ACOM Book Club News for December

The ACOM Book Club met on December 15th in the St. Sahag Armenian Church Fellowship Hall.

We normally meet in the Fireside Lounge, but we couldn't get the fireplace to work and it was just a bit too chilly in there without a fire. Attending this month were Francis, Azad, Andrea, Tanisha and Leroy. This month we shared a bottle of Muirwood Cabernet Savignon, some sarma and Brazilian nuts.

This month's book was "The Fool" by Raffi (real name Hakob Melik Hakobian per wikipedia.)
Father Tadeos reported through Azad that Raffi is buried in Etchmiadzin.
Francis supported Azad in his claim that this is a great book.
Azad - On first reading I thought it was too bigoted. On second reading I thought that Raffi criticized every group of Armenians except women. Armenian men spoke Turkish, but the women spoke Armenian and even forced the Kurdish servants to speak Armenian.
At the start of the book, Vartan plays the part of the fool. Later, all Armenians are shown to be the fools.
Someone noted the parable of the tree and the axe, where the trees in the forest note that the weapon which was destroying them, the axe, has a handle which is made from their own wood. This was used to describe the Armenians who did the dirty work (tax collection, identifying rebels) for the Turks.
This book shows that some Armenians were armed and instigated to rebel, but it was too late to be successful.
The question was raised as to why Raffi wasn't arrested by the Ottoman government if he was writing books like these.
Later in the book Raffi was very critical of the church when an Armenian woman who committed suicide was not allowed to be buried in the church cemetary.
There was a long discussion on the changing attitude of the church through the years.
People commented on the local priest in the book who was not paid a salary but depended on fees which he collected from the people that he served for each service (i.e. marriage, last rites, etc.) that he performed. Of course, many people were so poor that the priest had a long list of fees which he had not collected and he was afraid that he would never be able to collect them.
Comments in the book point out that the Armenians are fools who don't understand that it must be one for all and all for one. It compares the Kurds to wolves and Armenians to sheep.
Azad referred to a church which had a live manger scene. They actually had a live lamb and a live lion in the manger scene. When people asked how that worked out, the reply was that they just had to put in a new lamb every day.
There was a discussion of the various Armenian political parties and churches and how they fought each other.
Azad liked the end of the book where Vartan had his vision of the future of Armenia. The statement was made that every Armenian's life starts on April 24th.
There were some side discussions of the high schools that Francis and Azad attended in Iran and Aleppo. They both still keep in touch with many of their classmates.
The book for January is "The Gardens of Silihdar" by Zabel Yessayan. For February, the book will be "Bluebeard" by Kurt Vonnegut.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope to see you all at the next book club meeting on January 19th.

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