||FIRST, THE NEWS:
(16 Nov) In a rare spot of good news for an otherwise blighted region, Kosovo last month signed a Stabilization and Accession deal with the European Union, bringing the country one step closer to membership in the EU. It was an encouraging victory for Kosovo’s young, Western-educated diplomats. But then not two weeks later, the country suffered a most demoralizing defeat when Russia and Serbia succeeded in quashing Pristina’s bid to join Unesco.
In fact, Kosovo won the vote 93 to 50, but that fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority necessary to obtain membership. The Serb “victory” was a classic example of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face, as the main Unesco heritage sites in Kosovo are the churches and monasteries considered the birthplaces of the Serbian Orthodox faith. Placing them under United Nations oversight would have given Belgrade a voice in their status. But for Belgrade’s diplomats, point scoring against Kosovo is more important.
Such is the chaos of the western Balkans. Sixteen years since the fighting stopped, the region remains Europe’s zombie zone, where the dead matter more than the living and dwelling in the past is more important than working for a better future. There’s no real stability, rule of law or positive economic prospects for the citizens of the region. [read more...]
KAZAKHSTAN: SEVEN YEARS' RESTRICTED FREEDOM FOR DISCUSSING FAITH
by Mushfig Bayram and Felix Corley - Forum 18 News Service
(9 Nov) In a case brought by the KNB secret police, Seventh-day Adventist Yklas Kabduakasov was today (9 November) sentenced to seven years' restricted freedom by a court in Kazakhstan's capital Astana. He was found guilty of spreading "religious discord" by discussing his faith with a group of students who invited him to a flat rented by one of them. "My father's religious liberties and basic human rights were violated by the fact that he was kept under arrest without any grounds since 14 August and has now been sentenced," one of his sons Alibek Kabduakasov complained to Forum 18 News Service.
Until 2022, Kabduakasov will have to live under close scrutiny. The Judge banned him from leaving the city, changing his place of residence or place of work without permission. She also banned him from visiting places of public entertainment, such as cafes, restaurants, bars, night clubs and discos. In addition, Kabduakasov was ordered to pay about 150,000 Tenge (490 US Dollars) to cover the cost of the "expert analyses" of his statements that formed the basis of the prosecution. [read more...]
TERRORIST ATTACKS IN PARIS ARE LESSON TO EUROPE AND RUSSIA - RUSSIAN CHURCH
from - Interfax-Religion
(16 Nov) The Russian Orthodox Church has called on people to learn the right lessons from the terrorist attacks in Paris and mobilize to fight terrorism. "I am deeply grieved for people, and those are right who sympathize and pray for victims killed in the French capital. Eternal memory to these people. May the Lord be merciful to them in His judgment. What has happened is not only a reason for grief, it's also a reason to ask yourself: is it not a lesson to us all, can Europe continue living like it lived before? And that applies to Russia, too," head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, told a conference in the Moscow Spiritual Academy.
The priest reiterated that the fight against terrorism "is not a computer game and a television picture. The fight against terrorism requires mobilization, first of all spiritual, moral. No one can stay safe in his cozy capitalist philistine world," he stated. The priest said that "the age of tolerance, diversity, philosophical indifference and denial of truth," which characterized the 20th century, is over. "We need to understand: in the world of ideas, religious and public processes there is good and evil, there are moral and immoral convictions and ideas, and there are also criminal convictions and views," he said. [read more...]
UZBEKISTAN: NEW FINES, BIBLE DESTRUCTIONS FOLLOW U.N. CONCERN OVER RELIGIOUS CENSORSHIP
by Mushfig Bayram - Forum 18 News Service
(18 Nov) In late September a Judge in Karshi fined ten members of a Baptist church up to 50 times the minimum monthly wage each for meeting for worship without state permission. In a regular practice for Uzbekistan, the Judge ordered that confiscated personal Bibles and song books be destroyed. Officers asked the community in August why it was still meeting after being warned in an April raid that it was "illegal."
In late September, a Baptist in the capital Tashkent was stopped by Police in the metro, who found religious books in his bag. In early October officers of the anti-Terrorism police used physical force when questioning him. A court fined him for carrying his Christian books in his bag. On 8 November armed police - some of them masked - raided the worship meeting of local Protestants in Tashkent. Without showing a warrant, officers seized religious books, discs, a guitar, computers and phones. Church members - including children - were taken to the police station where some were tortured. [read more...]
(10 Nov) The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for help to overcome the humanitarian crisis in the country: "We are appealing to you on behalf of our people for help to overcome the humanitarian disaster that engulfs our country. The needs are enormous: from medical devices to items of everyday use, such as food, water and clothing,” goes the letter, presented in Washington by Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine Filaret, Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Sviatoslav Shevchuk and Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine Yakov Dov Bleich, who met in the White House with representatives of the Presidential Administration of the USA.
At the time when the media constantly informs about the war of Russia against Ukraine, the Ukrainian government's reform and financial challenges, the issue of human suffering from the fighting is rarely mentioned, states the appeal. Besides the fact that Ukraine definitely needs more military, financial and political support, “we have to focus on the humanitarian aspect.” The document reminds that, according to official UN data, over 5 million people in Ukraine, including 1.7 million children have a desperate need for humanitarian support. It is emphasized that over 65% of these needs remain unsatisfied. The religious leaders of Ukraine thanked the US for their assistance and asked to expand certain programs. [read more...]
RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY’S INFLUENCE ON KREMLIN FOREIGN POLICY
from - EURASIA.net
(12 Nov) A new paper explains how the notion of “spiritual security” is a major component of Russia’s national security doctrine, and illustrates how Russia’s current political and ecclesiastical leadership can never abide a Ukraine that is oriented toward the West. The paper, titled Spiritual Security, the Russkiy Mir, and the Russian Orthodox Church: The Influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on Russia’s Foreign policy Regarding Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia, is contained in a report published earlier in November by the Foreign Policy Centre.
Underscoring the extent to which Russian Orthodoxy is intertwined with Russia’s statehood, the paper cites the Kremlin’s National Security Doctrine, which states that “ensuring the national security of the Russian Federation also includes the protection of the cultural, spiritual and moral legacy … of all the peoples of Russia.” The paper also asserts that a major building block of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy is the concept of Russkiy Mir, a term used to identify Russia’s sphere of cultural and canonical influence. It adds that the religious values espoused by the Russian Orthodox Church are essential elements of Russkiy Mir. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH BLESSES RUSSIA, FRANCE TO FIGHT TERRORISM TOGETHER
from - Interfax-Religion
FRANKLIN GRAHAM IN MOSCOW: GOD IS BIG ENOUGH TO STOMACH US BOTH
from Russian Evangelical Alliance
PASTORS HELP RECONCILE VIOLENCE IN EASTERN EUROPE
from Mission Network News
UOC KP: ADOPTING ANTI-DISCRIMINATION AMENDMENT IS A PYRRHIC VICTORY
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
NEW RUSSIAN LAW ALLOWS INTRUSION INTO AFFAIRS OF RELIGIOUS CONGREGATIONS
from RIA Novosti
PATRIARCH KIRILL OPENS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “PRINCE VLADIMIR. CHOICE OF CIVILIZATION”
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
RUSSIA: SAVIOR OF THE DECADENT WEST?
from Russia Today
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NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Let's keep the comments coming! When you've finished reading, leave your COMMENTS in our Hosken-News Blog below. Thanks!
The Wall Street Journal's article THE ZOMBIE ZONE OF EUROPE that we quoted above mentions "no... positive economic prospects" - illustrating that newspaper's fixation on financial matters. The author is either blissfully unaware of, or knowingly refuses to mention the fact that in its bid to join UNESCO Serbia objected to Kosovo's omission of protecting Serbian places of worship. But the underlying issues in the Balkans are the very same as what we see in the headlines about Paris, Lebanon and Mali: the drive by Muslims to violently overthrow governments and conquer territory. That is what led to the Balkan War. The West is guided by its belief in "national self-determination" that gives the "democratic" majority in a certain territory the right to rule. Islam is thus gaining territory by its demographic growth compared to European population stagnation, as well as by mass migration into Western Europe. The schools in large cities of Western Europe now have a majority of Muslim children in them, which means that in fifteen years the majority of the adult population will be Muslim. We will very likely be seeing more and more of the Paris-style violence in coming years... until they seize power. Then the native Europeans' freedoms of belief and speech will be squelched. Remember the movie The Manchurian Candidate?
In Forum 18's first article KAZAKHSTAN: SEVEN YEARS' RESTRICTED FREEDOM FOR DISCUSSING FAITH we again see how the "democratic" majority, this time in Kazahkstan, has squelched Yklas Kabduakasov's freedom of religion. He was entrapped by the secret police, who set him up by having a few young men invite him to an apartment and tell them about his religious beliefs. Unknown to Yklas Kabduakasov, the apartment had been bugged with at least two videocameras, and these recordings were used against him as evidence of spreading "religious discord," that is, expressing a belief contrary to that of the Muslim majority.
Compare the events in Paris and the warning by Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin in the Interfax article TERRORIST ATTACKS IN PARIS ARE LESSON TO EUROPE AND RUSSIA - RUSSIAN CHURCH with the confiscation of Bibles and other Christian literature in Forum 18's next article UZBEKISTAN: NEW FINES, BIBLE DESTRUCTIONS FOLLOW U.N. CONCERN OVER RELIGIOUS CENSORSHIP. As long as the Western notions of "tolerance, diversity, philosophical indifference and denial of truth" are promulgated, we will continue to permit the domination of a majority, such as in Uzbekistan, over the freedom of expressing religious faith that does not agree with the majority.
One important point not mentioned outright but implied in the RISU article AUCCRO ASKS OBAMA TO HELP OVERCOME HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN UKRAINE is that President Obama did not himself take time to meet with these top Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders from Ukraine. The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is immense and intense, but apparently does not fit into the political playbook of the U.S. leadership, which is seeking a rapprochement with Russia. Sadly, this means the millions of people in Ukraine where the economy is collapsing are ignored and left to fend for themselves.
The Pilgrims' and Puritans' ideals of freedom to live according to one's religious beliefs and establishing a society where moral and social principles of the Christian faith (as they understood it) would be embodied in government have sadly given way in the U.S. to the notions of "democratic" humanism, secularism and relativism. The latter is the mentality expressed in EURASIA.net's article RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY’S INFLUENCE ON KREMLIN FOREIGN POLICY: the tone of the article negatively views the links between church and state in Russia, that the Christian worldview (as the Orthodox Church understands it) should be given attention in the Russian state's domestic and foreign policy. We may not agree with each and every point, but their right to have a voice in society should not be diminished.
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The miracle of the Incarnation is the basis for our worship and service. We believe that Christ, the eternal Son of God, became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. He was and is not God who just appeared to be man, nor merely a man who became quite holy and god-like, nor half-god and half-man. Jesus Christ was and is fully God and fully man - two complete and unconfused Natures in one Person. What does this mean for our worship and service?
For well over a century we in the West have been wrestling with the liberal/conservative dilemma of focusing either on worship and dogmatic truth, or on social justice and concern for the poor. This has created in us a mindset that is actually a false dichotomy. It has led us to the false conclusion and belief that we must choose one or the other: we must either "preach the Gospel" and focus on personal salvation, or we should care for "the poor, the lame, the maimed and the blind."
Why does the current dominant secular mindset say we shouldn't "shove religion down other people's throats" when we offer care for downtrodden and hurting members of society? I believe it is because the secularists strive to maintain this dualistic worldview of the spiritual being utterly separate from and opposed to the material world, to society in general. Secularism is the effort to separate and isolate a religious (in the West largely Christian) worldview from the state and society.
Remember how Jesus Christ taught His disciples to pray:
Our Father in heaven:
May Your name be kept holy,
May Your kingdom come,
May Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Notice the three petitions to our heavenly Father: keep God the Father's name holy - sacred, honored and set apart, yet at same time not separating God's kingdom, not limiting the doing of His will from this earthly life. We are taught here not to limit God the Father's holy name, His kingdom and His will to the sweet bye-and-bye, pie-in-the-sky, heaven-when-we-die; but rather to honor His name, bring about His kingdom and do His will on earth just as it is in heaven.
This is the full meaning of the Incarnation: God so loves the world, He is vitally concerned with and involved in the struggles, the joy and the pain of our human existence, and He wants them to conform to His will and His kingdom in heaven AND to have everlasting life with Him in eternity. It's not an either-or proposition of choosing either an ordinary worldly life or a spiritual life separated from the world: it's both-and!
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.