Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Competition


21.The Competition (25 December 2018)

Only in Lebanon – a crèche alongside a mosque and a church, and
most of the visitors were non-Christians. (23 Dec. 2018 – Beirut)
            We finally made it back to the gym, after a two-month hiatus. And after almost getting t-boned in the first minute we were in the taxi, on our early-morning trip to the health club, our driver reassured us with a comment akin to what so many other drivers insist on: people in Lebanon, even at 6 a.m., don’t know how to drive properly. Yet every driver seems to say the same thing about every other driver. So, I’ve decided to look at the positive side: really, all of them want better behavior on the road. I can only hope that they’ll “be the solution” they’re looking for.
            Something else the driver said caught our attention. After complimenting Armenia on the amount of snow it gets (he was Arab), he expressed how happy he was for the rain here in Lebanon. Most people aren’t happy; they only complain about the inconvenience the rain brings to their daily routine, or their leaky roofs, or the country’s infrastructure. All real concerns, but not the only issues at play. When a rainstorm clears, or after days of rain, we look out our window in the hopes of seeing more snow on the mountains. Our driver, with his positive outlook on precipitation, beseeched God (because that is how you express yourself here) to send us at least 3 meters of snow, so that we would not have another dry summer without adequate water supply. Amen to that.
Let it snow! More accumulation on the mountains, and more on
the way. (21 Dec. 2018 – Beirut)
            We’ve attended a couple of concerts in recent days, which is another positive change for Maria and me. Much as we would love to have our full energy and attention devoted nearly 24/7 to our jobs (we wouldn’t actually love that, but that’s the conclusion you might draw from observing us), we have been making a little time for ourselves to enjoy some of what Beirut has to offer. We got to see an Armenian children’s choir, as well as a youth chamber ensemble. Admittedly, it’s difficult for the conductors to make music pleasing to the audience’s ear, but I am greatly appreciative of those children and youth who make the time for practicing and mastering their parts.
            Despite what people say or feel, time is not speeding up; it’s just that there is more competition for the existing amount of time. I find myself saying, “I don’t have time!” too often in the course of the day. What I should be saying is, “I can only focus on a limited amount of things, but I am lousy at saying ‘No’.” Or when I say “Yes” to so many things, I should add “and I don’t care about the quality of what I do” to be completely honest. 
            Going back to those recent concerts I attended: I can either be focused on the performance and let the designated videographers and photographers do their job, or I can sort-of listen while taking photos and videos of the concert. Which is what a lot of people do. When looking towards the stage and trying to enter into the musical moment, the view of the performers inevitably includes several glowing screens, quadrupling my viewing experience, I guess. At one concert I noticed the woman in the row in front of me reviewing a video she had just taken of the children’s choir… while the choir was still singing. To say that audiences need training in how to be an audience goes hand-in-hand with saying that people (myself included) need to be content with doing fewer things.
Choose whether you want to watch it live, or on somebody’s
screen. (22 Dec. 2018 – Beirut)
            It is incredibly quiet today – no car horns, no traffic, no people. It feels so unlike Beirut. Even the sound from a nearby minaret seemed quieter than usual. But that’s how Christmas is here. Everyone is at home, or away in their villages. Weeks ago local television stations geared up for the holiday, with their snowman- and Santa Claus-themed station IDs, including the sounds of jingling jingle-bells. A thoroughly American-style Christmas, right here in the Middle East. While this presents an incongruity with local cultural customs, or rather replaces them, it poses a different question for Armenians, who celebrate “Christmas” differently, and on a different date: Why bother being different?
Sunday School Christmas pageant, last day of Sunday School
before “Western” Christmas (23 Dec. 2018 –
Geitawi/Ashrafieh, Beirut)
            I have heard more than a few Armenians (and others) saying essentially that Armenians should “get with it” and celebrate Christmas the same date as “everyone else”; it’s said to be something “inevitable”, we just have to “face reality”. I’ve wondered about what is behind this drive to conform to the majority, and convince other Armenians to do so as well. Is it an aftershock emanating from the Genocide of a century ago, a “death wish” from a nearly-annihilated people who see no sense in continuing the struggle to exist? It is prevalent in so many areas of our individual and collective life. Here’s an example: Armenians typing messages in Armenian but using the English alphabet, and in two different dialects at that, without thought as to how this contributes to the decline (and perhaps the death) of the language. The standard used is “What’s the easiest?”, instead of “What’s the best – in the long run?” That’s without getting into the whole topic of “What does God want? Why did he help some of us survive?”
LebCat 20: Jazzcat hanging out behind the Blue Note Café
(2 Sep. 2017 – Beirut)
            In the best Armenian tradition, we don’t make Santa Claus compete with Jesus. Called “Gaghant Baba” by Western Armenians (“Father Calendar/Time”) or “Tzəmer Babi” for Eastern Armenians (“Father Winter”), the dancing, gift-bearing fellow makes his appearance to Armenian children on the last night of the year. Children (and sometimes willing adults!) recite a poem in Armenian, or sing or dance for him, and then he unloads his treasures and departs. Then, six days into the New Year, the focus is fully on Jesus, his appearance as a baby at his birth, as well as his appearance at his baptism as an adult. It’s a time for worship and proclaiming the best news the world has ever heard. Although it's not, if this were a competition based on the merits of how best to observe Christmas, the Armenian custom of January 6 wins hands-down. But if it’s just a popularity contest, well . .  .   [LNB]

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Strange New World


20.Strange New World (29 November 2018)
The Legend: Jim’s Steaks. Worth the wait in the cold
in a line out the door and around the corner.
(23 Nov. 2018 – Philadelphia, Pa.)
            Last night we flew back in to Lebanon, back to the familiar yet strange place we call home, returning from a “strange, New World,” to borrow the words spoken by Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise.
            Several weeks ago an opportunity opened up for Maria to receive some software training for her work at Haigazian University, so we decided it was time to take some vacation, making this our first trip back to the U.S. and to my family there since we moved to Lebanon early in 2017. It was also our first trip to Toronto (and to Maria’s family) since then.
Family reunion! Lara K. and her “Beirut family”. Thanks, Dan,
for taking the photo. (20 Nov. 2018 – Broomall, Pa.)
            The first strange thing to me was how “un-strange” so much of it was, right down to the roadways and the potholes, in the same spots I had left them in January 2017. It seemed as if I had only been away from the U.S. for two months, not almost two years. And worshiping with the congregation and singing in the choir at the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church in Havertown, Pa., where I used to be the pastor, only strengthened my feeling of never having been away.
            Being with family was another one of those strange-but-not situations. I suppose that if our separation had been five years it would not have felt like it had been only a short while. But then I wonder about those dear to me, from whom I am separated by death, whose faces carry that almost-forgotten quality to my eye. Yet because of our common faith in Jesus we have the hope of an everlasting reunion. Now that will be a strange feeling!
New car “vending machines”. Order online, and the lift
brings  your order, as if it were a bottle of soda.
(27 Nov. 2018 – Philadelphia, Pa.)
            When Maria and I went into the supermarket in suburban Philadelphia, we were bewildered by the varieties and sub-varieties of practically everything one could imagine, in a store with enough floor space and stock to contain several of the largest supermarkets in Lebanon. We also felt the intensity of advertising in the U.S., and how it shapes you into someone who consumes and buys and buys more as a way of life. It is something we were able to clearly perceive as strange only because of the distance we had had from America these two years.
            But also strange – yet not – were the tents sitting on city sidewalks, which our son Sevag pointed out to us in the neighborhood where he is a high school teacher. In Lebanon I would have accepted that sight as something quite normal in present-day Lebanon – refugees are a part of life in the “new Middle East” promised us by an earlier U.S. administration. There in that section of Philadelphia the tents on city sidewalks belonged to the homeless, refugees of a different sort, indicative of a societal malaise that gets little attention.
Homeless encampment on a sidewalk in the
Kensington area. (27 Nov. 2018 – Philadelphia, Pa.)
            After only a few days in the U.S., another strange feeling beset me: I was forgetting who I was as an Armenian. In that short time my environment was so decidedly American that it was very easy for me to “revert” to the identity I grew up with and maintained, that is, until the 8th grade when I chose for a book report that so shocked me (my grandmother’s copy of Rev. Abraham Hartunian’s Neither to Laugh nor to Weep) that I realized I had to learn what it meant to be Armenian, and then relentlessly pursue it. I know that some prefer to reconcile everything into everything else, to find the “both/and” in every situation, but when you are part of a minority culture, that melding means the obliteration of your culture. Your existence becomes a mere “decoration” or something “exotic” for the majority culture to enjoy, and otherwise ignore. And that is a hard road to travel if you are a young person wanting to be true to his language and heritage.
A snowstorm welcoming us to Canada. And almost keeping our
plane from landing. (16 Nov. 2018 – Toronto, Ont.)
            What sadly wasn’t so strange to me was the refrain heard over and over, wherever we went (and wherever we are): “We need leaders. Where are the new leaders?” Churches need pastors. Schools need teachers. Community and cultural organizations need visionaries. And they all need donors who believe in their mission and will give generously. I told people that they will not appear magically from some far-away place, but will grow up from within the Armenian churches, schools and community, if they are taught and learn to value their faith and heritage in the face of the intoxicating effect of the “new” and “exciting” all around them.
The best place to be – with children and youth. Thanks, John P.,
for the photo. (25 Nov. 2018 – Havertown, Pa.)
            The most joyful moment I spent occurred during the worship service at my former church. As I had done for nearly 10 years when serving there, I piped a tune to bring the children to the chancel steps, where I would sit and give the children’s message. There are only a few children in that church, so I expected two or three. But some of the high-schoolers, who years ago had been part of this group of little ones, got up, and then others, and before long a big group of “kids” was gathered around me, sitting on the floor in front of me. I was floored… and thankful to God for the seeds of faith growing in those youth, who love their church and their faith so much.
LebCat 19: Double surveillance, with LebCat 17 checking out
the lower level (28 Oct. 2018 – Nor Amanos, Bouchrieh)
            When Lebanon celebrated its 75th Independence Day, following the news from afar we experienced a strange mix of emotions: wishing we were there, glad we weren’t caught in the incredible traffic jams from closed roads into the capital, as the army practiced for the parade, hearing the pain in so many social media posts about the day-to-day struggles of regular people, while the elite classes disregard their role in creating misery and hopelessness and a lack of desire to celebrate anything.
            Engagement in life’s challenges should not be a strange thing for a Christian (or for any human being), whether Armenian or not. The Apostle Peter in I Peter 2.11-12 was on to something when he exhorted the church to live as “strangers and sojourners” regarding fleshly entrapments, which is a far cry from advocating for a disengaged, “holy huddle” in order to wait for Christ’s Second Coming. That engagement is what will keep us vital and focused as we interface with the strangeness of the worlds we inhabit.   [LNB]

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

On My Head


19.On My Head (31 October 2018)
            One of those essential phrases anyone living in the Arab world needs to know is “on my
Inspired by Lark on the Move, you have to find
where Maria and Linda are. In the equivalent of
an ancient Roman narthex! (13 Oct. 2018 –
Baalbek, Lebanon)
head”, or, alternatively, “on my head and eyes” (3ala rassi/3ala rassi ou 3ayni). When I go to the grocer, I know he’s going to send greetings to my wife, and although I try to keep my conversation limited to onions and grapes, he inevitably throws pleasant chatter at me. Yesterday he sent the usual greetings, but I was able to fumble out an “3ala rassi” in response as I was leaving. Add that to the other things “on my head”, and you have a pretty accurate description of what’s happening in our lives these days.
            Still, even with the continually-postponed resumption of my Arabic lessons, I’m managing semi-well with what’s on my head and eyes. Although we’re no longer newcomers, we still have people looking at us as if (but denying they are thinking that) we are crazy for picking up and moving to Lebanon. But we also have people who are delighted each time they see us, and (we hope) are encouraged as much as they encourage us.
            As we become more aware of just how big a struggle it is for so many people to manage life here (although my focus is just on Armenians; it is similar for lots and lots of people), our hearts are even more broken. More frequently than before friends are sharing, quite openly, about their plans to leave Lebanon for Armenia. Others may have plans to move to Europe, the U.S. or Canada, but they tend not to share that with anyone but those closest to them.
Some young cedars of Lebanon in the background, and some
old guys (Mike and I) in the foreground. Guess which ones are
going to be around longer. (14 Oct. 2018 – Barouk, Lebanon)
            Things like not having a government (after 5+ months) doesn’t really get anyone’s attention, though it should – especially of those who are horse-trading the lives of their citizens for personal gain. Not that I’m a fan of politics, but the phrase from the 1992 U.S. presidential elections comes to mind: “The economy, stupid.” That’s what is grinding down individuals, families, communities like the Armenians, community organizations, and pretty much the entire social fabric. The biblical injunction to “pray for kings and those in authority” (I Tim. 2.2) is not just a nice, occasional add-on to personal and corporate prayers; it is an essential for us, something we continually cry out to God for him to answer. We pray not just for local authorities, but for those far, far away, too, who affect life here.
            A couple of days ago a friend mentioned how, because of the sagging economy in Lebanon, a cascading effect is happening. The central bank (just now?) has decided that it can no longer give loans to first-time homeowners, due to the economic situation and a bunch of other things. (Point of clarification: the “homes” I’m talking about are not the American-style
Bread on the cooling conveyor. Most of what you buy won’t
last the trip home-mmmm. (13 Oct. 2018 – outside Ainjar)
single-family homes with a lawn and a fence. It’s a cramped, sometimes brand-new, apartment in one of those ugly high-rises I regularly rant about.) So, with no home loan, young people are cancelling wedding plans because they won’t have a place to live aside from a room at their parents’ home. And that means all the related businesses are also suffering – those who would clothe, feed, photograph and entertain the wedding guests. And those who would sell furnishings to the newlyweds. And sell them cars. And later on, baby things. And later on, school tuitions and incidentals. (Again, I’m thinking particularly of the struggling Armenian schools and families, but it’s an overall phenomenon.) And so on, and so on. For someone like me to come in and share the message, “Place your hope in Christ!” that person must be willing to also, and first, listen to and care for those whose hope for a normal life is fleeing from them.
A Volkswagen from the Stone Age, complete with
prehistoric tires. (22 Oct. 2018 – Khalil Badawi, Beirut)
            But seriously, folks, reality aside (hah!), I really would rather be writing about all the interesting and fun things we’re experiencing here. And there is plenty that’s interesting and fun. Like receiving an official delegation and Armenia’s “caretaker” Prime Minister, Nigol Pashinyan, who visited the Armenian Evangelical Union leadership (interesting). Or like the visit of dear friends from Philly, Linda and Mike Sywulak (fun). They visited missionary friends of theirs in Kenya for a week, and then spent a week with us this month, getting introduced to Lebanon, its history, its natural beauty (I mean that), and its vital Christian ministries. For us, it was a welcome respite, and an occasion to reflect on our time here so far. For them, it was an opportunity to turn something abstract into a concrete picture that they can talk about and pray for.
The ashtray of no ashes. A Zen moment in a
Sassine Sq. diner. (12 Mar. 2018 –
Ashrafieh, Beirut)
            So, we got to be tourists! Finally! Nothing like visitors to provide you with an excuse to “see the sights”. We showed them all five Armenian Evangelical churches in Lebanon, plus their schools, plus the old age home (CAHL), plus KCHAG, plus more. They got to speak directly to workers in these ministries about their joys and burdens. We traveled to the ancient cities of Baalbek and Ainjar and Byblos. We visited some of the majestic Cedars of Lebanon (and witnessed the ongoing reforestation efforts). We got to see “Linda’s new favorite bakery,” with Arabic bread rolling out of the oven like big wheat pillows onto a cooling conveyor. And we got to treat them – and ourselves – to several different places that serve Arabic ice cream. All in seven days!
            Fortunately, aside from all these special events there are many things that tickle my brain on a daily basis. Like seeing an ashtray in a restaurant with no slots to hold your cigarette, and a “no smoking” symbol engraved on the side. Perfectly normal to locals – because that’s where you put your straw wrappers and zip-tops from your “pepsi” cans. Oh, and “Pepsi” is the generic name people use to refer to carbonated beverages, no matter what the label says. Like “kleenex” is for Americans.
            A frustrating bit of brain stimulus has to do with rampant Americanisms around us, like the adoption of that most worthless of American holidays, namely Halloween. In talking with a taxi driver a few weeks ago, after remarking on a huge billboard advertising some Halloween event in a predominantly Muslim area, he said, “We are forced to accept these American things because they are part of our children’s (American) textbooks. I do not like it, but my children learn it because it is there in their books.” Children carve jack-o-lanterns, dress up in skeleton costumes, and adults “dress up”, too. Thanks to social media, this vapidity (some would call it “evil”) is being copied the world over, including in Armenia.
LebCat 18 (black & white) and associates:
OK, so it’s October 31. What’s that got to do with
us? (31 Oct. 2018 – Mar Mikhael, Beirut)
            How about “Black Friday” sales in Lebanon? Its original American (and consumerist, in the worst sense) moorings are irrelevant here. It’s a catchy phrase that represents an American (and therefore, to many Lebanese, desirable) way of getting people to spend money they don’t have to buy things they don’t need. Does anyone believe that that will turn around Lebanon’s economy?
            But I have homemade fun, too, observing my environment as I walk from place to place, dodging between cars parked every which way – especially on the sidewalk – and avoiding other cars as they try to pass each other from opposite directions on a one-way street where cars are parked on both sides (welcome to my neighborhood… won’t you be my neighbor?). There are always a few cars parked in the middle of the street. Probably the driver came home very late last night, and probably there were cars between his car and the curb, though now it’s just empty space. Soon enough he’ll come down and nonchalantly get in and drive away, as if it’s the most unremarkable thing in the world to park overnight in the middle of an intersection. Recently when we were passing one of those “creative” parking jobs, a friend driving us around said (in Armenian), “One day he’s going to eat it.” Oh, it loses so much in translation!
            Now, back to my efforts at creating databases and websites and choirs and more! [LNB]

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Raise Your Voice


18.Raise Your Voice (29 September 2018)
First day of school at the Armenian Evangelical College, one of
the network of schools in Syria and Lebanon run by the Union.
Haigazian’s Philibosian Student Center (formerly “Webb”
building) is in the left background. (25 Sept. 2018 – Kantari,
Beirut. Photo courtesy of Rev. Hrayr Cholakian)
            Adjusting to a new environment takes time, and events around you or within you force you to admit that you are not “there” yet. If you are really smart, you’ll accept the fact that you will never get “there”, no matter how you define “there”. And you’ll do so sooner rather than later.
            The better part of adjusting consists of knowing how to keep your mouth shut, and continuing to observe and learn. But there are always a few things that perhaps you shouldn’t adjust to, that may be worth opening your mouth about.
            As I was trying out a new eatery (nothing to get excited about, sorry) a couple of days ago, the cashier directed me to their air-conditioned “eating room” (a separate storefront from the “ordering room”). I stuck my head inside the eating room, sniffed once, and
decided to cast my lot with the hot sun at a sidewalk table. The cashier eventually brought out my food, and asked, “It’s hot out here. Don’t you want to eat inside?” I responded with “Ma3lesh” (It’s nothing), although I did want to raise my voice in complaint to her about the cigarette stench in the eating room. O, Arabic lessons, why have I forsaken you?
A beautiful, old building that was being refurbished last year
collapsed before they were able to support its structure…
revealing another beautiful, old building. You can see the
remnants of the balconies lying askew on the ground.
(11 Sept. 2018 – Gemmazeh, Beirut)
            So, as I was eating (and sweating) on a sunny Ashrafieh sidewalk, watching cars go by, I noticed an older man (i.e., my age) on a motorcycle pulled up next to a driver’s window of a car that had stopped in the middle of the street. But he wasn’t asking for directions. He was yelling at the driver for several traffic infractions, including driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and probably almost running over the motorcyclist (who was not a traffic cop). I can only hope that he takes care not to break the same laws when no one is looking.
            I was pleased to see him making a nuisance of himself in this way, because people so often just shrug their shoulders at much of what goes on here when they should be speaking up. “Haideh Lubnan.” I hear it all the time, from friends and strangers. “This is Lebanon.” But although speaking out will never result in instantaneous or lasting changes, though it won’t turn those accustomed to decades and decades of ineffectual government and self-centered living into conscientious, law-abiding citizens. He was lighting a candle and cursing the darkness.
This is how the Union headquarters looked before
improvements began. It’s behind the trees, in case you
missed it. (6 Sept. 2018 – Geitawi, Beirut)
            Oops. I forgot that I’m not supposed to say anything but compliments about the government, as well as all other governments, save for one in particular that happens to border Lebanon. That’s what I put my signature to each year, when renewing my residence permit. But even without signing such a form, we are all facing similar pressures to keep dissent to ourselves (or, alternatively, to be loud and arrogant about our dissent and close our ears to other dissenters). This does not just concern the country of my birth, the U.S.A., for the past 17-plus years. In Armenia, post “velvet revolution”, the message being broadcast, is one, simple, unchallenged refrain: “The bad has left, the good is here; come to Armenia. ” Few dare to raise a dissenting voice concerning the “new”, save in private, or else risk ostracism. Even though they, too, care for Armenia’s well-being. It seem that criticism, especially self-criticism, is rare in today’s world, no matter what the side.
The old fence coming down, and the new going up.
(11 Sept. 2018 – Geitawi, Beirut)
            Yet people do speak up, and not just to point out flaws that they see. Here are some ways I’ve observed people in Lebanon “raising their voices”:
1. Tending your “garden”. The headquarters where I work, the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, formerly an Armenian-owned hospital (the “Christian Medical Center”), got a complete makeover, 30 years after its previous one. Rev. Paul Haidostian, president of Haigazian University, is overseeing another renovation project, that of the Webb (or Philibosian Student Center) building, the university’s original structure. Someone observing the work remarked, “Do you know how encouraging it is for your neighbors to see you making improvements because you want to improve, and not because you were forced to by someone else?”
2. Getting up and getting out. After a long summer indoors (with their air conditioners), lots of locals have donned shorts and sneakers. I see them running and jogging and panting along sidewalks and streets in the city, preparing for the Nov. 11th Beirut Marathon. I’m not sure whether they’re aiming for the 8 km fun-run, the half-marathon, or the full 42.195 km thrill. I’m limiting myself to the gym.
A panorama of the newly-refurbished exterior of the Armenian
Evangelical church headquarters, formerly the “Christian
Medical Center” (27 Sept. 2018 – Geitawi, Beirut)
3. Speaking up about health and pollution dangers. People continue to gather to publicly protest the government’s mismanagement of the country’s waste disposal, especially after the recent decision to create three incineration facilities along the coast, while cancer rates continue to spike. Meanwhile, cow carcasses, presumably diseased ones tossed from ships before entering the Port of Beirut, are gently floating along our Mediterranean coast. Swimmers and divers are exposing these shameful scenes through social media posts.
4. Speaking up about abuse. The prevalence of non-Arab faces in and around the city points to the widespread use of southern-hemisphere workers in construction, sanitation and domestic labor. There is a robust network of organizations decrying the near-slavery conditions many of them are enduring at the hands (literally – please understand) of their employers. At least one of them per month commits suicide. Rather than let this “modern slavery” continue, they protest, they write commentary, they hold memorial services, all in an effort to put an end to the unregulated flow of hundreds of impoverished, southern-hemisphere “tourists” through the airport.
Just write “extra” on it. It doesn’t have to mean anything.
(28 Aug. 2018 – Geitawi, Beirut)
5. Opening Armenian schools for the new school year. Despite the continuing downward economic spiral in Lebanon, and the departure of many families (not just youth) from the country, Armenian schools of every kind have pressed forward in continuing their educational mission, and have started another school year. It is a powerful declaration of their will to survive, and a message to Armenians everywhere that the Diaspora has a reason to exist.
6. Publishing Western Armenian books. In a couple of weeks Haigazian University will hold another “Armenian Book” evening, presenting all of the books published in the Western Armenian dialect (and a few in other languages) in Lebanon in 2017. Beirut continues to let the world know that it is a cultural center for Armenians throughout the world, despite the past and present efforts to obliterate our presence in this region. (However, these Armenian books continue to cry out for people to pick them up and read them…)
7. Calling everything by a superlative. No matter what the item, it’s always better if you add the word “extra” to it. Or sometimes just name it “Extra”. This week I saw a man carrying a 50 kg (110 lb.) sack of flour to the nearby “manaqish” bakery. What was the brand of flour? “Extra”. Why not?
LebCat 17: All of these toilets are mine. And the boxes, too.
(26 Aug. 2018 – Nor Amanos, Baouchrieh)
            Raising your voice, for a Christian, usually means you are offering heartfelt praise to God. But it’s important to have a complete view of “being heard”. Christians must also cry out for the oppressed who have no voice, or challenge the idol-worshiping that is so much part and parcel of economic systems here and everywhere, or lift their voices in prayers of intercession or repentance, or raise a call to turn back from the paths of death to the ways of God. There is a time to be silent, but also a time to speak (Eccl. 3.7).
            Especially as an Armenian, there are so many more things about which I want to cry out, as I adjust to life here. And maybe I will. But this much for this time. [LNB]

[Note: Last blog’s “LebCat 16 & friends” was photographed in 2018 (not 2017) as they were dragging Sevag into their thrall.]