April 17, 2014

Obama in the Blue Mosque

Obama in the Hagia Sophia (April 2009)

President Barack Obama, center, is accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rear center, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, fourth from right, rear, as he visits the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, April 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Orthodox Advocate for Human “Exceptionalism”

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Our culture is at a crossroad about the value of human life, argues author and human rights activist Wesley J. Smith in an interview with Kevin Allen on the "Illumined Heart" podcast (Ancient Faith Radio). Do we value human life simply because it is human, or do we value it based on notions and definitions of "personhood" including such characteristics as sentience, awareness, stages of biological development and others factors? The former allows for a universal definition of human rights. The latter reduces human beings to "subjects" that are bound to shifting and often capricious standards that determine who lives and who dies.   Listen here: widget here (43:38) It's a heated battle (one that even spills over into the comments of this blog on occasion). Often, the the level of vituperation in the attacks against religious defenders of human life arise because the utilitarians understand their view allows for no coherent defense of any human rights, Smith says. "They … [Read more...]

Turkish film ‘Guz Sancisi’ sheds light on 1955 Istanbul pogrom

For the first time, a Turkish film has taken a serious look at the anti-Greek riots in Istanbul on Sept. 6-7, 1955, a horrific mob attack that triggered the rapid decline of the Greek Christian community -- at the time numbering some 120,000 to 135,000 people. Widespread destruction was wreaked on homes, businesses and Greek Orthodox Church property. Businesses and homes owned by Armenians and Jews were also targeted. An article in Today's Zaman, a Turkish paper, describes the film "Güz Sancısı," or "The Pain of Autumn," as a love story of Behçet and Elena, a Turkish man and a Greek woman, set against the tension that culminated in the real-life destruction of 5,300 businesses and houses owned by Greeks, Armenians and Jews. The paper, citing distributor Özen Film, said that more than 500,000 people have seen the film since its release in March. Visit the official site here. The producers of "The Pain of Autumn" say the film about the 1955 pogrom ... ... is a result of an … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill shakes up Russian Orthodox hierarchy; Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev to head External Relations

A report in Georgian Daily by Paul A. Goble details a number of new appointments and transfers put in motion by Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Goble says that "Russian commentators agree" that the patriarch intends to use his position to promote a more public and more active approach at home and abroad. But, citing a report by Aleksandr Soldatov on the Russian language Portal-Credo site, Goble says there are also signs of preparations for a major council. At the direction of Kirill, the Holy Synod created a “still mysterious” commission for the preparation of materials in anticipation of an as yet undefined and unscheduled church council or “sobor" and named Archmonk Saava, who is particularly close to the new patriarch as its secretary. This group, which Kirill apparently will chair could prove to be only a place holder for housekeeping functions or it could – and Soldatov suggests that Kirill’s own personality makes this more likely – a staging … [Read more...]

Achieving Orthodox Unity

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Fr. Gleb McFatter, who pastors St. Demetrius Orthodox Church in Naples, Florida offered the following homily at the Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers. Highlight: Orthodox unity will only be achieved when the laity, parish priests and monastics lovingly unify themselves and exhibit that unity to the hierarchs. One thing those of us in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) have learned from our recent "times of trouble" is that only when the discontent among the laity, parish priests and monastics rose to a fever pitch — only then were the hierachs moved to action. Imagine what could be accomplished if that same level of energy was focused on achieving unity among those at the parish and monastic level! … [Read more...]

Patr. Bartholomew to White House meeting?

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini is reporting that President Obama will meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew when he is in Istanbul on April 7 during a visit to Turkey. "However," the paper said, "the US president is also due to hold a one-on-one meeting with the patriarch in the White House on November 3." The plans were firmed up when Archbishop Demetrios met with the president on March 25 during a White House reception in honor of Greek Independence Day, Kathimerini said. During the public ceremony, the archbishop compared the president to Alexander the Great. While in Washington, he also attended a reception hosted by the Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias at the Greek Embassy. Minister of Justice Nikolaos Dendias represented the Greek Government at the Independence Day events. Meanwhile, the tug-of-war between, on one side, the Turkish government and, on the other, the U.S. Greek lobby and the Greek government, continues over a proposed meeting … [Read more...]

OCL responds to EP talk at Holy Cross

George Michalopulos, Orthodox Christian Laity board member and frequent contributor to the AOI blog, penned the official OCL response to Arch. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis' recent talk at Holy Cross School of Theology. Original article is posted on the OCL website. An OCL Board Member Responds to the Message of Chief Secretary of The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate March 25, 2009 - the Feast of the Annunciation I. Introduction: An Archimandrite Speaks Recently, a certain archimandrite, the Very Rev Dr Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, spoke at Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. His position is one of auxiliary professor at this seminary but his formal title is “Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod.” His remarks thus were more than the observations of a mere academic; indeed he stated from the outset that they were authorized by the Ecumenical Patriarch himself and “with the consent” of Archbishop Demetrios, … [Read more...]

Archbishop Demetrios Compares Obama to Alexander the Great

Archbishop Demetrios, leader of the largest Orthodox Christian jurisdiction in the United States, compared President Obama to Alexander the Great at a Greek Independence Day celebration at the White House. Politico, noting that the president got "a little unexpected flattery" from the hierarch about his crisis management skills, said the archbishop told Obama: "Following the brilliant example of Alexander the Great...you will be able to cut the Gordian knot of these unresolved issues." The unexpected flattery was so over that top that it embarrassed the president and earned the archbishop a link on the Drudge Report. In the video, someone can be heard hailing the president as an "honorary Greek." Just a hunch, but I bet that little hosanna came from one of the Obamakis and Bidenopoulos set. Back story. In the last few days, the Greek Lobby has been in overdrive over a report in Hurriyet that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to meet with Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet … [Read more...]

Clarion Review: A Quick Apology for the Interview

It used to be that I would skip printed interviews in magazines and journals, and especially in newspapers. They seemed like rehashings of what the interviewee had already said--perhaps better--in print. As an editor, interviews also struck me as filler for slow issues. And so it went for years that I did not read a single interview even while enjoying interviews on television and especially on the radio. What you could call my prejudice against print interviews was only broken by that maker and breaker of prejudices: experience. I read a couple of deft interviews, which appeared, strangely enough, in leftist publications like Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and Slate (I have not seen many interviews, and especially many notable ones, in what could be called conservative or right-wing publications. If you know of some, please post them as a response). I say strangely enough since I had never thought that certain genres or print formats were more or less preferred by one side or … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Iakovos Speaks Out on Illinois ‘Reproductive Health and Access Act’

Greek Orthodox Metropoiltan Iakovos has issued a "call to action" on an Illinois bill that right-to-life advocates describe as a state level Freedom of Choice Act. The metropolitan has posted a clear and forceful letter on the Metropolis of Chicago Web site condemning the proposed HB 2354 as unjust and a violation of "the very principles of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Life of the world." The metropolitan said HB 2354 "would affect all health care workers by removing their right to conscientious objection to abortion and related procedures, forcing them to participate in or provide abortions or face legal punishments. This bill would basically make the right to an abortion a fundamental human right in the State of Illinois." More: The forces that oppose religious freedom and are actually seeking to increase the number of abortions in our society are well organized, well funded, and well connected to the political process. It is high time for Christians to raise their own … [Read more...]

Guidelines for comments

Here are the guidelines for comments folks: First, any comment that does not directly address the ideas presented in the main article won't be posted. Second, AOI comments is not a debating forum although reasonable responses to other comments may be considered on a case by case basis. Most often however, they will not be posted. Third, declarations of support or non-support won't be posted without coherent reasons explaining your position. Any further comments containing personal attacks, snide remarks, innuendos, etc. will be deleted. No exceptions. Serious issues require serious deliberation. Disposition of the comments are final. … [Read more...]

E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?

The American Orthodox Institute has published a new paper on Orthodox unity by George Michalopulos that examines the historical usage of the title "metropolitan," the role of the metropolitan in Church administration, and the "crucial" pastoral duty defined in the Divine Liturgy as "rightly dividing the Word of [God's] Truth." In "E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?" Michalopulos takes it a step further. He offers a "sketch" of how an American Orthodox Church might be structured along traditional lines. In a unified American Orthodox Church, for example, the Archbishop of Washington would be the primate of the American Church and also carry the title of Patriarch. Rather coincidentally, AOI published "E Pluribus Unum: One Church from Many?" just a day after the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis delivered his speech "Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate" at Holy Cross seminary. The Ecumenical Patriarchate sees … [Read more...]