Πέμπτη 31 Αυγούστου 2017

The Holy Belt Of The Theotokos (August 31)

In The Name Of The Father,
The Son,
And The Holy Spirit.
Father Demetrios Serfes
  Orthodox Christian Initiative for Africa
ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ για το θέμα: 31 Αυγούστου, εορτή της αγίας Ζώνης, και καλό Φθινόπωρο!... 
Tropar -Dismissal Hymn [our note: closing hymn] - of the Mother of God.
Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O EVER-VIRGIN Theotokos, shelter of mankind, thou hast bestowed upon thy people a mighty investure, even thine immaculate body's raiment and sash, which by thy seedless childbirth have remained incorrupt; for in thee nature and time are made new.  Wherefore, we implore thee to grant peace to the world, and great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion of the Mother of God
Second Tone
THY precious sash, O Theotokos, which encompassed thy God-receiving womb, is an invincible force for thy flock, and an unfailing treasury of every good, O only Ever-virgin Mother. 
THE MOST VENERABLE and full of grace Belt of our Blessed Virgin Mary, which is found at the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi in Agios Oros (Holy Mt. Athos), is the only precious souvenir that survives from her earthly life.
According to the Sacred Tradition and the history of our Church, the Most Holy Theotokos three days after she fell asleep she rose from the dead and ascended in body to the heavens. During her ascension, she gave her Holy Belt to the Apostle Thomas.  Thomas, a long with the rest of the holy Apostles, opened up her grave and didn't find the body of the Theotokos. In this way the Holy Belt is proof for our Church of her Resurrection and bodily ascension to the heavens, and, in a word, at her metastasis.

Monastery of Vatopedi,
Holy Mt. Athos

The Holy Belt, according to the tradition, was made by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself with camel hair.  The Empress Zoi, wife of Leo 6th the Wise, out of gratitude for her miraculous cure, embroidered the Belt with gold thread, as it is found today, but divided in three pieces.  Originally it was being kept in Jerusalem and later in Constantinople.  There during the 12th century under Manuel A' Komninos (1143-1180) an official holiday for the Belt was established on August 31st.  In the end, Emperor John the 6th Katakouzinos (1347-1355), who had a special love toward the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi, as is evidence by many related accounts, donated the Belt to the Monastery.  Since then the Holy Belt is kept at the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, in a silver case of newer manufacture which depicts the Monastery.  On the bottom right border of the depiction the artist made the drawing of the donor Emperor Katakouzinos along in the a sign which refers to his donation to the Monastery.
Icon from here
Numerous are the miracles, that have taken place up to today with the Holy Belt. Its value is priceless because it's associated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She has the grace and to her the miraculous power is attributed, which with many ways she transmits to the faithful.
The Holy Belt maintains unaltered the grace of the Most Holy Theotokos, because it became connected with her person and her life and because saints are spirit carriers during not their life, but also after their death.  The same phenomenon is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures when objects that the Prophet Elias and the holy Apostles wore actually performed miracles, because they had the grace of the saints. For this reason the Church attributes it honorary worship, as it does to the Holy Wood of the Cross of the Lord.
The Holy Belt has the unique grace to cure women's sterility as well as cancer patients, with a ribbon that has firstly been blessed on the Belt and is subsequently worn by the sterile women and patients. 

Relic box of the Precious Belt -Sash- Cincture, of the Theotokos

The Tropar also known as the Dismissal Hymn [Closing Hymn], as well as the Kontakion  is a translation from: The Great Horologion, translated from the Greek by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Massachusetts, 1997., p. 594
Note of Father Demetrios Serfes: I would like to humbly thank Dejan for sending me this information in Greek, and for John Constantinidis for his translation from the Greek. 

See also

The Holy Girdle (Zoni) of the Theotokos 
Miracles by the Holy Belt of Most Holy Theotokos 

Theotokos (=Mother of God), tag in our blog
Theotokos, tag in the other our blog
From Zambia & Malawi about Dormition of Mother of God
Dormition of the Theotokos Resource Page 
Mother of God (Virgin Mary), Orthodox Church and African peoples (& Why the Orthodox Honor Mary)

Male and Female Created He Them
The Icon of the Theotokos

An orthodox little boy from Cameroon
Photo from here & here
Dormição da Santíssima Mãe de Deus (15 de Agosto)  

31 Αυγούστου, εορτή της αγίας Ζώνης, και καλό Φθινόπωρο!...

31 Αυγούστου, εορτή της αγίας Ζώνης της Παναγίας, με την οποία κλείνει ο Μήνας της Παναγίας, ο καλός μας Αύγουστος.

Δείτε παρακαλώ: 

Μικροί Χαιρετισμοί στην Υπεραγία Θεοτόκο
Τα «εννιάμερα της Παναγίας» και το εορταστικό δεκαήμερο στην έξοδο του Αυγούστου...
Μπαίνοντας ο Σεπτέμβριος, ο 1ος μήνας, ο μήνας των Γενεθλίων της Παναγίας
Έντγκαρ Άλλαν Πόε: "Ύμνος στην Θεοτόκο"


Τρίτη 29 Αυγούστου 2017

Herod’s best friend!

The Beheading of the holy glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John (29 August)

ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ: Ο καλύτερος φίλος του Ηρώδη
Translation A.N.

We have become accustomed to imagining Saint John the Baptist as an angry
and boisterous prophet, permanently dissatisfied and grumpy, who used to rant loudly at people in a harsh manner, urging them to repent for their sins so that they won’t be annihilated by the wrath of God and burn in hell. And that may well be the case… Of course the expression “wrath of God” is an image that symbolizes man’s enmity towards God, and “hell” is man’s view of the Divine Light as a consuming fire, because of human egotism. But, the truth is that Saint John – as well as all the Prophets and Saints in every era – who, inspired by Divine Grace, possessed abundant love for mankind, and it was precisely that kind of love (and not any harsh “sense of justice” or any supposed “offence to God” and such irrelevant notions) that prompted them to persuade people to repent.
Repentance is what will help people to be saved, and mankind’s salvation is the true concern of the Prophets and the Saints; in other words, it is God’s true concern that inspires them.

In Herod’s case, we can see that the Baptist was by no means his actual enemy; on the contrary, he was Herod’s best friend (or rather, his ONLY friend!), given that Herod, a very vicious individual, most probably had no other, true friends… 

Icon from here

Everyone knows how the Baptist exercised austere criticism on Herod, given that he had stolen his brother’s wife, Herodias, and had made her his official concubine, or possibly wife. A very annoyed Herod threw John into prison as punishment for his criticisms, but, Herodias with her familiar shrewdness, instructed her daughter Salome (who charmed Herod and all his “distinguished” guests during his birthday party with her obviously sexual enticing dance) to demand the head of the Baptist on a platter. This demand was “honoured” by the king (as foolishly promised by him in public), and the Baptist’s severed head was handed to the teenage Salome, who then handed it over to her cunning mother (may God forgive them all…).
We need to point out here that the specific Herod here was Herod II (Herod Antypas), son of the old Herod, who had commanded the slaughter of the thousands of infants (in the hope of exterminating the threat of the then newly-born, prophesied King); this was Herod the Tetrarch, the so-called “Great” Herod.

But why did the Saint exercise such austere criticism on Herod? Was it to cause him political damage? Or to provide a reason for rebels to overthrow him? For social or political reasons specifically? Well, we have no reason to believe that the Saint had any such motives. Being familiar with the tradition of the Saints, we are able to perceive something else: John the Baptist’s criticism of Herod was intended to save him! And with him, his consort, Herodias, whose inspiration it was to kill the Prophet. And how was John striving to save them? Well, with his vociferous critique, John strived to curb the long-term sin of adultery that Herod had been committing. As such, John proved to be the best (if not the only) friend of the royal couple, because he was the only one who dared to publicly declare them as sinners and urge them to resort to salvific repentance.

Icon from here

But, there is something else that is indicative of the Saint’s love and concern for Herod. In Mark’s Gospel (ch.6, verses 19-20), we read the following, which pertains to the time that the Saint was imprisoned:

“19 Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man and he protected him. And by listening to him, he did many things, and he listened to him gladly.”
(Here is one more case where the word “feared” has the meaning of “respected” – as in the familiar Gospel quote of “…and the woman shall fear the man…”)
The fact that John conceded to talk to Herod from inside his prison, and even counselled him on certain matters - obviously for him to be proper and just – is proof that the Saint held no grudge against Herod, nor did he hate him, but on the contrary, loved and cared about him! This stance provides a very important example of how a Saint becomes a rebel against a corrupt authority: he censures it with boldness, but not with hatred. He hates corruption, the abuse of power and sinning, but continues to lovingly care about the persons, even when they are corrupt and sinful, and strives for their salvation (provided of course that they also desire it). He does not change this stance, and even gives up his own life for them.

Please, see also

The Beheading of the holy glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John (29 August)
From Herod to ISIS through Christ: No Record of Retribution!
Saint James the Ascetic, Rapist and Murderer

"Παρηγορείτε το λαό μου, λέει ο Θεός": τα επαναστατικά βιβλικά αναγνώσματα του Εσπερινού της εορτής του Τιμίου Προδρόμου (Αυγούστου 29) !

Άλλη μία φορά, που η Εκκλησία κηρύττει με θάρρος ελευθερία, ελπίδα και δικαιοσύνη, μπροστά σε βασιλείς, δικαστές, γεωκτήμονες και βιομηχάνους!

Εικ. από εδώ
Αυτά τα τρία βιβλικά (= αγιογραφικά, από την Αγία Γραφή) αναγνώσματα διαβάζονται κάθε χρόνο, εδώ και κάπου χίλια πεντακόσια χρόνια, στον εσπερινό της εορτής της αποτομής της τιμίας κεφαλής του αγίου Ιωάννη του Προδρόμου. Η εορτή είναι στις 29 Αυγούστου και ο εσπερινός τελείται στις εκκλησιές μας το απόγευμα, με τη δύση του ηλίου, στις 28 Αυγούστου.
Να προσθέσουμε ότι στον εσπερινό διαβάζονται αποσπάσματα από την Παλαιά Διαθήκη, ενώ στη θεία λειτουργία από την Καινή Διαθήκη (ο απόστολος και το ευαγγέλιο), γιατί η Παλ. Διαθήκη είναι η προετοιμασία για την Καινή, που είναι η ουσία του χριστιανισμού, και ο εσπερινός είναι η προετοιμασία για τη θεία λειτουργία.
Σύντομα, με τη χάρη του Θεού, αρχίζει το σχολικό έτος. Χιλιάδες παιδιά στα Γυμνάσια και τα Λύκεια της πατρίδας μας (είναι ακόμη πατρίδα μας και πάντα θα είναι, όποια ξένα κέντρα κι αν κάνουν κουμάντο) θα διδαχτούν αρχαία ελληνικά. Παρακαλούμε όλα αυτά τα παιδιά και τους γονείς τους να προσέξουν, ώστε μετά από αυτά τα μαθήματα να μπορούν να καταλαβαίνουν τη γλώσσα των σπουδαίων, κυριολεκτικά αθάνατων, εκκλησιαστικών τελετών, με τα τόσο βαθιά και υψηλά νοήματα!
Πολλά απ' αυτά τα νόηματα τα περιέχει η (τόσο καταφρονημένη από πολλούς) Παλαιά Διαθήκη.
Στα παρακάτω αναγνώσματα μιλάει για Ιερουσαλήμ, Ισραήλ, Ιακώβ (ο Ιακώβ είναι ο εγγονός του Αβραάμ, ένας από τους γενάρχες των Εβραίων, πρόγονος του Χριστού, που προφήτευσε τον ερχομό Του). ΑΛΛΑ τα αναγνώσματα τοποθετήθηκαν στον εσπερινό από τους αγίους διδασκάλους της Ορθοδοξίας, για να απευθύνονται στο ΔΙΚΟ ΜΑΣ λαό (και να τ' ακούνε και οι άρχοντες και οι βασιλιάδες και οι γεωκτήμονες και οι δικαστές, που ήταν παρόντες στις τελετές, όπως και οι σημερινοί "επίσημοι" και βιομήχανοι κ.λ.π.!!) και ΣΕ ΚΑΘΕ λαό που ποθεί ελευθερία, δικαιοσύνη, αγάπη, ενότητα εν Χριστώ με το Θεό και τον πλησίον. Κάθε άνθρωπος με στοιχειώδη πνευματική κατάρτιση γνωρίζει ότι η εποχή του παλαιού Ισραήλ πέρασε. Ο νέος Ισραήλ, ο πνευματικός, είναι ο χριστιανικός λαός όλων των εθνών. 
Πρόκειται ουσιαστικά για πανανθρώπινα μηνύματα πνευματικού πολέμου, χωρίς τα σπαθιά των τζιχαντιστών, ούτε των (αιρετικών) σταυροφόρων, που ο Κύριος ας τους ελεήσει όλους, και εμάς...

Προφητείας Ἡσαΐου τὸ Ἀνάγνωσμα
[Κεφ. 40, 1 καὶ ἐκλογὴ (=επιλογή στίχων - δείτε εδώ & μετάφραση)]

Τάδε λέγει Κύριος· Παρακαλεῖτε (=παρηγορείτε), παρακαλεῖτε τὸν λαόν μου, λέγει ὁ Θεός. Οἱ Ἱερεῖς λαλήσατε εἰς τὴν καρδίαν Ἱερουσαλήμ. Παρακαλέσατε αὐτήν, ὅτι ἐπλήσθη ἡ ταπείνωσις αὐτῆς· λέλυται γὰρ αὐτῆς ἡ ἁμαρτία, ὅτι ἐδέξατο ἐκ χειρὸς Κυρίου διπλᾶ τὰ ἁμαρτήματα αὐτῆς. Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ. Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν. Πᾶσα φάραγξ πληρωθήσεται, καὶ πᾶν ὄρος καὶ βουνὸς ταπεινωθήσεται, καὶ ἔσται τὰ σκολιὰ εἰς εὐθεῖαν, καὶ αἱ τραχεῖαι εἰς ὁδοὺς λείας, καὶ ὄψεται πᾶσα σάρξ τὸ σωτήριον τοῦ Θεοῦ. 
Ἐπ’ ὄρους ὑψηλοῦ ἀνάβηθι ὁ εὐαγγελιζόμενος Σιών, ὕψωσον ἐν ἰσχύϊ τὴν φωνήν σου ὁ εὐαγγελιζόμενος Ἱερουσαλήμ, ὑψώσατε, μὴ φοβεῖσθε. Ἐγὼ Κύριος ὁ Θεός, ἐγὼ ἐπακούσομαι, ὁ Θεός, Ἰσραήλ, καὶ οὐκ ἐγκαταλείψω αὐτούς, ἀλλὰ ἀνοίξω ἐκ τῶν ὀρέων ποταμούς, καὶ ἐν μέσῳ πεδίων πηγάς. Ποιήσω τὴν ἔρημον εἰς ἕλη, καὶ τὴν διψῶσαν γῆν ἐν ὑδραγωγοῖς. Εὐφρανθήτω ὁ οὐρανὸς ἄνωθεν, καὶ νεφέλαι ῥανάτωσαν δικαιοσύνην. 
Ἀνατειλάτω ἡ γῆ, καὶ βλαστησάτω ἔλεος καὶ δικαιοσύνην ἀνατειλάτω ἅμα. Φωνὴν εὐφροσύνης ἀναγγείλατε ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς, καὶ ἀκουστὸν γενέσθω τοῦτο. Λέγετε ὅτι ἐρρύσατο Κύριος τὸν δοῦλον αὐτοῦ Ἰακώβ. Καὶ ἐὰν διψήσωσι δι’ ἐρήμων, ἐξάξει αὐτοῖς ὕδωρ ἐκ πέτρας. Εὐφράνθητι στεῖρα ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα, ῥῆξον καὶ βοήθησον ἡ οὐκ ὠδίνουσα, ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλον, ἢ τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα.

Προφητείας Μαλαχίου τὸ ἀνάγνωσμα
(Κεφ. 3 & 4, ἐκλογὴ [δείτε εδώ])

Τάδε λέγει Κύριος παντοκράτωρ· Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐξαποστελῶ τὸν Ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου. Καὶ ἥξει εἰς τὸν ναόν ἑαυτοῦ Κύριος, ὃν ὑμεῖς ζητεῖτε. Καὶ τὶς ὑπομενεῖ ἡμέραν εἰσόδου αὐτοῦ; ἢ τὶς ὑποστήσεται ἐν τῇ ὀπτασίᾳ αὐτοῦ; Διότι αὐτὸς εἰσπορεύεται ὡς πῦρ ἐν χωνευτηρίῳ καὶ ὡς πόα πλυνόντων. Καὶ καθιεῖται χωνεύων, καὶ καθαρίζων ὡς τὸ ἀργύριον καὶ τὸ χρυσίον. Καὶ προσελεύσεται πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἐν κρίσει, καὶ ἔσται μάρτυς ταχύς ἐπὶ τοὺς πονηρούς, καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς μοιχαλίδας, καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς ὀμνύοντας τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ ψευδῆ, καὶ τοὺς μὴ φοβουμένους αὐτόν, λέγει Κύριος παντοκράτωρ. Διότι ἐγὼ Κύριος ὁ Θεός, ὑμῶν, καὶ οὐκ ἠλλοίωμαι καὶ ὑμεῖς υἱοί, Ἰακὼβ ἐξεκλίνατε νόμιμα, καὶ οὐκ ἐφυλάξατε. 
Διὰ τοῦτο ἐπιστρέψατε πρὸς με, καὶ ἐπιστραφήσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς, λέγει Κύριος παντοκράτωρ. Καὶ μακαριοῦσιν ὑμᾶς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ γνώσεσθε ὅτι ἐγὼ Κύριος, ἐπιβλέπων ἀναμέσον δικαίου καὶ ἀναμέσον ἀνόμου, ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ ᾗ ἐγὼ ποιῶ εἰς περιποίησιν τῶν ἀγαπώντων με. Ἐπίγνωτε οὖν, καὶ μνήσθητε τοῦ νόμου Μωσῆ τοῦ δούλου μου, καθότι ἐνετειλάμην αὐτῷ ἐν Χωρήβ, πρὸς πάντα τὸν Ἰσραήλ, προστάγματα καὶ δικαιώματα. 
Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστελῶ ὑμῖν Ἠλίαν τὸν Θεσβίτην, πρὶν ἢ ἐλθεῖν τὴν ἡμέραν Κυρίου τὴν μεγάλην καὶ ἐπιφανῆ, ὃς ἀποκαταστήσει καρδίαν πατρὸς πρὸς υἱόν, καὶ καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου πρὸς τὸν πλησίον αὐτοῦ, μὴ ἐλθὼν πατάξω τὴν γῆν ἄρδην, λέγει Κύριος παντοκράτωρ, ὁ Θεός Ἅγιος Ἰσραήλ.

Σοφίας Σολομῶντος τὸ ἀνάγνωσμα
(Κεφ. 4, ἐκλογή, & 5, 17 [εδώ])

Δίκαιος ἐὰν φθάσῃ τελευτῆσαι ἐν ἀναπαύσει ἔσται. Κατακρινεῖ δίκαιος ἀποθανὼν τοὺς ζῶντας ἀσεβεῖς· ὄψονται γὰρ τελευτὴν δικαίου, καὶ οὐ μὴ συνήσουσι τὶ ἐβουλεύσαντο περὶ αὐτοῦ. Ὅτι ῥήξει Κύριος τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς ἀφώνους πρηνεῖς, καὶ σαλεύσει αὐτοὺς ἐκ θεμελίων, καὶ ἕως ἐσχάτου χερσωθήσονται ἐν ὀδύνῃ, καὶ ἡ μνήμη αὐτῶν ἀπολεῖται. Ἐλεύσονται γὰρ ἐν συλλογισμῷ ἁμαρτημάτων αὐτῶν δειλοί, καὶ ἐλέγξει αὐτοὺς ἐξ ἐναντίας τὰ ἀνομήματα αὐτῶν. 
Τότε στήσεται ἐν παρρησίᾳ πολλῇ ὁ δίκαιος κατὰ πρόσωπον τῶν θλιψάντων αὐτόν, καὶ τῶν ἀθετούντων τοὺς πόνους αὐτοῦ, ἰδόντες ταραχθήσονται φόβῳ δεινῷ, καὶ ἐκστήσονται ἐπὶ τῷ παραδόξῳ τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτοῦ. 
Ἐροῦσι γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς μετανοοῦντες καὶ διὰ στενοχωρίαν στενάξουσι καὶ ἐροῦσιν. Οὗτος ἦν, ὃν ἔσχομεν ποτε εἰς γέλωτα καὶ εἰς παραβολὴν ὀνειδισμοῦ οἱ ἄφρονες; Τὸν βίον αὐτοῦ ἐλογισάμεθα μανίαν, καὶ τὴν τελευτὴν αὐτοῦ ἄτιμον. Πῶς δὲ κατελογίσθη ἐν υἱοῖς Θεοῦ, καὶ ἐν ἁγίοις ὁ κλῆρος αὐτοῦ ἐστιν. Ἄρα ἐπλανήθη, μὲν ἀπὸ ὁδοῦ ἀληθείας, καὶ τὸ τῆς δικαιοσύνης φῶς οὐκ ἐπέλαμψεν ἡμῖν, καὶ ὁ ἥλιος οὐκ ἀνέτειλεν ἡμῖν. Ἀνομίας ἐνεπλήσθημεν τρίβους καὶ ἀπωλείας, καὶ ὡδεύσαμεν τρίβους ἀβάτους, τὴν δὲ ὁδὸν Κυρίου οὐκ ἔγνωμεν.

Δείτε επίσης, αν θέλετε:

H Παλαιά Διαθήκη Πολεμούμενη και Απολογούμενη
Ενότητα άρθρων για την Παλαιά Διαθήκη
Ενότητα και στο ιστολόγιό μας
Παλαιά Διαθήκη: ιερό βιβλίο ή όχι;
Ο Ραββίνος Παύλος Φωτίου, που έγινε Ορθόδοξος Χριστιανός
Διάλογος του π. Ι. Ρωμανίδη με Ιουδαίους

Η Αγία Τριάδα στη Βίβλο

Του Προδρόμου & άλλων φίλων (29 Αυγούστου)

Ως φτωχοί που είμαστε, κάθε χρόνο φοράμε τα ίδια ρούχα και επαναλαμβάνουμε τις ίδιες αναρτήσεις... Ίσως, σκεφτόμαστε, κάποιος καινούργιος μπλογκοναύτης ν' αράξει στη μπλογκονησίδα μας και να χαρεί να διαβάσει κάποια απ' αυτές...
Βοήθειά μας οι άγιοι - καλό παράδεισο και καλή λευτεριά, αδελφοί!

Για τις 29 Αυγούστου
Άγιος Ιωσήφ Σαμάκος

Η Αποτομή της Τιμίας Κεφαλής του Αγίου Ιωάννου του Προδρόμου (και: Πρόδρομος, ο καλύτερος φίλος του Ηρώδη!)


Ιερά εικόνα Τιμίου Προδρόμου 12ου αι. μεταφερθείσα εκ Μαδύτου

The Mystery of the Forerunner

Οσία Θεοδώρα η εν Θεσσαλονίκη

Άγιος Αρκάδιος ο θαυματουργός επίσκοπος Αρσινόης Κύπρου

Κατάθεση ιερού & αφθάρτου λειψάνου του οσίου Ιωσήφ του Ηγιασμένου, του Σαμάκου, από την Κρήτη στη Ζάκυνθο

Άγιος Sebbi, βασιλιάς του Έσσεξ Αγγλίας και Μάρτυς (και: άγιοι της αρχαίας ορθόδοξης Βρετανίας)
Το συναξάρι της ημέρας στα αγγλικά

Κυριακή 27 Αυγούστου 2017

C. S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), Colonialism & Apartheid

Inside Prince Caspian

Stephen Hayes, Khanya (Orthodox Christian Deacon & blogger from South Africa)
Inside Prince Caspian: A Guide to Exploring the Return to Narnia by Devin Brown
My rating (note of Khanya): 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read Prince Caspian at least 5 times, and when I found this book in the Alkantrant library I wasn’t expecting much. Prince Caspian is a fairly straightforward children’s story based on a theme common to many fairy tales — an evil usurping king who suppresses the true heir to the throne, is eventually deposed and the rightful ruler is restored. How much can you say about that that isn’t said in the story itself?
But Devin Brown has quite a lot to say about it, and a lot of what he says is quite illuminating. It makes me want to read his earlier book, about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, if I can find a copy anywhere. At the time I first read it, in September 1965, I was struck by the parallels between the White Witch’s rule in Narnia, and the Vorster regime in South Africa (though Verwoerd was Prime Minister, Vorster was Minister of Justice, and was turning South Africa into a police state). The raid of Maugrim the wolf, head of the Witch’s secret police, on the home of Tumnus the faun had many parallels with the Security Police raids of those days, and the statues in the witch’s castle represented for us the banning and detention without trial of opponents of the National Party regime.
Those themes, while not absent from Prince Caspian, do not appear quite so strongly. What had always struck me most strongly about Prince Caspian was Lewis’s attitude towards pagan myths and deities. In Prince Caspian they are not the enemy, but are part of the army of liberation.
What Devin Brown brings out most strongly, however, is Lewis’s anti-racism, and the parallels between the policies of the usurper Miraz and the apartheid ideology. Miraz’s policy is based on Telmarine supremacy, with all others being banished to the woods (read “homelands”).
In another blog post, Mere Ideology: the Politicisation of C.S. Lewis, I noted attempts by American libertarians to coopt C.S. Lewis to support their political and economic ideology, based on that of Ayn Rand. But Devin Brown (2008:215) shows that Rand’s ideal of selfishness is the Philosophy of Hell:
While Caspian expresses regret for allowing Peter to fight on their behalf, exclaiming “Oh why did we let it happen at all?” Glozelle and Sopespian have purposely manipulated Miraz into accepting the challenge. The two lords, Miraz, and by extension the rest of the Telmarine army exemplify what Screwtape calls “the philosophy of Hell”. Screwtape explains that, according to this philosophy, “my good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. ‘To be’ is to be in competition.'”
That is capitalism (Rand’s “unknown ideal”) in a nutshell. Socialism, on the other hand, is based on the fundamental notion that cooperation is a better basis for economic life than competition.
Brown also draws parallels between the anti-colonialism of Prince Caspian and that of the Oyarsa of Malacandra’s comments to Weston in Out of the Silent Planet. The Telmarines are colonialists. They entered Narnia from outside, conquered it, and ruled it for their own benefit. The natives (Old Narnians) were marginalised and had no rights under Telmarine rule. After the War of Deliverance Aslan gives the Telmarines a choice: they can renounce their privilege and live with the same rights as other Narnians (echoes of the Freedom Charter: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”) or they can leave and go back where they came from.
Saying this may make it sound as though Prince Caspian is allegory, but it is not. As Carpenter (1978:30) wrote:
Lewis wrote to Tolkien on 7 December 1929, after reading Tolkien’s poem on Beren and Luthien, “The two things that come out clearly are the sense of reality in the background and the mythical value: the essence of a myth being that it should have no taint of allegory to the maker and yet should suggest incipient allegories to the reader.”
So Prince Caspian suggests incipient allegories to me that would not have occurred to C.S. Lewis or Devin Brown, and it was written before the Freedom Charter had been drawn up. It may have suggested other incipient allegories to Devin Brown, living in the USA. One that occurs to me is the parallel between Narnian schools under Miraz’s rule and Sheldon Jackson’s educational policies in Alaska.
But what Brown brings out most clearly is that the oppressive rule of the Telmarine supremacists brings uniformity but not unity, and that true community and freedom is found in the diversity and equality of the Old Narnians, whom Caspian joins, thereby becoming a race traitor in the eyes of the Telmarine supremacists. The themes that Brown brings out most strongly are Lewis’s emphasis on diversity and environmentalism before they became popular causes twenty years after he wrote.
Brown also notes many other literary allusions, to Shakespeare, Tolkien, and other authors.
There are a few minor flaws. At one point Brown notes a typo in his edition of Prince Caspian, where Trumpkin refers to something that happened three days earlier as happening “this morning”. Two pages further on he has typos of his own, where he refers to Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, and has Lewis writing about “microbes” when what Lewis actually wrote about was macrobes.
I would be interested in knowing whether Brown has written more about the later Narnia books. I re-read The voyage of the Dawn Treader after seeing the film, and blogged about it here. I’d be interested in seeing what he had to say about that.
One reason for reading this book is that I’m thinking of writing a sequel to my own children’s book Of Wheels and Witches, and I thought it would help me to get in the mood. It has done that, perhaps much more effectively than lots of the “how to” books and blog posts about writing for children, because it analyses what makes a successful children’s novel.
Notes of Khanya: Shameless self-promotion: Of Wheels and Witches is available free during July 2017 - View all my reviews


About Prince Caspian
About the film

The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read it again, for the 4th or 5th time, mainly because someone remarked that it “has an ultimately sympathetic depiction of underworld but non-demonic creatures”. and I wanted to remind myself of that. The main connection between them and the creatures who live in sunlight is that they are
oppressed by an evil witch who sometimes take the form of a green snake, who has also imprisoned a human prince and wants to use him and the underworld creatures to take over the world above ground.
Once the oppressor is overthrown, the underground and above ground creatures go back to their natural environments, and there is no more contact between them.
The thing that always comes to my mind, when I read or think about The Silver Chair is when I was staying with some friends in Durban when the apartheid regime was flourishing and it looked as though it would never end. Scarcely a week went by without news of someone being banished, or banned, or imprisoned without trial.
One day we were sitting around talking about this, and my friends’ young daughter, aged 9, said “But why does God allow it? Why does God allow these things to happen to our friends?”
There was silence for a moment, and then her sister, aged 11, said, “It isn’t God, it’s the green snake.”
“But that isn’t true!” expostulated the younger girl. “It’s in a book, somebody wrote it.”
“Yes, but what it means is true,” replied her sister.

See also

Posts tagged ‘C.S. Lewis’ in Khanya
About the Orthodox Church in South Africa
A Letter from an Orthodox Christian to our Native Americans Brothers
“Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future”
Lover of Truth: St John, The Wonderworker of San Francisco

Theosis, St. Silouan and Elder Sophrony 
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
Orthodox Saints and the Future of America
Weak, Sick, Poor, Tired: A Story for Losers
Orthodox Church & Capitalism: Orthodox Fathers of Church on poverty, wealth and social justice
Is capitalism compatible with Orthodox Christianity?
Grace and “the Inverted Pyramid”

"Partakers of Divine Nature" - About Deification & Uncreated Light in Orthodox Church  

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