I am not a Serb. I am a garden variety American with ancestors from a variety of European nations -- but no ancestors from Balkan nations. My interest in the issues involved in the break-up of Yugoslovia has been one of journalistic curiosity. Why do we never HEAR the Serbian side of any issue in the media? Where are the Serb spokesmen and historians?
For ten years I've searched for the answers. I have asked Serbs questions about issues and have primarily gotten puzzled responses from them. Many have questioned me back: "Why are you telling the truth about Serbs? Are you really a Serb who has changed your name? Are you married to a Serb?"
Somehow Serbs have maintained their traditional Orthodox Christian beliefs in spite of a 1000 year conflict with Catholic and Muslim neighbors. They also have been confronted with about 100 years of conflict with neighbors in a secular and atheistic 20th Century Europe. When I've asked Serb readers how come they maintained their faith in Jesus Christ, I've gotten puzzled and very short responses like: "It's part of the Serbian culture!"
Yet, to me, a curious outsider, there seems to be some sort of deep-seated cultural memory among the Serbs that they themselves either can't or won't explain to the outside world. I finally concluded they had managed to survive hundreds of years of effort to force them to abandon their faith and adopt the conqueerer's faith by teaching it within the walls of their homes and church to their children, and not talking much to "outsiders."
So, I find young Serbs with a strong feeling of BEING a Serb, but who were brought up in a communist nation that discounted spirituality. Yet, they still feel "Serbian" and appear to be returning to their church in spite of 60 years of atheism in their schools.
This seems to be true even among American Serbs -- who still maintain a spiritual understanding that most secular, or even religious, Americans don't understand. That is why I asked Father Benedict the questions I asked and appreciated his answers.
Then Genci Sala, who described himself as an "Albanian Islamic Fascist" read the interview with Father Benedict and angrily challenged me to print the "TRUTH" -- i.e. the Albanian side of the Kosovo issue.
From a journalistic perspective, that was a golden opportunity. I was searching for "the real untold story" of the Kosovo situation.
From a religious history perspective, I thought that Father Benedict's answers to my questions and the answers to the same questions by Genci Sala, gave a good example of the two "sides" of an issue the international community is about to decide: Is Kosovo really Serbian or Albanian territory?
My first question for Father Benedict was:
"Could you briefly tell our readers what was going on in Kosovo back in 1343 and why King Dusan built the monastery?"
Father Benedict: "In the XIV century Kosovo was the central part of the Serbian state and Christian spirituality. Like all rulers of his time (the Middle Ages), Tsar Dusan also wished to have his own endowment, that is, to build a monastery in which God would be praised to the end of the time and in which the name of the founder would be mentioned on Holy Liturgies until the second arrival of Christ. He did that by founding a place near river Bistrica, two and a half kilometers away from Prizren."
I was struck by the fact that Father Benedict matter-of-factly stated that King Dusan built "a monastery in which God would be praised to the end of the time and in which the name of the founder would be mentioned on Holy Liturgies until the second arrival of Christ."
For secular Westerners of Europe and American, Islamic Fascists, anarchists, non-believers and even some Christian opponents of Orthodox Christianity, Father Benedict's response is meaningless. However, for those who still believe that Christ WILL return, His Second Coming is at least 663 years closer than when Holy Archangels Monastery was built. In fact a growing number of Christians are beginning to talk about the signs of the Latter Days as described in the Bible in Chapter 24 of Matthew when "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." That would be "the beginning of sorrows" when "they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." That seems to describe the Serbs and the Jews these days. They are, indeed, hated of all nations.
However, non-believers, such as Genci Sala, scolded me for even asking the question. Sala wrote:
Sala: "Question 1 is wrongly formulated, and very biased in an answer expectation. King Dushan never built any monasteries in Kosova. If he built any, then, never, and I repeat, never would it be the monastery mentioned there.
"If you had at least the minimal historical education, you should have been well aware of the fact that Serbs weren't even close to Kosova at the time we're arguing."
What actual international difference does it make which of these two people is telling this American journalist the truth? Well, it is the crux of the problem as defined today in International politics upon which an entire region's future appears to rest. Who actually BUILT all those churches and monasteries in Kosovo? Sala urged me to read an "independent source." Meaning, of course, an Albanian source.
Since I've been doing just that for several years, that wasn't a difficult assignment. As recently as 2004 Holy Archangels Monastery was attacked and burned by " a large mob of Albanians approaching the monastery itself and chanting KLA, KLA. Why? Sala doesn't tell us.
So, what DO "independent sources" tell us about this area in the past 500-663 years? For over 500 years Kosovo was controlled by neither Serbs nor Albanians, but by the Ottoman Turks who kept census records. Who was living in Kosovo when Holy Archangels was built according to archeological and historic records? It was not the Albanians. A Turkish cadastral tax census in 1455 showed: about 80% of present-day Kosovo had 480 villages, 13,693 adult males, 12,985 dwellings, 14,087 household.. By ethnicity the population was listed:
The best independent testimony available as to WHO originally populated Kosovo and who actually BUILT all those churches and monasteries can be found in the actual government records of the occupying Ottoman Turkish empire. Those records support Serbian written history.
Other independent records and research are from archeologists such as James R. Wiseman of Boston University in Massachusetts. His archeological studies support Serbian, not Albanian, claims concerning the history of Kosovo. The only Albanian archeological evidence found so far in Kosovo go back only to the 19th century.
Another independent source is a map provided by the US Central Intelligence Agency which shows the boundaries of Kosovo from 1196 AD to the present.
Orthodox Christian Serbs and Jews in Europe were slaughtered by the millions during the 20th century by Islamic, Christian and atheistic fascists and communists. Today Orthodox Christians and Jews, as a class or ethnic group, who survived the 20th century holocaust are portrayed in the media as the group that is responsible for ALL the problems in the former Yugoslavia or the Middle East while deceivers and murderers are treated as their victims. The Kosovo Liberation Army was going door-to-door in Kosovo in 1999 ordering Albanians to flee - and then telling the world media the Serbs under the command of Slobodan Milosevic were driving them out.
On Mt. Olivet nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was asked by his disciples when he would come again to earth. Jesus didn't tell them when, but did warn them to look for the signs of his coming and to "Take heed that no man deceive you." For more than a century most of the world seems to have followed one or another self-proclaimed fascist, communist or religious deceivers who have claimed they are the saviors who can bring peace to the world.
We are seeing this deception again in the 21s century as millions follow self-proclaimed saviors of the media, in European capitols and the United Nations who proclaim world peace will somehow result if we only will placate and appease the masters of deceit who blow up their own children to kill Americans and Jews, behead Serbian monks, burn down Orthodox Christian Churches, put bombs in pizza parlors to kill teen-ager while claiming THEY are the ones being mistreated. While NATO and the European Union has not arrested any of the Islamic fascists in Kosovo who beheaded a monk and burned down over 150 Serbian churches, they seem to have convinced even many young Serbs that all will be well if they will only turn in Serb leaders who are accused of committing a genocide that strangely never produced dead bodies. Once those leaders are in the Hague, the promise is membership in the European Union - which is portrayed as the economic salvation for Serbs.
Can world peace, be found through worldwide deception? I rather doubt it can.
Read the entire article on the Conservative Voice website (new window will open).