Lessen Arabic Influence in North American Orthodox Churches



  • I am commenting simply to be in full agreement with Remnkemi. I would of never commented to all of these insensitive and condemning comments as good as him. This is my favorite comment, being addressed to meenahanna but it's really to everyone:

    You are arguing Coptic hinders the youth from Christ.

    You (and proponents of removing Coptic) have not provided any evidence how Coptic hinders the youth from Christ.

    You and others have not provided evidence how much Coptic is ok and how much is detrimental.

    You and others have refused to acknowledge that in a 100% vernacular, non-Coptic environment, youth are still leaving Christ.

    And worse of all, you and others refuse to recognize that by claiming that the Church must use the vernacular for the youth and ignore everyone who wants the non-vernacular, is in effect judging and condemning these proponents of the non-vernacular as secondary citizens of the Church, selfish parishioners, and the cause of sin.

    Lets see what will be said next...we might need to wrap this up :-)
  • I am not hiding from the fact that both Coptic/Arabic hinders the youth from getting closer to Christ. (my original post had a typo/grammatical  error).  Simply, praying in a foreign language is a hindrance.


    You are not a proponent of our heritage/culture simply by stating the view of retaining Coptic dialect in the church here in this forum. @minastasgeel & @rem,  do you guys know and speak Coptic at home with your families and friends? Was the Coptic language originally adopted by our church for the sole purpose of liturgical services? Why don’t you use the dialect at home if you are such strong advocates of the language. Did you guys ever read the book entitled by H.G. Bishop Metteous on the Spirituality of the Midnight Praises. This book is close to 1000s page and explains the intricacies of the Midnight Praises. (This book differs from his book on the Liturgy).  If not speaking Coptic at home, forgive me you are not truly concerned about language, but just babbling. Coptic is not a prerequisite for communicating with God so don’t be troubled that you are unable to speak the Coptic dialect at home.


    So let’s address how praying in a unique/foreign language is a hindrance to the youth.  I figured Fr. Athanasius example referenced by Mina Soliman was suffice. When the youth simply compared the Great Friday service to praying in a chinese temple.  When St. Paul discusses in 1 Cor. 3:2 “I fed you milk and not with meat, for you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able” The youth who perhaps fell into sin and lived a far way from the church. The newly converts who know no Arabic/Coptic and begin to join our church. The youth who have no relationship with God and step foot in church. Is it acceptable that they hear sermons in Arabic? Is it acceptable that hear the praises/worship in mostly Arabic and Coptic.  In the churches surrounding my area, they pray Coptic/Arabic more than 55% of the time. Fr. Tadros Malaty is serving in one of those areas and he has a different mentality. He one time saw only 1 youth and insisted in praying the entire liturgy in English. The adults pressed him asking why he didn’t pray in Arabic. He responded: You guys had your opportunity to know Christ, now it is your child’s turn!” One time during Bright Saturday we were singing Tenen. He stopped the hymn and said, when you guys were praising this hymn I wondered to myself, do these deacons know what they are doing? I was contemplating on the three youth men and started to praise my God. After these examples, I learned that Fr. Tadros was the only praising that night and we were just stinging. As I highschool servant, I testify before you that I have brought youth to the church after much persistence. They came to the church and found it so focused on Arabic/Coptic. It was very difficult to bring them again. This is the last I’ll say, I follow Fr. Athansisus, Fr. Tadros, Pope Shenouda’s mentality…enough is enough.


    I am not advocating a complete eradication of the Coptic language for it is necessary to preserve our identity. But to insist on maintaining more than 10% is beyond comprehension.


  • @minasoliman,
    Jewishness of or in every liturgy is not the same as the apostles practising Jewish liturgies. Sorry I'm very meticulous with words..
    Dear all,
    Like @minatasgeel I am in agreement and supportive of what @Remenkimi argues. It's sad that in the 21St century servants of the Coptic church find it obstructive and destructive to teach the youth the original language of the church because they don't know it in the first place, or because it's difficult, or No it's not spoken anymore, or perhaps no one even bothers.. oops sorry the argument is that it's superfluous! Oh yes at a time where near to every prayer passage in ajbeya, psalmody, and kholagy is translated into all live languages still there is need to omit Coptic it's unnecessary.. oh the church of Rome still prays in Latin.. their problem. The Greek church still prays in olden Greek that the Greeks don't understand.. that's THEIR OWN PROBLEM. Of course those churches have much more attrition rates than us Copts? Oh did I just say that? So maybe we don't have their problems because we still stick to the Coptic language!
  • I also forgot to add that English is a foreign language to me. It's a hindrance for me to get closer to Christ since I live in the UK and everything around me is in English? I don't speak English at home either.. Oh sorry guys I just realised I'm only making up some excuses disguised in my opposition to sticking to a superior language!
  • edited September 2014

    "God understand what you consider an unintelligible language."

    God can also understand the intelligible language.

    " Anyone who uses this language you call unintelligible (theoretically) understands the language."

    No one in North America uses Coptic as their primary means of communication.

    "And if praying in an intelligible language is far superior than the Holy Spirit who intercedes in wordless groans willingly uses an inferior method of communication"

    The consistent tradition of the Orthodox Church has been to use intellgible language in worship. Coptic in Egypt, Greek in Greece, Armenian in Armenia, etc. No Orthodox church has used wordless groans in corporate worship.

    "So if favoritism is convenient and kills 2 birds with 1 stone, then it is justifiable? 1 Tim 5:21 and James 2:9 are lies. Good to know."

    If everyone understands English (but some people in addition understand Coptic), and then the Church uses English, how is that favouritism? Everyone can understand.

    "So years of research on the benefits of bilingualism is a ridiculous argument?"

    The Church's role is to bring people to Christ, not to impart to them the benefits of bilingualism.

    "By that same argument, no one "needs' to be spoken in Arabic, because everyone in America probably also knows English."

    False analogy. If someone is not proficient in English, it may be necessary to use Arabic. No one in North America, however, is only proficient in Coptic - they will always be proficient in some other language, thus removing the need to speak to them in Coptic.
  • edited September 2014
    @Remnkemi "The revelation of Christ is principally through the words. All the other ways in which Christ is revealed (eg tune, the sound of Coptic) are secondary."

    Ok even granted that what I'm saying isn't 100% accurate, it is obvious that:
    Words + other aspects of worship > other aspects of worship only
  • @minatasgeel

    "And worse of all, you and others refuse to recognize that by claiming that the Church must use the vernacular for the youth and ignore everyone who wants the non-vernacular, is in effect judging and condemning these proponents of the non-vernacular as secondary citizens of the Church, selfish parishioners, and the cause of sin."

    I agree with everything you said, except for the words "condemning" (for this is only God's role) and "secondary citizens" (for everyone else in the Church sins too). Can you explain why this is "worse of all"? It seems quite reasonable to me.
  • edited September 2014
    @meenahanna..habibi, everything you said int hat last comment is superficial and you are the one who keeps babbling. You you have too many speculations with no proof. Even Abouna Tadrous' story doesn't really support what you are saying it simply shows. With the Pope's Shenouda lecture, it's totally taken out of context.....i can give that lecture to a protestant and he'll love it because it is really that general. 

    @qawe, Remnkimi said this above "Being blunt is not a sin. Judging is. Try discussing what is being said without judging."
    I don't really agree with it, but that's another topic. there is a difference between judgement and condemnation. in reality, EVERYTIME you make a choice, you are making judgement on something or someone. Therefore it's not a sin. But sometimes you are judging and condemning the person, they go hand in hand to be counted as a sin--here you are simply concentrating on the wrong downing of the person for the wrong reasons. 

  • @qawe,
    "Words + other aspects of worship > other aspects of worship only"
    Do you have any evidence that this is nothing more than your opinion? It is this type of attitude that is the problem. I already showed you that God reveals Himself in ways words can't express. If you refuse to understand how music is a language in itself, a language that every culture and every church has, then there is not much to say. There are plenty of churches that worship without words. Gregorian chant and Renaissance instrumental (no words) compositions are all types of sacred chant that flourish even nowadays. Are we to tell all these millions of worshippers who still use these forms of worship that they are inferior to lyric based worship? 

    Using Coptic to communicate with God with little or no fluency is not the same as using Coptic with little or no fluency with my family or friends. (I already said this and I'm going to repeat it again). God will understand and accept my sacrifice of praise and it is still communication. My family will understand English better. But this doesn't mean that an "all or nothing" attitude justifies abandoning Coptic (partially or entirely) in liturgical services. 

    Your examples with Fr Tadros Malaty are also taken out of context. Just because in one instance of singing Tenen, where he questioned the prayer status of deacons singing, maybe justified, it doesn't mean that no one was singing in that instance while contemplating on the Three Children. Unless Fr Tadros is God or has the gift to read people's minds, then the assumption that no one was contemplating or actually praying with understanding is invalid. It is also more false to believe that every instance of deacons singing Tenen (or singing any melismatic hymn) occurs without understanding. 

    I wonder if Fr Tadros or any other priest have ever stopped the Gospel in English/Arabic or the Agpeya just to see if the deacons/congregation/audience was contemplating on the words? It is not that Fr Tadros should not have stopped the deacons singing Tenen, but he discriminated without evidence. If he is pastorally concerned about real-time understanding of the words, he should do it with all languages and all types of praise (i.e., non-melismatic hymns and audible reading of scripture passages without music). 

    I'll have to assume that Fr Tadros knew the youth and this youth didn't know Arabic. But there is a large possibility that he didn't know the language proficiency of this youth. I see priests do this all the time and assume anyone under 18 must need English to understand. I see this same problem with converts of all ages. When I actually speak to American born converts, they consistently tell me they don't want services changed into English. And it is also pastorally insensitive to tell someone "You had your turn. Step aside". Such comments will likely result in these older people resenting the Church and possibly loosing them. So while Fr Tadros (or any other priest) are exerting effort to keep the youth, their effort may result in the loss of the non-youth or the non-English youth. 

    Fr Tadros, Fr Athanasius, the late Pope Shenouda were/are not infallible. Their decision to focus on the vernacular for a specific reason and a specific time is not to be taken as an absolute endorsement to remove Coptic. Like minatasgeel said, their words are taken out of context. 

  • edited September 2014
    @rem  "God will understand and accept my sacrifice of praise and it is still communication"  If you are not fluent in Coptic to the extent that you are unable to have a normal conversation with your parents...do you really contend that such prayer (praying in coptic) is acceptable before God when compared to praying with understanding in your native tongue? The mind has role in prayer, we are not mindless parrots. If I am praising and thinking about something unholy, is my praise still accepted? God's looks at the intellect and the heart. If the mind is not engaged in such prayers it is not accepted. For you to understand the praise your singing would require you to look and read at a translation illustrates my point exactly. The mind is less active because part of it is reading the coptic and the other part needs to read the English. Let's be honest with ourselves. I know coptic well and i memorized majority of the hymns in Coptic (especially in tasbeha). But my mind would be distracted while praising from reading the coptic and looking at the English translation. Do we really focus on the words when praising in coptic. Majority of us dont. However when we pray in english we are forced to listen to the words....so long as we are praying slowly and not fast. I'm sorry @rem but that is the truth. Coptic is a hindrance. My mind is less active when I am singing in Coptic. Imagine the youth. I pray you finally see my point.


    The reason these servants focused on understanding the hymns is because we are in the lands of immigration and they are true servants of God.



    @minatasgeel  are you not a moderator in this forum and you hold such views?? you may not be? idk?. I have never heard someone claim that pope shenouda's sermon can be viewed protestant. Even if they were taken out of context (which they were not) (did you listen to entire sermon, i did post the entire sermon didn't I....taken out of context?), he uses verses every other minute and talks about orthodoxy.


    Last thing I'll say because this debate is coming to an end, you are correct that these fathers are not infallible, but they are the modern day pillars of orthodoxy. They understand the need to have a true relationship with God and know that at times it is necessary to remove the langauge barrier so that people (mainly the immigrated youth in America) may have a true relationship with God. They are the pillars of orthodoxy, not the deacons who sing these long hymns. They know our doctrines well and have faught for them their entire life. We will stand on Judgement day, you hold onto Coptic, while I persist in not speaking in tongues but praising with understanding. Thank God, new servants are arising and this mentality of coptic only will be stopped. You will see. take care. I am imagining people reading this blog in amusement....


  • edited September 2014
    @meenahanna....I'd like to think i am a moderator...and did listen to the entire sermon.....and YES, it can be taken to be general enough for a protestant to accept with no issues. What's wrong with protestants watching and readings Pope Shenouda's sermons or readings?! is that a sin to them?! is that a sin to us leading protestants to them?!
    i don't understand what "views" i have, and that i don't know about, that you don't like...

    I'd like to think I am young in age and I know many others who are younger...whatever change you think will happened in the future to the church and dealing with coptic, won't really happen. If you would like to live your life thinking that, do so....whatever makes you feel happy and grant you salvation. 
  • @Remnkemi

    "When I actually speak to American born converts, they consistently tell me they don't want services changed into English."

    Do they not want it changed because they enjoy praying in coptic or because they like the way it sounds, even when they have no clue what's being said?

    I ask this question with no hostility lol as everyone seems very tense, I'm just curious.
  • edited September 2014
    Is there any evidence or research papers that exist that show the relationship between Language and Orthodox Faith? Or that Language drives away or retains youth?

    Also we often hear that the Greeks and Russians have high attrition rates which we have avoided but what studies support this? I know someone who visited Greece and at vespers they saw many youth and children...

    Another person went to a Russian Church in the Middle East and again saw many children and youth also...

    The Indian Orthodox also have been using vernacular in India (instead of Syriac of their "mother church") and they've been retaining their youth... They also continue to keep " Syriac" expressions of their liturgical rites and even though they have reduced Syriac usage in the liturgies...
  • Ophadeece,

    Yes, they were Jewish liturgies...they did not come up with Coptic, Latin, Syriac, Byzantine rites overnight.

    What do you think a "Jewish liturgy" is?
  • edited September 2014

    "God will understand and accept my sacrifice of praise and it is still communication"  If you are not fluent in Coptic to the extent that you are unable to have a normal conversation with your parents...do you really contend that such prayer (praying in coptic) is acceptable before God when compared to praying with understanding in your native tongue? 

    First, Praying with understanding in a foreign tongue does not equal praying without understanding. You want to believe that, that's your choice. But there are thousands and millions of people who are praying with understanding in a foreign language (and as ophadece said, in a country that the primary language is the foreign language). You have judged the absolute fluency in Coptic is a requirement for prayer. This is not found anywhere in the Bible or patristic writings. 

    But back to your question.

    Yes, prayer in Coptic is acceptable before God, even compared to praying in the vernacular. (Not more acceptable. Not holier. Not anything that I have been accused of) Here's my evidence "“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8) and "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the dispute rof this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor 1:20). The conventional wisdom that absolute understand is only possible in the vernacular (even if it was proven) is still foolishness to God. (Do I need to repeat why?)

    "The mind has role in prayer, we are not mindless parrots."

    And there goes the judging again. What makes you adjudicate that prayer in a foreign language does not involve the mind? Have you ever considered the possibility that music and forms of language activate other areas of the mind that is not associated with colloquial interpretation? It is generally accepted that neural pathways that interpret every day conversation are different than neural pathways of music, and higher intellect, as well as lower intellect (automatism). 

    We are not talking about thinking something unholy during praise. And even if we were, one can think something unholy during praising in English. Language has nothing to do with it. As I said before, many people (even converts) are quite content with using a translation. Your assumption that this is inadequate because it doesn't use the same "amount of mind" is unsubstantiated. The mind is just as active listening and contemplating on God by hearing instrumental music as much as another mind singing in the vernacular (if not more). I can probably find some functional PET scans to prove this point. 

    "Do we really focus on the words when praising in coptic. Majority of us don't. " 

    This is a function of liturgical discipline, not language selection. If I am not disciplined to train my mind to focus on words, then I will not focus on words when praising in English. (And the majority included)

    In Pope Shenouda's sermon, did he once say "Coptic must be removed from liturgical praise" (or something similar)? If not, then you are taking his words out of context. I didn't watch the whole sermon but over 30+ years I never heard Pope Shenouda once claim Coptic is the cause for the youth leaving. I have never heard him say liturgical worship must be in the vernacular. And he rarely prayed in Arabic. He favored Coptic in his liturgies quite often (even the Coptic gospel). 

    "We will stand on Judgement day, you hold onto Coptic, while I persist in not speaking in tongues but praising with understanding. Thank God, new servants are arising and this mentality of coptic only will be stopped."

    Again with the judging. What you are implying is that people who have this "mentality of Coptic" are going to be stopped because it is against God. It is not amusing for anyone reading this when we are condemning others for holding different opinions.

  • Rem,

    I already explained the Church in Pentapolis.  The canon gives the jurisdiction to Alexandria.  That DOES NOT MEAN it was called the Church of Alexandria in Pentapolis, but it means that the episcopal replacement or disciplining of a bishop falls on the responsibility of the bishop of Alexandria.  But even until today, the Pope has no business crossing into the lines of another diocese without the bishop's permission (which sadly is probably why there are so many general bishops, because the Pope can bypass niceties and just barge in since this is part of "his diocese", an ecclesiological aberration I am fully against).

    So the Church in Pentapolis is the Church in Pentapolis.  The Bishop of Pentapolis is not the Alexandrian bishop of Pentapolis, but the Bishop of Pentapolis who answers to Alexandria if he has issues, or if the diocese has issues with him.  Furthermore, the Pentarchy formed by that canon in Nicea is nothing more than a political unification of the world to strengthen the Roman/Byzantine empire.  The Christian world used it to their advantage to keep communication with other communities.  They are based on a certain respect to metropolises around the world (Rome, Alexandria, Antioch) that had historical significance of Christian evangelization and education.  That's why they became the patriarchates (with the later addition of Constantinople and Jerusalem, the latter being of spiritual significance).

    I recommend the reading of Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck's book "His Broken Body" who elucidates very well proper Orthodox ecclesiology.  Once you understand this, you understand why I take the positions I take, concerning the aberration of general bishops, the aberration of mission philosophies in our church, the aberration of overlapping dioceses of sister churches, etc.  I foresee an issue where in the future, either chickens are coming home to roost, or we realize our mistakes and start having a unified ecclesiological framework.

    I'll see if there's anymore for language I can contribute because I need to catch up on the numerous posts made.

    God bless.
  • EsmoEpchois wrote

    "When I actually speak to American born converts, they consistently tell me they don't want services changed into English."

    Do they not want it changed because they enjoy praying in coptic or because they like the way it sounds, even when they have no clue what's being said? 

    I ask this question with no hostility lol as everyone seems very tense, I'm just curious.

    If you went to an Italian opera (in America) and I assume you don't know Italian, would enjoy it only for the way it sounds? Or would you find something that resonants with you personally? Even though you have no clue because you don't speak Italian, you still have a clue because some things are bigger than just words (and often it transforms you in some way). Do you think singing or hearing the same Italian opera in English has the same result? Not usually. In the same way, converts do not want to change liturgical service to the vernacular. They want to conform and transform themselves to the liturgical service as is. I've seen it happen.
  • dear remnkemi,
    i was not saying people shouldn't use fairly bad english.

    i was saying they should say 'right and worthy', instead of 'meat and rice'.

    also i was saying that if someone's english is so bad you have no idea what language they are praying in, let alone what the words are, you should let them pray in arabic instead.
    fairly bad english is fine with me. my arabic is fairly bad, but i think i know 'our father' and the creed well enough to join in when they are prayed in arabic.

    if i was saying 'abanoub il theefe sam at', i would start to pray it in english instead!

    i never used to pray 'our father' in english as a protestant, and in the churches i first attended several years ago, it was prayed in arabic 90% of the time
    (they have changed since).
    i started studying arabic a few months before finding out about the orthodox church, so it was nice for me to learn how to pray in the language i was studying, instead of just learning how to book a hotel room and buy a coffee.

    if i am in church and we all pray it in english, i usually pray it in english with them (except for those liturgies where you flip between the 3 languages so quickly that you don't know anymore what language you are speaking)!
  • @minasoliman,
    So again you're referring to the Jewish rites being a Jewish liturgy. Well no the apostles may have stuck to those rites as commanded by Christ and then other rites developed as you allude to. So if Christ instructs the apostles to do something descending from Jewish practices it is not Jewish anymore. It's Christian. So all I am saying is separate the rites from the definition of the liturgy..
  • @Remenkimi,
    Very well said.. thanks a lot
  • What's Jewish today was not Jewish then. I'm being quite accurate when I say we have liturgies rooted from Jewish liturgical practices of the Apostles. For example, the Ethiopian rite is essentially a Coptic liturgy that evolved on its own. It's the most familiar of all other rites in comparison to the Coptic because it is Coptic (and Jewish).

    It's been postulated that the Syriac rite is the closest thing to Judaic liturgy the Apostles practiced as well, and so one can say they can lay claim at least to how similar St. Mark may have prayed in Egypt.
  • I have no qualms at all about such statements you make and indeed I learn from them.. as long as you keep saying Jewish practices and not call it a Jewish liturgy that the apostles prayed. After being with Christ all became Christian as a continuation of the Jewish habits and customs. He came to fulfil not to abolish..
  • Perhaps the misunderstanding comes from how you define it. I used the term in the context of race, not religion. Just as some Christians were called "Jewish Christians" at that time.
  • @minasoliman,
    Yes I believe we're basically saying the same thing from the start but different terminology..
  • I seriously had to pick up my chin off the ground when I read AntoniosNicholas' link to an article by David Merchant on "An Orthodox Philosophy of Music" which he posted yesterday on this thread: http://tasbeha.org/community/index.php?p=/discussion/15187/orthodox-mission#Item_136

    Some of what David Merchant wrote resonates what I have been saying here all along.

    On September 17, I wrote 

    "If you went to an Italian opera (in America) and I assume you don't know Italian, would enjoy it only for the way it sounds? Or would you find something that resonants with you personally? Even though you have no clue because you don't speak Italian, you still have a clue because some things are bigger than just words (and often it transforms you in some way)."

    David Merchant wrote:

    "From the moment the choir started singing, I found myself transported to a different place. Even though I couldn’t understand the words being sung, I was struck by the reverence and prayerfulness of the hymns and knew that what I was experiencing was something otherworldly. It was as if the presence of God was manifested through the beauty of the music. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but there was something special about the music I heard that night, and I will never forget that experience."

     On September 15, I wrote:

    “The moment one says 10% Coptic is ok, 50% Coptic is ok, but 100% Coptic is wrong, then you have automatically invalidated someone based on your personal preference…So the only real solution is for everyone to recognize the feelings of others and not invalidate them by stating English only or my preferential mix of Coptic/English alone is valid.”

    David Merchant wrote:

    “Its [evangelical worship’s] function is to mimic popular styles of secular music in the hope of attracting the “lost” and to appeal to the musical tastes of the worshipper….as an Evangelical Protestant. In worship, there was a sense in which I approached God on my own terms.

    David Merchant continues to explain how ancient music is more than conservatism or traditionalism. “The Church does not preserve its ancient chant forms out of a desire to reject interacting with the modern age but rather because its music is in some sense inspired by God and has a redemptive and deifying purpose that transcends aesthetic pleasure.” After acknowledging and listing external (cultural) influences on liturgical music, Merchant concludes “None of these developments, however, constituted a sudden or radical break with the previous tradition. Their evolution was slow and gradual, within the bounds of the Church’s tradition, guided by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, these chant traditions retained a stylistic unity with one another and with the past and were all shaped around this principle of conservatism—this philosophy of music.”

    While David Merchant spoke of the relationship of ancient music and contemporary practices, the concepts apply to ancient language and contemporary practices. What has been passed down musically is an expression of God that has redemptive power that transcends style and time. Liturgical language, if understood as a philosophy, also has redemptive qualities built around this same principle or philosophy of music. There are certain qualities of language that transcend style, external influences, competence and even cognitive esthetics, all the while being as functional (if not more) than the vernacular.  Like music, one can’t approach God on his own linguistic terms (or preferences as I called them earlier), but one must be transformed by God through language. 

  • This is in response to this post


    I really don't know what to say about your Coptenglish post.  Please forgive me, but it sounds like this argument makes no sense at all.  If we live in an Indian community, should we start speaking like this?  I think it's rather silly to talk about Coptenglish like that.  It's English with an Egyptian accent.  Egyptians have went to work with that accent and had very little problems interacting with regular English-speaking folks.  So the argument is a red herring.  Who in the world is born learning to speak Coptic?  Do we have Coptic-speaking tribes in Egypt?  I think that is another red herring.

    The Chinese part:  I remember when I was in Georgia for a short time, I was praying at a Malankara Church.  The priest decided that for most of the liturgy, he chanted in English instead of Malayalam.  He said, "we all know English, and we are honored with the presence of a Copt, and so I don't see why we all should not pray in English."  The people kindly agreed.  This was very kind of them.  I cannot imagine a Chinese person who comes to America who will forever be speaking Chinese.  But if Chinese was a worldwide lingual standard like English that everyone understood, it would make sense, like Greek in the ancient world.  Greek was somewhat of a standard.  Our Coptic fathers wrote mostly in Greek before Chalcedon.  There was probably Coptic prayers in the more rural areas where they were not as educated and did not speak Greek.  So, I think the Chinese example also is not a realistic one.  If the vernacular does not work 100% of the time, it certainly would work 95% of the time (and I think that's understating the percentage).

    Allowable Coptic:  I state this not as something I would do, but the congregation as a whole agrees to do.  I used to be in West Virginia, and the closest church was an Antiochian Orthodox Church (EO).  Needless to say, 90% of the congregation were not Arab (mostly converts from WASPy backgrounds).  99% of the liturgy was in English.  Only one hymn, and not even the whole hymn, but just one line of the hymn was chanted in the holy mother church's language of Arabic (yes Arabic was the language), and it was the Trisagion.  I pretty much use the same standard.  If the congregation wishes to give some respect to the mother church, where they pray a few prayers in Coptic, so long as they know what they're saying when they're saying it, then I'm fine with that.  That's the point of my argument.

    On your next post, I will address the issue of entitlement:  I'm not saying that we should succumb to some sort of democratic principles of "rights".  No one has the rights to anything when it comes to Church; there is no "entitlements".  This I agree.  I'm saying as Church servants, we should accommodate in the language that everyone understands together as much as possible.  The point is to comprehend.  I think Coptic can be sacrificed because 10 times out of 10 (if it's possible to say 200% I would), the person who is speaking Coptic is most probably speaking English or Arabic.  Do you know of anyone who speaks ONLY Coptic?  I think that's why the argument makes no sense in some people's minds.  Coptic is not a spoken language today.  There is no Coptic tribe.  Coptic is an ancient language, and it is good for those who wish to translate manuscripts and study ancient texts, but not for communal prayer anymore.  That's dead.  I try to avoid saying that so as not to scandalize some minds, but I think I have to now.

    The only way I see Coptic being reintroduced in more than 5-10% of usage in the liturgy is if in Egypt, we are politically successful enough to lobby for a bilingual Egypt (or a worse political alternative, which is not even possible to conceive of and I won't write it).  The one person who is gifted in knowing Coptic can do a service for the whole Church by translating the prayers and the Church father's writings for us (people like Dr. George Bebawi have translated a lot of Coptic works into Arabic).  That is the importance of the few who can learn a dead language.  But no one is leaving out the guy or gal who speaks Coptic.  Coptic is a second language to him/her, not the first.  So the 99 sheep and 1 sheep does not apply to that.

    As for English proficiency, I think I will end my argument here, and agree to disagree with you Rem.  I love you and enjoy your posts, but that also makes no sense to me, and I'll just be repeating what I wrote earlier.

    (continued to next post)
  • edited October 2014
    The obstacle is not the language. It is the persistent faulty reason that language causes an irreparable schism between youth and God.

    I want to say something that I think you will agree with me.  The obstacle is a parish that shows lack of love and support, much more important than language.  Love is what matters.  If whole parish knows Arabic only, and not one word of English, and an English-speaking only guy comes in, and the parish is the most loving, guaranteed, this English-speaker will be very accommodative.  But the love goes both ways.  The congregation will also be accommodative as well, and will try its best to learn English.  However, I know one man who wanted to convert into the Coptic Church, an American, and the people mostly chanted in Arabic.  Needless to say, he left because he was just not comprehending anything, and never came back.  I also noticed some people who disappeared as well in our church a while ago, before we started to chant more in English.  God knows how many fall through the cracks.  I think in that situation, the language might have helped more.  If the love is not enough, if you're treating the person kindly, but not truly going out of your way, then language can be an obstacle.  But then again, when people do go out of their way for those they love, language is not an obstacle either, but you will change for them, and they will in return change for you.  Then they will be the ones who want to chant in Coptic (or Arabic).

    Think of it this way.  A person has a specific type of cancer.  Research showed that resection decreased mortality rates by 50%.  Chemo alone showed decrease in mortality 30%.  Radiation alone showed decrease in mortality 20%.  All three together showed decrease in mortality 80%.  So you do all three.  Leave no stone unturned.  If language can also be accommodated with love, that would be the best.

    Which leads to the next point.  Even if we are 100% English, and we don't have love for those we serve, I'm sure people will still leave the Church.  The youth needs special attention, more than mere language.  They need someone to be always available, even when the youth is nasty, because when they get in trouble, they have someone to fall back on who knows they will not be angry with them, but love them as always, even when they were jerks to the servants.

    Finally, I will jump ahead and reply to your very last post, because everything in between I felt was a tit-for-tat repetitive discussion, and people took things a bit personal, and I don't want to give that impression.  This is about your words in comparison to David Merchant.  I did not read the article, but whatever you quoted is agreeable to me.  The first part where he mentions being quite enamored at the prayers, even when he didn't understand them, feeling the presence of God through them.  I think the second quote you provided by David Merchant is also important and connected to the first quote.  No one is saying to adopt Protestant "feel-good" music, and I agree with David Merchant that the hymns should be allowed to evolve naturally and slowly over time with people.  So, all that I have been arguing (and I assume others) are merely linguistic concerns, not musicality or chanting styles.  I do have a problem with your first quote, the "opera" one.  I think our hymns are much more dignified than an opera.  When we go to an opera, we go because we want to enjoy a show.  When we go to a liturgy, we want to pray.  And so going back to my cancer analogy, if you keep the same chant, and change the language, and above all have love, you will win more souls.  That is my philosophy.  But if you have the best of love, I'm sure anyone like David Merchant would come in and feel enamored in our chants, and still be part of our community, engrafted into the Church.  But it would remove a huge burden in my opinion when the language becomes something all can comprehend together.

    God bless.
  • @minasoliman,
    Coptic is still a spoken language today. In scientific definition the Coptic language is not a dead language..
  • edited October 2014
    Is Coptic "uttered" or actually spoken and understood as vernacular of Egyptians today? Is it spoken like how Aramaic is in some parts of Syria?
  • Ophadeece...because you can type in English and have a conversation in English, you probably speak English more than you do Coptic in your day-to-day life.  Let's not play games here.
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