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After all, to be Coptic is to be Christian, and America is a dominantly Christian nation.

Being Coptic and living in Egypt, on the other hand, is the exact opposite: it means institutionalized discrimination, second class citizenship, violence, and sometimes, even death.

As Metropolitan Serapion of the Diocese of Southern California once said at a sermon I had attended, “culture is the vessel in which religion is understood.” Coptic Christianity has survived two millennia of different cultures, from our polytheistic Ancient Egyptian ancestors, to the Arab Conquest which resulted in a nationwide shift to Islam, and most recently, the rise of the West, where millions of Copts have taken refuge.

With the passing of each new era and introduction of another way of life, Coptic Christianity has shown resilience in its ability to interact and adapt to the dominant culture in order to survive, while still maintaining its true spirit.

Perhaps, more than anything, this interaction is best reflected in the evolution of the Coptic Cross. Gawdat Gabra, the world’s leading historian on Coptic Christianity, Dr.

Gabra says that although the modern version of the Coptic cross “feature arms dividing into three points each,” the Coptic Cross as we know it looks nothing like the original.

America had to provide the Egyptians and other colonial protectorate areas with some sort of look into the future that would be better than they had in the past, though tailored to Western interests.Today, however, the West is yet another culture that has been woven into the fabric of being Coptic.The introduction of this culture is especially salient to those of us who are immersed in it, born in it, and practice it.Nevertheless, it has a strong hold on our imagination, our pride, and our lives. This is perhaps the most limited, since Coptic culture is no longer dominant in any country; rather, in every Sunday liturgy, every bible study, and every church retreat, our Coptic culture comes to life.None of these cultures exist in a vacuum; rather, all three interact with each other.

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