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Church Not A Cat Walk

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  • Church Not A Cat Walk

    CHURCH NOT A CAT WALK Team Editorial
    31 October 2011

    We live according to long-established laws-civil, moral, humane and
    religious. We also live by rules--written or unwritten. There are
    rules and etiquette guidelines which nobody tells us about but we
    somehow-innately, by osmosis or otherwise-observe. Such rules govern,
    for instance, our manner and the way we present ourselves at church.

    Whether one is a believer or not a civilized person, when within the
    walls of a house of worship, respects the faith demonstrated by the
    clergy and the congregation. These are givens which one would assume
    do not require a reminder. Unfortunately, the absence of decorum by
    some North American Armenian faithful at Badarak Holy Mass forces us
    to comment.

    A female worshipper's long, curly and bottle-blonde tresses spread like
    a fan well below her uncovered shoulders. Perhaps she rejected the
    traditional hair covering because it would have hidden her physical
    allures. Once in a while (in case the men had not noticed her silken
    locks?) she would sway her big hair, like a lion gently shaking his
    golden mane.

    A man in his early forties had his hands in his pockets throughout
    Badarak, except when he was not kneeling. His hefty belly projecting
    way ahead of his torso, the man's posture seemed to say, "I am not
    impressed: make me another offer." When the collection plate was
    passed around, the man with the generous belly dropped all of 25
    cents in it. He didn't seem to be embarrassed by the clinking sound
    his miserly metal made as it hit another coin. As everyone knows,
    a North American altar boy can't buy even a single candy with 25 cents.

    Another man had his dark sunglasses resting on his head, as if he
    was passing through the church on his way to the beach or some other
    sybaritic venue.

    A number of women were dressed in tight pants and seemed to
    precariously balance themselves on high heels. The concept that at
    church the faithful should cover their physical attributes rather than
    expose them is obviously a bizarre or arcane idea to these women who
    ostensibly had come to church to re-live the passion of Christ.

    Someone should tell them what passion means in the context of Badarak.

    A middle-aged man had brought along bottled water. He noisily guzzled
    from the bottle and then furtively wiped his mouth with his sleeve.

    A girl in her late teens, dressed in layered shirts, exposed
    her glossy, suntanned shoulders. Two of her friends were chewing
    gum... once in a while a cell phone rang shattering the ecclesiastic

    One doesn't have to be religious to object to the above disgraceful
    behavior. In addition to insulting the Christian faith and Armenian
    traditions, these insolent or ignorant people also insult the priest,
    the Armenian people, our history and culture.

    What did the rest of the faithful think about these fashionably-dressed
    barbarians? What did the poor priest, reciting our 1,500-year-old
    Badarak... the words of Christ, Nerses Shnorhali and Krikor Naregatsi
    ...think as he watched the shameless, uncouth, if not sinful, pageant
    from the altar? Would he hesitate to condemn such behavior from the
    pulpit, fearing that he might lose a number of his congregants?

    To paraphrase the lyrics of "Eleanor Rigby," where do these people come
    from? Who were their parents? What school did they go to? What makes
    them behave the way they do? Do they realize that there's a difference
    between a cat walk, the beach, the street and the house of God?

    At the beginning of Badarak Armenians recite "Havadamk"-the cornerstone
    of the Christian faith. At the end of that collective statement,
    they say that those who don't believe the doctrines expressed in
    "Havadamk" should leave the church. Perhaps the Armenian Church
    should put an addendum to "Havadamk"-a few words which would remind
    people, who do not respect the sacred ground, that they should take
    their uncovered hairs, their tight pants, their shades, stilettos,
    bottled waters and chewing gums and vacate the church post haste.

    A youthful Christ grabbed the whip and lashed at the money-changers
    of the temple, driving them out.  In the same spirit perhaps someday
    an Armenian priest should order these brazen "faithful" out of the
    house of God. Their presence is a "beeghdz" the Armenian Church and
    congregations have tolerated long enough.