Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ethiopian Orthodox Christians in the News

The current issue of Spiegel (the international edition of Der Spiegel magazine) is devoted to the topic of "The Power of Faith--How Religion Impacts Our World." They include an excellent article on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, found here. The story is informative, and surprisingly, largely supportive. The writers do attribute Ethiopian poverty at least partly to the Church, however. They contend that the numerous church holidays and fast days prevent the Orthodox Christians from doing more agriculturally.

However, these time-honored traditions and their enforced observance by the church are partly to blame for Ethiopia's plunge into bitter poverty over the past 50 years. How can a country possibly be self-sustaining if its people are prevented from tilling their fields every other day?

If poor and Orthodox Christian Ethiopia were surrounded by prosperous non-Orthodox African nations, then this argument might have some merit. Such is clearly not the case. Only this simplistic and unsubstantiated charge mars an otherwise excellent report.


Hilarius said...

I thought the Rastafarian tidbit a little out of place too.

A Blessed Holy Week and Pascha to you, my friend.


Mimi said...

I'd read a snippit of that article at another source, and I appreciate your posting the link as it helped me to contextualize it.

Fascinating, and what good photos. However, like you I find the central thesis problematic (as well as certainly not my experience - we aren't supposed to work on fast days? Who knew?)

John said...

Hilarius--I meant to say something about that as well--it seemed tacked on to the end of the article, with no relevance whatsoever.

And a Blessed Holy Week and Pascha to you, as well. (And I might add, I am in awe of the monumental posting on your blog for the 40 days of Lent. They have been a rich, rich blessing to me.)

Mimi--I agree with you. I suspect that the German writer made some unwarranted assumptions and simply dismissed the whole religious feasts and fast days as just so much primitive silliness.

Wordsmyth said...

And the part about Ethiopians not considering themselves Africans ... I've seen no evidence of that. Quite the contrary in fact. Perhaps Walter Raunig doesn't consider Ethiopians to be Africans, but I think his opinion might not be so well founded. He seems to be projecting his personal views/biases as being those of the Ethiopians.