* This page is about ORTHODOXY only *
Ethiopian & Rastafari
by Aster Sellassie, Millennium Ed.
GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film
(c)2004 HIM contents (summary of the HS web-biography) *
SummaryThe Orthodox Church of Ethiopia is sometimes thought of as a Coptic Church originating from missionary advances from Egypt, but it is rather an Orthodox Church brought to Ethiopia from Syria by two travelling Christian merchants in the fourth century. Ethiopian orthodoxy nourished a strong sense of identity with the Jewish heritage of the church. Replicas of the Ark of the Covenant are placed in all churches, which are typically styled after the Temple in Jerusalem. The church in Ethiopia survived the Islamic conquests. It was disturbed by theological controversy after the introduction of Roman Catholic missions and theology in the seventeenth century. To the present the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is an example of an ancient Christian communion that developed independently of either Byzantine or Roman patterns and expressed markedly African patterns of life and thought.
sellassie.vtheatre.net 2006 + ethio.wetpaint.com (EM)
Questionsbiblio: Aziz S. Atiya, History of Eastern Christianity. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968 * Adrian Hastings, The Church in Africa: 1450-1950. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994 * Elizabeth Isichei, A History of Christianity in Africa from Antiquity to the Present. London: SPCK, 1995
"An Ethiopian Boyhood"
Notes"The Orthodox monk is the best expression of the difference between Western and Eastern Christianity. Without too much theology to go through, it could be said that the Orthodoxy (monophisits) believes in one nature of Christ and it is fully divine. That doctrine results in this strong division between two realities -- Man's and God's. An Orthodox believer has to make a more radical choice since there is no middle ground between Hell and Heaven. Selecting God, a monk separates himself from the earthy matters, including social and political aspects of life (which is very different from the history of the Western Christianity which not only played active political role in shaping the fate of Europe, but perhaps was the teacher of all European politics)." Orthodoxy *
2004 & After
Judaism (Falasha, now in Israel)
Judaism (Falasha, now in Israel)
On this page I have to focus on the Christian Orthdox doctrines and their applications to our postmodern universe. There is a segment on Islam and Oromo in the "Birth of Tafari" chapter.
Ethiopians are indifferent to the issue of race. There are many shades of black in Africa. Egyptians or Arabs could be very dark. As well as Indians. Division lines in Ethiopia are ethnic (cultural). Ethiopian Jesus isn't white, so neither the Russian. Perhaps, it has something to do with a brown, which has to be applied first, before we use okra and other colors. Perhaps, because Jesus is a Jew, and not from Brooklyn but Palestine.
Unfortunately, many Ethiopian Christian books are the apocrypha. They are not well known. There was no dialogue between Ethiopian church and other Christian Orthodox branches. Egyptian coptics or Armenians would see nothing unusual in Christ dark complexion. Since Ethiopian church lived for centuries in total isolation, Ethiopians had no need to compare their Christ with European versions. And they were the only Christian country in Africa. They do not consider themselves blacks because their Central African neighbors are much darker. Sheba is dark for the Hebrews, not for the Oromo.
More interesting is to see the different understanding of Christ's essence. Like in other Eastern Orthodoxies we hardly can find Jesus on the cross. His human nature isn't separate from his divinity and therefore his death has less significance. Also, his birth, Christmas, is not a major holiday. Easter is. The triumph of being God. For Abyssinians, the warriors, Christ was more a king:With this writing, through the power of Jesus Christ, Sabaot, who has Michael on his right and Gabriel on his left, you will send the angels with their swords and Christ between them with his sword; and they will purify the face of the earth, the four faces of the sky, the four faces of the plants, the four faces of the water, and the faces of all things under the earth.Also, in contrast with all other Christian churches, Ethiopians see the Trinity as three identical figures. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who in Western mind were developed into definite personas, in Ethiopia they are seen as the same. Therefore Christ is a ruler. Equal to Father, the Creator.
The geometric (abstract) dimension in scrolls' canon allows them to present Christ as very connected with the other world. He, like everything else in Ethiopian iconography, is depicted according to a nature of a situation. God-man is present in human situations. (Of course, one has to remember that there are several eras in Ethiopian history with its own sensitivity. For me the beauty of true scrolls ends with the Gondar period.)
The writing on the scrolls!
Protective Motif: "This is Mrs. Esther Sellassie-Antohin."
In what language should I write my wife's name? English, Amharic, Russian? I hope that the picture will SPEAK, will protect her. Is it a portrait? Could her guardian angel recognize her on this "portrait"? Is it a good enough painting for the eyes of the divine?...
PART TWO. JANHOYAnother segment from my unfinished book "HIM" -- If you read Web-Biography, you could see why it's so difficult for me to coplete the manuscript. Too many subjects I wish to talk about (philosophy, metaphysics, religion), are not molding into the story of one man (history).
In addition, I want to make the book very personal. Too many directions, too many narratives. Including the chapter "1917. Regent," which I want to write as a hyperdrama! Is it possible?
I don't know. I need straight few months free to focus on this project. I don't have the time. Not now.
PS. I place my notes on this pages full of historical data. This page must be read with other "History" pages: 19th Century, Menelik and Tafari and others.
|Menelik I||legendary son of Solomon|
& the Queen of Sheba
|Ella Amida (I,II,III?)||end of 3rd century AD|
Frumentius first Coptic Bishop|
of Ethiopia, c.305; stela erected
at juncture of Nile & Atbara, 350;
Kush overthrown? 355
|unknown number of Kings|
|Ella Amida (IV?)||475-486|
|Caleb, Ella Asbeha||514-542, or|
|At Roman urging, Ethiopians install|
a Christian king in Yemen, 523-525
|traditional King who welcomed|
Muslim refugees from Mecca
|Mara Tekle Haimanot||916-919|
|St. Yemrehana Christos||1039–1079|
|St. Na'akuto Le'Ab||1159-1207|
|Gebra Maskal Lalibela||1172-1212, or|
or St. Tekle Haimanot
|Amda Siyon (Seyoi) I||1314-1344|
|Dawit (David) I||1382-1411|
|Tewodros (Theodore) I||1411-1414|
|Zara Yakob (Constantine I)||1434-1468|
|Baeda Mariam I||1468-1478|
|Amda Seyon II||1494|
|Lebna Dengel (David II)||1508-1540|
|Moslems allied to Turkey defeated, with|
Portuguese help, Battle of Lake Tana, 1543
|Yohannes (John) I||1667-1682|
|Iyasu (Jesus) I the Great||1682-1706|
|Tekle Haimanot I||1706-1708|
|Dawit (David) III||1716-1721|
|Iyoas (Joas) I||1755-1769|
|Tekle Haimanot II||1769-1777|
|Salomon (Solomon) II||1777-1779|
|Tekle Giorgis (George) I||1779-1784, 1788-1789,|
|Ba'eda Maryam I||1788|
|Ba'eda Maryam II||1795|
|Ba'eda Maryam III||1826|
|Tewodros (Theodore) II||1855-1868|
|takes diplomats hostage; British Expedition,|
defeat & suicide of Tewodros, 1868
|Tekle Giorgis II||1868-1872|
|Egyptians defeated, driven out of Eritrea,|
Battle of Gundet, 1875, Battle of Gura, 1876
|Menilek (Menelik) II||1889-1913|
|Italians defeated, Battle of Adwa, 1896|
|Lij Iyasu (Joshua)||regent 1909-1913,|
1913-1916 (d. 1935)
(Ras Tafari Makonnen)
(III, of Italy) styled
"Emperor of Ethiopia"
|1941-1974, d. 1977|
|Aman Mikael Andom||Head of State, 1974|
|Mengistu Haile Mariam||1977-1987|
Historians have always claimed that the myths of celestial kings were nothing more than images of local kings and kingship rites projected onto the sky. But comparative analysis will demonstrate that the reverse is true. The memory of the creator-king came first, and it was this remarkable memory which provided the mythical aura supporting and legitimizing kings the world over.
Killing the king became a secret act in modernity. Historians didn't convinced the revolutionary that king isn't divine. The murder of kings isn't public but something of a court intrigue. The leaders of a mob kill a man to get rid of a king. What's the point to talk about them? Nowadays it doesn't take a hero to kill a hero. Bullet equalizes the strong and the wicked. A child with a gun could be David. He have no memory. Period.
Of course, we know that according to the universal tradition, every king was, in a magical way, the Universal Monarch reborn. But this is an academic issue. What is King if God is dead. What is a king? Another human. Countries without kings are the leaders.
The original concept may appear as self flattery, but it actually has more to do with a *burden* of kings: the requirement that the king live up to the mythical aura of kings. Never was there a king in early times that did not wear the dress of a mythical god--the model of the good ruler. Whatever the celestial, founding king had achieved, it was the duty of the present king, pharaoh, or emperor to duplicate, at least through symbolic repetition. For such was the first test of a *good* king.
O King's Rights are King's Duties!
TRIPLE TASK OF ADAM
On a level of comfort our modern commoner lives like a king. Do you expect him to be a servant of the society (Friderix's principle)?
Well, he is not in position of superiority to others: he is in a position to serve as long as he's paid (not provided, as a welfare recipient and a king). Policeman or soldier, they are in the field of special authority (not just a "man with the gun," but a part of the big machine = state of power).
"Military communism" in Russia (1918) removed the economy of labor relations. There was an order of monks-warriors (knights of revolution). "Party of a new kind" (Lenin) -- where any job was political and was an appointment (almost as in nobility). The society was divided on the sacred members (party) and the rest. Party member had no personal divine rights (and no persona), he owned nothing but everything was in his possession of the state, based on ideology. Factually, everything belonged to the party.
That was the ideological ground for totalitarian state, and,
eventually, for uncontrolled corruption. After the sons of the
Great Revolution executed their fathers (the normal mode of
succession in monarchy), they had no memory of being underground,
in exile, opposition. They knew nothing but power. Stalin was the
last to die in 1954, when the communist clan of children and
grandchildren of revolutionary took over. It took another
generation (1985-Perestroika) to dissolve the ideology (and as a
result the state became self-destructive). The same with Mao and
his cultural revolution. Mengistu had to complete this process in
What still is missing in Ethiopia -- technology.
King as a super-man (superior being): magic presence, the
bridge between human and the divine.
Now: supreme to whom? To other people? No way!
EMPEROR IS THE MODEL FOR A POMO MAN
Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential servitude. Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental. Hence he does not look upon the necessity of serving as an oppression. When, by chance, such necessity is lacking, he grows restless and invents some new standard, more difficult, more exigent, with which to coerce himself. This is life lived as a discipline -- the noble life. Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us -- by obligations, not by rights. Noblesse oblige. "To live as one likes is plebeian; the noble man aspires to order and law" (Goethe). The privileges of nobility are not in their origin concessions or favors; on the contrary, they are conquests. And their maintenance supposes, in principle, that the privileged individual is capable of reconquering them, at any moment, if it were necessary, and anyone were to dispute them.*(2) Private rights or privileges are not, then, passive possession and mere enjoyment, but they represent the standard attained by personal effort. On the other hand, common rights, such as those "of the man and the citizen," are passive property, pure usufruct and benefit, the generous gift of fate which every man finds before him, and which answers to no effort whatever, unless it be that of breathing and avoiding insanity. I would say, then, that an impersonal right is held, a personal one is upheld. [G VI]Ortega E Gasset is pointing at something which could be the extreme of nobility in the case of Being the King. Absolute Monarch is the absolute limitations. Haile Sellassie was the last and ultimate emperor. He was and played the King of Kings.
... I write this on the day of the Crown Prince death. W Sellassie died on January 18, 1997 in Alexandria, Virginia. Self-proclaimed Emperor just a few years before his death, he never had any pollical significance. He was the Emperor for a few days during the coup of 1960 -- and the father remembered it. The son was crashed by the weight of his father's fame. He never was his father's favorite son. He was another example of many negatives of the noble idea.
Noble means the "well known," that is, known by everyone, famous, he who has made himself known by excelling the anonymous mass. It implies an unusual effort as the cause of his fame. Noble, then, is equivalent to effortful, excellent. The nobility or fame of the son is pure benefit. The son is known because the father made himself famous. He is known by reflection, and in fact, hereditary nobility has an indirect character, it is mirrored light, lunar nobility, something derived from the dead. The only thing left to it of living, authentic, dynamic is the impulse it stirs in the descendant to maintain the level of effort reached by the ancestor. Always, even in this altered sense, noblesse oblige. The original noble lays an obligation on himself, the noble heir receives the obligation with his inheritance. But in any case there is a certain contradiction in the passing-on of nobility from the first noble to his successors. The Chinese, more logical, invert the order of transmission; it is not the father who ennobles the son, but the son who, by acquiring noble rank, communicates it to his forbears, by his personal efforts bringing fame to his humble stock. Hence, when granting degrees of nobility, they are graduated by the number of previous generations which are honored; there are those who ennoble only their fathers, and those who stretch back their fame to the fifth or tenth grandparent. The ancestors live by reason of the actual man, whose nobility is effective, active -- in a word: is not was.* (Gasset)How and who could over-perform Haile Sellassie? He couldn't done it himself at the end of his life. He ended where he started -- in relations with himself. He withdrew from the world.
If Chinese wisdom is right HIM famed the ancestors, his efforts were directed at the past, regardless his reforms of the present for the future of Ethiopia. Maybe, there is logic in the modern amnesia of the country. The history of nobility was over and people on the streets of Addis Ababa had no interest in this foreign culture.
What is the inside picture of the monarch?
God, king, man -- always single. The price of power, freedom, self-awareness -- solitude. HIM did share his thought with no one. Not even with paper. Man of silence, he was used to this position of a monk. His thoughts and personal feelings were between him and God. Tafari was a prisoner of Haile Sellassie. It was his choice and destiny.
Relations with yourself as with "others" -- performance, personal (private) and public, the conflict.
Relationships with your-selves: democratic process?
The aristocracy didn't put a fight. At the time of revolution there was only an empty shelf of nobility. The inner tension on which nobility lives was gone. The Crown was ceremonial rituals, no more than British royal house since the modernity.
King as a nearest image of Father (God).
King is alienated from life.
Humanity is not his family (in human sense): they don't (and shouldn't) understand him, they share of nothing in his experience; the division is the extreme one. He doesn't belong to heaven and doesn't belong to earth.
After the Age of Revolution will lose its rage and will turn into legitimate past -- and the postmodern is an indication of this aging modernity -- we will rediscover the secrets of nobility. Not only the disappearance of the open communist rhetoric but the reappearance of forgotten kings is an indication of cultural vacuum.
One reason constitutional monarchies appear to be exceptional in the degree of unity and stability which they enjoy may be that the monarch is a center of national loyalty above politics. A distinguished English lawyer expressed it this way: "One can be a loyal subject of the Crown while regarding the Prime Minister and his Party as a national disaster." (Austrian?)
New logic of the benefits of royalty: "political impartiality would not apply in the case of a President who was politically selected. (However, some of those who argue in favour of a republic are reported as saying that the President, however chosen, would be above politics)." (Australia 2000)
And we thought that Machiavelli was the ultimate politician. They were philosophers next to contemporary leaders, who are the pure politicians. They are the servants, they can't have independent minds. There is nothing there for think about but the politics.
King rules but does not govern: thinkers. Masses govern but can't rule. Think about it....
The (constitutional) monarchy has undergone a process of democratization of at least the same magnitude as the "monarchization" of the democracy. Kings for a year, for a day, even fifteen minutes! Rotate the power of powerless! Rent the palace!What is our hotel industry for? Limousine service, catering, restaurants -- the last must be served! I don't need blood line, you need money. Let rotate the role playing; one day a master, next day -- a slave. What is our idea of vacation? Did you ever heard the saying "Costumer is a king"? Why not "president"? Doesn't sound right.
Too late to talk about Revolt of the Masses.
The Mob is a king. During the revolt. And after, when it forms Revolutionary Society of Equals.
It always violent. Even when it's an organized one. Especially, when it's well organized. This soft violence is fully analyzed by Foucault. Marxism is over century old experience to miss the points of the advanced power technology. A careful reader of American texts could noticed that the laws of democracy protect "human" rights. "Human" is a historical definition, not an absolute. Communists openly rejected "abstract humanity"; they were for the rights of the "Soviet humans." "Human" is something which is a mutual feature in you and me. Our common characteristics, not our differences. Individual rights gave in for human rights. Did you notice?
Monarchization of democracy (conversion): president as a celebrity. The recent auctions of American royalty, the Camelots, and belongings of the first lady J. Who buys them? The kings. The costumers. It takes a lot of money to get (buy) the mass media time and the mass itself.
Popular king, people's favorite = clown. Leadership =
people's will. We elect president not for actual management but
for a representation. We need the figure.
Collective conscience must be a reality since we politically act upon it.
Paradise: land of no fear. Our leaders are likable,
good-to-all-guys. The principe of electability makes them into
no-rulers and no governors. Populism (love) and monarchy (fear):
in the past they loved their king because he was "theirs" by
God's providence. Now they like their choice. King served his
people by God's will, nor people's neither his. If the king is my
true servant, paid by me, hired like a taxi driver, how can I
respect him more than a mail man? If president doesn't rule, who
does? We (too many) can't. How could we govern? By faking it.
Instead of God, he has to please me.
Embracing the slavery: if they don't submit themselves to one man, they have to submit themselves to the last, the lowest man. The slave. To all of them. Take it, teaches the Saint of Power Idea, Foucault, the oppression will make you stronger. In resistance the suppressed forms its individuality. Some do.
They lie, democracy is the most oppressive machine. I would fight and die for it but this commitment to the best of social mass organization can't force me to lie.
Reading on Orthodoxy ***
Ethiopian Links *
Rastafari: although its national religion remains confined to the homeland and expatriot communities, the existence of the Empire, at a time when only one other black state in Africa was independent, inspired relgious developments elsewhere. In distant Jamaica a movement began that exalted Ethiopia to heavenly and the Emperor of the time, Haile Sellassie, to divine status. This movement came to be known as Ras Tafarianism, after Haile Sellassie's pre-Imperial name and title (Ras). A long, ropy hairdo, "dreadlocks," and marijuana (ganja) smoking became associated with the movement, which seemed threatening to many, with little back-to-Africa or self-improvement overtones, but a great deal of threatening behavior and rhetoric. Late in his life, Haile Sellassie actually visited Jamaica. He had previously not heard of this movement and was exceedingly puzzled, if not unsettled, by it, as a man might be whose name means "Faith in the Trinity." The movement came to international attention mainly through the success of the splendid Reggae music in the 1970's, when musicians like the late Bob Marley (sporting dreadlocks) and Jimmy Cliff found success and celebrity all over the world.
|@ 1998, 1999 The Imperial House of Sellassie||Index|
|Recent Primates and|
Patriarchs of Ethiopia
|Abuna Kerlos, Kyrllos||1929-1936, d.1945|
|Italian Occupation, 1936-1941|
|Abuna Basilos, Basil||1945-1950|
|Abuna Tekle Haimanot||1977-1988|
|Abuna Poulos, Paul||1991-present|
The Ethiopian monastery of Deir es-Sultan on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
[The "new" Ethiopian church and monastery of Debre Gannet, Jerusalem ]
There can be few monasteries as strange as Deir es-Sultan, home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. To come across it without warning is an unusual experience. One walks up a flight of steps behind the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, through a gateway in an old stone wall, and suddenly a tiny African village is revealed: a group of low mud huts huddled together from which comes the clatter of cooking pots. From the middle of a courtyard rises a small and elegant dome. Two priests sit idly chatting on a stone bench. It takes a little time to realize that this is the roof of the Holy Sepulchre itself and that the dome is giving light to the chapel of Saint Helena below, one of the most ancient parts of the complex which make up the most sacred of Christian sites in Jerusalem. [ Israel ]
texts: HIM (summary)
reading: Story of Esther
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