Prague Twin

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cyril & Metoděj


Today is a holiday in the Czech Republic, celebrating the Sts. Cyril (formerly Constantine) and Methodius. Cyril is much more famous as the alphabet he invented is the precursor to Cyrillic script which many of the Slavic languages still use. But Methodius did a great deal more in developing the written form of the Slavonic language which the Czech language is based on. He translated nearly the entire Bible and many other religious texts and preached in Slavonic despite pressure from the Germans. He spent time imprisoned for his efforts which makes him quite a hero here. It is likely that the Czech identity may very well have been completely lost if not for the efforts of Cyril and Metoděj (Czech spelling).

They are now patron saints throughout Europe. They were some pretty hip Catholics if you ask me.

More information is available here.

14 Comments:

  • From your source:

    "Every mission they went on, every struggle they fought was a result of political battles, not spiritual, and yet the political battles are forgotten and their work lives on in the Slavic peoples and their literature."

    One of the things that I find interesting about my own religion (LDS), is the emphasis on being in the world but not of the world. People take this to mean many different things, and I know I do not practice this as some think I ought to do. However, I also think of how, in religious context, we were given this world to be custodians over not as parasites and Christ's example of who our "neighbor" ought to be. From the brief description provided, these two brothers seemed to embody that notion of being in the world but not of the world in a way that is both different from what many mean, and yet somehow more proper. It seems that they lived in the world and used the world they found to bring people to Christ by making the world better and making their lives loving examples to follow. That is something worthy of celebration.

    On a completely different note, passages like the quote following this bring something else to mind:
    "The German priests didn't like losing their control and knew that language has a great deal to do with independence."

    There are many in the US who push us to allow Spanish and other languages as being equal to that of English in use; yet, history demonstrates language as a source of unity and as a means of independence from the norm. These examples, sprinkled throughout history, are part of the reason I feel that Americans must cling to the language they chose for themselves as a unifying language for their country. We lose that, and we will lose the unity it provides.

    Hm. I hope you enjoy your holiday. How do you celebrate it?

    By Anonymous Stephanie, at 11:07 PM  

  • Pt, off topic, but I've been really enjoying the following economic blogs. Dunno if you know them already, do know that you're busy as hell w/ work & school, but these sites give you a pretty good cross-section of business news.

    Here they are:

    http://bonddad.blogspot.com/index.html

    http://bigpicture.typepad.com/

    http://calculatedrisk.blogspot.com/

    http://www.minyanville.com/

    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 12:31 AM  

  • I find it a great source of comfort that even after so many years of Soviet oppression and communist indoctrination that the Czech People held onto their religious beliefs and celebrations. In my family we maintained the tradition of observing our "name day" which is the day assigned to the saint who's name you carry. At least while I was young. We have become fairly well assimulated Americans, but there is always a little Czech in my heart and I've tried to pass some of that along to my children.(My name day was in July)Thanks for the reminder.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 3:03 AM  

  • praguetwin, are you keeping up with the following:

    Czechs to Surf for Betrayal as Secret Communist Files Go Online

    By Andrea Dudikova


    Ivan Langer, Czech Republic interior minister July 5 (Bloomberg) -- For Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer, putting communist-era secret police files on line is more than just a job. It's a matter of family honor.

    The plan by Langer, whose grandfather was jailed during the communists' four decades in power, would go further than any east European country in allowing access to documents that once landed people in jail or condemned them to work in uranium mines.

    ``We have to know our past in order to cope with it,'' Langer said at his office in Prague. The project fulfills ``a debt to my grandparents and an obligation to my children.''

    The former eastern bloc is still struggling to come to terms with who did what during communism. In Poland, opposition parties have slammed the government's move to publish names of informers, and in Hungary, files are open only to historians. The Czech plan to use the Internet has drawn criticism that unfounded rumors in the files will destroy lives.

    The Social Democrats, who led the governing coalition from 1998 to 2006 and are now the largest opposition party, are against Langer's ``Open Past'' project because they say it violates privacy laws. The Communist Party, the third-largest party in parliament, is also opposed.

    The authorities in what was Czechoslovakia used at least 10,000 agents and collaborators to gather information on people who were perceived as threats to the regime, with the targets including hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens.

    ``It's not wise to dig into the past,'' said Jan Vokraus, 54, a security guard at a Prague shopping mall. He has no plans to go on line to see whether there is a communist-era file on him. ``People don't give a damn about it.''

    Miles of Files

    Across Eastern Europe, people were tortured, shadowed by agents or prevented from getting into university if their families didn't toe the party line.

    The Open Past project may take years to complete. It's currently uniting in one archive materials the secret services gathered on as many as 2 million people.

    This autumn, the Interior Ministry will start uploading files now stacked side by side. The project will initially involve 850,000 cards that contain the name, birth date and other personal data of people who were registered by the secret service. Eventually, about 17 kilometers (11 miles) of paper files will be available on the Internet.

    The archive will be part of the government-funded Institute of Totalitarian Regime Studies that is being set up this year.

    Most secret service files are now classified and scattered in various archives, making it difficult and time-consuming for researchers to find individual records.

    `Daring'

    Langer's plan ``is so new that it is almost daring,'' said Ivo Samson, an analyst at the Slovak Foreign Policy Association in Bratislava, the Slovak capital since Czechoslovakia split into two states in 1993.

    Slovakia set up its own Institute of National Memory in 2002, whose main job is to open up secret service files and study the country's history under the fascist and communist regimes. Members of the public can place requests to review documents at the facility.

    Langer, 40, was a student protest leader during the 1989 Velvet Revolution that toppled communism. He appointed another student leader, Pavel Zacek, to head the new archive.

    Financing for the project will come from the Interior Ministry's budget as well as from funds from the European Union, which the Czech Republic joined in 2004. Langer wouldn't give a figure for how much the project will cost.

    Past Pain

    In the past, many people objected to allowing partial access to the files because of concerns that someone who cooperated under duress would be tarred with the same brush as those who voluntarily spied on their own people.

    As more files go on line, it should be easier to determine the role and character of the people named, Langer said. It will be possible to tell whether someone was an ``active, voluntary or paid'' informant or ``was forced to collaborate by blackmail, threats to himself or his family,'' he said.

    Only about 5 percent of the material in the files will remain classified, because those documents include information still used by the present-day secret services, Langer said.

    Communist Party Chairman Vojtech Filip said the project ``can only have a negative influence on the society.''

    Filip has said that while his name turned up in the secret service files, he wasn't an informant. The government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is stirring up past pain, he said.

    ``They are only after power,'' he said. ``This can't bring lessons about the past.''

    The past is being raked up across former communist Europe. In Germany, the operations of the Stasi secret police were the subject of ``The Lives of Others,'' which won an Academy Award this year for Best Foreign Film.

    ``A great deal of information and data from the totalitarian regime remains classified to citizens of a democratic society,'' Langer said. ``This is absurd.''

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 4:42 AM  

  • Stephanie,

    Good points. I think the idea of religion being inclusive and not exclusive is one that people ought to try IMHO.

    Then again, I try not to get involved in people's religion. I figure that is a private matter.

    RBE,

    I've seen a couple of them. Thanks for the tips. Try "econbrowser" on my links for some really in depth analysis on interesting topics. Great discussions there as well.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 9:57 AM  

  • Rocky,

    I think you have identified why people here are so proud of their heritage and protective of the language.

    I never really have been able to get the hang of the nameday thing, but it is kind of cool. When Jan or Jana comes up, it is practically a holiday because so many people are celebrating.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:00 AM  

  • NS,

    I hadn't heard the latest, thanks. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I know that the Czechs have opened up records earlier and more than most. The original "list" was cathartic for the country, but it also ruined a lot of innocent people's lives.

    I think people should get on with their lives but my wife thinks they should publish it.

    I guess it depends on your prospective.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:02 AM  

  • Stephanie,

    I forgot to say, we don't do anything special. It is one of those holidays where we are just glad that we don't have to work. People mention that we are celebrating the "guys who brought our language from Greece".

    Also, I've been meaning to ask... do you still have a free version of your blog I can link to? I really don't like the current one because I have to register to make comments. I have a Yahoo account, a Google account, a blogger account and a typepad account. Enough!!!!

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:05 AM  

  • PT,

    "Then again, I try not to get involved in people's religion. I figure that is a private matter."

    I like to think of religion as public matter and individual faith as a private matter. Religion is a collective organization. It seeks to have an affect on the world and thus the people of the world should try to understand the lens of a particular religion; both to look beyond that lens, and to understand the people looking through that particular lens. In that sense, religion is an academic matter.

    Individual faith is different. No matter what religion a person belongs to, their faith is unique to them. Sometimes their faith coincides with their religion, but that's usually done selectively. An individual's faith is their own, and they will only share it with you if they want to do so.

    Their religion, however, is open to public scrutiny. The danger here, of course, is prejudice. If one holds a prejudice against a religion, it will be used against the individuals who practice it -- often irregardless of whether the individual does or does not fit the prejudiced stereotype of the religion. By separating religion and faith, I think people could more readily counteract that sort of prejudice. Also, if religion is treated by outsiders as a more academic matter, then perhaps religion could be investigated without endangering one's faith -- which would lead to a better mutual understanding.

    History has proved that religion can be a very dangerous thing, but many personal experiences also indicate that it can be wonderful depending on the individual's faith. It can be a source of personal growth, renewal, and comraderie. If more people were open to understanding faiths other than their own, I think the dangers of religion could be mitigated without losing the benefits of it.

    "I really don't like the current one because I have to register to make comments."

    Hmm. I'm not sure what you mean. I did not know that you had to be registered to make comments. I'll have to take a look at that. Though, as far as that goes, I thought Yahoo! accounts were universal to Yahoo!, meaning that if you have a Yahoo! account it should work in Yahoo! 360. If you would like to e-mail me specifics of what you're having problems with, I can see what I can do from my end to counter-act it. Otherwise, I'll tinker around to see if I can figure out what you're talking about. I do not want by blog to be exclusive in that manner, and I did not realize it was so.

    By Anonymous Stephanie, at 10:49 PM  

  • PT,

    I see what you mean, and I did not realize that it was doing that.

    *grumbling to self over the meaning of the word 'public'*

    I will see what I can do to resolve the issue. But, I have to ask -- how did you comment that first time? Was it through the GeoCities site?

    By Anonymous Stephanie, at 11:23 PM  

  • no-slappz, This is quite a complex issue since some people were coerced and intimidated into acts they are probably not very proud of. On the other hand, there are those who embraced communism and the betrayal of their fellow Czechs. My father was so betrayed while helping others escape the country. Because of one man's voluntary actions, Papa was sentenced to hard labor in the uranium mines and Mother also went to jail as did my grandmother. Although my parents themselves eventually escaped, my father's family was forever ostracized, children refused college educations, etc. I grew up without an extended family. There was no cousins to tell secrets to, no grandparents to comfort and spoil me and my father never saw any of his family again. So, yea, I want the SOB exposed. My family did move on but this guy should have to answer for all the damage he did, no matter how many years after the fact. Time can't ever repair what he broke.

    Praguetwin, think of name day as a second birthday. :)

    By Anonymous rockync, at 1:05 AM  

  • PT,

    I've contacted Yahoo! to let them know that this particular aspect of their beta set up is undesireable. Hopefully, they'll change it. In the meantime, however, you can sign in using your Yahoo account. The sign-in option is at the top of the window. It will allow you to leave comments without having your own 360 site and, in that sense, it's not so very different from blogger. I don't like it, but unless/until they change it, that's what's available.

    By Anonymous Stephanie, at 12:02 AM  

  • rockync, you wrote:

    "This is quite a complex issue since some people were coerced and intimidated into acts they are probably not very proud of."

    In summary, I think the benefits of spilling the truth outweigh the harm some people will experience. Silence always leads to the possibility of abuse.

    You wrote:

    "My father was so betrayed while helping others escape the country. Because of one man's voluntary actions, Papa was sentenced to hard labor in the uranium mines and Mother also went to jail as did my grandmother. Although my parents themselves eventually escaped, my father's family was forever ostracized, children refused college educations, etc. I grew up without an extended family. There was no cousins to tell secrets to, no grandparents to comfort and spoil me and my father never saw any of his family again."

    Your story is a true tragedy.

    You wrote:

    "So, yea, I want the SOB exposed. My family did move on but this guy should have to answer for all the damage he did, no matter how many years after the fact. Time can't ever repair what he broke."

    This is what happens when tyrants and despots rule.

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 3:39 PM  

  • stephanie, you wrote:

    "I like to think of religion as public matter and individual faith as a private matter. Religion is a collective organization."

    Religion is a collective organization? Just like a Universal Healthcare Plan. It's worth noting that your views on group behavior in humans take huge leaps.

    When it comes to healthcare, you'r insistent that the US government can force 300 million people to embrace a program with administrative challenges many times more complex than the most difficult religious problems.

    But 300 million Americans can't and won't agree on any aspects of religion. And many issues of religion include medical matters.

    But as you said, your idea of "faith" is a private matter. In other words, agreement with the doctrine of a religion is unnecessary and irrelevant to one's religious identity. Conforming to religious prescriptions is entirely voluntary and boils down to accepting a point here and a point there, like picking items from a Chinese menu.

    Yeah, you believe that, but you bizarrely believe that 300 million people will agree on a set of standards for a Universal Healthcare Plan.

    You wrote:

    "There are many in the US who push us to allow Spanish and other languages as being equal to that of English in use;"

    Yes. Those people are the 30+ million US citizens who speak Spanish and their elected representatives. Not surprisingly, elected representatives from heavily Hispanic districts support bi-lingual education. I think bi-lingual education is a national calamity. But it appears I'm in the minority on this one.

    You wrote:

    "...yet, history demonstrates language as a source of unity and as a means of independence from the norm."

    The preceding is a grammatical mess, but I'll take it to mean that you think people can either unite or divide themselves by way of language.

    You wrote:

    "These examples, sprinkled throughout history, are part of the reason I feel that Americans must cling to the language they chose for themselves as a unifying language for their country."

    I see. Americans? "Americans must cling to the language"? Who is an American?

    What do you mean by "cling"? No one is attempting to force English-speakers to abandon English. On the other hand, the country does not coerce or press non-English-speakers to learn English. English, by the way, is NOT our national language. We don't have one. English is the lingua franca of the US, but its use is not mandated by any laws.

    You wrote:

    "We lose that, and we will lose the unity it provides."

    This is true. In other words, you're stating that by failing to mandate the use of a common language upon which our society should operate, we, as a nation, risk failure.

    I agree. Yet even though you recognize the huge difficulties of saving the Republic by establishing a national language, you think it's possible to coerce 300 million people, with all their beliefs, outlooks and needs, to accept a single Universal Healthcare Plan.

    Unless the nation subjugates itself to a dictator, it won't happen. There is no healthcare formula that will win approval.

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 4:51 PM  

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