vineri, 25 martie 2016

The Other Annunciation, and Ours

As some people may still know, Christians celebrate on March 25 the Feast of Annunciation, honoring the „announcement made by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God” (
Few days after the bloody attacks in Brussels, some people felt the urge to argue that Islam respects some good news of sorts (; thus, according to Qur’an, Jesus is only the son of Mary, and is “held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah” ( Well, I know, “nearest” doesn’t get even close to what Christians understand by the title “Son of God”, but it is still better than “farthest”, right?
   We need to take our breath, to rest a little in this short interlude between those crimes in Brussels and the next. Some people use this moment to pray; some, to draw inspirational graffiti. Others, to write some motivational junk, which, in different circumstances, might have been more appropriate or even educational.
We are offered this kind of stuff in order to understand why Western people do tend to go off so often these days: probably because they did not read the Qur’an. Or, maybe, because they did not believe in it. But they should have, and they will. Because there is not only a seducing, but also an explosive power in the Qur’an that you cannot ignore with impunity.
The main point, at least according to the subject matter approached this week by Dilema veche (The Old Dilemma is that Islam came in peace. Sure, it may very well be that for Muslims the word has a different meaning. For instance, a meaning very close to the Martian incantation (    
However, there is nothing to worry about: don’t you see, it’s only a misunderstanding! In spite of this unfortunate cultural difference, deep down, at the bottom, we all speak about the same things: God, peace, Jesus Christ, Son of God... Well, maybe not this last one, but who cares? The rest of the stuff still looks just fine!

Today is the beginning of our salvation,
And the revelation of the eternal mystery!
The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin
As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace.
Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos:
«Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with you! »”

This is the Orthodox hymn for the Feast of the Annunciation ( The terms look nonnegotiable: “The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin”. One cannot respect Christ unless believes in His unique divinity. That guy who, according to Islam, abides “nearest” God, doesn’t exist. If he does, he is just another guy, as different from Christ as their Annunciation and peace is from ours.
Not long ago, Romanian Orthodox Christians used to consult a certain confession guide before going to confession. Among several popular such confession guides there was the one compiled by Father Nicodim Măndiță. Listing the sins against the First Commandment, Father Nicodim placed the sin of religious relativism: “Am zis că toate religiile sunt bune” („I [i.e., the penitent] have said that all religions are good”).
Nevertheless, today’s Romanian Orthodox Christians seem to prefer other confession guides. The glossy ones, those that tell you that not only all religions are good, but that they are all the same.
In Romania, religious relativism found a good soil to grow. After years of manifest hostility expressed by the Communist regime towards religion in general and Christianity in particular, Christians are inclined to welcome heartily any manifestations of recognition. Maybe this is why Mr. Andrei Pleșu, founder of Dilema veche magazine, is held to great esteem by the high ranks of Romanian Orthodox Church’s clergy, enjoying an unquestioned reputation as a leading Christian Orthodox intellectual. The fact that Dilema veche understood to advocate the true nature of Islam in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks will not diminish this reputation. Neither the synchronization between this abrupt intervention in favor of Islam and the Holy Week, the liturgical period celebrated these days by the Catholic nations. After all, Good Friday is one of those moments when people feel compelled to make a choice. For God, the Good Friday might have been the best day to die. But from the perspective of human beings, any day when God dies is the worst of all days. We don’t want a dying God. We don’t need a dead God. We want a bestselling God. We don’t need a God on a damn Cross. We need the only one God who is smart enough to stay safe in the heaven above. And to remain there.
So maybe Christians might not want to go that far in their welcoming response. One may not want to take tolerance for love and respect for faithfulness. Even if religious relativism is only a part of the new morality that replaced the old moral relativism, [1] Christians may rather want to stay cautious. After all, such a disposition should be part and parcel of what the old ascetic treatises called “paza minții”, “the keeping of one’s mind”.  
If we indeed love the true peace and crave after it, we should know better. Not from fancy magazines like Dilema veche, but from the Bible itself, one of the very foundations of our faith, as is told by the tradition of the Church, the other firm foundation of our faith: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).


[1]America’s new moral code is much different than it was prior to the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Instead of being centered on gender roles, family values, respect for institutions and religious piety, it orbits around values like tolerance and inclusion.”