As my love for football (soccer, the real footy) is deep, and our new Chicago Fire coach is Serbian born, I found it interesting he and other team coaches visited a Chicago Orthodox church last week in celebration of St. Sava.
This brought me to searching the web for yet another fresh look at the Orthodox Christian Church and in particular, the Serbian branch.
I then wondered what a Christian leader in such a time as the latest Balkan War (long history there… and a great deal of bloodshed between Islamic and Christian Orthodox peoples) had to say about Kosovo and such.
I often find things online that make me thankful for at least some modicum of sanity in our world.
The genocide (plenty but not exclusively done at the hands of Serbs) and both the good as well as botched work of the U.S. and United Nations forces are the stuff of documentaries of which I am familiar.
Regardless of your view (if indeed many of my readers even know enough of the history of Kosovo, etc., to HAVE one) I found the segment of an interview with a Serbian Orthodox Patriarch pretty amazing.
The section I quote indeed relates to current issues in the United States as I write (February, 2016). Please read and consider the words of, in my opinion, a very wise man.
The last two or three paragraphs fully rock in my opinion.
Segment of an INTERVIEW WITH PATRIARCH PAVLE
Dec. 27, 1999
“Wisdom will preserve us from wolves, and kindness will prevent us from turning into wolves.”
“While I was in Kosovo a Moslem priest wrote to me in 1989: “A principle according to which a man cannot prosper unless another human being fails is unacceptable for Islam.” So I replied to him: “This principle is also unacceptable for Christianity. The land of God is wide and large enough to provide room for everyone if we are humans. If we act like brutes, then there will not be enough room even if there are only four of us.” Both in the Bible and Koran, there are stories about Adam and Eve and their first two sons, Cain and Abel. Evil Cain murdered his brother even though there were only four of them. This is what it is all about.
On the other hand, no one let us choose a specific nation, race or parents before we were born so we cannot answer for that. There are people who hold us accountable and lay blame upon us precisely for this. So we must always be and remain humans in keeping with our Orthodox faith and God’s will as well as standards adopted by the people of good will, and eventually time shall pass and heal the wounds. Time is a divine sieve, it shall clear up the things, like the prince and bishop Njegos once said. The Serbs in Kosovo are in a very difficult situation since so many have been forced to flee, so many of them have been murdered, so many displaced persons… There are very few Serbs left who are suffering immense hardships. They are being attacked, kidnapped, innocent people disappear all of a sudden…
FS: Your Holiness, what is your view of the need for the Serbian people to return to Jesus Christ and Orthodox faith? To what extent have we removed ourselves from God?
We could see that even now, and it was so for fifty years after World War II in a one-party system when the people were materialistic and fought against the church. For us Orthodoxy has been a Christian faith which gave us identity when our ancestors as pagans came to these parts and converted to Christianity. At the same time they received their first alphabet and thus passed from pre-history into history. Afterwards, we entered the world of culture not only regarding literacy and alphabet but art, painting, architecture as well. We gave our sincere contribution to the world treasury of what is noble and sublime and that was Orthodoxy. Today when we take a look at our churches and monasteries like Gracanica or Decane, Pecka Patrijarsija, Bogorodica Ljeviska or Studenica and think of how much we could have contributed to humanity if we could have committed ourselves to this noble work, but then we endured slavery and hardships, and now this destruction… So many churches were destroyed, like the Church of Mother of God in Musutiste built in 1315 and monasteries from the 14th and 16th century… We need to return to these roots of our identity based on Christianity, our Orthodox faith. Having done so, it would be easier for us, even if vanish from the face of the earth, but let it happen as it befits human beings.
FS: Your Holiness, how could we revert to our faith and our roots? How could the Serbian Orthodox Church and Yourself help us in this task?
The Church has been preaching the word of Jesus Christ for last 2000 years: “What is to a man to conquer all the world and yet lose his soul”. Could these worldly goods make up for his soul? This was precisely the advice which mother Jevrosima gave to his son Marko: “Don’t you, my son, speak falsely to please others, but in keeping with God’s ways”. Therefore, our Orthodox faith has taught us to be and remain humans always, never brutes. There is no such thing which should make us resort to retribution like brutes do for crimes committed against ourselves.
When I was in Austria a few years ago at the celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the Church of Saint Sava in Vienna, an article was published that morning in a Viennese newspaper in which the author claimed that I had come to Vienna to “deceive the world”, that the Serbs were to blame for this war and that I had called on the Serbs to fight the war against everybody else in order to preserve a greater Serbia. So I reacted to this insinuation at a meeting where there were both the Austrians and the Serbs: “If the cost of preservation of greater Serbia implied crimes committed, I would never accept that. Let Great Serbia disappear. If a small Serbia is to be preserved by committing crimes then I would not accept that- let also small Serbia vanish into thin air. Even if the last Serb were to preserve himself by means of crimes committed and if I were the last of the Serbs, I would not accept that either. Let us vanish as a nation, but as it befits humans”.
According to the Christ’s teaching there is no interest either divine, family, national or personal to commit crimes as a retribution for crimes committed against ourselves and when we defend ourselves we should fight as it befits humans. For us the most important thing is to act like true Christians since Jesus Christ says: “Hereby I send you like sheep among the wolves”. We should indeed be true humans. In every time and in every society there will be people who would ridicule and mock you, who would take advantage of you and place obstacles in your path. Christ is not sending us forth so that wolves could tear us apart, but to show to the wolves by means of our faith and actions what it means to be the Lamb of God. But on the other hand, there is a danger that the lamb among the wolves might come to the conclusion that it could not survive as a lamb, only as a wolf, so it could sharpen its teeth, learn to howl, turn its hoofs into claws and become a wolf itself. This is not why Jesus Christ is sending us among the wolves, therefore he gives us the solution: “Hereby I send you like sheep among the wolves. Be wise like snakes and gentle like doves.” And this means that wisdom will preserve us from wolves tearing us apart, and kindness will prevent us from turning into wolves.
In other words, we could develop our intellectual abilities without limit, but under condition of developing our goodness and kindness at the same time, since our mind is like an internal eye helping us perceive what other living beings cannot possibly see. And mind is cold, sometimes it cuts through the heart. Goodness is warm, but blind. Well you see, when you unite and develop simultaneously both our mind and our goodness then you become a true human. Well, children, this is what it is all about. You could see for yourselves where this materialistic one-sidedness leads, this pursuit of pleasure. You could judge by your friends and relatives – how many children in elementary schools take drugs? To have mind and logic and develop them like a snake. The snake guards its head, so if you cut off its tail it would grow again – the head is what matters. While other creatures fight against each other for food, doves never fight among themselves for food. This is what the church has been preaching for centuries to our ancestors, this is what it preaches now for those who have ears to hear.”
Am I (Glenn Kaiser) aware of the genocide done via both main parties in Kosovo? Yes. I am also aware of sane truth based in God’s Word as a response (versus blind nationalism) to the horrors of human versus human. Or shall we say brute vs. brute?
Things to consider.
As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn