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The Legacy of Joseph Barnabas in Cyprus

Paul's mentor and missionary traveling companion

Thanksgiving #2 (near the dead zone)

November 27th, 2011

Saturday night at a party hosted by one of the Fulbright scholars, I met Yiannis Papadakis, author of Echoes from the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005). Lynne and I enjoyed talking with him. His book is the most helpful work on the Cyprus problem that I have read. While conducting his research, Yiannis lived in Greece, Turkey, and both north and south Cyprus. He became friends with people in a variety of communities and listened to their stories about how they have suffered because of the actions of their enemies (or trouble-making cousins). His book recounts many of those stories–a fascinating read that provides windows into the difficulties of people looking honestly at their own contributions to problems.

Here are a few photos of the Thanksgiving dinner that Lynne and I hosted at CAARI. A student here from Philadelphia took the pictures and shared them with me.

Lynne's deviled eggs were a hit.

This farm turkey was running around several days prior to Thanksgiving. His wing muscles are more developed that our store turkeys--and the breast is smaller. A real turkey.

Thanksgiving guests

Lynne's end of the table.

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Thanksgiving in Nicosia and “baston imperial”

November 24th, 2011

Lynne is spending the day cooking a big, Thanksgiving meal. Twelve of us will sit down at 7:00 PM to eat together: three Americans, three British, an undergraduate student from Paris, a doctoral student from Poland, and an assortment of Greek Cypriots. Some do not have much of an idea of how or why we celebrate this American holiday.

Lynne tried unsuccessfully to find a turkey, so she decided to just cook some chickens. But when Vathoula heard about it, she said, “No problem.” Yesterday she brought a turkey to CAARI. From the looks of this never-frozen bird, it was recently a farm animal used to roaming around. The breast is much smaller than the turkeys we buy in stores in the USA. And the wing muscles are much more developed.

But the stoves here are small, and we had trouble figuring out how to get the bird into the oven. We could not use a roasting rack, so we had to figure out what to do. Google to the rescue. Search option: “How can I roast a turkey without a roasting rack?”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Blame it on the priest

November 22nd, 2011

No sense in posting my own blog today. My wife’s account says it all.

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Threshing sledges

November 19th, 2011

Hillside threshing area

Today was a day for odds and ends. I had to fill out a lengthy report for the Fulbright folks. Good questions but time consuming to answer. My point is that I have no new discoveries about Barnabas to report–just yet. But I will say that I am getting some new information that is very important for my research. I just need to have the time to locate the sources and study them.

Note the way the driver just places a chair on top of the sledge

So today’s blog is about threshing sledges. Periodically in the Bible, stories will mention threshing floors. At CAARI, tucked away in a corner, is an old threshing sledge. Although not truly ancient, it does reveal a lot about technology that has been around the Middle East for centuries. I decided to take some

This photo is recent enough to be in color, but it is still an old picture

pictures of it today and put them in this blog as a means of giving a mental picture that at least approximates some of what you read about in the Bible.

I also took photos of some old pictures from library books and two from photos hanging on the walls at CAARI. They are all of Cypriot threshing sledges, and reveal how farmers threshed their grain (separated the grain from the stalks).

Threshing sledge at CAARI

Notice in the photos of the sledge at CAARI the way in which the cutting stones are inserted into the wood of the sledge: narrower end pointed forward. You need to click on the

Here is a closeup, showing the way the chipped stones are imbedded in the wood

thumbnail size photos to get a larger picture in order to see the details. Once you see how the sledge works, some biblical stories will make more sense.

Pretty soon, I will present some of the juicy tidbits of information about the development of traditions about St Barnabas and the political and cultural causes for them. Reflecting as an outsider on the beliefs that developed on the island provides a good opportunity to be able to look objectively at data–because I am not personally involved in the belief system. As I do so, I am reminded of how difficult it is for me to look objectively at data regarding my own Christian traditions, especially when the data are collected by outsiders. It is a good lesson on the difficulties of being objective with one’s own belief systems.

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Paphos Gallery

November 18th, 2011

Bear chasing Christopher Robin

Tigger coming to rescue Christopher Robin

Grave complex for a rich family in Paphos. Christopher Robin does not want to go there.

Archway to the Mediterranean

Paphos promontory

Ancient theater at Paphos

Our next home, located on Coral Bay. We are rich, didn't you know?

Entrance to the Paphos necropolis. People are just dying to get in here.

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Snails ancient and modern

November 17th, 2011

We had a fun time seeing lots of cool sites in and around Paphos, on the west coast of Cyprus. We saw petrified snails in composite rock, ate their descendants, and observed a nice sunset over the Mediterranean.

The friendly restaurant owner asked Lynne if she ate snails. Earlier she said that she did not believe that she could ever eat snails. She did. I have photographic proof. “Not so bad,” she said, “as long as you don’t look at it before you pop it in your mouth.”

The challenge is set before Lynne.

Lynne accepts the challenge

Incriminating evidence.

Ancient ancestors of part of our dinner, imbedded in rock. Interesting geology in Cyprus.

Paphos harbor. Photo taken from the table where we had lunch. No snails were eaten during this meal.

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Castle in Fall Colors

November 13th, 2011

Hill of St. Hilarion's Castle with fall foliage.

On Saturday, Lynne and I took the NEH representatives north into Turkish occupied Cyprus. We went first to St. Hilarion’s castle, which seems to grow out of the rock at the top of a prominent hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. From a distance, if you don’t look closely, the remains of the castle blend in with the rock; and it just looks the a rocky outcrop.

The weather was cool and the wind chilly, but the bonus was the color in the leaves. Now that the temperature has dropped, fall colors are obvious at higher elevations. In Nicosia, the color changes are far more subtle. We need a light jacket in the morning and evening. During the day the sun typically shines and short sleeve shirts are enough. Yesterday on the mountain, however, we were wearing sweaters.

The closer you get, the more you can see the ruins rising out of the rock.

Although the sun rarely emerged from behind the clouds, the sky did make for some interesting effects with HDR photography.

Going to the mountain for a second time had the advantage of knowing more what to expect and think ahead about composing photographs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buyuk Khan

November 11th, 2011

Buyuk Khan

Two men from the National Endowment for the Humanities are here in Nicosia on a business trip for the NEH. I found out during the time they were interviewing me that they would like to visit the northern part of Nicosia. So Lynne and I took them on a walking tour through the checkpoint and along the winding, narrow streets. I think that my favorite site is the Buyuk Khan.

Buyuk Khan, looking south.

Built about 1576, it is one of the earliest Ottoman structures in the city. The building was a sort of hotel, with 68 rooms and 10 shops. The downstairs rooms were used for stables, shops and storage rooms. Upstairs rooms had fireplaces and were used as bedrooms.

Merged photo of the Buyuk Khan

I like the fact that the Buyuk Khan is not like the Selimiye Mosque, which involved turning St. Sophia Cathedral into a mosque. The Khan represents Ottoman architecture, not piracy. It is a very cool building. I noticed that, as the sun was going down, the clouds were getting some nice color, so I did two HDR photos from the second floor. I also did a series of photos at the main entrance and stitched them together with Photoshop.

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On the Mend

November 7th, 2011


Here is some evidence that I am on the mend. I have a good appetite. Today I walked to the Fulbright Center–not a challenging walk under normal circumstances, but a good sign that I am regaining some strength.

I have had several days of productive work, reflecting on how Joseph Barnabas came to be a potent symbol of Cypriot nationalism although the New Testament pictures him as an innovative leader who helped Jewish and Gentile Christians navigate the turbulent theological, ethnic and cultural issues that caused so many problems in the early church. He seems to have been effective at helping people reach compromise solutions. In my mind, our world needs such visionary Christian leaders who help people listen to each other and to work out mutually acceptable solutions to their conflicts.

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Bad food in Turkish Occupied Famagusta

November 1st, 2011

This morning I went to a gastroenterologist. When Lynne called, he told us to come right on over. About time I saw a doctor, I know. I have lost nearly 20 pounds the past six days. I have no appetite, so I eat very little. Food makes me nauseous. Miserable would be an accurate word. I am so weak that when I stand up I get dizzy.

But here we go with connections again. The doctor had icons in his office. In the USA, one does not expect prolific religious symbols in a doctor’s office. Lynne asked the man if the icon of Barnabas on his shelf was one done by Fr. Gabriel. “Yes,” he replied. “I am one of his spiritual children.” He goes every month for sacred liturgy to the tomb of St. Barnabas near Salamis. We probably saw him there last month.

He asked questions about how long I have been ill, what I have been taking, etc. Then he examined me. Blood pressure and heart rate are fine. Lungs are clear…. “I will write prescriptions for medicines to help you to get over this.” After he wrote out a prescription and gave instructions, he smiled and said, “You should pray to St. Barnabas. Whenever I get sick, I ask Barnabas to help me get well.”

When we first got to his modest office facility, we saw no one in the waiting room. No receptionist. So Lynne knocked on a door after a few minutes. A little Greek doctor opened the door, smiled and invited us into his office/examination room. I was wondering what I had gotten myself into. He asked where we live in America. Lynne told him, and he replied, “Oh, then you are about two hours north of Baltimore.” Turns out that he worked a while at Johns Hopkins Hospital. I began to relax a bit.

After he gave me a prescription for multiple drugs, he also wrote out a receipt for payment (much less that a similar procedure would have cost at home). About that time, his wife came in with some coffee for him. She asked if I would like a cup of coffee. I declined. Overall, it was simply not the kind of medical experience I have grown to expect.

Now, I am taking two antibiotics, something to combat nausea, some powder-packets that I mix in water to help restore my messed up electrolytes, and something for the diarrhea. Most likely I got some bad food at a small café in Turkish occupied northern Cyprus last week. Getting sick is not an uncommon reality when traveling overseas. I am careful, but you never know for sure when some bacteria will lay you low. I am thankful that I did not have to be admitted to a hospital and have that cross-cultural experience. Been there. Done that. Don’t like it. But then, maybe my nurse would have known Fr. Gabriel.

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