MARIUS FINCĂ: Identitatea strămoșilor în citate și imagini

marius-fincaSe vorbește aici despre daci, geți și traci, despre  Zamolxe, despre Zeus, despre Isus, Jesus, despre români și Dumnezeu!

Poate e de ajutor să spun doar un singur gând personal față de ceea ce spune deja foarte bine dl Marius:

 God, în engleză, se traduce prin Zeu,  Dumnezeu. Probabil  în prima trazție a fost  o adresare mai respectoasă Domnul Zeu, care cu tipul a ajuns … la ceea ce știm cu toții, la …  Dumnezeu.  Și God (în traducere) este Dios, Dieu, Deus, God  în limbile mai cunosucte. Dar și reciproca e valabilă, Zeu se traduce  ca Dios, Dieu, Deus, God, ar fi deci în română  Dumnezeu. Continue reading “MARIUS FINCĂ: Identitatea strămoșilor în citate și imagini”

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Ligia Seman – „Funiile dragostei”

FuniileDragosteiCopertaIubirea între fericire şi nefericire, între dramă şi împlinire într-un roman de tip “clasic” 

În 1970, regizorul american Arthur Hiller câştiga Oscar-ul cu un film de mare succes, intitulat simplu, „Love story”. Ecranizarea sa după cartea lui Erich Segal, avându-i în rolurile principale pe Ali McGraw şi Ryan O’Nael, prezintă povestea de dragoste a doi tineri, studenţi, ce se căsătoresc şi au parte de o fericire de scurtă durată (tot încercând să aibă copii, vor descoperi că ea suferă de o boală incurabilă). Dramă, lacrimi, suferinţă, un tagline celebru – „love means never having to say you’re sorry” – şi o coloană sonoră de neuitat, aceasta ar fi în câteva cuvinte istoria filmului.

Un love story oarecum similar ne propune şi Ligia Seman în cea mai populară carte a ei, „Funiile dragostei”, tiparită la editura Cetate Deva, în anul 2008, care impresionează prin aceeaşi reluare a clasicei poveşti de iubire frântă înainte de termen, de data aceasta din cauza unui mediu social ostil. Continue reading “Ligia Seman – „Funiile dragostei””

Performance at Soccer World Cup 2006 – a Highlight of Young German Singer's Career

FlorenceFlorence Joy is a famous young German singer, writer and actress

She likes to travel and has visited several countries from Europe, Israel and the United States. Florence plays guitar and the piano, and she speaks her native German and very good English. Most of her songs from the album “Hope” are in English.

In 2006, Florence Joy was invited to perform in the (dome) church of Munich for the inauguration of the Soccer World Championship. One year after this astonishing performance, she started acting in the role of a sweet girl called “Jasmin” in a German daily soap “Ahornallee”. Also, Florence wrote a book called I want to live truthfully and real, which tells about her journey through the German casting show “Star Search 2” and mostly how she lives her life with Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Performance at Soccer World Cup 2006 – a Highlight of Young German Singer's Career”

The only Romanian in Quartzsite, Arizona!

pastor John Todor By Octavian CURPAŞ

Born and raised in Romania, married in the Philippines, presently living and serving God in the Arizonian Desert

How many of you who have traveled from Arizona towards California on Highway I-10 still remembers the last town you passed through prior to reaching the Californian border? – probably not many! Situated at about 125 miles from Phoenix, 129 miles from the tourist spot Palm Springs and about 20 miles away from Blythe (the first city from California ), is a town called QUARTZSITE. Continue reading “The only Romanian in Quartzsite, Arizona!”

Beauty for Ashes

Camelia Micu

You and I are God’s beautiful creations: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”, Genesis 1:27, with no blemishes and free of sin, yet because the first man and woman did not obey God’s given commands, they fell into sin that caused a completely new movement in the universe. Remember, how God created man? Out of dust, yes, you and I were nothing but, dust! No one likes dust on their shoes, clothes…in fact some may even be allergic to dust. God was not allergic to it, nor did He get rid of it. Why? He had a better plan, a bigger picture! All of that changed when God created man out of that dust and breathed life into him…“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”, Genesis 2:7. God created something as beautiful as you and me out of nothing, but a handful of dust, “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair”, Isaiah 61:3 …”With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”, Matthew 19:26… WOW, now I can’t resist not singing the chorus to this song: “You make beautiful things out of the dust,/ You make beautiful things,/ You make beautiful things out of us all around,/ You make me new,/ You are making me new”. Continue reading “Beauty for Ashes”

Ziua Independentei SUA – Ziua Predarii in mâna lui Dumnezeu

Urmariti binele cetatii, in care v-am dus in robie, si rugati-va Domnului pentru ea, pentru ca fericirea voastra atârna de fericirea ei! (Ieremia 29:7)

[pullquote]And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace. (NKJV)[/pullquote]

[pullquote]When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (NKJV)[/pullquote]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Când voi inchide cerul, si nu va fi ploaie, când voi porunci lacustelor sa manânce tara, când voi trimite ciuma in poporul Meu: daca poporul Meu peste care este chemat Numele Meu se va smeri, se va ruga, si va cauta Fata Mea, si se va abate de la caile lui rele, il voi asculta din ceruri, ii voi ierta pacatul, si-i voi tamadui tara. ( 2 Cronici 7:13-14)

 


 

 

De la temnita, spre sinaxare – cateva consideratii si reflectii

By Drd. Stelian Gombos

Iata ca, de doua milenii incoace, adica de la intemeierea credintei crestine, ne straduim sa ne cinstim si sa ne omagiem eroii istoriei sau martirii credintei, precum si personalitatile marcante, universale si nationale, care au amprentat istoria, veacurile si locurile cu activitatea, cu viata si cu invataturile ori scrierile lor multfolositoare.
Am parcurs zilele acestea, ca intr-un itinerar si pelerinaj duhovnicesc, cartea recent aparuta si intitulata sugestiv: „Din temnite spre sinaxare” editata de Grupul Areopag, coordonata de teologul si marturisitorul Danion Vasile si publicata la Editura Egumenita din Galati, in anul 2008, cu binecuvantarea Episcopului duhovnicesc Iustinian Chira al Maramuresului si Satmarului. Am citit, cu multa luare-aminte, materialele semnate de catre Parintii: Iustin Parvu, Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa, Ioan Negrutiu, Gheorghe Dragulin, Demian Tudor, Moise de la Oasa, Augustin de la Aiud, precum si cele semnate de catre Razvan Codrescu, Dan Puric si Danion Vasile.
Dupa cum citim, observam si constatam, volumul de fata este tiparit intru pomenirea sfintilor din inchisorile comuniste. Rostul sau este de a atrage atentia crestinilor romani asupra valorii jertfei inaintasilor lor. Textele sunt variate, de la conferinte si predici, pana la poezii si rugaciuni catre noii marturisitori. Nu toti cei care au trecut prin inchisori sunt sfinti, dar toti cei care au murit pentru Hristos in inchisorile comuniste pot fi canonizati. De asemenea, pot fi canonizati si cei care, dupa ani de grele patimiri in inchisoare, au murit in libertate, traindu-si insa aceasta libertate in nevointa si rugaciune.
In Biserica Ortodoxa, Biserica cea adevarata, canonizarea oficiala a unui sfant este precedata de asa-numita canonizare populara, de cinstire evlavioasa din partea poporului. Cinstire pe care Sfantul Sinod o pecetluieste prin slujba canonizarii.
Mare parte din textele adunate aici nu fac altceva decat sa marturiseasca faptul ca, deja, poporul isi cinsteste noii mucenici. Si asteapta canonizarea lor. Asteapta intrarea lor in Sinaxare.
Dintre toate relatarile despre inchisori si vremurile de prigoana traite de acesti oameni in secolul trecut, din toata investigatia psihologica a atator autori, toti inzestrati cu duhul marturisitor, cartea aceasta este una dintre cele mai duhovnicesti, una dintre cele mai patrunzatoare, „cea mai in masura sa inteleaga impreuna cu toti sfintii ce este latimea si lungimea, adancimea si inaltimea, sa cunoasca iubirea lui Hristos cea mai presus de cunoastere si sa se umple de toata plinatatea lui Dumnezeu (cf. 3, 18–19).” Asa incat, afirmatiile Parintelui Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa, de pilda, facute in alte imprejurari, se potrivesc foarte bine si aici, caci, „daca ai indoieli asupra mantuirii, asupra jertfei sau asupra biruirii vrajmasului vazut si nevazut prin puterea credintei si a rugaciunii, daca te indoiesti de iubirea lui Hristos si de eficienta pocaintei” acest volum, acest document duhovnicesc, te va convinge, deoarece protagonistul lucrarii acesteia si toti eroii inchisorilor comuniste si politice, in general, au cautat in primul rand, sa-si puna in ordine propriile vieti, sa inteleaga si sa traiasca experienta comunitara din Biserica primara, sa-si slefuiasca incet dar sigur, caracterul pentru iubire, jertfa, bunatate si trairea dragostei comunitare, si, asta, pentru ca toti acesti mucenici contemporani ai veacului al XX-lea „locuind in aceeasi celula (ori la propriu, ori la figurat), au incercat sa faca din spatiul ei o biserica a lui Hristos, dincolo de toate ispitele, piedicile si poticnelile inerente convietuirii multora la un loc, intr-un spatiu impropriu, mizer si insalubru. Si pana la urma, lucrarea cu pricina dezvaluie cititorilor „treptele descoperite de Duhul lui Dumnezeu acestor tineri nestiutori (la inceput), dar dorind arzator dupa Dumnezeu: mai intai, ei constata ca omul este mereu atacat de duhurile rele, dar ca omul are puterea sa le primeasca ori sa le respinga dintru inceput sau mai tarziu, fiindca aceste duhuri rele il razboiesc pe om, dar cineva care are darul trezviei si al privegherii, poate cunoaste stadiile atacurilor si poate lupta impotriva lor, chiar daca lupta este complexa si de durata, insa nu imposibila. Daca cineva nu este determinat sa opreasca gandul rau de la inceput, acesta patrunde in mintea lui si-i argumenteaza ca nu este chiar atat de rau. Daca omul accepta si acest stadiu, gandul devine pofta si-i hraneste mintea, imaginatia si simturile. Pana aici fiind razboiul nevazut” – iata Scoala Filocaliei si a Spiritualitatii Rasaritene autentice, pe care acesti cultivatori ai Duhului si staruitori intr-ale Rugaciunii si Ascezei au invatat-o acolo unde te asteptai, probabil, cel mai putin, adica in temnitele „cruciadei rosii”. Altfel spus, deprinderea persoanei in lupta duhovniceasca, parcurgand toate treptele ascezei crestine, in cadrul razboiului nevazut si vazut in care au fost angrenati acesti slujitori ai lui Iisus Hristos si iubitori ai aproapelui, duce la o asemenea analiza ce „nu putea fi facuta de catre acesti tineri decat numai prin prezenta Duhului Sfant, Care i-a asistat pe toata durata vietii lor in inchisoare”.
Drept pentru care „cititorul care se va apleca asupra acestei carti nu o va sfarsi fara a fi macar cutremurat, daca nu intors spre credinta, caci viata acestor oameni deosebiti este un model moral si o scara de suire spre cele inalte, o chemare staruitoare de a iesi macar pentru o vreme din mlastina acestei vieti si de a urca spre Soarele Dreptatii, spre Rasaritul cel de Sus, Care este Domnul nostru Iisus Hristos. Oare nu este cutremurator ceea ce spune un teolog si un slujitor al altarului, care si-a asumat suferinta si moartea ca pe o curatire si o inviere (caci finalitatea vietii umane nu este moartea, ci invierea)? Si nu vreau ca cititorul de buna-credinta sa treaca fara atentie peste unele cuvinte ramase de la Parintii Iustin Parvu si Gheorghe Calciu, ce se arata a fi adevarate file de Filocalie si Patristica – si asta pentru ca amandoi vorbesc frumos si cu insufletire, oprindu-se cu precadere la tema lor preferata: aceea a apararii credintei stramosesti, curata, nealterata si autentica (potrivit Sfintei Scripturi si a Sfintei Traditii) si a sentimentelor curat nationale si patriotice, de cea mai buna calitate – pe care si le-au asumat in viata lor duhovniceasca la modul plenar, din convingere si din purtarea de grija a lui Dumnezeu, in pofida tuturor vicisitudinilor pe care le-au traversat din cauza sistemului si a regimului ticalosit, antihristic.
In alta ordine de idei, intr-o marturisire a sa consemnata intr-o alta carte de suflet, cuget si simtire autentica, Parintele Ieromonah Amfilohie Branza – Duhovnicul Manastirii Diaconesti, Bacau – recunoaste: „Am vorbit de acesti parinti mari ai Ortodoxiei noastre, pe care noi nu-i numim sfinti, caci ne temem de asta. Dar pentru noi au fost ca niste sfinti. Asa i-am simtit, asa i-am perceput. Fiindca i-am vazut implinind sub ochii nostri Evanghelia, pentru ca ne-au invatat crestinismul practic prin exemplul personal: au flamanzit ei ca sa sature pe cei flamanzi, au privegheat ei ca sa se odihneasca cei osteniti, au patimit ei ca sa ia mangaiere cei intristati, s-au sacrificat ei ca sa traiasca ceilalti. Bunul Dumnezeu sa-l odihneasca cu sfintii pe parintele Calciu si pentru rugaciunile lui sa ne miluiasca si sa ne mantuiasca pe noi, toti. Amin”.
Eu cred ca trebuie retinut si subliniat faptul ca interesul cartii nu sta atat in faptele relatate, cat in deschiderea duhovniceasca (de care am pomenit si mai sus): caci anecdotica se completeaza, se intregeste si se transcende prin adevarate pagini de Filocalie contemporana, relevand cu prisosinta ca in temnitele comuniste, in jurul unora ca: Valeriu Gafencu, Radu Gyr, Daniil Sandu Tudor, Mircea Vulcanescu, Nae Ionescu, Nichifor Crainic, Vasile Voiculescu, Ioan Gh. Savin, Dumitru Staniloae, Arsenie Papacioc, Iustin Parvu, Ioan Negrutiu, Nicolae Steinhardt, Mina Dobzeu, Sofian Boghiu, Constantin Voicescu ori Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa, s-a constituit, mutatis mutandis, o miscare spirituala corespunzatoare celei promovate, dincoace de gratii, de gruparea „Rugului Aprins” de la Antim (cumplit lovita, la randul ei, de teroarea ateismului oficial al epocii staliniste, artizanii acesteia fiind aceleasi persoane, trecute de aici acolo)”.
Prin urmare, lucrarea in sine este un complex, un tot graitor, alcatuita dintr-un sir intreg de evenimente, fapte, momente cruciale, de-a dreptul existentiale si determinante pentru eroii cartii, care, desi s-a urmarit acest lucru, nu au fost niciodata victime, ci intotdeauna vor fi consemnati de catre posteritatea ce trebuie sa fie cat mai obiectiva, drept eroii credintei, purtatorii Duhului Celui Dumnezeiesc in iadul lumii acesteia pamantesti, din a doua jumatate a secolului al XX-lea.
Scriitorul si publicistul crestin Razvan Codrescu atentioneaza si subliniaza faptul ca „Viata lor merita cunoscuta, nu pentru slava lor pamanteasca, ci ca oamenii din zilele noastre innegurate de atatea rataciri, urmari ale indepartarii de Dumnezeu, sa stie ca au existat in veacul al XX-lea asemenea alesi care s-au ridicat la puterea de credinta si de jertfa a primilor martiri crestini”.
Stiind, din propria-mi experienta, ca fiecare intalnire cu Parintii Iustin Parvu, Arsenie Papacioc ori Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa au fost prilejuri de mare inaltare sufleteasca si de sarbatoare, asemeni intalnirilor invataceilor cu marii filosofi ai vremii antice, precum: Platon, Plotin, Socrate, Aristotel, fiindu-ne pilda demna de urmat, de intelepciune, abnegatie si daruire, si totodata ma gandesc ce repede ii uitam pe acesti oameni, pe aceste personalitati ale culturii si spiritualitatii noastre, fiindu-le prea putin recunoscatori pentru toate cate ne-au facut si ne-au daruit. De aceea, cartea de fata (si celelalte care sunt si vor mai aparea) este foarte bine venita, remarcandu-se ca un omagiu si un prinos de recunostinta adus acestor persoane pline de har si de curaj marturisitor, dorindu-se a fi un pas catre revenirea la realitatea normala a cinstirii inaintasilor nostri, asa cum se cuvine, aducandu-ne astfel aminte „de mai-marii nostri”.
Marturisesc sincer ca, cel putin eu, ma simt foarte implinit din punct de vedere spiritual-sufletesc datorita faptului ca am avut fericitul prilej si marea sansa de a-i intalni si de a-i cunoaste pe acesti oameni ai lui Dumnezeu – care inca mai sunt in viata aceasta, iar pe ceilalti doar cu ajutorul cartilor si a relatarilor celor care i-au apucat aici, pe acest pamant – mari personalitati ale culturii si spiritualitatii noastre romanesti si nu numai, avand convingerea si nadejdea ca vom sti cu totii, pe mai departe, sa ne cinstim inaintasii potrivit meritelor si vredniciilor fiecaruia, cu toate ca, in aceste vremuri, pretuim mai mult pe altii, de aiurea, caci ni se par a fi mai exotici, mai spectaculosi, mai senzationali. Insa ramanem convinsi ca ce este nobil ramane, iar ce este ieftin apune.
Asadar, cei alungati din turnurile babilonice pot bate la portile cetatii noului Ierusalim – cel bisericesc si ceresc ce „nu are trebuinta de soare, nici de luna, ca sa o lumineze, caci slava lui Dumnezeu a luminat-o, faclia ei fiind Mielul” (Apoc. 21, 23). Lucrarea aceasta, cu alte cuvinte, este una de referinta in domeniul istoriei si a spiritualitatii autentice, care ar trebui sa se afle la indemana tuturor celor ce cred ca „Biserica este cetatea pe care nici portile iadului nu o vor birui” si asta datorita si slujitorilor ei fideli care au aparat-o in vremuri in care altii au tradat-o si au pradat-o, facandu-se, in acest fel, vrednici de a ajunge, din temnitele comuniste, in sinaxarele acestei sfinte Biserici – ai carei fii nelasi si nefatarnici au fost, pana la sfarsitul vietii lor pamantesti.

Reflections on the Practice of Love

This was the first Christmas we celebrated without my father’s physical presence among us. His absence made the joy of celebrating Christ’s birth bittersweet. Though we all remarked on his physical absence, in spirit, we all felt that he was among us. We missed him most when the time came to say the prayer at the Christmas Eve dinner table. This had always been his task. Always eloquent in his prayers, he would enumerate our blessings and give thanks. Invariably, he would give praise for each family member and pray for togetherness. His prayers would always end with the same final words: “We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.” We decided to re-publish his 2007 Christmas article, “si Totusi Iubirea…” in part because we missed seeing his words printed in the newspaper, and in part because the article’s message uncovers new meanings in the present context. I have been having mental discussions with him lately, as we would often have when he was in life. You see, my father taught me the art of discourse, because he would always start with an interrogation of premises, followed by a Socratic method of questioning that would develop the exchange patiently.

Usually, we would come to a communicative understanding or an impasse, depending on how the argumentation process would unravel. Few people appreciate this kind of engagement, because it requires a collaborative process. Like a game of chess, each argumentative move matters, and one cannot move on to the next phase until the other discussant agrees to move that way.

You will note that in Cristian Ioanide’s article, “si Totusi Iubirea…,” he argues for Christianity’s uniqueness among the religions of the world using two principal arguments. The first, he says, is that Christ did not seek to prolong the time He lived among His disciples in order to perfect their understanding of His teachings. Rather, Christ came to spread His message and to suffer a premature death. (El a venit doar sa-si lanseze mesajul Sau si ca sa sufere o moarte prematura si napraznica.) This message is found most summarily in John 3:16 and was sublimated in Christ’s resurrection in order to prove the message’s veracity. The second argument has to do with the fact that Christianity, unlike other religions, does not give a strict code of laws to follow. The divine logic embedded in the message is therefore much more mystical and ephemeral, though certainly not relativist:

“Credinta crestina este singura religie care da frau liber discernamantului. Iar discernamantul este o pictura din maretia lui Dumnezeu.Iar Dumnezeu este nesfarsita Dragoste.Iar Dragostea este mai presus de reguli, si deci, de Lege.Apostolul Pavel, acel superb matematician al crestinismului, spune: Acum, deci, raman acestea trei: credinta, nadejdea si dragostea; dar cea mai mare dintre ele este dragostea… iar dragostea nu va pieri niciodata.”

To recap the divine logic’s movement: the Christian faith encourages the exercise of free will and discernment; good discernment corresponds with an incarnation of the greatness of God; God is limitless Love; Love is higher than rules, and therefore above the Law. In the final calculation, as St. Paul states, there remain faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.

Indeed, the absence of strict rules and regulations in the Christian faith has made the practice of love uniquely susceptible to interpretation. I am reminded of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, where Ivan undertakes a timeless philo-theological question: why would God, if He is a good God, allow the suffering of innocent children? This reality seemed particularly evil to Ivan because presumably children do not yet have the consciousness and intentionality of sinners. The most long-standing answer to this question has been as follows: for humans to truly possess free will entails that God cannot dictate or fully determine our actions. If this were the case, we would simply be automatons. Rather, we must choose to do good in the world and choose the practice of His commandments to love one another and to love God above all else. So, to answer Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov, it is not so much that God allows the suffering of innocent children but that humans choose evil over the practice of love.

In abstraction, discerning the practice of love over evil appears to be relatively simple and straightforward. Placed in specific contexts, however, a number of complications may be raised. Take for example the current economic crisis prevalent throughout the world and in the United States. Clearly there are those who know that their actions have caused widespread suffering for others. Homelessness, displacement, the inability to sustain one’s family due to joblessness, hunger—these are not small evils to structurally instantiate at a political-economic level because of the exorbitant greed of a few. (Those who think that the culprits are not so clearly demarcated should read about the political corruption cases, pyramid schemes, people walking away with millions while claiming innocence, and a government that continues to provide bailouts without strict regulations to the banks and industries that got us here in the first place.) What does love look like vis-à-vis these purveyors of suffering? Should we forgive them? Should we recognize our own culpability in these structures? Should we accept the inevitability of greed’s consequences in the world and claim that nothing is new under the sun? Or would the practice of love actually require collective action whose aim is to establish conditions that are conducive to the proliferation of love, faith and hope?

My point is that a desperate socio-economic context creates deep paradoxes in the practice and instantiation of love. Put differently, some contexts encourage the practice of love while others perpetuate divisiveness, radical stratification and denigration. What, then, is our duty in the present moment? Is it primarily to our own families, to their well-being? Or, would the practice of love that Christ commands direct us to focus on saving the entire community? What if saving the community entails that our own family fares worse in some respects? To take another difficult socio-economic context, how might one instantiate the practice of love in the context of the present Israel-Palestinian war? What does the practice of love look like when radically unequal power relations structure a socio-political setting?

Often, people delimit the practical application of their love to a finite community. That community is defined in multiple ways: it might be as small as one’s immediate family or it might extend globally and transnationally. This raises another question: how should we define community? Do we define it as the Christian community? Do we define it locally? Do we define it as a group of people bound by a particular ideology and shared values?

In fact, Christ placed no limitation on the notion of community, insofar as He demanded that the practice of love be extended even toward one’s enemies. The elevation of Love above the Law eradicated the strict boundaries of community in place at the time of His coming. And as Cristian Ioanide mentions in his article, the apostles modeled the practice of love in a community as follows: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2:42-47)

It is in times of difficulty, strife, scarcity and radical divisiveness that Christ calls upon us to practice love toward one another the most. It is in every day and in every act that He asks us to surpass our human tendencies and to choose the instantiation of love.
Paula Ioanide PhD
Portland, Oregon
http://www.romaniantimes.com

What is Christmas?

By Camelia Micu

Vancouver, Washington

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  Now, you’re probably be asking yourself why did I choose Christmas as my favorite and not Easter, The Resurrection…Well, to be quite honest with you, I love Easter just as much for we remember the death of the greatest King bearing our sins and celebrate His victorious and glorious Resurrection.

Not only did our great King rose from the death, but it was that through his death and His precious shed blood that our sins have been washed away and He so graciously gave us His salvation…”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)”.  What an amazing remembrance we have to know that our sins have been washed away through his death and received salvation and eternal life instead.  Who does that?  And, the chorus to this song came to mind…”How many kings step down from their thrones?  How many lords have abandoned their homes?  How many greats have become the least for me?  And how many gods have poured out their hearts to romance a world that is torn all apart?  How many fathers gave up their sons to die for you and me only to reward us with life instead?” No other King has ever done that for me!!!  So, that’s way I love Christmas for without the magnificent celebration and the birth of the greatest King on earth as in heavens, there will not have been death and a resurrection…GIVING…for it was foretold long ago: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)“ and only because, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)”.

I will not be able to ever give back as much as God gave for me, but all I can do is give Him my whole heart and life.  By letting God be my Wonderful Counselor (and not someone I may visit an hour or two in exchange for money), by trusting in God’s faithfulness for only He is the Everlasting Father and by always being grateful and thankful when down in the valleys as well as when high on the mountain and not only for the material blessings (which again He gives to us), but for the ultimate gift of salvation and eternal life coming down from the Father of Lights…”Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. (James 1:17)”.

You see, Christmas is the gift itself and I’m not talking about the wonderful gifts we give and receive from one another.  Or is Christmas all about the gifts?  Is it all about the beautiful lighting displays?  Is it all about the tall and beautifully decorated Christmas tree?  Surely not, even as much as I love giving and receiving gifts, admiring the beautiful lighting displays and decorating my Christmas tree while singing along the beautiful Christmas songs, but, to me all this does is pre-setting our lives, hearts, minds and souls for the joyful celebration, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!

For, He is Peace!  He is Joy!  He is Love!  He is every good gift from God’s heart to ours for only Jesus is the Gift that perfectly fits every heart and it is with His love that all celebration starts.  We rejoice in Him as we remember His birth and thank God for sending His only Son to earth.  His life led from a manger to a cross on a hill where He faithfully followed His Father’s perfect will.  He freely laid down everything so that we could live and there is no greater treasure anyone could give.  Like a scarlet ribbon His love wrapped around the cross and He offered it to us all at the greatest cost.  So each time that we give we remember what He’s done and honor the perfect Gift – God’s one and only Son.  Together, let’s celebrate and share Jesus, the perfect gift in a way that brings “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)”.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Blessings for the New Year, from my home to yours!

Valuing People Over Property

By Paula Ioanide PhD
Portland, Oregon

When I was in my first year of college, I decided it might be wise to take an economics class. Understanding the operations of markets, supply and demand seemed like useful knowledge to have in an increasingly complex global economy. Besides, all the ‘successful’ types at the college seemed to be economics majors. I enrolled in the class and purchased the textbook. The professor had instructed us to read the first chapter of the textbook as our first assignment. Eager to be a good student, I opened the textbook and read the first sentence of the chapter. My stomach turned. I read it again to make sure that I had understood what I had read. I stared at that sentence for a long time, unable to move on to the next one. It said something like this: “This textbook presumes that the people are self-interested individuals seeking to gain the greatest advantages for themselves.”
I closed the textbook, returned it to the bookstore, and withdrew from the class. I could not go on studying a subject whose premise, in my view, was essentially faulty.
Probably most students were not disturbed by this fundamental premise in economics. But to me, the idea that we were merely ‘self-interested individuals’ stood in direct contradiction to my beliefs about humanity. I was not so naïve to think that people weren’t self-interested; the evidence was all around me. Yet, I wanted to believe that we were capable of something more than that; in fact, that God’s will for us was to surpass our own ‘self-interest’ and private gain so that we might serve others and God.
Much later in graduate school, I did end up studying economics. But instead of approaching the subject from the perspective on an economist—whose job is ultimately to figure out how to gain the largest profit rate for himself, his clients or his corporation—I studied economics in relation to cultural and political systems. I learned that ultimately economic policies are intricately related to people’s socio-political ideologies. And I learned that as ideologies change, so do economic policies.
Today’s economic scares—from rising oil prices and utility costs, to the chaotic stock market, to the recent near-meltdown of the two largest mortgage companies in the United States, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—is reminiscent of the United States in the 1920s. As most people know, the 1929 stock market crash led to the 1930s Great Depression. Many factors contributed to the crash, but the principal one was greed. Monopolies that had gained capital and wealth during the 1920s at unprecedented levels hit the ceiling and plummeted. Much like today, the housing market crashed due to people’s inability to pay mortgages. Several shifts in economic policies came about during the Great Depression, the most notable of which was Theodore Roosevelt’s 1932 New Deal.
Most people don’t know that the New Deal was established as a result of an organized movement led by inter-ethnic alliances between immigrants and other working class Americans. Historian George Lipsitz argues that the “culture of unity” that was created in the 1930s challenged the moral authority of dominant groups whose primary interests had been to gain excessive wealth at the expense of the working class majority. Some of the most important economic safety nets came out of the New Deal, among them Social Security, workers’ labor protections and rights, and the National Housing Act that established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). By federally insuring mortgages and restructuring the federal banking system, the FHA made it possible for working and middle class Americans to become home owners for the first time. These benefits were disproportionately allocated, however, with 98% of FHA loans granted only to white Americans from 1934 to1968. Owning property in America turned out to be the best economic investment a person could make. It has been well documented that home ownership leads to intergenerational wealth accumulation, accounting for the disparities in wealth and education among different groups.
Since America is once again facing a housing market crisis, it is useful to know how we got here. Since the 1970s, economic policies in the US have generally shifted to serve the interests of large corporations, whose ability to move globally posed a number of problems nationally. These economic shifts came about in relation to political ideologies that have come to be known as “neoliberalism.” Essentially, the ideology of neoliberalism argues that serving the needs of most powerful and wealthy by placing fewer restrictions on the movement of capital—“freeing markets”—would produce benefits that would eventually “trickle down” to the less advantaged. An example of this would be to give tax breaks to corporations in exchange for staying in America instead of moving overseas. This was the ideology most ardently defended by Ronald Reagan, who initiated the movement to increasingly cut down federal “safety nets” in the name of reducing “big government spending.” But it was also an ideology followed by Bill Clinton, who initiated policies like NAFTA and the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, and continued the trend of shrinking the social welfare state. (The social welfare state includes insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security, public education, public works projects like the interstate highway system as well as programs for the poor like Food Stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
Well, the relationship between corporate exponential profit seeking and a state whose role is theoretically to regulate and redistribute wealth is sort of like that between a child and a parent. The child wants more and more chocolate; the parent warns that eating too much chocolate will make the child sick; the child doesn’t listen and keeps eating more chocolate; finally the child gets sick.
Recently, the federal government had to take a parental role and rescue sickly Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from going under by lending them $300 billion. The two companies hold or guarantee almost half of the nation’s mortgages, valued at $5 trillion. Corporate greed and the drive of ‘self-interest’ are some of the undisciplined children in this housing market meltdown. Wall Street, investors, companies in charge of regulating and overseeing mortgage loan approvals, and rating agencies all wanted to keep eating the chocolate produced by subprime mortgages and predatory loans (usually called fees). But the federal government hasn’t exactly been a good parent either, since it more often than not failed to enforce fair housing laws and regulations meant to stop unfair and predatory lending practices. The losers in this story are millions of people who have lost or will lose their homes. Particularly vulnerable were those who were working class, since they were the guinea pigs of the first wave of predatory loans. This is no small matter, since losing home ownership in America is virtually equated with losing opportunities intergenerationally.
Yet, as I mentioned at the beginning, economic policies don’t take place in a vacuum. Since the 1970s, the majority of Americans have participated and conceded to a culture that increasingly values private property over public goods. If one looks at changes in the taxation system, the annually shrinking budgets of public education from K2 to higher education, the falling infrastructure of public projects like bridges and roads, the closure of public parks and libraries, one thing is clear. For the past thirty years, Americans have disinvested from shared goods and have increasingly focused on their own private gain (and perhaps that of their families’). Additionally, a review of welfare policies indicates that any moral duty to help the poor has virtually disappeared. American attitudes toward the poor (the majority of who work full time but still cannot make ends meet) are defined more by contempt than empathy. The role of helping the disadvantaged has been left mostly to religious institutions and private charity organizations. As economic policies have produced an increasing gap between rich and poor, such religious institutions and charities cannot handle the numbers who need assistance.
It seems that the premise stated in my economics textbook—that people are essentially self-interested individuals striving for private gain at the expense of others—is truer today than at other times in American history. It remains to be seen whether this economic crisis, depending on how bad it gets, teaches us the consequences produced by a culture of valuing property over people. In the short term, participating in this culture yields the pleasures of eating chocolate, consumerism, and the status that comes with wealth. But in the long term, it produces consequences that inevitably lead to ethical emptiness. This is because valuing property over people—in its fundamental premise, if you will—requires that we serve ourselves before we serve others. It may even require (and it often does) that we exploit or denigrate someone so that we can serve our interests. Should we find ourselves reveling in the culture of valuing property over people, it may be wise to remember Christ’s warning: “One cannot serve both God and money.”

http://www.romaniantimes.com

Zbor

In gand am melodia
Necompusa inca
Si ma supun vantului
Si valului, fara bucuria
De a asculta clopotul
Din mine ce vesteste
Vocea peticita si franta.
Iubirea a ramas
In urma vorbelor,
Doar bunul Dumnezeu
Infloreste cuvantul !
Poezia e nedefinita,
Precum valul ce se
Sparge de mal, ca si
Vorbele nerostite inca.

Flight
In thought with a song
Unwritten yet
and I obey the wind
and the wave, without any joy
I listen the bell
from me that screams
A patched and tired voice
Love remained
behind the words,
only the good God
Flourishes the word!
the poem undefined,
as well as the wave break
into the shore, as the
unspoken words.

Adalbert GYURIS

Bisericile Emergente Vestice

Dupa epuizarea rapida a primului tiraj, pastorul Constantin Ghioanca, parte din echipa profesorala a Institutului Teologic Baptist din Bucuresti, prezinta cititorului o editie revizuita si adaugita a cartii de mare interes, Bisericile emergente vestice: din perspectiva baptista româneasca.

Grupuri-tinta:
-studenti la seminarii sau la alte institutii biblice;
-pastori, preoti sau alti slujitori ai bisericii;
-învatatori de scoala biblica;
-responsabili cu învatatura în biserica;
-lideri de închinare;
-toti crestinii interesati de tema bisericii în cultura postmoderna.

Caracteristici speciale:
-prima carte scrisa pe aceasta tema în România;
-contine adaugiri importante fata de prima editie;
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-discuta caracteristicile de baza ale bisericilor emergente;
-aloca un capitol pentru identitatea baptista în România;
-evalueaza în mod critic dogma si practica bisericilor emergnte;
-ofera o perspectiva baptista asupra acestor biserici;
-anticipeaza perspective noi în eclesiologia baptista româneasca;
-contine cinci anexe foarte utile.

Pentru detalii si comenzi accesati www.risoprint.ro
PRET: 25 Ron

In inchisoare din dragoste de Christos si de semeni

Apostolul de dincolo de Cortina de Fier, dupa gratii în SUA

de CLAUDIU PADUREAN

Pastorul Richard Wurmbrand, evreu convertit la crestinismul lutheran, a luptat deopotriva contra fascismului si comunismului. El a stat dupa gratii atât in România, cât si in SUA. La scurta vreme dupa arestarea sa, americanii au recunoscut eroismul clericului lutheran.

Unul dintre cele mai putin cunoscute episoade din viata pastorului lutheran Richard Wurmbrand este cel al detentiei sale americane. Este vorba despre o arestare scurta, pentru ca eroul, originar din România a „bruiat” o demonstratie procomunista din Philadelphia. Insa tocmai arestarea sa l-a adus, dintr-o data, in lumina reflectoarelor. Astfel, Richard Wurmbrand, care trecuse prin purgatoriul temnitelor bolsevice, a reusit sa devina unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti luptatori impotriva comunismului, iar cartile sale, in care dezvaluia adevarata fata a „orânduirii socialiste” au devenit volume cumparate de zeci si sute de mii de oameni din Occident, care incepeau sa intrezareasca adevarata fata a Terorii Rosii.

Calea Apostolului Paul

Pastorul Richard Wurmbrand este eroul unei adevarate saga a secolului XX. Nascut intr-o familie evreiasca, in tinerete, el a aderat la miscarea comunista. In timp, insa, a descoperit, cu ajutorul Misiunii Anglicane din Bucuresti, religia crestina, la care s-a convertit. Richard Wurmbrand a luptat apoi impotriva fascismului si a salvat numerosi tineri evrei de la deportare. Apoi, a inceput lupta impotriva comunismului, care i-a adus ani grei de temnita. In cele din urma, eliberat din inchisoare, el a emigrat in Statele Unite ale Americii, unde a fondat o organizatie care ii sustine pe crestinii persecutati de pe toata planeta.

Richard Wurmbrand a avut satisfactia sa vada prabusirea celor doua regimuri dictatoriale, fascismul si comunismul. Pastorul lutheran a murit in anul 2001. Inca din timpul vietii, el fusese supranumit „Apostolul de dupa cortina de fier”, iar cei care l-au cunoscut au facut o paralela intre viata Apostolului Paul, care a devenit din persecutor al crestinilor un martir, si cea a lui Richard Wurmbrand, care a devenit din adept al comunismului una dintre victimele care au suferit in temnita, unde fusese aruncat de bolsevici pentru credinta sa. Potrivit site-ului CristiaNet.fr, Richard Wurmbrand a patimit si in tara libertatii, Statele Unite ale Americii, unde a indraznit sa ridice glasul celor care luau, in timpul Razboiului din Vietnam, apararea comunismului.

Dupa gratii, in SUA

Intâmplarea s-a petrecut in anul 1966, in orasul american Philadelphia. Aici era organizata o mare adunare populara de sustinere a Vietnamului. Numerosi americani cereau retragerea trupelor SUA din Asia de Sud-Est, unde ele luptau impotriva comunismului. In piata unde erau stânsa o multime impresionanta, a fost inaltata o tribuna, de la care diferite personalitati luau cuvântul pentru a denunta razboiul. Printre cei care vorbeau se numara un pastor prezbiterian. Dintr-o data, un om zvelt, carunt, a luat microfonul si le-a spus celor prezenti: „Voi nu stiti nimic despre comunism! Eu sunt doctor in comunism. Voi ar trebui sa fiti de partea victimelor si nu de cea a tortionarilor!”. Barbatul cu pricina era Richard Wurmbrand.

Dar ce inseamna doctor in comunism?“, a intrebat pastorul prezbiterian care vorbise inainte. „Iata dovezile mele!”, a raspuns Richard Wurmbrand, care si-a ridicat camasa si le-a aratat manifestantilor urmele torturilor suferite in beciurile Securitatii. Politia a intervenit si Richard Wurmbrand a fost arestat pentru tulbu­rarea ordinii publice. Insa tocmai acest eveniment, intens mediatizat, l-a dus pe pastorul lutheran in fata unei comisii a Senatului american, unde a depus marturie despre grozaviile din spatele Cortinei de Fier. Marturia sa a fost publicata intr-o brosura, care a devenit, timp de trei ani, cea mai bine vânduta publicatie dintre toate documentele Guvernului american. Apoi, Richard Wurmbrand a devenit unul dintre cei mai cunoscuti clerici din Statele Unite ale Americii. El a fondat organizatia „Vocea Martirilor”, care ia apararea crestinilor persecutati din toata lumea.

Vocea martirilor

Richard Wurmbrand si-a asumat, in SUA, rolul de a fi o voce a martirilor care nu puteau sa vorbeasca ei insisi lumii libere. Clericul lutheran s-a nascut in anul 1909 la Bucuresti. In tinerete, a aderat la miscarea comunista, iar intre 1927 si 1929 a urmat cursurile unei scoli politice la Moscova. Pentru activitatea comunista, a fost inchis la Doftana. Insa s-a convertit la crestinism si a renuntat la ideologia bolsevica. Urmarit, impreuna cu sotia sa, Sabina, de autoritatile fasciste românesti, el a gasit resursele sa ii ajute pe zeci de evrei. Dupa anul 1945, Richard Wurmbrand a intrat in conflict cu autoritatile comuniste. In perioadele 1948 – 1956 si 1959 – 1964, a fost arestat de catre comunisti. In anul 1965, emigreaza din tara. In SUA, fondeaza organizatia Vocea Martirilor. Dupa anul 1989, s-a intors in România si a depus flori pe mormintele tortionarilor sai.