Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Frank Schaeffer, Uncle Vartan, and Jennie Vartanian

After reading Frank Schaeffer's books tracing the history of the Religious Right, Marash Girl felt fortunate to have been brought up in a church led by her Uncle Vartan (Rev. Vartan Bilezikian).  (See his book, long out of print, now available online ( Apraham Hodja of Aintab, a biographical history of the early Evangelical movement in Eastern Anatolia.) 

Thanks to Frank Schaeffer, Marash Girl began to think about her own experiences in the evangelical church (earlier than Frank's) and how fortunate she was to have  had her very own Great Uncle Vartan who led the church and kept out the crazies, and her father, Peter Bilezikian, who moderated any craziness that may have snuck through.

One story of particular import was of Marash Girl's mother, Lucille Mae (Jennie) Vartanian (brought up in the more moderate Armenian Protestant Church -- the Armenian Memorial Church in Watertown, or what we called the Cilician Church, -- known to be more "liberal" than the Watertown Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church), Peter Bilezikian's newly engaged to be married love, who came to the Brethren Church (before Marash Girl was born, of course) to sing a hymn in duet with her sister Lydia Vartanian.  When the young women got up on the pulpit to sing, a man in the congregation stood up and shouted, "Before they can sing, they must give their testimony!"  Marash Girl's Great Uncle Vartan stood up to his full height of almost six feet (rare in those days for an Armenian),  glared at the originator of the intrusive remark, pointed at him, and said in his heavily accented English, "YOU SIT DOWVUN."  The man who had insisted on hearing Jennie's testimony sat down at Uncle Vartan's command, and Jennie and her sister Lydia sang.

Marash Girl's father loved to tell the story, and Marash Girl's mother loved to hear it told.

1 comment:

  1. Haha, is there a purposeful connection in these two titles? 1) Frank Schaeffer: Uncle Vartan and Jennie Vartanian and 2)Frank Schaeffer: Sex, Mom and God!