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Post-election lesson for Americans rom Egypt;s Coptic Orthodox Church

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 9 5:31 AM
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      Posted at 07:20 PM ET, 11/07/2012
      08, 2012 12:20 AM ESTTheWashingtonPost
      A post-election lesson for
      Americans from Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church
      By Brad
      Bishop Tawadros will be ordained Nov. 18,
      2012, as Pope Tawadros II. He will be the spiritual leader of a community that
      increasingly fears for its future amid the rise of Islamists to power in the
      aftermath of last year's uprising. (AP) The election is over and
      now the real work begins. Today is not fundamentally about Republicans and Democrats. It is not about winners and
      losers. It is about us, the American public and how we will be best served by
      those in elected office.
      We endured not only a closely contested election, but one marked
      by a torrent of high-priced of polarizing ads which leave in their wake, a
      deeply divided nation even though the contest is over. Now the real work begins,
      Will we be one nation, or will we simply continue the same fights in new
      settings. Will Congress continue to be a paralyzed battleground even as we
      confront serious challenges on virtually every important issue we face as a
      How we answer those and similar questions will probably have more effect on
      our lives than the people we elected yesterday. And rather amazingly, we would
      do well to look to another electoral process which unfolded this week, for some
      wisdom about how best to proceed. We should look eastward to the Coptic
      Christian community in Egypt and their election of a new patriarch, Pope
      Tawadros II.
      Egyptian Copts and clergymen walk past an
      election poster with pictures and names of the three candidates, Father Raphael
      Ava Mina, left, Anba Tawadros, center and Anba Raphael, right and Arabic that
      reads "the structural elections, November 4, 2012," following the papal election
      ceremony at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo on Nov. 4, 2012. (AP) The 60-year-old, English-trained pharmacist born as Wagih Sobi Baqi Suleiman, became the head of
      the Coptic Church when a blindfolded child picked his name out of a bowl. A
      crazy way to determine who should lead a community with millions of members, or
      a brilliant process which builds unity and commitment to the new leader
      regardless of who he is? The latter. I will explain.
      The process by which the Coptic Church selects a new pope begins by
      assembling a long list of potential patriarchs, a list which is then narrowed by
      a vote in which more than 2,000 church leaders participate.
      Ultimately, that list is shortened to three names, all of which are written
      down and placed in a bowl. Following three
      days of fasting and chanting, a child
      is selected to reach into the bowl and draw out the name of the person who will
      serve as the new leader.
      The process is meant to reflect divine intervention in the selection process,
      with the faithful affirming that the ultimate choice is made by God, who directs
      the little boy’s hand to the “correct” choice. This process also demands an
      additional understanding – one that works whether one is Coptic or not, believes
      in God or not, and one which would serve us well as we wake up this morning in
      the United States.
      For the process to work, Copts must believe that any of the three names that
      are placed in the bowl are people who are capable of leading their church. They
      may prefer one over the other, but if they did not accept that whatever their
      preference may be, each man was worthy of serving as pope, they would not see
      the hand of God in each case, as they do. Now imagine applying that assumption
      to our own elected officials.
      Regardless of how we feel about the outcomes of Tuesday’s election races,
      what if we admitted that in each case, and especially in the race for president,
      the two candidates made our own version of that short list, and then their names
      were placed in a giant electoral bowl? The fact is, each man is capable of
      leading our nation, and now that one has been chosen, we should spend more time
      figuring out how to come together as one nation regardless of how we feel about
      the outcome. 
      Whether one calls it the hand of God, the will of the majority, or anything
      else, the bottom line remains the same. A winner was chosen from two legitimate
      choices, and now it is up to us to come together around that choice and be one
      nation, much as the Coptic community is coming together around their new pope. I
      hope that we rise to that challenge, and wish both victors the best of luck.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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