It's Fat Tuesday and the Coptic Christians are protesting

I've been watching the news this morning while enjoying my Solar Roast coffee and checking e-mail. I've learned that Egyptians - Coptic Christians to be exact - have taken to the streets to protest the treatment they are receiving. Of course the story isn't as big as the earlier protests, but it is something about which Christians from around the world should be praying.

As an example, here is a news brief I got this morning from Crosswalk.com.

Egyptians Protest As Church Torched and Coptic Homes Attacked

A mob of 4,000 Muslims attacked a church and Christian homes on the outskirts of Cairo Saturday. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that the mob was a reaction to the relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman, which is forbidden under Shari’a law. The woman’s father was reportedly murdered by a cousin for refusing to sanction the honour killing of his daughter, and the cousin was in turn killed by the woman’s brother. The attack on Sool allegedly followed the cousin’s funeral. The mob initially prevented fire fighters from containing the damage to the church. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council, told Reuters news agency that the army would rebuild the church before Easter holidays. More than 1,000 Christians and Muslims banded together afterward to protest the attacks.

In case you're wondering, Coptic Christianity is an ancient branch of the church, which was started in Egypt some 1,900 years ago or so by the same Mark who wrote the gospel. They have a fascinating history that you can read here and are credited with starting the monastic movement. They even developed a system for blind scholars to read manuscript long before the invention of Braille.At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, "the Coptic Church was unfairly accused of following the teachings of Eutyches, who believed in monophysitism. This doctrine maintains that the Lord Jesus Christ has only one nature, the divine, not two natures, the human as well as the divine." However, the Encyclopedia Coptica says that the church has never believed this. Like other Christians they believe that Jesus was human and divine:

"Copts believe that the Lord is perfect in His divinity, and He is perfect in His humanity, but His divinity and His humanity were united in one nature called "the nature of the incarnate word", which was reiterated by Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Copts, thus, believe in two natures "human" and "divine" that are united in one "without mingling, without confusion, and without alteration" (from the declaration of faith at the end of the Coptic divine liturgy)."

I don't see the difference between what we call Christianity and what the Copts call Christianity. What western Christians believe is that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. I think the Copts just explain it better. From what I've read, it looks like the Copts and the Roman Church are trying to reunite. We'll have to see what happens. In any light, the Copts need our prayers - not just because they are fellow believers but because they are people whom God loves.

Meanwhile, we are having a pleasanter time of it here in our country. Today is Fat Tuesday, more properly known as Shrove Tuesday or Shrovetide. Many Christians are preparing for Lent by, uh, pigging out. Lent is a traditional time of sacrifice. My husband Mike, who is a recovering Catholic, told me the other day that it's a way to gear up for Lent.

I remember when we lived in Michigan that these pastries were sold on Fat Tuesday:

Paczek (pronounced POONCH-eck).

"The Polish tradition is for Christian households to make paczki by using up all the sugar, lard and other treats that they will be forsaking during the 40-day penitential season of Lent, starting on Wednesday. Paczki devotees say eating the 600-calorie pastries makes it easier to give up sweets in the weeks ahead."

600 calories? One article in my Google search encouraged people to eat Paczkis but to watch the calories. How? By only eating one bite? By the way, Mike adds a bit of cultural lore here ... his mother, whose maiden name is "Urbanski", is the daughter of Polish Catholic immigrants. He recalls her referring to the kids as "pooncheck" as a term of endearment. According to mom, the term literally refers to a sweet pastry; when used as she did, it is like calling a child "sweetie."