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Living Faith
Tested Faith
Witnessed Faith
Heritage or Choice
Service and its Rewards
Armenian Christianity and the World

The Question of Survival

I definitely question the survival of the Armenian Church. Over the last two months, I've been working on a documentary for public television on the Armenians as survivors. During my research, I have found and personally talked with representatives of Armenian communities all over the world. We are everywhere-Thailand, Denmark, Bulgaria-and everywhere we are struggling to survive.

How is the church going to survive if the Armenians don't survive? The church hasn't survived in Ani or in Van or in Mush or in Kars. Do you know what has happened to our churches there? I can show you pictures. They are barns filled with hay and cows. The khatchkars (stone crosses) have been ripped out or burned black. People living in those villages today use them to construct the walls of their homes. You have a pile of stones, then a khatchkar, more stones, and another khatchkar. That's what has happened to our churches in Eastern Anatolia.

It used to be the church that helped our communities form and survive. My concern right now, however, is to survive as an Armenian. Today, if we survive as Armenians, the church will follow. Some people may believe that, if the church survives, Armenians will survive. At this point, I think the church is not a strong enough power within the community to help us survive the test of time. We need to continue with our language and our culture, and we need to support Armenia and the people who live there.

Let me tell you something-we have enemies. Analysts at the Brookings Institution, a world-renowned political think tank, have told me that a lot of people believe that the Armenians and Armenia will not survive. They point to the mass exodus of people from Armenia that began with independence and that is still going on today. The dramatic loss of population in the Republic of Armenia has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. The Azeris and the Turks know that the Armenians are going to leave Karabagh. They know that the Armenians are leaving Armenia. Why should we lose more men fighting for those lands? They think, Why not just sit back and wait for the Armenians to move to Los Angeles? Then we can move right in.

Okay, it's not going to happen in the next two years. But the person from the Brookings Institution thinks it may happen between the next ten to twenty years. Hey! Wait a minute! That's my generation!

Shant Petrossian, New York, New York


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