Older Wine, Old Wine, Grape Juice
Two bees pollinate flowers,
Waste time choosing what should bloom,
Leave behind their precious hives
For the hungry hornets' doom.
A Proud Copt:
We are the true Egyptians. We have always influenced the world of Christianity. We have people like St. Athanasius and St. Cyril. We are the Church of Origen and Clement. We are the Church who first used the word 'Pope' on our own patriarchs. We are the Church of martyrs, the Church of Peter, the seal of the martyrs, and the much Coptic blood that was spilled. There was not a time of peace for Copts. Whether pagans, heretics, Chalcedonians, Persians, or Muslims, we were persecuted. We should preserve the language of those who died for us, not the language of those who invaded us. Listen to the Arabic Qur’aan: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who are infidels, so strike them over the necks and smite over all their fingers and toes.” And again: “Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, no forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad] and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (Islam) among the people of the Scripture [Jews and Christians] until they pay the jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Our Coptic fathers suffered under the Arabs, were forced to learn a foreign language, and either paid an unfair amount of money, converted, or died for the Coptic faith, culture, and language.
How can I love the same language that prompted Sheikh al-Damanhuri in 1739 to give “intellectual and spiritual justification for discriminating against Christians?” How can I love the language of those who destroyed the Twin Towers? Arabic is the language of terror, and Coptic is the language of Christian martyrdom. We should abandon Arabic, and learn how to read, write, and speak Coptic. Revive Coptic!
Another Proud Copt:
I am proud of my Coptic Church. In history, the Coptic Church wasn’t always Coptic. The first few centuries of the Coptic Church were actually filled with Greek the language. If anything, the people who died under pagans, heretics, and Chalcedonians were speaking in Greek, like the ones you mention, Athanasius, Cyril, Clement, and Origen. A lot in our liturgy is not in Coptic, but Greek. Later on, as Chalcedonians continued to be hostile, we became more Coptic, especially because of St. Shenouda. Did you know, because of the Chalcedonians, a non-Chalcedonian Arabic Church that was prominent in the Arabian Peninsula was extinct, only because the Arabic Christian King refused to accept Chalcedon. Perhaps, we should also remember those Arabic Christians who also died for their language under Islamic invasion! Arabic has become part of Coptic history. In addition to the Greek and Coptic saints above, we are also the church of Ibn Fadl-allah, al-Raqqi, the children of al Assal, Khalil Samir, Abouna Abu al Khayr, Bulus al Habis, Pope Matta el-Maskeen, and Archdeacon Habib Guirguis.
Face it, we love Arabic culture, Arabic food, and Arabic music (I’d personally never abandon the likes of Abd el-Wahab and Um Kalthoum). Our Church hymns added Arabic music, like “The Burning Bush” (“El 3oliqa”) that we sing in Kiahk (month of Advent), and even used Arabic to the point where we practically forgot the Coptic rendering, like the Aspasmos Adam (“Rejoice, o' Mary” Ar. Ifrahi Ya Mariam). And guess what? I love it that way. This is how I grew up learning it and it shouldn’t matter. We should stop with the nonsense and delusion of reviving Coptic. It is as dead as Latin. Arabic has now become part of our culture and religion. The Coptic Church is an Arabic Church, and even our Pope is known as the “Pope of the Arabs.” Remember Adel Karas in California after the 9/11 attacks? Face it, we look like Arabs, speak like Arabs, and act like Arabs. We are one group of the many Arabic Christians. Your blame should be on Islam, not on Arabic. I am proud to be both a Coptic Orthodox and Arabic Orthodox Christian.
Two or three generations later, interview on CNN with NJ Senator Jimmy Anderson:
CNN: Senator Anderson, everyone sees you and you may look white. But there’s another ethnic background to you that not so many people know about.
Senator: Oh yes, my grandfather was Egyptian. He was actually a Copt.
Senator: No, Copt with a “t” at the end. Copt or Coptic means Egyptian. You see, my mother was half Egyptian, half white. So, it was my maternal grandfather who was Egyptian. He was part of a church called the Coptic Orthodox Church (kinda like Greek Orthodox). This Church always stressed pride in being Coptic and the community itself was very Arabic-cultured. Amazing food and great people, but spiritually, the Church went nowhere. They never catered to those who were non-Egyptians, especially after my grandfather got married. My grandfather had to leave after listening to two prominent Church members bickering about whether being Coptic or Arabic matters and saw that it seemed it was more important to them to be Coptic or Arabic than being Christian.
He later joined an awesome Church called the Non-Denominational Church for Christ. This is where my mother grew up and met my father, and this is where I grew up, and where I met my wife, and where I met some wonderful people many of whom inspired me to become a US Senator. It’s like a second home for me. Here, we have people of all nationalities join, and where we all grow in the love of Jesus’ name, and where we did many community services. We had great memories there. It is also here where I was taught how to be proud to be an American and serve my country, even through the toughest of times.
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for the he says, “the old is better.”(Lk. 5:37-39)
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