Spirit, Pathos and Liberation

August 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Featured, News

liberation_logo-3The research presents Hispanic Pentecostalism as “the voice of the voiceless.” Solivan prepares the reader for the cultural and religious context in which orthodoxy has failed for various cultural, historical and theological reasons. He further proposes that the new term of “orthopathos” should be used. Orthopathos is the combination of orthodoxy (what we believe) and orthopraxis (what we do). As such, it introduces an interlocutor between God and humanity and between beliefs and works. God is the God who suffers for creation and with creation. The act of repentance is then the human response to the passion of God for humanity and joining with His sorrow in the death and alienation of mankind. Such appeal is against the dehumanization of revelation. It reduces the salvific experience to a simple claim of Biblical truths based on a logical choice.

Several reasons are given to prove that such intercalative paradigm is necessary for the Hispanic Pentecostal communities. Among them are not only Biblical, theological and mission requirements, but also sociopolitical, ecumenical and identity ones. These necessities expand the orthopathic approach beyond the church-religious context into the area of social transformation, thus proposing it as a larger paradigm for Christian mission to the world. Solovan claims that pathos denotes the idea of goodness and passion, which were very often missed by the ecclesial formations which followed the early church and was never properly restored by the Reformation. The discussion addresses the imago Dei and the pointed by Tertullian’s argument that God’s expression of passion is not a reflection of ours, but rather a reflection of His image.

Having established the pathos idea, Solivan goes further with showing how orthopathos can become a means of human liberation even through suffering. Three theological principles of orthopathos are presented as follows:
1. In connection with the Biblical principle of identification.
2. In connection with the Biblical principle of location.
3. In connection with the Biblical principle of transformation.

Through the Biblical foundation, the starting point of orthopathos is identified with the suffering and its relations to the category of poverty within the socioeconomic matrix. The author continues with a parallel between suffering and the work of the Holy Spirit and His work among the poor.

Once, the pneumatological factor is introduced, Solivan goes a step further to discuss Pentecostal glossolalia. He sees it as an affirmation of the work of the Spirit among the poor. This gives a Pentecostal conclusion of the orthopathos topic and allows the author to explore its practical implementation within the Hispanic Pentecostal community.
The book further introduces three critical questions concerning the topic of orthopathos. The first one is concerned with the imago Dei in reference to the emerging identity of Hispanic Americans and more specific Hispanic American Pentecostals.

The first concern is continued by the second question about the common experiences and culture in the context of North American immigration dynamics. This factor has a rather unicultural and ecumenical approach, but brings several interesting possibility for communality within the Holy Spirit. The third concern deals with the transformation of practice into praxis in a Pentecostal context and is connected with the last question which calls against passivity toward suffering and poverty. The book concludes with a call for social transformation which is addressed by Pentecostal theology and praxis.

Practical Implementation
In the background context of the treated problems and issues, the book inevitably stands against passivism toward social injustice and touches on the role of the church in the social transformation dynamics. Although, the book is dedicated to a Hispanic Pentecostals, the principles of social transformation are applicable also in my area of ministry in postcommunist Bulgaria. The similarities are many.

First, just like South America, Eastern Europe after the Fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 is struggling economically. Along with the social and political instabilities in the region, the economical crises have separated the Bulgarian community into a small percentage of extremely rich, and a majority of extremely poor with minimal or no middle class separation between them.

Second, while South America’s religion is monopolized by the Catholic Church, this role in Bulgaria has been occupied by the Eastern Orthodox Church. The last has been credited as the protector of the Bulgarian culture during the Turkish Yoke and the Communist Regime. However, in both cases, the Eastern Orthodox Church has participated in historical dynamics which have created environments for the rich and powerful minorities, thus oppressing the poor and the underprivileged majorities.
Thirdly, through the Protestant missions Pentecostalism was introduced to the Bulgarian culture in the 1920s. Today it is the fastest growing religious movement in Eastern Europe. Protestantism has rightly and faithfully fulfilled its role as a sociological factor in the formation of the Bulgarian culture exactly in the historical moments when the Eastern Orthodox Church has been or had chosen to become socio-culturally inactive.

Fourth, cross-cultural problems which Hispanic communities in North Amerca face are similar to the problems which Bulgarian immigrant communities face. The cross-cultural processes, struggle with identity, loss of heritage, as well as their recovery and reclaiming through the Biblical salvific experience, are dynamics which essential for the Bulgarian immigrant communities and the Bulgarian immigrant individually.

Finally, Pentecostalism has drawn a paradigm for personal and social transformation which has created an environment for liberation of the oppressed by postcommunist reality Bulgarians both in Bulgaria and internationally. It has further effectively addressed theological and practical issues through Pentecostal identity, experience and community becoming a factor within the social transformation and the postcommunist mentality as well. As such Pentecostalism, in a larger scale, has become an answer for many through providing answers to existential questions in the midst of crises, transitions and insecurity as its call for orthopathos has integrating the sacrifice of God with the present search and suffering of the Bulgarian nation.

Bulgaria’s National Holiday: The Liberation of Bulgaria (1877-1878)

March 1, 2004 by  
Filed under News

After being under Turkish yoke for over 500 years, Bulgaria was liberated in 1878. For the first time, March 3rd was celebrated in 1880 as the Day of the Ascension of Emperor Alexander II. Since 1888 it has been commemorated as the Day of Bulgaria’s Liberation from Ottoman rule.

During the 500 years of the Ottoman occupation, armed uprisings occurred recurrently in Bulgarian lands. Most of them were badly organized and brutally suppressed by superior Ottoman forces. It is from here that the great significance of the Bulgarian national liberation movement of the ’70s and its peak – the April Uprising – derives. The Bulgarian nation daringly appeared on the European political scene with the motto “Freedom or a heroic death,” challenging the rest of the world and putting to the test all adherents. The April Uprising of 1876 was quickly surprised by the Ottoman regular army through the killing of thousands of Bulgarian men, women and children and burning villages and towns to the ground. In this situation the governments of the Great Powers were in no position to overtly maintain the status quo as regards the Ottoman Empire. This created a congenial political situation and made it possible a more decisive intervention on the part of Russia. The Turkish atrocities that accompanied the April uprising illustrated to the whole world the true face of the Ottoman state and its barbarity. World public opinion raised its voice in defense of the Bulgarian people. British, American, Italian, French, German and Russian journalists and consuls made known to their governments and their peoples the truth about these monstrous crimes.

After preliminary talks with the European Great Powers on the possible outcome of hostilities, Russia declared war on Turkey on April 12, 1877. On the Balkans the Russian army had to overcome the Danube – a major water barrier, before coming anywhere near the Turkish troops. The Russians crossed the Danube in June, 1877. The war plan was based on the miscalculated presumption that Turkey was a colossus on clay stilts which should collapse at the first blow and envisaged the engagement of only a small Russian contingent 15,000-strong. Linder General Gurko’s command it was to rush through a narrow corridor to Constantinople and to prompt the terms of peace to the Turkish government. According to this same plan the 300,000-strong Ottoman troops in Bulgaria had to be counteracted by the Russian officers and soldiers about 250,000-strong in attacks outflanking the narrow passage.
The Bulgarian people met the news of the Russo-Turkish war with great enthusiasm and it too, rose against its centuries-long oppressor. A Bulgarian military detachment called ‘Bulgarian volunteers’, consisting of 12 battalions 12,500-strong, joined the Russian army. Hundreds of concomitant guerrilla detachments having from several dozens to several hundreds of soldiers were organized, too. These were particularly efficient in dealing with the communications and the small military groups of the enemy. Thousands of other Bulgarians directly joined the Russian army to help as reconnaissance officers, engineers of fortification facilities, medical orderlies, suppliers of fodder and food.

About the middle of July, the Russian leading detachment with Bulgarian volunteer forces reached the town of Stara Zagora in Southern Bulgarian, almost half-way through to Constantinople. The troops meant to protect the western flank of the Russian army in Bulgaria suffered a defeat in two assaults against the strategic fortress of Pleven, located only forty five miles from the Danube. At that time, the Turkish military forces concentrated on the eastern flanks of the corridor occupied by the Russians, also grew unimpeded. Soon their number was three times larger than the Russian troops withholding them. Turkish crack regiments four times as big as the Russian advance detachment were coming on from its opposite direction. Having no alternative but to succumb to the superior force, the Russians and the Bulgarians withdrew to position along the Balkan Mountain ridge in the region of the Shipka pass. Aware of its blunder, the Russian command immediately resorted to the translocation of major military formations from Russia to Bulgaria. Given traveling speed in those days the troops were expected to arrive at the front line not before the beginning of September. Everyone was clear that the war would be decided by the battle outcome at Shipka. If the Turkish army from southern Bulgaria succeeded in crossing over the Balkan Range and then joining one of the Turkish armies in northern Bulgaria, the Turkish command could be sure to obtain petrifying numerical superiority over the siege-imperiled Russians who should then leave Bulgaria. As fate has strangely willed it, the liberation of Bulgaria was entirely dependent upon the efficiency of the several thousand Bulgarian volunteers in keeping their positions on Shipka. Due to misjudgment of the direction of the Turkish main efforts, the command of the forces on Shipka had sent Russian operational reserve contingents to help in the defense of Hainboaz, another throat in the mountain. The Bulgarian volunteer detachment and only one Russian regiment remained on Shipka.

During the hot days of August 1877 epic battles took place on that mountain peak of Shipka, at the geographical intersection point of the Bulgarian lands. There the Bulgarians proved that they thoroughly deserved their freedom. Supported by few Russians, the Bulgarian volunteer detachment drove off dozens of frontal and flanking attacks by the stronger enemy with its manifold superior numbers of men and equipment, expected to easily vanquish volunteers, fighting with old rifle-trophies from the Franco-Prussian War. When the arms and ammunitions finished, the volunteers resorted to blank weapons to repulse the attacks. In fierce man-to-man fighting they showered boulders and other mass of rock, even their dead comrades’ bodies. Pertinacious and murderous was the Bulgarians’ effort that crushed the Turkish army and caused it to lose nearly half of its strength. The Bulgarian volunteers withstood their positions and thus, coped with a situation that spelled more and even greater danger. A quick change of scene and reversal of the war occurred after the arrival of fresh Russian reinforcements. They took Pleven and crossed the Balkan Mountain at the end of 1877. Following victorious battles at Sofia, Plovdiv and Sheinovo, the Ottoman military machinery was shattered, dilapidated and ruined. A preliminary peace treaty was signed in the small town of San Stefano near Constantinople on March 3, 1878. It made provision for an autonomous Bulgarian state extending to almost all Bulgarian lands in the geographical areas of Macedonia, Thrace and Moesia. The treaty of San Stefano obtained justice for the Bulgarian people. Its terms of peace included the restoration of Bulgaria’s state independence and the Bulgarians’ reunification within the boundaries of one state. It, provided the solution to the paramount historic task which had confronted the Bulgarian people over the last five centuries.
to the Turkish government. According to this same plan the 300,000-strong Ottoman troops in Bulgaria had to be counteracted by the Russian officers and soldiers about 250,000-strong in attacks outflanking the narrow passage.
The Bulgarian people met the news of the Russo-Turkish war with great enthusiasm and it too, rose against its centuries-long oppressor. A Bulgarian military detachment called ‘Bulgarian volunteers’, consisting of 12 battalions 12,500-strong, joined the Russian army. Hundreds of concomitant guerrilla detachments having from several dozens to several hundreds of soldiers were organized, too. These were particularly efficient in dealing with the communications and the small military groups of the enemy. Thousands of other Bulgarians directly joined the Russian army to help as reconnaissance officers, engineers of fortification facilities, medical orderlies, suppliers of fodder and food.

About the middle of July, the Russian leading detachment with Bulgarian volunteer forces reached the town of Stara Zagora in Southern Bulgarian, almost half-way through to Constantinople. The troops meant to protect the western flank of the Russian army in Bulgaria suffered a defeat in two assaults against the strategic fortress of Pleven, located only forty five miles from the Danube. At that time, the Turkish military forces concentrated on the eastern flanks of the corridor occupied by the Russians, also grew unimpeded. Soon their number was three times larger than the Russian troops withholding them. Turkish crack regiments four times as big as the Russian advance detachment were coming on from its opposite direction. Having no alternative but to succumb to the superior force, the Russians and the Bulgarians withdrew to position along the Balkan Mountain ridge in the region of the Shipka pass. Aware of its blunder, the Russian command immediately resorted to the translocation of major military formations from Russia to Bulgaria. Given traveling speed in those days the troops were expected to arrive at the front line not before the beginning of September. Everyone was clear that the war would be decided by the battle outcome at Shipka. If the Turkish army from southern Bulgaria succeeded in crossing over the Balkan Range and then joining one of the Turkish armies in northern Bulgaria, the Turkish command could be sure to obtain petrifying numerical superiority over the siege-imperiled Russians who should then leave Bulgaria. As fate has strangely willed it, the liberation of Bulgaria was entirely dependent upon the efficiency of the several thousand Bulgarian volunteers in keeping their positions on Shipka. Due to misjudgment of the direction of the Turkish main efforts, the command of the forces on Shipka had sent Russian operational reserve contingents to help in the defense of Hainboaz, another throat in the mountain. The Bulgarian volunteer detachment and only one Russian regiment remained on Shipka.

During the hot days of August 1877 epic battles took place on that mountain peak of Shipka, at the geographical intersection point of the Bulgarian lands. There the Bulgarians proved that they thoroughly deserved their freedom. Supported by few Russians, the Bulgarian volunteer detachment drove off dozens of frontal and flanking attacks by the stronger enemy with its manifold superior numbers of men and equipment, expected to easily vanquish volunteers, fighting with old rifle-trophies from the Franco-Prussian War. When the arms and ammunitions finished, the volunteers resorted to blank weapons to repulse the attacks. In fierce man-to-man fighting they showered boulders and other mass of rock, even their dead comrades’ bodies. Pertinacious and murderous was the Bulgarians’ effort that crushed the Turkish army and caused it to lose nearly half of its strength. The Bulgarian volunteers withstood their positions and thus, coped with a situation that spelled more and even greater danger. A quick change of scene and reversal of the war occurred after the arrival of fresh Russian reinforcements. They took Pleven and crossed the Balkan Mountain at the end of 1877. Following victorious battles at Sofia, Plovdiv and Sheinovo, the Ottoman military machinery was shattered, dilapidated and ruined. A preliminary peace treaty was signed in the small town of San Stefano near Constantinople on March 3, 1878. It made provision for an autonomous Bulgarian state extending to almost all Bulgarian lands in the geographical areas of Macedonia, Thrace and Moesia. The treaty of San Stefano obtained justice for the Bulgarian people. Its terms of peace included the restoration of Bulgaria’s state independence and the Bulgarians’ reunification within the boundaries of one state. It, provided the solution to the paramount historic task which had confronted the Bulgarian people over the last five centuries.