Turkey doesn’t protect the cultural heritage of their land correctly.

In an article which I wrote for the Turkish Daily News 2 ½ years ago, I accused Turkey not to take care of the cultural heritage of the land now know as Turkey. Before the conquest by the Ottomans of the Byzantium empire( Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων) in the 15th century the Empire was also know as of Imperium Graecorum, East Roma Empire based upon Hellenic-Roman traditions and their language was Ancient Greek. Turkey these days are the home of many Christian, Orthodox Christian and Armenian buildings. In fact, Turkey sits on Gold, Silver and Bronze regarding its heritage. Only it doesn’t protect the many ancient buildings that well as you can witness in several parts of Turkey were ‘Christian’ buildings are simple neglected, destroyed or in the best case (Churches) turned into museums.
These days another story occurred in the Turkish newspapers which shows that Turkey isn’t act ethically at all when other religions are involved; A derelict church in Istanbul’s Silivri region will be restored and again put to use as a mosque. The St. Dimitrios Church was built in 1831 and was was primarily made up of Greek Orthodox residents until the population exchange in the early 1920s. New residents preserved the cross and the figurines on the church, but converted it to a mosque by constructing a wooden minaret next to the building. They used the church as a mosque until a new mosque was built, after which the St. Dimitrios Church was abandoned. The wooden minaret collapsed after a while and eventually the abandoned building became a sty and depot. The abandoned building is currently registered to the Silivri Municipality as a “derelict church,” and according to the law it is a first-degree historical site that needs to be protected. Now the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has already started to restore the church as a mosque and the provincial historical sites’ protection board has approved the building of a new minaret next to it. Facing sharp criticism from all sides; architects, the Greek-Orthodox Church etc.
What I don’t understand in this; why always must Churches turned into Mosques? A Church is sacred ground for Christians. How would they react when a Mosque turned into a Church? Which is impossible regarding the structure, design and cultural belief. Is putting a minaret on a church sufficient to call it a House of Prayer, a House of God? I have my doubts.


Melissa said…
Dear Mr. De Wit,

I really like this post and agree with you on everything just except one thing.

I recently visited a church in Egridir, Isparta-Turkey, called “Saint Stefano Church (Green Island)”. It is a small church but it was in a very bad condition inside wise; the walls are full of graffiti and ugly messages. I am ashamed as a Turkish citizen and so are my Turkish friends who were with me. I am a very big fan of the Bible and the Koran, and Islam confirms Christianity and Jesus Christ as a humanly prophet, yet, people are disrespectful to churches. This must not be the case!

On the other hand, although I personally think that churches should not be turned into mosques or museums, to my best knowledge, according to the New Testament, Christians are obligated to be obedient to the superior authorities where they live:

Romans 13: 1 Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God. 2 Therefore he who opposes the authority has taken a stand against the arrangement of God; those who have taken a stand against it will receive judgment to themselves. 3 For those ruling are an object of fear, not to the good deed, but to the bad. Do you, then, want to have no fear of the authority? Keep doing good, and you will have praise from it; 4 for it is God’s minister to you for your good. But if you are doing what is bad, be in fear: for it is not without purpose that it bears the sword; for it is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad.
5 There is therefore compelling reason for YOU people to be in subjection, not only on account of that wrath but also on account of [YOUR] conscience. 6 For that is why YOU are also paying taxes; for they are God’s public servants constantly serving this very purpose. 7 Render to all their dues, to him who [calls for] the tax, the tax; to him who [calls for] the tribute, the tribute; to him who [calls for] fear, such fear; to him who [calls for] honor, such honor.
Unknown said…
Dear Jasmine,


It's always difficult to use phrases of the bible to get your argument. Therefore, often used in the USA by born again Christians, the bible is often misinterpreted.
The bible refered to the Roman authorities, but can that also be the Turkish authorities, or the Saudi Arabia ones? Often very difficult to make arguments hard.
But you have a point
But neglecting and disgrace sacred ground is not ok...enough about that in the bible as well.
Melissa said…
Dear Mr. De Wit,

Thank you so much for your warm welcome and posting my comments.

You have a point too, but, what I understand from those verses in Romans is that superior authorities are secular governments; in its time Jewish and Roman but it can be any government today. However, Christians do not submit to secular authorities if they are asked to disobey God, because:

Acts 5:28 and said: “We positively ordered YOU not to keep teaching upon the basis of this name, and yet, look! YOU have filled Jerusalem with YOUR teaching, and YOU are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us.” 29 In answer Peter and the [other] apostles said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.

I am thinking that with the light of those verses in Romans and Acts, Christians may be ok to subject themselves to superior authorities in Turkey (assuming and hoping AKP does not bring Seriat ) but I honestly am not sure about Saudi Arabia :)

By the way, I am absolutely, definitely, certainly, against extremist Islam, terrorist Islam, and also the same in the Christendom. I know for sure that true Christianity does not contain/teach any physical or emotional harm against anybody in this world.

Unknown said…
Dear Jasmine,

The bible is not a static book. After the reformation, by Luther, Erasmus, Calvin etc. the Pope lost its political power and brought the teaching of Christianity more in line with contemporary science and life.
The Second Vatican Concilie between 1961-65 sought to revive the central role of Scripture (bible) in the theological and devotional life of the Church, in crafting a modern approach to Scriptural analysis and interpretation. A new approach to interpretation was approved!
The spirit of Vatican II was "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life'.
Like in law, a judge in the Western world shall always interprete and judge not according 'the letter of the law, but in spirit of how the law was written'.
Only the Reformists still follows the orthodox view and they make up maybe 1% of all christians..))!
And they are mainly pacifist, like Amish and Menonits. (Reformists are NOT Reformed)
In fact there took place as paradigma shift from Apollonianism towards Dionysian approach, although both cannot exist without each other.))!
Hopes this give some insight.
Unknown said…
Forgot to mention that Christians obey to secular law as you pointed out in your first comment. But you can ask your self of course 'did the Christian church influenced secular laws!?
more here:
Melissa said…
Dear Mr. De Wit,

I really appreciate your concise and ‘to the point’ comments as your posts in your blog just like Mr. Kizilkaya’s. Definitely it makes it easier to understand, makes you read and gets you more involved.

Although I know what ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ mean, I am afraid I do not agree with you on the Bible being ‘static’. I think it is as good as new now as in its original languages. Just to avoid getting lost in so many translations (‘lost in translation’ was a really good movie by the way), I prefer Bibles with direct translation from Aramaic/Hebrew and Greek, and my favorite is “New World Translation (NWT) of the Holy Scriptures”. I like Jason David BeDuhn’s “Truth in Translation” in which he compares 8 Bible translations and proves that NWT is the best.

If we look at the New Testament, Scriptures tell us that we do not need ‘clergy’ and Jesus Christ is the only mediator:

Matthew 23: 8 But YOU, do not YOU be called Rabbi, for one is YOUR teacher, whereas all YOU are brothers. 9 Moreover, do not call anyone YOUR father on earth, for one is YOUR Father, the heavenly One. 10 Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for YOUR Leader is one, the Christ. 11 But the greatest one among YOU must be YOUR minister. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

1 Timothy 2: 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all—[this is] what is to be witnessed to at its own particular times.

Hebrews 12:24 and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling, which speaks in a better way than Abel’s [blood].

Galatians 3:19 Why, then, the Law? It was added to make transgressions manifest, until the seed should arrive to whom the promise had been made; and it was transmitted through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now there is no mediator where only one person is concerned, but God is only one.

Hebrews 8:6 But now [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent public service, so that he is also the mediator of a correspondingly better covenant, which has been legally established upon better promises.

Hebrews 9:15 So that is why he is a mediator of a new covenant, in order that, because a death has occurred for [their] release by ransom from the transgressions under the former covenant, the ones who have been called might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance.

So my knowledge of the Bible is already free from, Popes, other clergy (I agree they got involved in sooo many politics and wars as in today), denominations, sects, and divisions. Also on the sects and divisions, the Scriptures say that:

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, 20 idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, DIVISIONS, SECTS, 21 envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning YOU, the same way as I did forewarn YOU, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.

Titus 3:10 As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; 11 knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned.

I have also an interlinear New Testament so that I can follow Greek too, but it is not enough for me, I am planning to learn Greek just to comprehend it from the original scrolls. Do you know anything about Rosetta Stone Languages Kits; I mean how successful they are? Any suggestions on how to learn Greek quickly? Any help will be highly appreciated.


the best.
Unknown said…
Dear Jasmine,

Thanks for your comments. They are interesting and it sounds that you have a sound knowledge of the 'Old books'.
Regarding the bible: I read it in Dutch translation after 2nd Vatican con. And was named; Good News for You. A book about peace and love.
What I try to explain is that I and with me many Christians dont take the bible literally anymore, in that sense, we dont need a book to know that murder, rape, stealing, cheating etc. is wrong.
That's also my point with the Qu'ran; to many obligations and rules to be followed...
The two names you mentioned about translations, I dont know them.
I learned ancient Greek and Latin, not modern Greek. I shall ask the co blogger of this blog, Seda, a Turkish friend who lives now already for three years in Greece to answer your question about learning Greek.
Although I'm a born and batized Catholic, I dont practice my religion, only the 'Mystery of Golgatha' attracts me. In that sense, Jesus was in my opinion not a prophet but part of the Holy trinity...and we still count the years since then.)
Claude said…
Dear Hans - You are right. This is an interesting discussion. I'll try to involve my born again Christian son (who reads the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek, Thomas Aquinas in Latin, some Luther in German, Calvin in French, and who also learned Jesus' language:Aramaic)

I read the Jerusalem Bible in French and English, and the King James version because the language is beautiful. My two-cents worth: I'm with Jasmine that our Bible reading should translate into our everyday life today. It's still very relevant. I don't have much use for christian and other religious authorities but we should respect the positions they occupy and their symbols of faith.

I'll ask my son to lend me his NWT (the translation Jasmine reads.)

I'm impressed by your faith and knowledge, Hans. Not many Catholics today are active participants. What's important for me is my faith that God is there and loves and protects me. Faith is a gift and a blessing. But I know many people who do not believe in God, and still live a very decent life, filled with goodness and respect for others.

All the best, as always.
Melissa said…
Dear Mr. De Wit,

Thanks a lot again for your sincere and clear comments and also acknowledging my Bible knowledge.

I strongly agree with your statement in the first paragraph that the Bible is all about self sacrifying love for God and others and about peace.

We can read the Holly Books with or without believing in God. If we choose to believe in God, we develop a relationship with him through our prayers, otherwise, some of the content of the Holly Books can be found in any other secular ethical books too as you mentioned.

I have very very good friends from all different religious backgrounds and denominations, including atheists, agnostics, so it is perfectly fine with me if you or some other people don’t take the Bible or any other Holly Books literally.

If you could please find out what kind of Greek I am supposed learn to follow New Testament that would be just great, thanks.

Thanks for being so sincere with me and your other blog followers to explain your religious background; you did not have to do that and it is very impressive that you have been there.

If I may go back to the Bible discussion, again, :) , I am afraid I do not see “Trinity” just like Islam does not believe and here, I am not condemning or praising any of the religions.

Just a little bit background info about me, born into a secular (?) Muslim country, Turkey to a Muslim mom but to an agnostic dad. I read mostly anything (Science, Sosyalism-Communism mostly, Turkish, Russian, French and Italian literature in the sosyalist-communist line) but not much about Islam, or other Holly Books because since Islam was not represented well neither in Turkey nor surrounding countries, especially on accounts of women. Starting from year 2003 I got interested in all the Holly Books and here I am :)

Auf wiedersehen und bis bald! ( just took 1 semester German hoping to go to Germany for research, did not happen, forgot my German already).
Sean Jeating said…
Almost I had written a comment sticking to what I thought the post was about.
Glad I did not, as before reading the comment-section I did not know that this was apparently a post about what some people think to be the essential inherent interior essence which is hidden in the root of the kernel of everything - certain books. :)
Anyway, it is interesting to see that some contemporaries would - a la bonne heure :) - be able in very friendly, decent, almost submissive manner, very cleverly distract, in order to transport what they think is their mission.
Interesting, indeed. :)

As for certain anonymii:
Thig se gan iarraidh mur thig a dó aimsir.
Ah, that is neither Latin, nor ancient nor new Greek, nor Rosetta Stone language; it's just plain Irish and means: [He / she comes like the weather: uninvited.]
The Peace of the night.

P.S. Ah, Hans, as for this very post: A good one. Chapeau.
Claude said…
Sean - My son said exactly like you..."Those comments have nothing at all to do with the post." he told me. That's why he would not enter the discussion. He's not on a mission. Although he does enjoy a friendly conversation about God's Word at the proper time and place.:)
Claude said…
Hans - After reading your answers to comments, my son says that you're a very hospitable host.
He wasn't too pleased with his mother displaying his language versatility with the Classics.

I had so much problems with Latin and Greek at college, I guess I get carried away with pride when I see what he can do with original texts.

You also have that talent with languages. I admire and envy people like both of you.

All the best, as always.
Melissa said…
I really wish that no one would use words like ‘stupid’ here.

As far as ‘hell’ goes; according to my ametour research, in Christianity there is no ‘hell’, besides, how can a God of love as the theme of the New Testament (Injil) punish his non-obedient children with a fiery torment? Can anyone do that to his/her problematic children? If I am not mistaken Mr. De Wit is on the Christianity side, so he will be safe with that ‘hell thread’ :)

I definitely can understand concerns of Sean on being my comments are about missionary; because this world and especially press, media, blogs are sooo corrupted that it is extremely hard to understand that there might really be honest hearted people who can act just out of ‘their good conscience’ and speak truthfully just like :

“Do not be afraid of telling the truth.” –Ataturk

“When the remedy you have offered only increases the disease, then leave him who will not be cured, and tell your story to someone who seeks the truth.” – Mevlana.

“That which is false troubles the heart, but truth brings joyous tranquility”. –Mevlana.

“The sword of reality is the saint's protection.”-Mevlana.

“‘These are the things that YOU people should do: Speak truthfully with one another. With truth and the judgment of peace do YOUR judging in YOUR gates.” –Zechariah 8:16 (Old Testament).

“25 Wherefore, now that YOU have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of YOU with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another.” –Ephesians 4:25(New Testament, Injil).

Sean it is definitely a good show off of your foreing languages; French and Latin I guess, you definitely serve on the idea that you don’t want to be understood just to show off. And at least thanks for “ :) “ :) :)

“15 Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; 16 because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the SHOWY DISPLAY of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. 17 Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” -1 John 2:15-17 (New Testament, Injil).

To Claudia’s son, I am not a missionary; I have waaayyy more important things to do now, like being a full time professor in an engineering department at a college in US, and many more things.

“1 “Stop judging that YOU may not be judged; 2 for with what judgment YOU are judging, YOU will be judged; and with the measure that YOU are measuring out, they will measure out to YOU. 3 Why, then, do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the rafter in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Allow me to extract the straw from your eye’; when, look! a rafter is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw from your brother’s eye.” –Matthew 7:1-5.

Thank you all,
The best.
Melissa said…
These are some of my favorite Truth versus falsehood Ayas (verses) in the Koran:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

10: (32) This then is Allah, your true Lord; and what is there after the truth but error; how are you then turned back?

17: (80) And say: My Lord! make me to enter a goodly entering, and cause me to go forth a goodly going forth, and grant me from near Thee power to assist (me).

17: (81) And say: The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished; surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).

21: (18) Nay! We cast the truth against the falsehood, so that it breaks its head, and lo! it vanishes; and woe to you for what you describe;

34: (48) Say: Surely my Lord utters the truth, the great Knower of the unseen.

34: (49) Say: The truth has come, and the falsehood shall vanish and shall not come back.
Unknown said…
I will reply in a couple of hrs. Sorry that Anonymus. again left a disturbing comment. Had to delete it, as this is not a shout box!
Unknown said…
Dear Claudia, your son reads a lot of languages...)! And all books in their original written languages! My compliments for him. You also wrote down the answer to Jasmine; the Old Testament is written in Hebrew (starting with Moses) and some small parts in Aramaic. The New Testament however is written in Greek (ancient Greek) since after Christ, Creek was the official language among scholars.
And Claudia, I agree with you, never judge someone on his (or non) religious beliefs, only when it harms someone. And faith is exactly what someone needs. Not a religious doctrine. My mother was born and raised in a typical Catholic family and was even not allowed to marry a non Catholic, a protestant! How different is that with me: I’m married with a Muslim born.) In fact my mother had more faith in the Virgin Maria than the whole Catholic religion.)
Yes Sean, the discussion turned into something else that the blog post suggested…but as long as it stays decent, I am more than happy to answer…and I know that you love Ireland so I figured out that it was Irish..or Celtic?.)!
Yes, A. is uninvited, but he still don’t understand that as I keep on deleting his vulgar language, twice today already. But I don’t want to put it on moderation. That will stop the interaction. And for the rest, I don’t believe in hell.)!
Thanks for the compliments!
Unknown said…
Dear Jasmine,
If you really want to read the original language the New Testament is written in you have to learn Classics e.g. Ancient Greek, and that needs training!

Christianity believes in hell...at least conservative priests can scare the hell out you when they speech.)! But forgiveness is more important these days.

I don't have a direct link with Christianity btw, but more with Rudolph Steiner Anthroposophy...a very open link as I feel more relaxed to be in one basquet.))

Yes, the Holy Trinity stands complete against Islam beliefs...thats also the main obstacle between them...

You have an interesting back ground...talking about French and Italian literature...I jump immediately to de Beauvoir, Sarte, Proust, Balzac, Camus, Dante, Quasimodo, Pavese, U. Ecco, Montale and O. Fallaci.
Oriana Fallaci One Man is one of my favorite books together with the total work of Simone de Beauvoir...
Btw, I studied e.g. Philosophy.)!
Melissa said…
Dear Hans,

I really like Nazim Hikmet, Neyzen Tevfik, Dostoyevski (The Idiot), Maxim Gorki (Mother, other), Tolstoy (Anna Karenina, other), Victor Hugo (all), Sartre (most), Umberto Eco (Name of the Rose, other) Paulo Coelho (some), Marquez (some), Milan Kundera (some), Kosinski (Painted Bird), Dino Buzzati, but my all time favorite Romain Gary and his “Promise at Dawn” talks about a heartwarming relationship between a single mom and a son, his actual life story.

I would like to stop here, because I definitely do not want to be like bragging but love Nietzsche and philosophy. My professional background is a few types of engineering major and minors. I may write you an email about other things.

Thanks so much for encouraging decent comments, not contributing to the inflation of some sort as is the case in lots of the blogs.

I am not sure if I ever commend either on this blog or any other, although threre are extremely beautifully written posts, yours and couple of others.

I have lots to say about Christianity, Christendom, Islam, terrorist Islam, but I see that there is no need.

Claude said…
Hans - Great answers.:) Very interesting to read about Rudolph Steiner Anthroposophy and Oriana Fallaci. A courageous woman; great quotations from her on Google.I'll try to get her book: One Man.
Melissa said…
Dear Hans,

Thanks for your genuine reply. Ancient Greek definitely sounds cool, but it seems challenging.

I know that you have no control over, but, with mild temper and deep respect (1 Peter 3:15) did I not deserve heartfelt apologies (you mentioned in your reply) from Claudia, her son, and Sean? Besides, if I am not mistaken, Claudia sounded like a decent and a ‘faithful’ person and plus also secular people apologies too. In James:

James 2:26 Indeed, as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

James 2:19 You believe there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well. And yet the demons believe and shudder. 20 But do you care to know, O empty man, that faith apart from works is inactive?

Also in Matthew:

Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Matthew 6:14 “For if YOU forgive men their trespasses, YOUR heavenly Father will also forgive YOU; 15 whereas if YOU do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will YOUR Father forgive YOUR trespasses.

I definitely do not think that anybody might see me as an enemy, but, if we are to love our enemies, how much more so we must love our neighbour as ourselves as in Matt 22:36-40.

Matthew 5:44 However, I say to YOU: Continue to love YOUR enemies and to pray for those persecuting YOU; 45 that YOU may prove yourselves sons of YOUR Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 He said to him: “‘You must love your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”

Forgot to add, I love Patrick Suskind (Das Parfum), Plato (The Republic), Socrates, Montaigne, Rousseau, …

All the best for you and the commentators.
Unknown said…
Dear Jasmine,

I think that you interprete the messages of Sean and Claudia on the wrong way; in fact they are complimenteus to you!.)
So often people misunderstand each other on internet because the On line Image people automatically create left often someones intentions on a social network like this often in the dark!
I know Sean and Claudia ' a little' and they are in fact pleased with the open way of discussing things here, with the acception of Anonymus who last message was 'scumbag' etc. Obvious for me...
Later more, have to run!
And speaking with Nietsche...he once said: There is only one science and that's philology',
philology, an older term for linguistics, and especially for the branch of linguistic study devoted to comparative and historical research into the development of languages. In a wider sense, the term sometimes also covers the study of literary texts. A researcher in this scholarly field is a philologist.
And a Literary study or classical scholarship of the old books.
later more...have to run..
Melissa said…
Dear Hans,

Thanks, especially about Nietzsche. One of his quotes: “S/he who has a 'why' can bear anything.”

I do not want to make this big of a deal, but I feel like I am the one who is blamed on being a Christian missionary? Not that it is bad, just I am not!


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