April 23, 2014

Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Kidnapped Syrian Bishops

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- Source: Assembly of Bishops The Honorable John KerryUnited States Secretary of State Dear Secretary Kerry, We, the Members of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, kindly bring to your attention the urgent and very serious plight of the Greek Orthodox and Syriac Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Paul Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim, who were abducted this past week by "a terrorist group" in the village of Kfar Dael as they were carrying out humanitarian work. Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, religious minorities have not only come under increasing attacks by Islamic fundamentalist rebels, but also have been caught in the crossfire of the opposing factions. As you well know, on April 22, 2013, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released a report entitled Protecting and Promoting Religious Freedom in Syria. Religious minorities, including the Christian population, have been targeted for extinction in an attempt … [Read more...]

St. Vlad’s Hosts Poverty Conference – May 31 – June 1, 2013

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Source: St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminay "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life!" How may we re–think our response to issues of poverty, and how may we offer positive solutions to address the needs of the poor? This conference, co-hosted by the Seminary and the Acton Institute—a body dedicated to researching principles that link economics with virtue—will offer some fresh ideas for Orthodox Christians.  Conference presenters will be Jay Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute; and Susan R. Holman, senior writer at Harvard Global Health Institute, and author of The Hungry are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia and God Knows There's Need: Christian Responses to Poverty, both from Oxford University Press.   . View Acton Institute's engaging videos from "PovertyCure," an international coalition of organizations and … [Read more...]

Why Do Eastern Orthodox Churches Continue Enabling Opposition to Orthodox Values on Abortion, Sexual Morality?

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It's biting criticism folks -- but all true. From the essay: What I have observed rather consistently (and had this confirmed by other trustworthy observers) is that Eastern Orthodox leaders participating in NCC meetings have shown little to no interest in openly defending Christian values (particularly on life and sexuality) when confronted by the aggressively secular values of Liberalprotestantism, instead choosing to remain meekly passive. This includes what I have observed of those few Eastern Orthodox individuals who have obtained staff or leadership positions in the council. My response to the full essay (published on Juicy Ecumenicism) blog is reprinted below. The essay is excerpted. Read the full essay on the Juicy Ecumencism blog. Source: Juicy Ecumenicism | John Lomperis Christian churches of any sort are right to be careful and thoughtful about the specific causes and organizations to which they do and do not give their public support, as such decisions … [Read more...]

Edith Schaeffer. May Her Memory Be Eternal

Edith and Francis Schaeffer

Edith Schaeffer passed away last week at 91 years old. Many readers may not know her. Edith was the wife of prominent Evangelical theologian Francis Schaeffer who founded L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and had immeasurable influence helping young people find their way out of the despair of moral relativism in the latter decades of the last century. Edith was a profound humanitarian but in a very humane way, revealing how creativity in small things like making a dinner brought forward a dimension of the divine in our daily labor that elevated and honored those to whom that work was offered. She possessed grace and a generosity of the heart and spirit. Years ago on a cold day in Rochester, Minnesota I was privileged to experience her warmth. One of my closest friends married Edith Schaeffer's secretary. When I heard that her son Frank was converting to the Orthodox faith I called Keith and offered to drive down from Minneapolis and explain to her what this Orthodox faith … [Read more...]

Pakistani Mob Destroys Hundreds of Christian Homes in Lahore

Fr. John Tanveer

By Cal Oren On Saturday, March 9, 2013 a crowd of Muslim Pakistanis attached a small Christian neighborhood known as the St. Joseph Colony in the city of Lahore, Pakistan. This was shortly after an incident earlier in the week, when one Muslim resident had accused another Christian resident of blasphemy against Muhammed after the two had engaged in a dispute. The police arrested the Christian accused of blasphemy on Friday, and the mob action took place the next day. The secular press (including the New York Times) reported this incident, using Pakistani government supplied figures of 178 houses, 18 shops, and 2 churches damaged by the fires that the mob started. Some news reports carried estimates of the mob size as approximately 2,000 to 3,000. What they failed to report – obviously because the government did not supply these figures – is much more disturbing. Fr. John Tanveer, a native of Lahore, is an Eastern Orthodox priest who lives in Lahore. While he does not live in … [Read more...]

Terry Mattingly: Did ‘The’ Leader of the Orthodox Attend the Rome Rites? [VIDEO]

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Source: Patheos | Terry Mattingly So, let’s assume that you are a Catholic leader and you pick up your morning newspaper and it contains a story in which Pope Francis is described as “a leader” of the world’s Catholic Christians. What would you think? Is the phrase “a leader” — implying one among many equals — an accurate way to describe the unique, singular, authoritative role played in global Catholicism by the occupant of St. Peter’s throne? The answer, of course, is “no.” So, let’s assume that you are an Anglican Christian, perhaps a leader in one of the rapidly growing churches of Africa, and you pick up your paper and it contains a story in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is described as “the leader of the world’s Anglican Christians.” Note the singular nature of the word “the.” What would you think? Is the phrase “the leader” — implying a … [Read more...]

Dylan Pahman – Orthodoxy and Natural Law: A Reappraisal

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Source: Acton Blog | Dylan Pahman At Ethika Politika today, I examine the recent critique by David Bentley Hart in the most recent issue of First Things of the use of natural law in public discourse in my article, “Natural Law, Public Policy, and the Uncanny Voice of Conscience.” Ultimately, I offer a measured critique—somewhat agreeing with, but mostly critical of Hart’s position—pointing out Hart’s oversight of the vital role of conscience in classic natural law theory. What I find so bizarre, and have for some time now, is the relative ambivalence, at best, of many contemporary Orthodox writers when it comes to natural law. Hart, for example, hints that he might approve of natural law reasoning so long as all parties involved hold to a metaphysic that acknowledges “a harmony between cosmic and moral order, sustained by the divine goodness in which both participate.” However, even then he is not clear. Indeed, he begins his article by writing, There is a long, rich, varied, … [Read more...]

Dr. Alexis Torrance: The Concept of a Person in Modern Orthodox Theology [VIDEO]

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Source: Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary | HT: Pravoslavie.ru On Thursday, March 14, 2013, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary hosted a lecture on the concept of the person in Orthodox theology, presented by Alexis Torrance, D.Phil. (Oxon.), a patristics scholar and the author of a recent book "Repentance in Late Antiquity: Eastern Asceticism and the Framing of Christian Life" (Oxford University Press, 2012), who currently is a Research Fellow at the University of Thessaloniki (Greece). In his lecture, Dr Torrance focused on the trinitarian and christological foundations of the Orthodox understanding of the personhood, and addressed some of the misconceptions regarding the human person in modern theology. The lecture was attended by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Luke, Rector of the Seminary, seminarians from different years, and by some people from the local community. … [Read more...]

Wesley Pruden: The Puzzling Papacy of Pope Francis

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Source: The Washington Times The new pope is a puzzle to nearly everybody, particularly to the politicians, pundits and other know-it-alls. He looks and sounds like a remnant of a previous time, thrown up in the squalid swamp of a trashy and superficial age. He’s not at all hip and “with it.” He’s not interested in “moving forward,” as in the current cliche. He projects humility and kindness and speaks of his Christian faith as if he really believes in the amazing grace of the Gospel. This makes the intellectual elites, and even some “holy men” of the various bureaucracies of modern Christendom, incredulous, nervous and embarrassed. The elites are willing to tolerate religious faith as long as a believing Christian keeps it to himself and never acts on it or even talks about it. It’s OK, barely, to be a “cultural Christian,” who often isn’t really a Christian at all as Christ defined the faith in the New Testament. The new pope rebukes this synthetic Christianity, urging a return … [Read more...]

Eric Metaxas: Religious Freedom is Under Threat. CPAC Speech on March 16, 2013.

Eric Metaxas

Once the State arrogates unto itself the moral authority to create relationships not found in nature, it stakes the claim that only the State can determine what is morally licit. At that point Christian beliefs and morals oppose the State and the Christian may be seen as an enemy. Source: ericmetaxas.com Highlights: Jefferson and the Founders...knew that the State was always tempted to take over everything — including the religious side of people’s lives. So they put a protection in the Constitution that the government could not favor any religion over another. . .and could not prohibit the free exercise of religion. In my book Bonhoeffer I talk about a meeting between Bonhoeffer’s friend, the Rev. Martin Niemoller, who early on in the Third Reich was one of those fooled by Hitler.  And in that meeting he says something to Hitler about how he, Niemoller, cares about Germany and Third Reich — and Hitler cuts him off and says “I built the … [Read more...]

Dylan Pahman – Natural Law, Public Policy, and the Uncanny Voice of Conscience: An Orthodox Response to David Bentley Hart

Dylan Pahman

Source: Ehtika Politika | In his recent First Things article, “Is, Ought, and Nature’s Laws,” David Bentley Hart puts forth a formidable and subtle critique of the use, “by certain self-described Thomists,” of the natural law tradition in public discourse. While Hart does not deny “a harmony between cosmic and moral order,” he takes issue when “the natural law theorist insists that the moral meaning of nature should be perfectly evident to any properly reasoning mind, regardless of religious belief or cultural formation.” He thus contends that (1) such natural lawyers, despite best intentions, ultimately fall prey to David Hume’s critique that one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”; that (2) natural law reasoning depends upon a person’s prior acceptance of certain metaphysical commitments (e.g. a teleological world and a harmony between the cosmic and moral orders); that (3) universal … [Read more...]

The Colloquium and Pope Francis

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Several weeks ago I spent a weekend with Catholic and Orthodox scholars in a colloquium titled "Liberty, Society, and the Economy in Modern Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Thought." I am a parish priest, not an academic, which means I approach the big questions from what I call a "rubber meets the road" perspective. I start with the problem or issue that I am thrust into and work out from there. It's real, sometimes messy, and almost exclusively existentialist. That also meant that I approached the colloquium as a student and did not have much to contribute until the how the ideas we discussed applied to everyday people in everyday life. That's the world in which I practice my vocation so that has become my area of expertise. The practical dimension was welcomed especially by the academics who, as most of us know, can distance themselves from the concrete consequences of ideas and sometimes fail to distinguish the power of one idea over another. It's a professional hazard … [Read more...]