Bishop Savas, head of the Greek Orthodox Office of Society and Culture, is starting a new blog called Living in the LOGOSphere (no posts yet). He told Greek News that the new blog “will have a different, less personal, less whimsical character” than the travel diary blog he authored last year. Readers of the AOI Observer will recall that his blog greeting to the new president after last year’s election included this exclamation: This is the Day that the Lord has made!
The editorial focus on the new blog will range from “the political to the environmental, from bioethical issues to trends in popular culture,” the bishop says. A number of writers will be involved.
This is a positive development and welcomed here. Too much of what passes for “social witness” in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in recent years has been focused on the very mixed bag of “national issues” of the Greek state and constant collaboration with various and sundry Greek pols and bureaucrats. Defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate against Turkish repression, certainly. Lobbying in Congress on the Macedonian “name issue,” ridiculous.
We hope that by citing “bioethical issues” the bishop intends for his new blog to offer a strong defense of the sanctity of life. But we know that might get him in “Church and State” problems with Greek Orthodox politicians who would rather defend a party platform than defend the unborn. We shall see.
Excerpt from Bishop Savas’ interview with Greek News:
Greek News: Please tell us something about your new office.
Bishop Savas: The Office of Church, Society and Culture is actually the revival and adaptation of the Department of Church and Society, which was an important part of the Archdiocese from the ‘60s through the 80’s. Archbishop Demetrios felt strongly about resurrecting that department to explore means of reaching out to the great numbers of Orthodox Christians who stand on the borders, as it were, of a full-blooded commitment to the Church.
You may recall that the theme of last year’s Clergy-Laity Congress in Washington, DC, was “Gather My People to My Home”. His Eminence and the Holy Eparchial Synod firmly believe that God has charged us to bring the world into the Church. To that end, my new directive is to promote a creative Orthodox Christian engagement with contemporary social and cultural realities. My office is charged with the task of developing and implementing programs and ministries that will assist those persons, and particularly young adults, who look to the Church for guidance in meeting the challenge of living lives that are both fully and authentically Greek Orthodox Christian and fully and authentically 21st-century American.
GN: I understand that one of the initiatives of your office is an upcoming blog.
BS: Yes. The word “blog”, of course, is a neologism, short for “weblog.” It’s a type of website with regular entries and that exists in a variety of types. I kept a personal, travel-diary-type blog when I spent two months in Florence, Italy, late last year, as a way of sharing my thoughts and experiences with friends and family. The blog I am preparing to launch for the Office of Church, Society and Culture will have a different, less personal, less whimsical character. It will provide commentary on a variety of topics that have an impact on our lives as contemporary Orthodox Christians in America, ranging from the political to the environmental, from bioethical issues to trends in popular culture. One of the things that sets a blog apart from say, a newsletter, is that it provides readers the opportunity to leave comments, to interact with the content. And I say “content” because it won’t be just text; it will include videos and podcasts as well.
GN: What’s the difference between this sort of engagement—on-line, with possibly controversial questions—and other forms of religious education or pastoral guidance offered by the church? What do you see as the advantages and risks of using blogs and social networking technologies to take our faith into the marketplace of ideas?
BS: Blogs and social network technologies are the new marketplace of ideas and we ignore them at our own risk. They are where people go, especially young people, to find out about their world. On the other hand, there are significant risks involved in engaging people on line. It’s no secret that a cultural war is raging all around us. We have become a very polarized society, and we’ve taken to shouting our differences at each other over the airwaves. Cybershouting is made easier by the fact that people can hide behind avatars or pseudonyms in cyberspace. In other words, they can snipe at others anonymously. So there’s a scary dimension to expressing yourself on the Internet because people don’t necessarily have to account for their behavior.
GN: How will you deal with the problem of masked identity on your blog?
BS: People will have to register with their real names. This might cramp some people’s style, but those are the people that we wouldn’t want to appear on the blog anyway. I’ll be the blog’s gatekeeper, as it were, giving thumbs up or thumbs down on whether a comment appears or not, so it’s not going to be a free-for-all.
[ ... ]
GN: What is the name of the blog?
BS: “Living in the Logosphere”. I’ve decided to call it that because I want to set this blog apart from the rough-and-tumble of the blogosphere, that virtual space where hundreds of millions of people are posting their opinions and reacting, often heatedly, to the opinions of others. I want the Logosphere to be a kind of metaphor for the Church. It’s where the Logos, the Word of God, the reason for everything, the Life of the world, reigns over all. It’s another way of saying “The Kingdom of God.”
GN: You mentioned that the blog will provide commentary on a wide range of topics, from politics to pop culture. Will you be addressing all of the topics personally?
BS: Mine won’t be the only voice you hear in “The Logosphere”. I’m the contributing editor, but there will be far better qualified voices than mine addressing topics like Church-State relations, bioethics, and green issues. My own expertise, such as it is, is on culture: film, literature, music, and that’s where I’ll largely be focusing my energies, evaluating what passes for entertainment today and helping people discern what is of lasting value or where dangers might lie. I am not a mindless kind of celebrant of whatever pop culture puts out there but neither am I a reflexive critic in the sense of being a denouncer who says “no good can come of this”, because I’ve experienced a lot of good from pop culture. I think that both ends of the spectrum are extreme and untenable positions; we have to have a more nuanced stand toward popular culture.