July 31, 2014

Met. Nicholas on Michigan’s Economic Crisis

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit discusses Michigan's severe economic decline -- caused by the state's close ties to the auto industry -- and its effect on the state's parishes in an interview with the Greek-American newspaper National Herald (available on the Orthodox Christian News site with free registration). To tell you the truth, our people have been affected in some ways, but not as strongly as some other communities because the majority of our people our educated people. There are scientists working for the auto companies and also people working in the lines, but many of those people have retired so either they received a buyout or pension. Most of the young people are working as doctors, lawyers, pharmacists. Interviewer Theodore Kalmoukos also asked Metropolitan Nicholas about the direction of the Church in America. The Metropolitan answered: I hope we are going to God’s kingdom, but in order to get there, we have to strongly proclaim the gospel … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah’s ‘Obama Moment’

The Washington Times' Julia Duin interviews Metropolitan Jonah who, she says, is enjoying an "Obama moment" because of his relative youth and sudden rise to prominence. In Duin's interview, the Metropolitan said he wants to expand outreach to youth and on college campuses. "The thing I am most concerned about is the despair that grips so many of the young people in our culture," he said. "There is so much nihilism and atheism, all a result of the broken families, drugs, social and economic ills that grip our culture. So many of the young are in a state of existential despair." Why Orthodoxy? "It is a very integrated way of life," he said. "It's a lifestyle, a way of self-denial as a way to greater fulfillment. It is a way of spiritual discipline to help people to bring themselves under control so they are not possessed by anger, lust and the seven deadly sins." He was persuaded to join Orthodoxy through the reading of one book: "The Mystical Theology of the … [Read more...]

Mattingly on Met. Jonah

In "Orthodox bishop on hot spot," Terry Mattingly looks at the improbable rise of Metropolitan Jonah -- in the span of about 10 days -- from newly consecrated assistant bishop of Dallas to head of the Orthodox Church in America. Snip: If nationwide change is going to happen, said Jonah, it will have to grow out of respect and cooperation at all levels of the church. "Hierarchy is only about responsibility, it's not all of this imperial nonsense," he said. "Thank God that we're Americans and we have cast that off. We don't need foreign despots. We are the only non-state Orthodox church. In other words, we are the only Orthodox church that does not exist under the thumb of a state -- either friendly or hostile. "So the church is our responsibility, personally and collectively, individually and corporately. What are you going to do with it?" … [Read more...]

Hope for the Future!(?)

The Manifesto is blessed

In Sweden, the Interfaith Climate Summit has issued forth with the The Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto, a perfectly ordinary amalgam of religious sentiment and environmental alarmism typical of ecumenical groups. Which is to say that there's precious little political, economic or scientific insight in the broadside from Uppsala. Of course, there's no indication from the summit's participants that the causes and cures proposed for global warming may be controversial, especially in the scientific community. Yet, what sets the Hope for the Future! manifesto apart from total banality, and makes it interesting, is its unmistakably coercive tone about what both developed and developing countries "must" do about climate change. Apparently, the "global village" ethic of environmental activists does not apply when demands are made of the powers that be. The manifesto was signed by Fr. John Chryssavgis, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch, and Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, director of … [Read more...]

Thoughts from a great historian

A quote from Catholic historian Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) in "Religion and the Modern State" (1936): Religion gradually retreated into man's inner life, and left social and economic life to the State and to a civilization which grew steadily more secularized. A man's debt to religion was paid by an hour or two in church on Sundays, and the rest of the week was devoted to the real business of life -- above all, the making of money. Such a division of life into two compartments -- and very unequal ones at that -- was not the Christian solution, nor could it be permanently successful. If religion loses its hold on social life, it eventually loses its hold on life altogether. And this is what happened in the case of modern Europe. The new secularized civilization is not content to dominate the outer world and to leave man's inner life to religion; it claims the whole man. … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah: Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches

In June, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America delivered a talk on "Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches: A Monastic Perspective" at the Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary. The audio of the talk is available on Ancient Faith Radio along with the other presentations from the conference. The PDF version of Metropolitan Jonah's presentation is available on the OCA site, where the Church is also archiving his articles and speeches. On the subject of the Mother Churches and the “Diaspora,” Metropolitan Jonah has this to say: ... almost all national Churches have extended their jurisdictions beyond their geographic and political boundaries to the so-called diaspora. But Orthodox Christians who are faithful to the Gospel and the Fathers cannot admit of any such thing as a diaspora of Christians. Only ethnic groups can be dispersed among other ethnic groups. Yet the essential principle of geographic … [Read more...]

‘A Day of Public Thanksgiving’

In "Thanks to the Founders," Andrew Kadar recalls his arrival in America as a young boy, and explains why Thanksgiving is now his favorite holiday. Anyone from an immigrant background will be touched by his story. Some people lament that Americans treat immigrants unkindly, that we discriminate against them and make their lives more difficult. I never experienced that. To the contrary, Americans went out of their way to help me become one of them. My family's attitude contributed to our reception. We didn't come here to be Hungarians in America. We came here to be Americans. We made the effort to live and act like Americans to the best of our ability from day one. We all learned to speak English as soon and as well as possible. We eagerly absorbed American culture, history and customs, which we grew to appreciate and love. And on this day, let us give thanks, as did that revolutionary conservative George Washington, for the "great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty" we … [Read more...]

Peace or Truth?

In "What is important and what is not," Fr. Alexander Schmemann looked at controversies in the Church and how these may have led to "more true love" for the Body of Christ. Reprinted here in full: When controversies are ignited and flare up in the Church, which happens and has happened often, alas, we inevitably hear appeals from Church circles to cease these controversies in the name of peace and love. Now, this would be cause for great joy, if only in these appeals there were no unmistakably different overtones: "Your controversy is not important. It is of interest to no one: only ‘specialists’ and ‘scholars’ can understand it, so all this argument leads only to seduction and harm." And here we must point out to these accusers something very important which they have apparently forgotten. They have forgotten that peace and concord in the Church are inseparable from the Truth. An outsider who does not believe and is not part of the Church would smile and shrug his shoulders, … [Read more...]

Moral Tradition and the Assault of Gay Activists

Over at OrthodoxyToday.org, Fr. Hans Jacobse looks at why gay activists in California are now attacking places of worship: So what explains the aggression of homosexual activists especially toward churches in California and elsewhere? Is it just because they lost the vote or is something else at work? The homosexual lobby argued that marriage is a fundamental right denied to homosexual couples. They overlook the fact that homosexuals already have the "right" to marry. They just can't marry a member of the same sex, just as a man can't marry multiple women, a woman multiple men, a father to a daughter, a brother to a sister, and so forth. Nothing is "denied" to them that is not denied to everyone else. "Unfair" they protested and indeed it is. But fairness to those who seek new definitions of marriage is not a concern of the moral tradition. There are compelling reasons why the convention is what it is (children need both a mother and father being one of them), and tinkering … [Read more...]

Turkey and Religious Liberty

My interview with Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol was published today in The Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. Our talk focused on the prospects for greater economic and religious liberty in Turkey. Mustafa blogs at The White Path. Excerpt: Let's talk about religious freedom. There's a great tension between the modern secularist path of Turkey, going back to Ataturk, and the revival of Islam and its influence on politics. Will this be a winner take all battle, or is Turkey working out something a little more complex in the future? I say there will be room for all of these views, and Turkey will be more pluralistic than it used to be. Actually, right now, the battle is between the people who want to create room for pluralism and those who want to keep it homogeneously secular. Keep in mind that the founding idea of the Turkish Republic was very monolithic. It picked up the narrative of the French Enlightenment in that secularism would make the country safe from … [Read more...]

WCC’s ‘Homespun’ Economic Fallacy

The World Council of Churches, which claims to speak for most Orthodox Churches around the globe, has formulated a number of proposals to reform the global financial system because of its inherent "injustice." General Secretary Samuel Kobia sees the need for new transnational financial watchdog organizations that will "qualitatively regulate the growth in massive movements in capital." The problem here is that Kobia fails to understand that a global economy requires an international flow of capital -- along with an international flow of goods and services and, very often, labor (indeed immigrant labor). In cataloging a long list of ills flowing from the current economic crisis, and the "neoliberal economic myth" of efficient markets, Kobia neglects to mention -- or fails to see -- how markets work to create wealth, economic growth and jobs. These are not things created by, as he would have it, "democratizing all global finance and trade institutions" across international boundaries. … [Read more...]

Met Jonah: Vision for America

Rod Dreher over at Crunch Con believes the OCA has turned a corner: Amazing. Just amazing. And prophetic. This is a national religious leader who is right for the time. Listen to it here by clicking on the "Vision for the Future" audio link. Excerpts (forgive any transcribing errors, please): He talks about the need for Orthodox Christians to engage the world in service: Where are the Orthodox hospitals? Where are the Orthodox schools? Where are the Orthodox charitable institutions? It's a beautiful thing to build a medical clinic in a remote village in Ethiopia. But it's also a beautiful thing to build a medical clinic in a remote village in Kansas. More: The fundamental institutions of our culture are falling apart. ... [Traditional Episcopalians, for example] are crying out in pain. They see their church as having abandoned Christianity, and surely it has. If it endorses gay marriage. If it endorses homosexuality. If it endorses abortion. If it endorses euthanasia … [Read more...]