Tag Archive for: Armenian Genocide


Armodoxy for Today: Commemoration

As the years move on, we are distanced from the link that ties us Genocide. When I would first come to these Genocide commemorations as a kid, there would be a stage area where the program would take place, and below it was a few rows of chairs where the Genocide survivors would sit. My grandparents would sit in those chairs and were given chances to share their eyewitness accounts of the mayhem in Armenia circa 1915. The front rows became one row and then dwindled to a few chairs as the eyewitness generation passed away. They were replaced with the documentarians – those who had filmed, recorded or written the stories of the survivors.

This morning, at 9AM, I’m pleased and proud to tell you that the Epostle.net – electronic ministry of the Western Diocese, unveiled and launched the first ever immersive exhibition of its kind that is accessible from anywhere, 24/7/365 days a year, named the Spirit of Ararat. Here stand structures from khatchkars to monasteries, to songs of the heart, demonstrating the human spirit of creativity of the people of Ararat, preserved in Web 3.0, metaverse, 360, spatial audio and photogrammetry, items that can only be experienced and enjoyed and can no longer be damaged or the destroyed. Thank you technology and Epostle for exploiting the power of human creativity.

So now, thankfully, there are more and more volumes and documents that share the horrors of genocide. But sadly, the word Genocide is still being used to describe man’s ultimate intolerance for his fellow man.

The time has come for a change, or a shift, in the way we operate. Faith implies actions. You cannot mourn a genocide without actively fighting against one. But that fight has to be on new terms. You can’t fight fire with fire, you’ll only get more fire. Fight fire with a hose. With water. Put it out.

The unfailing words of Jesus are our meditation for today. They challenge us to find a better way to combat evil.

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” (Matthew 5)

Before you say it’s impossible, is it not worth a try?

Genocide: Then there were two, three and four…

Armodoxy for Today: And then there were two, three and four

In 2006 I had a chance to visit Rwanda with a small group of educators from the University of Southern California. It was a decade after a genocide ravaged the country and claimed 800,000 people in the course of 100 days.

It was an important trip for me to take. I grew up hearing the stories of genocidal crimes told to me by my grandparents. The more I heard, the more I read, the more I wanted to know how such a violent and heinous crime could be committed so overtly, especially in the modern world, where understanding seemed to be common goal of our world. I figured, by going to Rwanda, ten years after the Rwanda Genocide, might be like going to Armenia ten years after the Genocide I had heard so much about. Rwanda 2006 was my Armenia 1927.

What I found was more than I could have asked for. Not only the answers to my questions, but also I found an answer to the meaning of the Armenian Genocide for me as a person living 100 years after the event.

The stories of the Rwandans were remarkably similar to the stories that I heard from my grandparents. Police coming in the night, taking away and slaughtering the men, raping the women, killing of children, blatant exhibitions of cruelty and killing, without hints of remorse. Armenians referred to the Euphrates River as the Red Euphrates while Rwandans referred to Nile as the Red Nile because of the all the blood and bodies that were flowing through the rivers. Rwanda made me color blind, because the only difference between myself and my story and the Rwandan story was the color of our skins. And that is not a difference. In the stories you realize that our pain is our commonality. We are all children of the same God.

In Rwanda, I found myself in a rather unique position of straddling, so to speak, the first and last genocides of the 20th Century. There is a museum dedicated to genocide in the capital city. In it is a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Armenian Genocide, as there are exhibits to all the genocide of 20th century.

The Armenian Genocide is the “granddaddy” of them all. Sadly and tragically, Genocides continued in Germany, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Cambodia and even into the 21st Century in Darfur. The Armenian story has a special place and meaning for the world, and as a successor to the Armenian Genocide survivors the responsibility is mine. If I am going to refer to the Armenian Genocide as the first, then I have a responsibility to be the first to call out, the point to, to actively protest and work for understanding that leads to peace. In other words, just as the case is in Christianity, faith implies actions. You cannot mourn a genocide without actively fighting against one.

April 24 is a date to renew a vow to work for peace, through understanding, vigilance and love toward all of humanity.

The Armenian Church’s prayer for the day is, Christ, who crowns the saints, willingly take those who are in awe of you and look with love and sweetness on your creation. With Your holiness hear us, by the intercession of the Holy Asdvadzadzin and the supplications of all your saints, especially the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide who were martyred for Faith and the homeland. Hear us and have mercy. Amen.

Links to explore:

Action Plan: Leveraging Love

Rwandan/Armenia Blog

Eight Stages of Genocide

Genocide Watch

Armenian Genocide Museum

Cover Artwork: Gregory Beylerian, 2015

Mindset change

Untold stories from the Armenian Church Youth Ministries Center

Today’s Episode: Changing Mindset

Miracles are transformational. On the surface, they seem to change the appearance or the make up of an entity. Water becomes solid and Jesus walks on it and we say that it is a miracle. Two fish and five loaves feed thousands, that too is a miracle of form.

Immediately after the first Easter, the Christian Church went through a major transformational period, trying to deal with the Miracle of miracles, namely that Jesus had resurrected from the dead. The first gospel message, “Christ has risen” shook the foundation of humanity. No longer was death to be feared. The door to eternity was open and even more, the Kingdom of God was accessible to everyone.

The early Church, what we refer to as the Apostolic Church, was defining the new reality, a reality which donned the name Christian. It was changing the mindset of the people. No longer were they confined to the rules and regulations of old but were empowered to maximize the life God had given them. When Jesus offers the parable of the talents, he is breaking the limits we impose on ourselves, and presents humanity with courage to multiply God’s goodness many times over by living the blessing of life.

As we wind down this series “It was 20 years ago today” before the feast of Ascension (40 days after Easter), I’d like to look at two of the biggest miracles we experienced which changed the mindset of the community, and opened the door for what is possible in and through the Armenian Church. Both mindset changes have to do with the acceptance of reality.

The year 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Armenians had it on their radar just as they had the 97th, 98th and 99th year. It was an opportunity to remind the world of the atrocities committed against the Armenian people in their ancestral homeland by the Ottoman Turks. Over the last several weeks you’ve heard the stories that came from the corner. It was about resurrection, it was about renew and it was about living our Christian faith, not as a slogan (“First Christian Nation”) but as a way of life. The challenge we had at the 100th anniversary, how do we present the Armenian Genocide in such away to prevent anyone walking away with even more hatred? Think of our dilemma, how do we present the slaughter of 1.5 million people so that the listener will not be fueled with hatred and animosity against another group of people? In other words, it would be hypocritical to talk about love and peace while inciting hatred and/or war?

We began with a project on April 24, 2005, on the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We took young Armenians to the desert, and we made a human chain of “sevens.” We dressed up in the t-shirts that had the formula “7×77” on the front, and on the back, the question that incited the answer: “Lord, how many times must I forgive someone who has hurt me.” (Matthew 18:21-22) Watch video

By positioning our palms, one up and the other down, we formed a human chain. Artist Gregory Beylerian photographed this event. Ninety years earlier, our grandparents had been exiled to the desert and now the grandkids were in the desert embodying the “Jesus formula.”

That event got us talking where we had dropped off with John Lennon’s death, “Imagine there is no country… living life in peace.”  Our conversations manifested an event on July 7, 2007. It was the first conference on forgiveness. It was sponsored by In His Shoes, We Care for Youth and held at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. It received incredible media coverage throughout Southern California. We had speakers who had survived the Genocide in Rwanda, as well as Leticia Aguirre who had found the courage to forgive her son’s killers. This time, the artist constructed a “Universal Wheel of Peace” again using the participants to embody the sevens. (www.7×77.org)

The conversation about forgiveness grew on that corner in Glendale. From domestic violence, to gang wars, to articulating a identity void of hatred and evil, we arrived at the 100th anniversary. With Gregory Beylerian we constructed a portal, where visitors could come and experience the Armenian reality of resurrection. We engaged the students of the Armenian day schools in the challenge of talking about Genocide without anger, but with respect and dignity. Armenians, for the first time since the Genocide of their ancestors, were commemorating with a focus on the Resurrection of a people. That year, the Armenian Church proclaimed the Martyrs of 1915 as saints of the Church. Armenians were no longer victims, but victors in Christ. This is the Faith of the Church. Of course, the secular community had difficulty grasping this, but in small doses, the mindset changes.

As I said, changing a mindset is a major miracle. We prayed and focused on the Resurrection of Christ. It is what led the early Church and today that message, as applied to the Armenian people, is just as powerful. It can change the way we understand ourselves, our world and our relationship with God.

Cover Photo: Gregory Beylerian, 2005

My beautiful picture


20 years ago: In His Shoes Formation

It was 20 years ago today: Untold stories of the Youth Ministries Center

Today’s Episode: In His Shoes

Thankfully April 24 only comes around once a year. It’s a super-charged day of Armenianness. It is the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which began with a round-up of intellectuals and leaders of the community on April 24, 1915. It was the beginning of a systematic program of annihilation of the Armenian population living in the Ottoman Empire. By the time it was over, 1.5 million Armenians were murdered – men, women, and children – and about the same number were exiled from their historic homeland creating the Diaspora, with Armenians in all corners of the world and in every country.

The Genocide is a very personal story with me because all four of my grandparents were Genocide survivors. All four of my wife’s grandparents were Genocide survivors. We grew up with the stories of atrocities that were so horrendous that they often told with silence and tears.

As far as I can remember, on every April 24 we would attend a commemoration activity of the Armenian Martyrs. In 1965, on the 50th anniversary of the Genocide, a small group of men got together with the vision of creating a monument to honor the Martyrs. My father was one of those men. As a little boy I remember him going to meetings, the events, fundraisers, and finally the opening of the monument, the first one on public property in Montebello, California. It was a small but meaningful way in which we honored the memory of those who perished. A few years ago they placed a plaque on the monument with the name of the committee members. Seeing my father’s name there swelled pride in me, and reminded me of commemorations from years past and what they have deteriorated to today.

Fifty, Sixty, Seventy, and even eighty years after the Genocide we would have survivors at these events who would share their eye-witness account of the mayhem their experienced in their homes, during the most tender years of their lives. Today, these events are filled with a demand for justice (from Turkey) and rhetoric that often is forgotten on April 25. I’ve always maintained that the easiest day to be Armenian is April 24, and the hardest day is April 25 and the 364 that follow.

At the Youth Ministry Center, kids were coming in because of the sign out front. They knew it was a place where both their Armenian ethnic identity and their Christian faith would be nurtured and grow. I wanted the reality of the Easter experience – Christ has risen – to resonate in their experience as Armenians whose ancestors, now three or four generations ago, had experienced Genocide.

We organized an overnight retreat in Santa Clarita, California. I asked my friends Linda Maxwell and Jose Quintanar to help me facilitate the discussions. As always, they lovingly obliged.

This group of 20 young people, ages 14-18, contemplated the meaning of being the grandchildren (the term was use generically to denote either great or great-great grandchild) of Genocide survivors in the middle of America today with all the amenities and comforts they enjoy.

There was really only one choice at the time if you didn’t want to stay home on April 24, you would attend a march, usually kicked off with a group of clergy reciting a prayer, then they’d pass out banners and posters “demanding” justice for crimes committed against your ancestors and you’d march through the streets of Hollywood to the Turkish Embassy. Once, there, you’d participate in a rally with loud speeches demanding justice from the Turks. No one was sure if the there was anyone listening or if anyone was even in the Embassy building. On top of it all, the math didn’t figure either. The number of Armenians in the entire world was less than the number of people on Los Angeles freeways on any given day of the week. In other words, we lacked critical mass.

The students of the Youth Ministry deliberated and discussed. They prayed and discussed some more. At the end a reading from Scripture opened their minds and their path. From Matthew 25, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…. When you did it to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me.”

They came up with a very simple and clear definition of Armenian-Christian identity for children of the new millennium: To be an Armenian means you learn and grow from your history, and feel the pain of others who suffer the same fate. Remembering the past makes sense in defining your present. And so, this small group of young Armenian-Americans, distanced from the Genocide by almost a century, came up with a simple formula: Walk in the shoes of others. Because we have suffered, we have an obligation to help others who suffer. Our Christian imperative to love and help others is accented by our Armenian history.

And so the In His Shoes mission was born of the Youth Ministries Center. Through the years, they have organized rallies for justice in Darfur, collected funds – $500,000+ to aid the hungry in Africa, delivered a forgiveness conference in greater Los Angeles, and met with Gov. Schwarzenegger and were part of an effort that divested California and the UC Regents from the Sudan to the tune of $6Billion, just to name the larger products.

Now, if you’re thinking miracles only happen with thunder bolts and lightning, consider how much greater the flash is with this. Consider these are the grand children of a generation that they tried to annihilate, these were people that were not supposed to be here, but they’re here, living, thriving and providing for others. Christ has risen! And so have we!

We continue tomorrow with more untold stories from 20 years ago today, and invite you to join us. If you missed earlier episodes, you can hear them on your favorite podcatcher or at Epostle.net under the “Armodoxy for Today” tab. Remember to leave a comment and/or write us at feedback@epostle.net.

Cover: First logo of In His Shoes, created by Varoujan Movsesian, 2003

California Divests from Sudan

Governor visits, signs bills

BOB HOPE AIRPORT — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the Hilton Burbank Airport and Convention Center on Monday to sign two pieces of legislation intended to put pressure on leaders in Sudan to halt government-sponsored genocide in the Darfur region.

The first law, Assembly Bill 2941, will prohibit the state’s pension programs — the California Public Employees Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System — from making investments in corporations with business ties to Sudan.

“This is an action that says we do not cooperate with them in the horrors of Darfur,” he said. “We will not pay for it; we will not support it and we will not enable it.”

The second piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 2179, provides legal safeguards for the University of California against potential liability issues that could stem from state divestiture of funds from companies with interests in Sudan, he said.

Joining Schwarzenegger for the bill-signing ceremony on Monday were former

U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, celebrity activists Don Cheadle and George Clooney and Assemblyme

ich lobbied heavily for the legislation, raising money and collecting petition signatures.

n Tim Leslie and Paul Koretz, who wrote the bills. Also in attendance was Father Vazken Movsesian, a parish priest at St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale and director of In His Shoes Ministries, wh

“It’s our way of saying that we’re walking in the shoes of the people of Darfur, just as we’ve gone through our own genocide,” Movsesian said. “It’s sending a loud, clear signal that genocide will not be tolerated in the modern world. The one weapon that we have is money. It costs money to run a genocide and by California — the world’s fifth-largest economy — divesting from Sudan, it’s sending a signal that if you continue it, you’re out of money. Without picking up any guns, without killing anybody, we’re making a difference.”

The Sudanese genocide, which began in 2003, has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children and left millions homeless, Schwarzenegger said.

“No one is being spared, and even if the violence would stop today, the country would still have deep scars for many generations to come,” he said.

The governor also signed a bill on Monday that permits California residents affected by the Armenian Genocide to pursue legal challenges against financial institutions that withhold deposited or looted assets, extending the statute of limitations to Dec. 31, 2016.

Schwarzenegger has signed Armenian Genocide Commemoration bills every year since he took office in 2003.



Next Step #672: On the eve of the Armenian Genocide anniversary: Challenges to the necessity or nuisance side of remembrance. Genocide: The voices that matter. George Floyd murder trial. Keith Ellison on “Justice.” Order of events: Resurrection does not precede crucifixion. Abp. Jose Gomez’s voice. South American Armenians. Fr. Levon Apelian, passing noted.
George Floyd, “Language after Asphyxiation
Michael Arlen “Passage to Ararat
Abp Jose Gomez on Social Justice
Keith Ellison and comments on Floyd Murder verdict
WD168 for this week
Haig Yazdjian “Beast on the Moon
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!
Listen on Apple Podcasts

Community, Organization and Change

Next Step #602: A conversation with Sophia Armen that moves from the US recognition of the Armenian Genocide to the fundamental existential issues of life. Listen in as this bright young scholar of ethnic studies, politics and Genocide matters shares insights about the passage of the resolution and the dynamics of protest to effectuate change. The forces of assimilation, discrimination, survival and the challenges for today.
John Bilezikjian Merry Christmas Album
Sophia Armen, L.A. Times
Senator Menendez Breaks Down on Genocide resolution announcement
Fr. Vazken on Advent (AC202)
Fr. Vazken on Christmas (AC101)
FLY – Freedom Loving Youth
Cover: “Reflections & Boundaries” Fr. Vazken 2019
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand! 

Unmasking Halloween

Next Step #595: What’s under the mask? Strip search and the necessity to cry while peeling an onion and the layers that mask our selves and our lives. What we lost as the US Congress recognized the Genocide. Beyond mourning: applying tragedy to the betterment of our life. The “3 Year Contract”: Another element in the Armodoxy equation. Justifying ideas as Christian even though they are out of sync with reality – 2000 years ago and today. Cafeteria Christianity and making it work for you: Nothing new here. “Center of Attention” debuts this weekend! Harry Houdini “darelitz”, zombies, standard time and much more, all in this edition of the Next Step.
Dun Ringil by Jethro Tull
Commemorate a Genocide by focusing today
Adam Schiff on Genocide Resolution
Fr. Manoog Markarian on Halloween (Armenian)
Fr. Vazken on Halloween (English)
Fr. Vazken on Fear and Halloween (1995)
God, Lemmy & The Walking Dead: The Gospel According To Ian Anderson
Cover: Piqsels.com, Public Domain
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for http://InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
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Metaphysical Paralysis

Next Step #412: From accidents to determinism, the factors that defy fatalism make for a background to a metaphysical analysis. The aftermath and afterglow of 101 years and counting. Political myth and hype that keeps the masses entertained. Opportunities missed and the next step.
Announcing the new Gor Mkhitarian album “Passport”
Calliandra Shade by Ian Anderson
Aurora Prize in Armenia
St. Peter Armenian Church, Glendale
100 Year Journey trailer
100 Year Journey virtual tour: www.100yearjourney.org
Fr. Vazken in Rwanda
Cover Photo: “Hanging at Micky D’s on the 24th” by Fr. Vazken, 2016
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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A Crucial Week

Next Step #358: A crucial week dissected – Pope Francis Mass and proclamation on Genocide; Ecumenical Service at Our Lady of the Angels; Mayor Eric Garcetti’s speech and the Armenian American Medical Association honors healers – words from the crisis by Dr. Sabrina Avakian. St. Gregory of Narek – #36 doctor of the Church,
Song:”Mayigis” by Hovhaness Badalyan
Pope Francis’ Mass
Armenian American Medical Society
100 Souls in His Shoes
100 Year Journey
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Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
Listen via Stitcher Radio on demand!