** February 2001 **
From Orville and Edith Jenkins
Carnival in Cyprus
As we enter the month of Lent, we have just been through the celebrations of Carnival in Cyprus Along with the whole of Mediterranean Europe, Cyprus celebrates this Carnival celebration. Americans will be most familiar with this in the Mardi Gras festival of New Orleans, the final celebration of the Carnival (Carnaval) season. Carnival season is pretty quiet in Nicosia, the capital, where we live.
The Carnival centre in Cyprus is Limassol (Lemesos in Greek), where celebrations go on for 10 days. The focus of Carnival in Cyprus is Carnival weekend, with a parade in Pafos (Paphos) on Saturday and the great parade in Limassol on Sunday, covered by the local TV channels for about 3 hours.
Besides the various costumes worn by dance troupes in the parade, as well as individuals, a large contingent of Indian dancers, dressed in traditional Indian dress, marched in the parades. Many Indians work or study in Cyprus. We did not see the profligate excesses associated with carnival in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans.
We are approaching elections in Cyprus, and we saw some politicians dancing with celebrants in Limassol. Some floats in the parades spoofed the president and other politicians, the troubled Cyprus Stock Exchange and recently striking teachers.
Monday before Mardi Gras is the national holiday of Green Monday, when Cypriots go on picnics in the mountains, celebrate the natural riches of the countryside, and eat their final meat before fasting for the month of Lent. The devout also abstain from dairy products during the Lenten season, following the strict requirements of the Orthodox tradition. As with Christian faith worldwide, the resurrection celebration of Easter is the high point of the Orthodox worship calendar.
Middle East Conflicts -- the Palestinians
You have seen recent news, no doubt, about the new flareup of violent conflicts in Palestine. This is happening just a few miles southeast of us, so it is prominent in our awareness. Many people think of the Palestinians as a Muslim people. But Palestinians may be Muslim or Christian. Some Palestinian Christian families trace their Christian heritage back to the time of Jesus.
The major cultural and genetic origins of the Palestinians are the Philistines, from which the name comes, and the Arabs, whose language became the common speech of modern Palestinians. One popular Palestinian magazine in this century was titled The Filistin. The Philistines are known, of course, from the Old Testament.
I have discovered that we have a tie to them here in Cyprus. There is not a lot of information about the Philistines before the Biblical record. Archaeologists believe, however, that they were an Indo-European people, who came from the north across the eastern Mediterranean, through Cyprus.
There were Minoan and Mycenaean (Greek) settlers here before the Philistines, but the Philistines apparently were established on the eastern and southern coastal area. The ancient city where Larnaca is now located was Kittim, the Chittim of the Bible, a Philistine trading city. The Philistines were settled here about 1600 BC, in the early period of the Israelites in Egypt.
They were never defeated by the Israelites, though David made an accommodation with them, facilitated by the shelter he received from a Philistine leader when hiding out from King Saul.
Religious Rockers have been making music and controversy recently. A group of Greek Orthodox monks in Greece have been making waves in the music industry and in the church, becoming a pop sensation with two hit rock music albums and related music videos. The group, called The Free, use the money from their album sales to fund the summer camp they run at their monastery in Trikorfo in central Greece.
Recently controversy has grown after an order from the Holy Synod (ruling body of the church in Greece) ordered them to stop playing their music. The Synod claimed the group's music could tarnish centuries of monastic tradition. The band has refused to obey the order. The band's manager, the monk Nektarios, claims their success is because they are speaking to the youth, whereas the church's traditional manner is alienating the youth.
Nektarios says, " We must understand that the Church cannot just lecture young people .... That is not enough to save them from catastrophe." He writes on the sleeve of the new CD, "We must propose alternatives and suggest the right things for people to do."
(Quotes from a news story in the Cyprus Weekly, Feb 23 - March 1, 2001)
The Eclipse -- Heavenly Wonders
Recent weather has brought near-freezing nights, with sunny spring days.
Edith and I got caught in the current cycle of viruses that circulate with the change of weather in Cyprus. The last week of February saw warm days again with highs around 20 C (68 F). A few days before, heavy snows had closed mountain roads, while we had heavy daytime hail in Nicosia.
Friends with Life
Many people go through life with an adversarial and confrontational attitude toward life. Even many Christians treat their humanity, with its frailty and fragility and failures, as an enemy. It seems to me, on the other hand, that we should affirm God's creation of humanity.
God is God, we are only human. We usurp his position when we decide we are capable of judging and punishing ourselves -- trying to make ourselves better by our own efforts! We can best get in line with his plan by admitting we are human, and not divine. This means admitting we are not infallible, admitting we don't know everything.
If we submit life and its limitations to God, grace flows to put us into the positive stream of the Life Plan of God! We can make friends with life if we live in grace, depending not on our own fallible knowledge and limited power, but on God as the Ultimate. Grace from God enables us to make friends with life.
Read more on this concept in my reflections titled Make Friends with Life.
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