Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sergeant Carney's Flag

In 1863 William H. Carney entered the army and was assigned to Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first regiment composed of black men in the state. They were most renowned for their participation in the battle at Battery Wagner where, through their bravery and sacrifice, they forever silenced the predication that Blacks would not fight. It was at this siege on July 18, 1863 that Color-Sergeant William H. Carney performed a brave deed which earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor for most distinguished gallantry in action.

This act, acknowledged to be one of the most heroic deeds of the Civil War, is recorded in State documents and in the detailed account written by Sergeant Carney.

Here, in part, is his account of the siege:

‘. . .We were all ready for the charge, and the regiment started to its feet, the charge being fairly commenced. We had got but a short distance when we were opened upon with musketry, shell, grape shot and canister, which mowed down our men right and left. As the color-bearer became disabled I threw away my gun and seized the colors, making my way to the head of the column. . . In less than 20 minutes I found myself alone, struggling upon the ramparts, while the dead and wounded were all around me, lying one upon another. Here I said, ‘I cannot go into the battery alone,' and so I halted and knelt down, holding the flag in my hand. While there, the muskets, balls and grape-shots were flying all around me, and as they struck, the sand would fly in my face.

The Storming of Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Morris Island, Charleston, S.C., July 18, 1863.

I knew my position was a critical one, and I began to watch to see if I would be left alone. Discovering that the forces had renewed their attack farther to the right, and the enemy's attention being drawn thither, I turned and discovered a battalion of men coming towards me on the ramparts of Wagner. They proceeded until they were in front of me, and I raised my flag and started to join them, when from the light of the cannon discharged on the battery, I saw that they were my enemies. I wound the colors round the staff and made my way down the parapet in to the ditch, which was without water when I crossed it before, but now was filled with water that came up to my waist.

Out of the number that came up with me there was now no man moving erect, save myself, although they were not all dead but wounded. In rising to see if I could determine my course to the rear, the bullet I now carry in my body came whizzing like a mosquito, and I was shot. Not being prostrated by the shot, I continued my course, yet had not gone far before I was struck by a second shot.

Soon after I saw a man coming towards me, and then within halting distance I asked him who he was. He replied, ‘I belong to the One Hundredth New York,' and then inquired if I were wounded. Upon replying in the affirmative, he came to my assistance and helped me to the rear. ‘Now then,' said he, ‘let me take the colors and carry them for you.' My reply was that I would not give them to anyone else unless he belonged to the Fifty-Fourth Regiment. So we passed on , but we did not go far before I was wounded in the head.

We came at length within hailing distance of the rear guard, who caused us to halt, and upon asking who we were, and finding I was wounded, took us to the rear and through the guard. An officer came, and taking my name and regiment, put us in charge of the hospital corps, telling them to find my regiment. When we finally reached the latter the men cheered me and the flag. My reply was, ‘Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.'

It is then said that he fell to the gound in a dead faint, weak from the wounds that he had received.

In May, 1900, Carney became the first Black American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Carney's brave deed is depicted on the Saint-Gaudens Monument in Boston Common. The rescued flag is enshrined in Memorial Hall, Boston.

William Harvey Carney died at his home in New Bedford, Massachusetts on December 9, 1908, and is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery there.  His final resting place bears a distinctive stone, one claimed by less than 3500 Americans.  Engraved on the white marble is a gold image of the Medal of Honor, a tribute to a courageous soldier and the flag he loved so dearly.

The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

The 54th Massachusetts Regiment's story was depicted in the movie Glory

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Update on the Orthodox Study Bible

Hat Tip: Uncreated Light

We would like to take this opportunity to give you a status report on the Orthodox Study Bible: The Septuagint / Old Testament Project with study notes.

All the participants in the project - translators, study aid authors, editors, and our publisher, Thomas Nelson - are committed to producing an accurate, faithful, and readable Bible, including all of the Books of the Septuagint Old Testament Bible missing in the present day English bibles and Roman Catholic Vulgate.

Special emphasis has been applied to the integrity of the translation, ensuring that these texts are rendered into the most accurate and appropriate English. The study aids and notes have been composed, edited, and revised to convey as best we are able the tradition of the Orthodox Church. The page layout and flow of text has been scrutinized to ensure that even the more mechanical aspects of the book will enhance its readability and usefulness. These attributes - accuracy, faithfulness, and utility - form the cornerstone of our work.

All other aspects of this project have been subordinated to them - including the schedule.

As we write this message, the final pieces of the new Orthodox Study Bible are making their way to the publisher, where they will be formatted, typeset, printed, collated, bound, packaged, and made ready for distribution. For a project of this scope, we anticipate the publication process committed to by Thomas Nelson will take thirteen to fifteen months. Therefore, we feel confident that the new Orthodox Study Bible will be available for purchase in time for Pascha, 2007.

Posted: 4 January, 2006

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A New Chinese / Russian Prayerbook now in Print

From Mitrophan Chin:

A hardcover bilingual Russian-Chinese prayer book is now being made available for the first time. The first run of 2000 copies has been printed in Moscow, Russia through the support of the Brotherhood of Sts Peter and Paul of Hong Kong.

The prayer book consists of the morning and evening prayers and the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. The Russian text flows on one page and the modern Chinese text in parallel on the opposite page.

The Chinese text used in this prayer book is based on the online Chinese Orthodox Daily Prayer Book available at

This new translation in modern Chinese follows the missionary zeal of Metropolitan INNOKENTY (Figurovsky) of Beijing who authorized a translation commission in the early 20th century to provide liturgical books in the local venacular such as the 1910 Chinese prayer book. St John (Maximovich) also blessed a revised edition of the prayer book with more catechetical material in 1948 for his Chinese flock while he was Archbishop of Shanghai. Following its predecessors, a new translation is once again made available in the venacular of today, balanced with dignified Chinese vocabulary suitable for devotional and liturgical use. This new translation has been dilligently compared with the original Greek and other English prayer books. The text of the psalms as used in the liturgy will eventually be revised to conform to the Greek Septuagint (LXX) and to be made available online initially for comment for accuracy and ease of use.

Chinese Orthodox Christians living in Russia and mainland China may request a free copy of this bilingual prayer book from the Brotherhood. All others may request a copy with a freewill donation of any amount to help underwrite this missionary endeavor.
Direct all inquiries to Fr Dionisy Pozdnyaev at or at:

F20, 28 Grosvenor Court, South Horizons, Ap Lei Chau, HONG KONGphone: +852 94385021, +86 13651152917 fax: +852 22909125, +852 25298211Website:

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Christmas Photos in the News

Christmas Photos in the news.

Russian President Vladimir Putin crosses himself during the Nativity Vigil at a main Russian Orthodox cathedral in the Siberian city of Yakutsk, January 6, 2006. Russia celebrates Christmas January 7th, two weeks later than Western Christianity. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov)

(AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) :: The head of Russia's Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II holds candles during a Christmas Liturgy in the giant Christ the Saviour cathedral in Moscow early Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006.

Orthodox worshippers light candles in the Nativity church as they celebrate the Orthodox Christmas in the West Bank city of Bethlehem January 7, 2006. Israelis kept a nationwide vigil for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Saturday after he underwent emergency surgery to staunch renewed bleeding in his brain from a massive stroke. (REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh)

MSNBC: Orthodoxy in SPAAAAACE!

The Russian Orthodox church in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, was completed in June of last year. This past Saturday, the first time Christmas services were held there.

By James Oberg
NBC News space analyst
Special to MSNBC
Updated: 9:18 a.m. ET Jan. 6, 2006

For almost half a century, Russian rockets and space travelers have assaulted the heavens from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Soviet spaceport in Central Asia that was portrayed as the shining symbol of a communist future. Now one of the last sights for departing space crews is the shiny domes of a new Russian Orthodox church — where they have their own way of reaching toward heaven.

The city of the space workers was originally named “Leninsk” in honor of the founder of the Soviet state, a champion of the official atheism under which priests were imprisoned and churches were burned. Cosmonauts in the Soviet era were often quoted as joking, “We have been to heaven, and didn’t see God there.”

But in a radical cultural revolution, the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1991 unleashed a long-underground religious impulse even among the elite of Soviet society, “rocket scientists” and the military hierarchy.

Within months of communism’s fall, a small Russian Orthodox church was organized at the space center in an abandoned sporting goods store. A young Russian priest came to town, held religious services and at the request of officials began blessing rockets and space crews. Cosmonauts began carrying traditional Russian icons into orbit.

Senior military officers back on Earth also began to come out of the closet on the issue of respect for the long-suppressed Russian church. Writing in a just-published armed forces commemorative chronicle of 50 years of rocket launches at Baikonur, space program veteran Major General Anatoliy Zavalishin observed that "in the opinion of many people, in Russia there stand only two really active forces that are close to the common people — these are the army and the church.”

“Almost every cosmonaut brings with him into space his personal icons,” said Gennady Padalka, who commanded the 9th expedition aboard the international space station in 2004. In addition, a copy of the famous icon of “St. Mary of Kazan” is displayed on a panel in the Russian segment of the station. It was placed there in 2000 by the very first long-term crew.

This remarkable religious surge will be celebrated spectacularly this Saturday, the Russian Orthodox Christmas. It will be the first time Christmas services are held at Baikonur’s new church, just completed in the middle of last year.

The glistening gold and blue domes are clearly visible from a concrete overlook located behind the “Cosmonaut Hotel,” where space crews and their support staff live prior to launch. Often, on the day before the launch, those bound for space walk past lines of memorial trees planted by earlier generations of cosmonauts and look out over the Syr Darya River and the surrounding steppes, to fix in their minds the sights and smells of the world they are leaving. South of the overlook, about a mile downstream along the river, the shiny new church now glistens.

A copy of the Kazan icon of the Theotokos is seen over the head of U.S. astronaut James Voss in 2001 as he floats in the Zvezda service module of the international space station.

During Soviet days, religious celebrations in the city were forbidden. But as soon as Kazakhstan declared its independence, a small group of people at the spaceport petitioned the Russian Orthodox bishop of the nearby city of Akmolinsk to open a parish and send an ordained priest.

The bishop consulted with church officials in Russia, and in June 1992 they sent Father Sergey to Baikonur. With the Russian space program nearly bankrupt, the situation wasn’t the easiest. The congregation grew rapidly, however, and soon there were too many attendees to fit into the small store during services.

Easter 1994 marked a major turning point for the congregation, when about two thousand people crowded the street outside the makeshift church and city officials approved a live TV broadcast of the services