In Memory of Sydney Aiello

SydneyAielloWe see the mind-numbing number of people killed by guns and fight over whether or not we need to do something.

We usually never hear about the survivors.

We turn our attention away from fixing the problems, because it’s easier to call each other names and binge on Netflix.

In the middle of our OK Corral are American children who go to school every day wondering if today will be the day. Their parents fear getting the call or hearing the news that there is an active shooter, and those who go to work are required to drill for active shooter scenarios.

We have done this to ourselves and we should be ashamed.

We need to stop calling each other liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, the right and the left, I’m going to heaven and you’re not, the haves and the have nots, gays or people who have family values, red states versus blue states… What did I miss?

Let’s get it/us together and stay focused on all that we share in common. United we stand. Divided we fall. We are falling. Let’s see if we can get up.

Read about Sydney Aiello

70 Souls of Blessed Memory

Not being heard, but the Lord is my shepherd

Can’t sleep, still counting white and black sheep

Trying to cry, as I keep asking why

Is this our Father’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven

Christchurch – 50, Charleston – 9, Pittsburgh – 11

Was God in the houses where those poor souls went to pray

What does your holy book say

“…in this holy place or in any other place

may there come abundant peace

grace, lovingkindness and compassion, long life

ample sustenance and salvation

from the Father who is in heaven (and earth)

and say, Amen”

Lord hear our prayer

They Are Part of Us

Four people I loved have died in four months. I will miss them for the rest of my life.

Bill proved that there is a difference between dads and fathers. Pat loved without judgement and made it okay to be outrageous. Yael had a timeless, elegant style that mattered. Armen proved that bringing joy to the lives of the people around us is worth more than money and having lots of stuff.

I will carry the laughter and love we shared in my heart.

They are now part of me.

When we part, what do you want me to remember?

Our Religion, Knowledge, and Identity

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Were we predestined to be born into our religions? What if we discovered that we aren’t who we think we are?

Through DNA testing, a Turkish man learns his grandmother wasn’t who he thought she was, and he discovers he is ethnically Armenian. Does this new fact automatically change him from a Muslim to a Christian? An elderly devote Catholic learns her grandfather converted to Catholicism from Judaism to marry his sweetheart. Does she stop going to church every day? What would you do?

Questions about our religious upbringing and identity have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. But, mostly, I appreciate wisdom and learning the teachings of different traditions.

“For Priest Turned Professor, ‘Holy Envy’ Is Key To Appreciating World Religions” is a refreshing conversation about religion. Terry Gross interviewed Professor Barbara Brown Taylor, an ordained Episcopal priest for NPR’s Fresh Air podcast. Professor Taylor wrote a memoir about how she exposed her college students to different religions — taking them to different houses of worship — and what happened. Listen to the podcast or read the article and share your thoughts here.

 

To be or not to be on Facebook

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The other day my godson and I were talking about Facebook. We agreed we both feel worse after spending time on it.

So why don’t I just quit it? Because Facebook keeps me connected to friends and family I care about. Why not unfriend the ones who give me tsuris? Because I would rather have them in my life.

Ideally, I would like us all to:

  • Remember why we became friends in the first place
  • Focus on what we have in common
  • Show respect for each other and our differences

You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

 

3 of My Armenian Grandparents Had Roots Where the Azeris Say We Never Were

Djulfa

Long ago, in a far away place, Julfa was a thriving Armenian city. And then it was not.

What do you know about Julfa? I can tell you that there was an Old Julfa and a New Julfa.

During the Middle Ages, Old Julfa was on the Silk Road at the crossroads of great empires. A few hundred thousand Armenians called the ancient city home — a population about the equivalent of the number of Armenians living in the United States today. As their silk worms were spinning silk into gold, Julfa’s Armenian merchants were welcomed across Europe and the Far East. But, Julfa and its inhabitants were also in the crosshairs of warring kings.

After one particularly brutal turf battle won by Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I, Persian Shah Abbas I set fire to everything he could burn as he retreated. It was on this scorched earth that the Shah attempted to bring all of Julfa’s Armenians back with him. At first, they didn’t want to go, but he persuaded them to take his deal: deportation or death. Many thousands died on the journey. Those who survived, settled in Isfahan and established Nor (New) Julfa. Three of my grandparents descended from the Old Julfa Armenians. My father was born in New Julfa, in present-day Iran. He immigrated to America with his parents and sisters in 1948.

Today, Old Julfa is simply Julfa, a city in Azerbaijan. If you believe the Azeri government, the Armenians were never there. To put an end to the question of why there was an Armenian cemetery with thousands of graves in Old Julfa, Azerbaijan destroyed it.

Read Hyperallergic.com’s post, “A Regime Conceals Its Erasure of Indigenous Armenian Culture – A groundbreaking forensic report tracks Azerbaijan’s recent destruction of 89 medieval churches, 5,840 intricate cross-stones, and 22,000 tombstones.”

[Photo credit: Copyright Argam Ayvazyan archives, 1970-1981; posted February 17, 2019, Hyperallergic.com]