August 29, 2014

The Cohabitation Bomb

In the most emphatic fashion, reports the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod yesterday declared its opposition to the government’s bid to give unmarried couples greater rights by stating that any form of relationship other than a couple married in an Orthodox Church is tantamount to “prostitution.” The Synod said that a draft law under consideration constituted a “catastrophic bomb” being placed under the foundations of Greek society. Archbishop Ieronymos II, the new leader of the Church of Greece who arrived with the reputation for being a moderate, was pushing for a moderate position on the issue. But the other 12 members of the Synod would have none of it. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution,” the Synod said in a statement. … [Read more...]

The Tithe of the Year

In his latest podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, Fr. Thomas Hopko looks at Great Lent as the "tithe of the year," during which believers try to be what they ought always to be. Fr. Tom, an advisor to AOI, shares his Lenten maxims, the things a believer would do if they were really a believer and wanted to live as God wanted us to live. At the top of Fr. Tom's list: "Be always with Christ. Trust God in everything. Never forget God." Listen to "The Tithe of the Year": All of Fr. Tom's podcasts are archived here. … [Read more...]

The Failure of the Condom Culture

From the Family Research Council (FRC): Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National STD Prevention conference presented research showing that 1 in 4 teen girls (or 3.2 million) have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In addition, findings from two studies presented demonstrate that of the 15-to-24-year-old women receiving contraceptives, over half are not receiving appropriate counseling, screening, and treatment for STIs. Taken together, these findings represent a simmering STD epidemic among our young people and a tremendous negligence in care for girls most at risk for contracting STDs. The call for an effective public health prevention strategy could not be more urgent. The current contraceptive-based education approach offered in 75 percent of U.S. schools not only relies on an overly narrow focus on physical health that is spurring an epidemic, but it also completely ignores the emotional consequences of premarital sex. Abstinence education … [Read more...]

Persecuted in Romania: Frederica Mathewes-Green on Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

He was a Lutheran pastor and was severely persecuted for his faith by communists in Romania. He is Rev. Richard Wurmbrand and Frederica has a rare recording of his voice singing a hymn to the Theotokos that he wrote himself. Frederica makes reference to an article in Again Magazine about Pastor Wurmbrand (download only). Listen here: … [Read more...]

Recognizing the Orthodox in China

Metropolitan Nektarios, newly enthroned at the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia, says his priorities include dealing with the Chinese government to bring about the recognition of Orthodox Christians in mainland China. "There are many Orthodox in the port cities in South China. Greeks are working on the ships and they want a place of worship," Metropolitan Nektarios told Ecumenical News International on 29 February. "The pastoral activities are first for the [Orthodox] Greeks, then for the Chinese. There are only a few Orthodox Chinese there." In January, Met. Nektarios told Asia News: "Orthodoxy, as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has said, is not anxious about expanding its numerical and geographical extension, but it wants to make man, with his passions and limitations, understand his true worth. Its power is spiritual, and its purpose is the diakonia [service] of man, in order to realise the divine within man. There is great need for this in our little … [Read more...]

Ecumenicism: The Moral Imperative Based on the Priestly Prayer of Jesus

Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17:11). In just a few short weeks most of the Eastern Churches (and Western Churches as well) will be reading this passage from St. John’s Gospel during Holy Week. Are we one, are we in unity, are we responding to the Fathers embrace prayed for by His Divine Son? The answer is blatantly: No! Not to respond to God’s Will is being in a state of sin: thus disunity is sinful. Jesus prayed that we be ‘kept in the Fathers name and be one’ but we are free to reject the Father. Why? Because we are created with ‘free will’. Thus we are free to sin. But we are also free to work toward conforming our will to His Will. Brokenness in the world, the evils around us, the disunity among the communities of Christians are due to choices made by us individually and collectively by our Churches, ecclesial communities and religious establishments. There is no doubt that Ecumenism … [Read more...]

Guroian on ‘Youth, Unity and Orthodoxy in America’

Dr. Vigen Guroian delivered a talk on “Youth, Unity and Orthodoxy in America” at the 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting of Orthodox Christian Laity in Glenview, Illinois, in November. The theme of the OCL conference: “The Need for a Great and Holy Council.” Here's Dr. Guroian (an advisor to AOI) on Orthodox youth: The college or university is a synecdoche -- a metaphor – representing in microcosm the diverseness and pluralism of America. Likewise, the Orthodox students who arrive at our colleges and universities represent a microcosm of the entire Orthodox presence in America in all of its variety. They come to college for many reasons, with little thought, however, about joining in the great experiment of Pan-Orthodoxy and church unity. Unlike their immigrants forebears who came to America, these young people do not bring to college all of the institutional paraphernalia of their churches. They do carry, however, an Orthodox identity that they feel a need to share and explain … [Read more...]

The Real Byzantium?

In late January, Russian television showed "The Fall of an Empire: The Lessons of Byzantium," a film by Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov. The film has sparked a controversy in Russia about the role that the West played in the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, whether modern Russia faces similar dangers, and whether the Russian Orthodox Church could help prevent a similar collapse. The Moscow Times published two opposing views on the documentary today. Mark Urnov, dean of the political science department at the Higher School of Economics, had this to say: This is not a historical film but a mythological one. It appeals to a myth deeply rooted in the consciousness of many Russians -- one that combines the bold ideas of Moscow as a "Third Rome," the greatness of the 18th- and 19th-century Russian Empire and the Communist fairy tale of a flourishing Soviet superpower that was destroyed by insidious and subversive liberals. The film uses the Byzantine model to advance another myth -- … [Read more...]

Solovyov on Economic Morality

Towards the end of his life, the 19th century Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov published his "On the Justification of the Good: An Essay on Moral Philosophy" (1897). In this book, wrote historian Paul Valliere, Solovyov abandonded his vision of a "worldwide theocratic order" in favor of the more concrete demands of building a just society. With "Justification of the Good," Solovyov (1853-1900) presented a general theory of economic and social welfare based on the idea that all human beings have "a right to a dignified existence." The following excerpt is from the chapter, "The Economic Question from the Moral Point of View" in Solovyov's … [Read more...]

OCN: Fighting for Life

Here's a great resource for Orthodox Christian educators. The popular Come Receive the Light programming on the Orthodox Christian Network is archived along with a one-page study guide. These could be used in religious education classes and adult study groups. Those of us with wireless access at churches could listen to the archived program on a laptop and work through the study guide afterward. In this recent program, host Fr. Chris Metropulos speaks with Frederica Mathewes-Green about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Orthodox Christian understanding of life, and how Orthodox Christians throughout the centuries have turned belief into practice by reaching out to women and children in need. Listen here: Here's what Brad Borch wrote in the study guide: In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled to confirm a woman’s right to an abortion. Since that time, the conflict over this decision has, in many ways, cast a dark pall over our nation. Some have likened the babies lost to … [Read more...]

Remembering WFB

The passing of William F. Buckley last week at the age of 82 produced an outpouring of remembrances that continued through the weekend with Michael Kinsley's "Tales from the Firing Line" in the New York Times. National Review Online has assembled some of the best here, of which one of the best of the best is William McGurn's "God and Man and Bill" originally published in the Wall Street Journal. Christianity Today also republished a fascinating 1995 interview with Buckley on the subject of Christian political activism. In "Conversations: W. Buckley: Listening to Mr. Right" Buckley tells interviewer Michael Cromartie this about the growing influence of conservatives in politics: What we see here is a mobilization of people who are properly horrified by what they see going on in Hollywood, in the growth of single-parent families, and so forth. They've figured out that our foundations need restoring, and I have never doubted that those foundations are religious. So this is how … [Read more...]

The Implicit Racism of Planned Parenthood

Did you know that over 70% of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in minority neighborhoods? Here's a vid making the rounds (a bit edgy -- and disturbing) revealing PP's racist doublespeak about the value of human life. Here's the group that outed PP: “They live out her racist vision.” Covert investigation by UCLA students finds Planned Parenthood still wedded to founder’s bigoted views … [Read more...]