The book promotion began with the younger Serbia Orthodox Bishop reading excerpts from the book, ‘The Christian Heritage of Kosovo and Metohija’ and stating that the truth of Christianity lies in the SOC (Serbian Orthodox Church) and that the love of God prevents the delusion of human beings without faith. That “Through faith it is entrusted to the SOC and its culture to master humans, even through war.” The elder Bishop spoke next shortly after his pleasantries claiming the need to preserve the “Truth” as he explained how the danger of the SOC and the Serbian people in Kosove cannot safely attend and worship. The bishop also stated that when he served with the military he saw terrible things, but failed to mention what it was that he saw for which was terrible. Next, the bishop attempted to discredit the book ‘Kosovo: A Short Story’ written by the British scholar Noel Malcom claiming how it failed to mention the spiritual dementia in the 12-14 centuries, particularly the frescos and beautiful paintings the SOC brought forth to the world. The Bishop also stated that “The Albanians or ‘Shqiptars’ how they reference themselves is an Italian word and they are unsure who they are and their identity.” The last speaker was a former CIA who has worked in the Balkans and admitted that while he is from a northern European (Dutch) by decent, and also a Christian of another denomination, he found the SOC particularly in Belgrade to be a mystical and different experience. He went on further to say that a lot must be done to preserve the Christian heritage in the region. He told the Serbians to hold steadfast against the EU specifically the British and German aggression toward Serbia and Belgrade’s influence to cave to their demands. He went on further to say that the region is in danger of losing Christianity as it is being lost in the Middle East.
Questions were raised by the audience about schools and the youth in the region.
The last questions raised were from two Albanians that were present in the audience, of a predominately large attendance of Serbian people as well as a Russian and handful Americans also fielded questions just before Mr. Harris closed the event:
Why do you consider the Serbian Orthodox Churches and Serbs in Kosova unsafe since ethnic Albanians have protected those churches for centuries (these Albanian guards were called Voivods) against the Ottomans, particularly because Albanians traditionally have respect for all religions and religious objects in general, and of course those churches belong to their ancestors, such as the ancient church in Decan.
The Serbian historian Pero Slijepcevic in ‘Ogledi’ written in 1934 (pages 92-122): ‘Stare rpske zaduzbine’, studies on old orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo, he states that “Those churches were not build by Serbian rulers, for Serbs did not have a tradition of building or painting. During Nemanja family rule, the government together with the SOC occupied many catholic and byzantine churches, added some modifications and symbols.”
The opportunity to discuss more questions did not present itself in the Q&A session however, the crowd continued to debate with both Albanians at either end of the room.
Notable facts received but not communicated found that Kostandin Jirecek, in the ‘History of Serbs’, states that Serbs made small renovations in XIV century, such as adding symbols at the entrance (priprata) of the churches. Jirecek also testifies in the ‘History of Serbs’, that “In the early medieval period, Albanians have lost much land to Serbs, but nevertheless they are people that don’t die… In the middle ages Albanians were an old Christian people, with a culture of a high civilization.” Building on top of the ethnic Albanian people who built Catholic and Byzantine Churches far before the Serbs entered the Illyrian-Peninsula (Balkans; later renamed by the Ottomans).
It is an old byzantine tradition that the Orthodox Church and the state were not separate. This tradition was alive in the decade of rule of Miloshevic, when SOC blessed the start of his campaign against Kosovar Albanians in 1989. Patriarch Pavle himself gave Miloshevic full support, authorizing him to represent all Serbs in 1995. One question wasn’t raised; Why does the Serbian Church not recognize the Independence of Kosova, because the old tradition remains alive in that the Serbian Orthodox Church is not separated from the State even today.
When asked by the elder Albanian whom also spoke Serbian what about the documented genocide, the clergyman response was, “They’re documents, I don’t believe them and everyone uses the phase ‘genocide’ loosely”. Faith, Hope, Love and reconciliation was missing in what was a very little discussion about Christianity.
The book promotion was held on February 10, 2015 in the Mary Pickford Theater Room 302 of the James Madison Building at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., where the head of the European Division opened the event shortly after noon. Many of the speakers at the event were friends of the Library of Congress European Division’s predecessor of Serbian decent, who is now retired in Los Angeles. (DIELLI)