesses were often under the threat of “mafia like tactics”.  This type of influence also came over the border into independent Ukraine.     Tactics of  poisoning, assassination attempts or burning  down the businesses of people who may speak out or are seen as the  opposition has long been a part of the Russian history. ( A most publicized and controversial  example was the 2004 poisoning attempt on Ukraine Presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko )

Ukraine  President  2008 Viktor Yushchenko seen before and after poisoning

Ukraine President 2008 Viktor Yushchenko seen before and after poisoning

What does the future hold?   Will Russia continue the march to the south and into other countries, like Ukraine, that once were part of the old Soviet empire?    Is this the ultimate goal of the Russian Leaders?  Either the people of Russia  today will see that their own freedoms are at risk and will rise up….or they will succumb to the old ways.  The Ukrainians are not the only ones in danger.  Even this week, the thousands of people pouring out on the streets of Moscow in protest of the assassination of Boris Nemtsov,  may be thinking that they have had enough of war with Ukraine, intimidation  and strong-arm tactics as well as assassinations from whatever source.

Thousands protest over Moscow Assassination  Feb 2015

Thousands protest over Moscow Assassination
Feb 2015

The war in Ukraine has not only devastated the lives of the Ukrainians, but hundreds of others throughout the world.  When Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine,10 Britons  192 Dutch, 28 Australians, 44 Malaysians and 1 U.S. citizen died…including children.

Pro Russian Separatist watches as OSCE tries to gather information on the crash.

Pro Russian Separatist watches as OSCE tries to gather information on the crash.

Regardless of all that is going on, the people are suffering…whether in Ukraine or other parts of the world.  (We must not forget the religious cleansing of Christians going on in the middle east.)    Perhaps the world is mad!

The letter  below was sent to me from Ukraine.  The names have been removed for the security of the person writing.   THIS IS THE REAL STORY of the people left behind and their need for care as well as a way to get away from the fighting.   I remember the beautiful, little town of Donetsk.  The town square,  as it used to be, is no more with men playing chess and artists selling their paintings.  Donetsk now has a ruined airport,  collapsed buildings and  devastated homes.

LETTER FROM FIRST-HAND WITNESS IN UKRAINE:

Dear Friends,

Greetings. First of all, thank you very much for your prayerful support.Our evacuation mission was blessed and finished successfully. XXXX,his grand-mother and mother are in safe place in our home town, XXXX. The trip was a bit more than 2000 km back and forth, to a town not far from the war zone. Two volunteers agreed to bring [XXXX’S family] to XXXX through XXXX,  which was under non-systematic shelling. The Lord kept them all the way and provided so that they were allowed through several block posts.  The day before, hundreds of people were [sent] back to Donetsk and other cities by Ukrainian soldiers with no explanation. But the Lord had mercy on this poor family.   My father and I came back very impressed and sick from what we saw and heard…Hundreds of thousands… Can you imagine?     Hundreds and hundreds of thousands feel that they have no past and no future, because they lost their houses, jobs,belongings, many lost their relatives who were either killed, or died because of hunger or diseases in air-raid shelters… So much pain and suffering… Many dogs were [cast out] by their owners because of a lack of food. They are slowly dying [from] hunger as well–hardly [able to walk] or [stand] on their feet. Some people still try to share their food with them…After we returned from XXXX [Region], I could not concentrate on my work for two days… I felt awful and sick that I cannot help all these many people. And that so many people feel indifferent in Ukraine towards refugees… Yes, I know all these theological dogmas that we should be driven by calling, and not by the needs of people…But when you look in the eyes of dozens of people, which reflect hopelessness and despair, you feel sick… you get sick… because you [can only] take one family and leave… With the help of some of you this mission became possible. This family is now safe. However it will take months before they recover physically, emotionally, spiritually. They react very nervously [at] every loud sound, which reminds them of shelling. I witnessed this yesterday and today when XXXX and I came to visit them and brought them some food. But this is just one family. One of hundreds of thousands… And at such moments I realize deeper and deeper the consequences of what had happened in the Garden of Eden – the consequence of the right to define yourself–the essence of what is good and what is evil for you personally and [for] your neighbor….

XXXXX

PRAYER REQUESTS:

1) Pray for peace and an end to the fighting.
2) Remember all those left behind and those traumatized by warfare.
3) Pray for all Ukrainians who bring aid (food, medicine, financial help) to
people suffering in the war zone.
4) Pray that people will be open because of this crisis to seek God in their
lives.

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