Whence Karekla?

From where does the Greek word for chair, karekla, originate?  And, why on earth am I even thinking about this?  The question came about from my recent stint substituting for Rubina as teacher of the senior Greek School class.  In addition to the lessons in the book we did some stuff on etymology, transliteration, metathesis, and other fun language things.  At one point I commented on how there are many Greek words for clothing, food and other cultural stuff that actually come from French, for various reasons.  Arabic shares this to some extent; very often things that didn’t exist in central Arabia back in the day take their name from French or another language.  The word for snow, telj, comes from the French neige, for example.

I was idly wondering if the Greek karekla and the Arabic kursi (chair) somehow were related, despite being from different language families.  The krk of the Greek matches up with the triconsonantal root of the Arabic krs – the hard k can become an s in certain word travels.  However, karekla is not attested in ancient Greek.  Kathedra in Greek matches up nicely with karekla – the vowels are the same (usually it is all about the consonants in these matters but vowels have a role as well) as is the syllabification.  And as it turns out, karekla does come from kathedra (where we get Cathedral) via Venetian – kathedra went to Latin and then Venetian and came back to Greek as karekla.

The Arabic kursi is in the Qur’an as a word for footstool or throne, and it is cognate to kisseh in Hebrew which also means throne (it is similar in most other semitic languages).  How about the English word chair itself?  Well, it too comes from kathedra, eventually.  More here.

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September 26th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

October Archpastoral Reflection From His Eminence

The story is told about a number of frogs which were placed by scientists in a tub of water whose temperature was exactly the same as the pond from which they were taken. The scientists slowly increased the temperature and were soon astonished to see that, even though the water gradually became warmer, the frogs did not react. It was only when the temperatures were increased to a boiling point that the frogs reacted. It was too late. Before they knew it, they burned to death. Had they realized the slow increase in the water temperature, they would have reacted and thus spared their lives. The frogs grew accustomed to the slow rise in temperature and adapted. The change in water temperature occurred slowly but deliberately, and because of this process, the frogs failed to pay attention.

For us Orthodox Christians, the changes in the moral standards in our society have occurred so slowly that they have become imperceptible. We have adapted to the slow deterioration of moral life in society to the point where we have adapted to the moral decay in our midst and have taken it for granted. Sadly we live in a world of moral and ethical relativism, hedonism and selfishness; in a world in desperate need of spiritual renewal. Sunday is no longer the day that we worship Almighty God and then sit at our dinner table to enjoy fellowship. Rarely do we read the Bible. Prayers are no longer offered in our schools. The Ten Commandments have been removed from our civil courts. Lifestyles previously kept in the closet are now championed as reputable and worthy of emulation. The other day while driving to a liturgical service, a fellow priest pointed to a decal placed prominently on the bumper of the car in front of us. It was the symbol of a new atheist group in America.

The admonition of Saint Paul addressed to the Ephesians should echo in our hearts, “no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” (Eph.4:17) We need to re evaluate our lives and ask ourselves how the way we live differs from the way others live who have no faith. Do we differ as Orthodox Christians from our secular and oftentimes atheist neighbors? How do we live our Orthodox Faith?

I am concerned that we have become so accustomed to sin and immoral behavior, that we do not notice it. We must not accept the prevailing permissive immoral and unethical standards of modern day society which are clearly at odds with the tenets of Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers of the Church.

Remember the frogs in the experiment, and be wary of their mistake of growing accustomed to an environment which eventually caused their demise.

+ Metropolitan Methodios of Boston
October 2011

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September 22nd, 2011 by Fr. Greg

A Psychotropic Experience

Well, not really – certainly no psychedelics were involved.  But after Little Angels and preschool ended, the family went to check out the annual Art In The Park exhibit at Elm Park.  Please check it out – you still have a week and a half or so (I believe it started later than usual this year).  Scoping out the art has become a family tradition, and we always select and compare favorite pieces.  This year mine was this cool one called Portals.  Wouldn’t this make a decent late-60s album cover?

It kind of reminds me of this:

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September 21st, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Voting

I voted in the primary yesterday and thought I would share a few thoughts.  Our area just had people on the ballot for the at-large City Council seats, so I went in, did my thing, and was out in less than two minutes.

-We have three parishioners on the ballot in the general election!  This is very exciting.  I have also made friends with some new people who are running, and I am happy to say that these are all great people who are civic-minded, regardless of their political leanings.

-Turnout was pretty low – the article from the T&G puts it at around 8.7%.  One precinct, which will go unnamed, had 5 people come out to vote.  Normally I defend low voter turnout – it is a sign that people are content with the status quo.  But I have been rethinking this.  Clearly people are not engaged on any sort of level here.  Politics is but one piston in the engine that moves society, but it does have a place, and it is sad and frightening to see such a disengagement.  When people do not feel part of a society nor want to participate in it there will be problems, and this seems to be what is happening.

-I voted at our quite precinct and was amused by the setup.  The door to the voting area had a small sign saying vote here and a gigantic sign, with a red-slashed circle, saying NO SMOKING (in two languages).  I do not promote smoking, but really – would anyone even think of lighting up in such an area (remember I voted and was there for only two minutes, if that)?  And why a huge, and no doubt expensive, sign?  Is this really the most important thing?  Sometimes I think we have become a parody of ourselves….

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September 21st, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Why Greek School?

It is that time of the year – registration for Greek School at the Cathedral today and tomorrow, with the traditional Sept. 14  agiasmo service kicking off the year and classes starting the next day.  Greek School can be tough for parents – everyone’s schools seemingly get out at different times, some parents live several towns aways, etc.  But I think it is well worth sending our children to the Cathedral’s Greek Afternoon School.  Here are a few reasons:

-First of all, it is a good thing to learn a foreign language.  Americans are not great at this, but I think a big reason is that each state speaks the same language (think Europe, where most neighboring states speak different languages and people tend to know more than one).  Greek is a heritage language for many of us at the Cathedral, but learning modern Greek opens the door to learning one of the great classical languages.  I can tell you that I did very well on my verbal SATs partly because if I didn’t know a word I could figure it out from Greek roots.

-Our school is accredited, and the teachers are certified in teaching Greek.  Our students can receive credit in school for these classes.  I should also mention that our teachers are awesome – tireless, dedicated, super-smart and able to make every day fresh and interesting.  Unlike my Greek School experience many years ago, our students are tracked – those who speak Greek at home go on one path, and those who don’t are put on another so they learn at the appropriate pace.

-Greek School at the Cathedral is more than just language.  The students learn religion, history and cultural stuff like dances and poems.  It is a great supplement to Sunday School and other ministries – time spent with fellow students in Greek School means more time at the church and more time with their church friends.

-The various performances during the year get the students comfortable with public speaking in high-pressure situations.  I know that memorizing and reciting poems as a little kid helped prepare me for what I do now; I am very comfortable speaking in public, and I am sure that those early performances (which I dreaded back in the day) were part of it.

I could go on with reasons.  Greek School is worth the driving and time commitment – we are blessed to have such a program.

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September 12th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

A Legend Retires

September 1, 2011

To the Rev. Clergy and Faithful in the Metropolis of Boston

My Brothers and Sisters in the Household of God,

I am saddened to announce that Sophia Nibi has decided to retire on September 1st.

Back in April 1984 – just a few days after I assumed responsibilities as Bishop in Boston, Fr. Dean Paleologos suggested I meet Sophia whom he recommended to become the secretary of the Diocese. When Sophia asked me what she would be responsible for, I responded EVERYTHING. Indeed, Sophia has been more than a secretary. She has literally administered the Diocese (now Metropolis) for more than 27 years, working tirelessly 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Earlier this year, Sophia was blessed with a granddaughter when her daughter, Theresa, adopted a delightful one year old little girl. Sophia wants to spend more time with her family, enjoy her granddaughter, and pursue her hobbies of reading and writing. She will remain an active part of our Metropolis family, and be involved in our Philoxenia House ministry and our St. Methodios Faith & Heritage Center and its programs.

As we begin the new Ecclesiastical year, I pray God bless Sophia and her family with every heavenly gift.

With Episcopal love,

M E T H O D I O S

Metropolitan of Boston

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September 1st, 2011 by Fr. Greg