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- Published on Amazon.com
This 2005 third edition of the book doesn't reveal that it has actually been written in the late 1980s by Archbishop Yesehaq, formerly Laike Mandefro. As such, it does NOT cover the early 1990s declaration of independence of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church in the Western Hemisphere from the mother church in Ethiopia, due to political downheaval in the country, i.e. the book hasn't been updated during those almost two decades. The author passed on at the very end of that year of 2005.
He covers the Christian history of Ethiopia, starting in 34 C.E., of course with the prior Jewish beginning from the times of the Queen of Sheba starting the Solomonic Dynasty, which culminated in Haile Selassie-I in the 20th century. This is an interesting ecclesiastical perspective of the political perspective of the recommendable The Ethiopians: A History (Peoples of Africa). In this section, it is difficult to determine the abuna's real opinion of certain historic events. At times he writes anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish and anti-"Pagan", at others he finds more sympathetic words and instead writes anti-Coptic and anti-Catholic, from the former of which the Ethiopian Sister Church became independent in the 1950s or "liberated" as he puts it. He's also finding venerating words for Ethiopian emperors in the tune of that one exhibited "wisdom (...) in his leadership" and was "demonstrating his impartiality in the face of justice" - by killing four of his sons and three of his daughters for refusing to follow his religious regulations. About another: "God had appointed Kassa to bring justice and punish evil" - by burning a mosque, persecuting and genociding various other-thinkers/-believers. Yet later he repeats those astonishing judgements in ironic quotation marks.
The next section of the book covers the myths and rituals of the Orthodox Ethiopian Church. Some of those are fascinating, such as hiding clergy during election times, because nobody wants to get appointed to higher positions in the hierarchy; that the political land reform in Ethiopia, which took away the church's land, left the church better off; that there isn't only a holy birth without a father, but also one without a mother by a father.
On the other hand praying should be done in trembling fear, the raising of the dead is meant literally (as in Western churches), there is a Satan who attempts to reach everyone during the individuals' two guardian angels' shift changeovers, he's proud of crosses in silver and gold, there's a fasting festivity deriving from a very hypocritical historical bypassing of the commandment not do murder, and the author thinks, God/"Jesus" should be presented as Black not because he is Black, but because every nation should project an image according to its particular color. (Whatever that is monolithically...) In other words I am amazed, all of this - for example - may be considered compatible to RastafarI, for the latter to convert into the church. What may be compatible to some is the stark sexism. Sons are baptized after 40 days, daughters after 80 days, the respective time of the impurity of the mother. Wives should not look to or at other men, because they should "not have time to serve (...) more than one husband". Parents have to consent to marriage, who must also be members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Husband and wife are to pray separately und women aren't even allowed into the church choir or any other function in the church. The difference to RastafarI is: As a latter, I am free to follow that OR NOT, in the church I do not have any choice.
30 pages (1/8 of the book) is reserverd for Jamaica and RastafarI. Interestingly, the author shows more respect for RastafarI and some of the respective theologies than pastors and ministers of other churches who write books about RastafarI. Which doesn't mean that Abuna Yesehaq completely waives any paternalizing attitudes, misrepresentations ("militant Rastas" "seeking identity") and accusations of heresy with claims of his own and only truth. Yet, he actually interprets Marcus Garvey as John the Baptist, with very fascinating consequences, confirming RastafarI. Already in the previous section, he lists all the fundamental reforms overtaken by Haile Selassie-I concerning the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church, which by itself is very important to sight for RastafarI.
In other words, this book isn't aggreeable to RastafarI on many issues, in fact it rather insults at the point of suggesting proselytizing, yet, it qualifies as a must read for RastafarI for the book's direct information and indirect spiritual value, the author probably wasn't aware of. It is too bad that this book hasn't been updated as mentioned above, as that would have been a further sighting of the mysterious ways, Jah works - to be overstood later.