October 24, 2014

Greek Ambassador: ‘Hellenism and Orthodoxy’ Is A Foreign Policy Tool

Outgoing Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias is getting a big send off for all of his fine work in helping the American Omogeneia and Diaspora (still wandering in search of a home) advance the interests of the Greek state. Here’s the key paragraph from a report in SAE News:

[Mallias] forged and cultivated substantive relations with the organized Omogenia undertaking initiatives focusing on the coordination, unity and cooperation of its powers for the promotion of issues of Greek interest. He kept us updated on the course and progress of our national issues, actively participated in meetings of Greek-American organizations and contributed to every effort aimed at supporting and promoting Greek education and culture, mobilizing the youth on Greek issues and establishing relations between Greek and Greek-American businessmen. He and his associates were always accessible and eager to brief the Greek-American community and suggest more effective ways to promote Greek issues as US citizens. It is up to us whether we will build on the foundations he has laid to ensure the unity and cooperation of the Greek-American community on issues of our concern.

Yes, it’s up to us. For sure.

SAE (World Council of Hellenes Abroad) USA Regional Coordinator Theo Spyropoulos also reminds us that “in countries with Diaspora, like the United States, Hellenism can very well be utilized as an aid to serve foreign policy aims.”

There shouldn’t be any doubt about the primary role that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese plays in this lobbying effort. As Ambassador Mallias told Greek News today:

Greece’s greatest asset in the United States is the Hellenic American Community, starting with the Archdiocese, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, and the organized associations.

I always try to challenge the belief that there is no Greek lobby in Washington. In an article on lobbying in the recent issue of “Foreign Affairs,” the Greek lobby is listed among the top four or five strongest in Washington, alongside the Israeli, Armenian, Irish lobbies. This is the general perception in Washington. I see no reason to question it. It is a fact that Greek-Americans, both as individuals and through associations, are passionate about promoting Greek-U.S. relations and the issues of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.

Watch the video of Ambassador Mallias’ address to the 2008 Clergy-Laity Congress in Washington, and listen to his thoughts on Hellenism and Orthodoxy, here.

The full report from SAE News:

Omogenia hosts farewell reception for Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias
Chicago (May 17, 2009)

Greece’s Ambassador to the United States Alexandros Mallias will be honored for his services in the second annual cultural event titled: “The Universal, humanistic and timeless values of the Greek Culture and Education” to be held on Capitol Hill on June 4 hosted by the Federation of Greek-American Educators under the auspices of SAE USA Region.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Greek-American community and many prominent Americans attended the farewell reception for Greece’s Ambassador Mallias held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington DC on Friday, May 15 co-hosted by SAE USA Region, AHEPA, American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and the Hellenic American National Council (HANC). SAE USA Regional Coordinator Theo Spyropoulos in a statement he has issued praises the Greek Ambassador for his valuable services:

“The mission of modern diplomat is manifold and complex in the new globalized environment. Alongside the traditional diplomacy new aspects of international relations are being developed such as, cultural and economic diplomacy, that serve the promotion and attainment of the goals set by a country. At the same time, in countries with Diaspora, like the United States, Hellenism can very well be utilized as an aid to serve foreign policy aims.

Greece’s Ambassador to Washington Alexandros Mallias has a number of successful initiatives to display in the aforementioned areas. Having a profound knowledge of the Greek history going all the way back to antiquity, he always highlights the timelessness and timeliness of the ideas of Hellenism and their impact on humanity. Having a notable diplomatic career and experience, the Greek ambassador is an expert on political and economic issues in South-East Europe and the US-Balkan relations. Within this framework he has played a significant role in promoting Greece internationally as a stabilizing factor in the greater geographic region.

Traveling across the country, he promoted the Greek positions and ideas with lectures as well as through his participation in conferences held by US universities, colleges and think tanks. Promoting the anthropocentric values of Hellenism, equity and respect toward fellow human beings, he was distinguished for his work in the field of human and civil rights, mutual understanding and tolerance and in combating trafficking in humans. Articles he has signed have been published in major US newspapers. He developed and maintained excellent relations with senior members and officials of the US administration, mainly in the Congress and in both parties contributing to the strengthening of the ties between Greece and the United States. He hosted innovative cultural and charity events at the embassy held with the participation of other ethnic communities thus contributing to the strengthening of cooperation with other countries in the sectors of culture and education and to the mutual understanding of the peoples.

Ambassador Mallias

Ambassador Mallias

He forged and cultivated substantive relations with the organized Omogenia undertaking initiatives focusing on the coordination, unity and cooperation of its powers for the promotion of issues of Greek interest. He kept us updated on the course and progress of our national issues, actively participated in meetings of Greek-American organizations and contributed to every effort aimed at supporting and promoting Greek education and culture, mobilizing the youth on Greek issues and establishing relations between Greek and Greek-American businessmen. He and his associates were always accessible and eager to brief the Greek-American community and suggest more effective ways to promote Greek issues as US citizens. It is up to us whether we will build on the foundations he has laid to ensure the unity and cooperation of the Greek-American community on issues of our concern.

The contribution of his wife, Mrs. Francoise-Anne Mallias, to the promotion of Greek culture in the United States was notable. Mrs. Mallias, with the Greek soul, promoted the values of peace, humanity, equality and philanthropy in the contacts she had across America contributing to the Greek Embassy mission.

We say goodbye to Alexandros and Francoise-Anne Mallias with a big thank you as Omogenia and we are certain that they will continue to serve Greece and the Greek ideals in the future as well.”

Hellenic American National Council (HANC) and Pan Cretan Association of America President Emmanuel Velivasakis stated: “Alexandros Mallias was an excellent diplomat, accessible as a personality, who appreciated and utilized to the fullest the role of organized Omogenia. On its part, the Omogenia embraced him and cooperated with him because it realized his sincere intentions as regards the coordination of its powers. We thank him for all his efforts and wish him success in the new post he will assume.”

Pan-Macedonian Association, Inc. USA Supreme President Nina Gatzoulis stated: “We thank Mr. Ambassador for his active presence in the US capital, particularly as regards our national issues. He was a restless personality that sent out positive energy. We thank him for the perfect cooperation with the Pan-Macedonian Association.”

Comments

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    Andrew says:

    One cannot help but observe the gigantic disconnect between the omogenia in the USA and the reality in Greece.

    On one hand you have the GOA and the Greek Lobby partying it up at the Ritz talking about Hellenic Value$ etc meanwhile you have continued social unrest in Greece, riots, attacks on Churches and a people who are committing demographic suicide while suffering widespread social alienation.

    Watching this unfold along with the trivialization of Orthodoxy in the life of the Greek people is a tragedy in slow motion.

    Patriarch Kirrill in Russia gets the message that Christian Culture is a top priority. Culture drives history. I think he will be successful in his efforts. The GOA, EP and Greek Lobby miss this connection altogether and the end result is a fashionable ethnic fundamentalism with a three-bar cross.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    I’m sorry, Tom, you were saying?

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    Tom Kanelos says:

    I fail to see how this contradicts ANYTHING I have posted here. Can you provide any evidence to the contrary?

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    Theodoros says:

    As one who is active in Greek issues, I find both the GOA and the Greek government’s involvement in the GOA to be completely inappropriate, and both of the above have completely failed in their tasks.

    Their is to be sure an Orthodox purpose for the GOA to work on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Cyprus as well, although this should not overshadow the supreme task of promoting the Gospel and converting America.

    Whoever bragged in the article about the power of the Greek lobby is delusional. It is well known for those active in Greek affairs that the Greek lobby barely even exists and is an absolute failure. What passes for the Greek lobby is a 25 March ceremony at the White House. There is nothing more of any achievements.

    There is an imbalance inside the GOA in my opinion to the detriment of the Church’s spiritual mission. So, the GOA has failed on both the ability to ensure that Orthodoxy grows in America as well as in its alleged role as a “Greek lobby”. Greek officials, and others are quite deluded if they think the GOA is any match for the powerful Turkish lobby in the United States.

    The Turkish lobby in fact basically undermined the Ecumenical Patriarchate in a very devastating way as can be seen by the Obama visit to Turkey. The GOA on the other hand are simply thrilled that the Patriarch got his picture taken with the President as if he were a simple tourist.

    With regard to Greece, there is in fact a strong anti- Church movement beginning to grow. This is what makes the Greek government’s involvement in the GOA more bizarre, as well as the GOA’s complete silence on Church-State tensions in Greece.

    The opposition Soclialist Party in Greece is anti-Church and anti-Orthodox to the core. If they succeed in their agenda, Greece will follow Western Europe on its destructive anti-Christian course. The Church of Greece under the late Archbishop Christodoulos saw full well what was beginning to happen in Greece, and challenged the Socialists when they were in power in Greece.

    In my opinion, I have always believed there should be an Autcephalous Eastern Orthodox Church in America simply because that is what the Canons require. As a Greek myself, I have many problems with the GOA and its alleged status as a “Greek lobby” which in actual fact it is not.

    Whether it should be depends on the issue at hand. The GOA should not be a lobby for any secular or wordly agenda, but in matters of religious freedom and genocide perpetrated by the Turks there is a clear Orthodox basis for taking an active stand.

    Theodoros

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    John Couretas says:

    Theodoros, you describe the problem very well. The question: Are we a Church, or a K Street lobbying firm?

    And will any of these amateur GOA lobbyists be held accountable for the humiliation of the Ecumenical Patriarch in his 10 minute hotel meeting with the president in Istanbul? Not likely.

    The oppression of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the slow asphyxiation it has suffered under Turkish rule, the the destruction and looting of churches under Turkish control in Cyprus, these are all outrages. These are issues that should concern not just the Greeks, or the Orthodox, but all Christians. And anyone who believes in religious freedom.

    Unfortunately, the GOA has allowed itself to become an overseas department of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Mallias thinks that’s OK. But doesn’t that bother anyone at the Archdiocese?

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    Theodoros says:

    In my opinion, once Orthodoxy was established in America all the various jurisdictions should have understood that the overall purpose in the end should be the conversion of America. That the GOA or any jurisdiction is not doing this is a betrayal of the Byzantine ideals which gave top priority to missionary activities.

    We are of course not just a Church, but the Church of Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers. These disputes within American Orthodoxy are profoundly tragic and entirely unnecessary. In my opinion, an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church of America would be able to achieve many things. Evangelizing America would the most important factor.

    Recent events in America have confirmed for me the necessity of Orthodox Unity. There have been recently on the American best seller lists a variety of pro atheist books, most notably that of the writer Christopher Hitchens. Mr.Hitchens recently did a tour in which he debated a variety of western theologians about the existence of God.

    I would have loved to have seen some of America’s best Orthodox theologians debate this guy and show America that the true Church is very much present in America. Instead, we are being bogged down in all sorts of jurisdictional disputes.

    The only solution is Autocephaly and to follow the examples of all the Mother Churches. An American Church would be unique in that it would be inclusive of Orthodox of all backgrounds, languages, and traditions and could play a leadership role supporting the mother Churches and in mediating in various disputes (Constantinople/Moscow, the Ukrainian situation, disputes between Russia and Rumania etc…).

    I also think an Autocephalous Church would be in a better position to support the Ecumenical Patriarchate than the GOA at the present time. Same for Orthodox Churches in Serbia, Jerusalem etc. where the faithful are enduring very difficult situations.

    Theodoros

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    George Michalopulos says:

    John,

    obviously not. And that’s the tragedy.

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    Dean Calvert says:

    Dear Ted,

    Re: As one who is active in Greek issues, I find both the GOA and the Greek government’s involvement in the GOA to be completely inappropriate, and both of the above have completely failed in their tasks.

    You absolutely nailed the problem…that in adopting a co-mission they have failed in both.

    You are so right my friend…well said.

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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    orrologion says:

    If you read the text closely and specifically there is nothing wrong with what the Ambassador said. He isn’t equating Orthodoxy and Hellenism and the interests of the Greek state, but noting that Greek-Americans can play an important role in furthering the interests of Greece. The GOA can be noted as one of “Greece’s greatest asset[s] in the United States” since it is composed primarily of Greeks and Greek-Americans – including the Archbishop himself. Being a member of the GOA or its hierarchy should not preclude one from being a proud, vocal, visible member of one’s ethnic community, which may also include lobbying for the interests of one’s homeland. A government can also use a religious organization to its own ends without necessarily compromising the separate interests of that religious organization.

    Of course, this comes from a close reading. Reading between the lines and experience in the GOA gives one a different understanding. The GOA sees itself as being the promoter and defender of both Hellenism (which includes the interests of the Greek state, however that may be seen, and Greeks generally) as well as Orthodoxy. They are intertwined with Orthodoxy not always in the driver seat. To paraphrase the old line about GM: “What’s good for Greece is good for Orthodoxy”, or is it vice versa? The visible work that GOA parishes and hierarchy takes in the Greek community merges in the minds of both Greeks and non-Greeks and non-Orthodox the idea that the GOA and Orthodoxy are primarily for those of Greek descent and philhellenes, and that Orthodoxy should be a big tent for all Greeks as a sort of national/ethnic organization rather than the Church of Jesus Christ and the Orthodox Faith – which must keep herself pure of heresy, regardless of the heretic’s ethnicity.

    This is a primary example of the need for a unified Orthodox Church outside of the traditional territories of the autocephalous churches; it is an argument, as well, for unification that is not based on ethnic jurisdictions in either obedience to a common head or sitting on a common Synod. The witness of an mono-ethnic jurisdiction holds little weight because its witness is dismissed as self-serving and tribalistic. The witness of a multicultural Orthodox jurisdiction undercuts this dismissal as Russians, Serbs, Greeks, Arabs and Americans speak out on an issue (e.g., Halki, Palestine, the Georgia-Russia conflict, Ukraine, etc.) This would also allow both laity, clergy and hierarchs to speak out as proud citizens and members of an ethnic group without confusing the Church and the non-Orthodox about whether they are speaking as Orthodox Christians, priests and bishops or as Greeks, Russians, Georgians, Romanians, etc. Currently, confusion reigns; when Abp Demetrios speaks about Hellenism, he is seen to speak with the voice of the Church rather than simply as a leading member of the omogeneia.

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    orrologion says:

    More broadly, love for traditional Orthodox cultures will be expanded by focusing first and foremost on evangelizing North America and the world. By meeting people where they are at (English-, Spanish-, Chinese-speaking) and converting them to Orthodoxy will as a matter of course cultivate a love for the lands and cities and monasteries hymned and lauded in the Orthodox services and the Lives of our saints.

    But, they have to become Orthodox first.

    Without Orthodoxy, love for a particular culture will be little more than a whim, a fancy. I like France, I like Scandinavia, I like Thailand, I like Latin America, I like Aboriginal Australians and African Bushmen. This is mere preference and something that is quite individual.

    However, Orthodoxy ties the history of one’s faith and the great cloud of witnesses in our saints together with the lands they lived in and the converts abroad. African converts then want to visit Mount Athos and Valaam, Americans want to tour Moldova, Haitians seek to visit Jerusalem, and Mexicans yearn for Christian Syria and Cappadocia. And this, in addition to Americans of traditionally Orthodox cultures seeking to return to the roots of their faith – a faith kept alive for them as something more than a relic of their grandparents’ emigration to the US, but as a living part of their lives as Americans of ________ descent. Without Orthodoxy, assimilation happens apace. Without Orthodoxy, support for churches will not continue, support for tourism and tavernas may perhaps continue – but only for a time. If America were a place where immigrants were refused opportunities, where the were cordoned off in particular neighborhoods and refused citizenship, then perhaps such a foreign language cultural community could survive as they did in the Greek outposts throughout the Mediterranean of old (though look at how many of those outposts have survived to today).

    With Orthodoxy, second- and third-generation Russians, Romanians, Greeks, etc. will maintain a connection with their homelands and the holy places there. With Orthodoxy, converts will be desperate to visit the holy places in Russia, Greece, Romania, the Holy Land, etc. With Orthodoxy, all Orthodox will speak out on behalf of suffering Orthodox Christians and countries.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Orrologion, excellent post. Think about developing this into an essay.

  12. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dean Calvert says:

    Dear Orrologion

    Re:With Orthodoxy, second- and third-generation Russians, Romanians, Greeks, etc. will maintain a connection with their homelands and the holy places there. With Orthodoxy, converts will be desperate to visit the holy places in Russia, Greece, Romania, the Holy Land, etc. With Orthodoxy, all Orthodox will speak out on behalf of suffering Orthodox Christians and countries.

    You have hit the nail on the head. And this is where the strategy adopted by the Old World patriarchates makes absolutely no sense.

    With Orthodoxy, the ties to the Old World continue indefinitely. Witness the comments you would hear about Greeks in Russia to this day, “they gave us our language, they gave us our faith.”

    With Orthodoxy we retain ties not only to other Orthodox lands and cultures, but to other times. Did you ever stop to think that just about the only thing that you would have in common with an ancestor from the 5th century would be the liturgy and the faith?

    The language would be different (even if you spoke Greek), as would everything else.

    This tie transcends time and space. With Orthodoxy we continue in the footsteps, or on the shoulders, of 33 generations that preceded us.

    It’s a tapestry…of which we (all of us living today) are only a very small part.

    In any case…I’m with Fr. Hans…very nicely said.

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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    Stephen says:

    “With Orthodoxy, second- and third-generation Russians, Romanians, Greeks, etc. will maintain a connection with their homelands and the holy places there. With Orthodoxy, converts will be desperate to visit the holy places in Russia, Greece, Romania, the Holy Land, etc. With Orthodoxy, all Orthodox will speak out on behalf of suffering Orthodox Christians and countries.”

    This may not be a possibility for much longer, at least in the Middle East and Turkey. This article from the NY times is interesting and quite sad.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/world/middleeast/13christians.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    If Orthodoxy was more united in America it would be more possible to speak out as one voice against oppression and violence toward our brothers and sisters in the Holy land and other places, at least while this country has some amount of sway. Small groups of Orthodox here in the USA are little more than powerless in their influence on government decisions effecting the lives of Orthodox in other lands. Eventually there may not be any Christians in the Holy land and the connection that we have with these places will be cut off. This would be tragic.

    Stephen

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    Richard Barrett says:

    Christ is risen!

    Orrologion:

    The witness of an mono-ethnic jurisdiction holds little weight because its witness is dismissed as self-serving and tribalistic.

    Of course; Fr. Seraphim Rose said thirty years ago that ethnic Orthodoxy is a spiritual dead end. In one of the better essays in the book Orthodox Christianity at the Crossroad: A Great Council of the Church — When and Why which was recently plugged on this site, Dr. Vigen Guroian puts it this way:

    The ethnic identities may serve the limited good of initially helping to bind the religious community together. That which is binding, however, may also keep apart those who share the same faith and ultimately reduce our mentality to a denominational one. (p. 57)

    However, I have some observations and questions about how this can work out in practice:

    First and foremost, I frankly wonder if humility and patience shouldn’t be more our watchwords than they seem to be at the moment. As problematic as we find the situation of Orthodox Christianity in North America (and Western Europe to some extent), there is a lot of history at play that isn’t going to be undone overnight.

    To the casual observer, what a lot of the rhetoric can look like is, “The Greeks are the bad guys; they’re the ones standing in the way of everything.” (And yes, sometimes “Arabs” or “Serbians” or “Romanians” stands in “Greeks”; I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anybody make that claim about Russians, except, in some circumstances, other Russians.) I’m not certain that kind of approach is constructive, and neither, I would think, is it going to make the ideal of jurisdictional unity, or at least increased inter-jurisdictional cooperation with unity as an ultimate goal, attractive to the people being accused of bad faith. In other words, I’m not convinced that we wouldn’t catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

    I also really question if we have a workable model for how the coming together of traditions functions at the parish level. I’ve seen so-called “pan-Orthodox” parishes operate as an uneasy truce between ethnicities, where everybody is equally unhappy with how things are done, but at least nobody is any happier than anybody else. These communities can look like a hodgepodge of practices, rubrics, and musical styles, which I’m not sure is a great solution. By the same token, I’ve seen “convert parishes” function as their own kind of ethnic conclave.

    I don’t claim to have the answers, or to be especially well-informed about any of this, so if I’m just plain wrong about these things, I’m more than open to correction.

    In Christ,

    Richard

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    Richard Barrett says:

    And yes, sometimes “Arabs” or “Serbians” or “Romanians” stands in FOR “Greeks”. Apologies.

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    orrologion says:

    Wonderful quote from Guroian, thanks. Quite right. I would amplify it and say that what starts initially as a binding factor, ends as not only by reducing the community’s “mentality to a denominational one” but turns the Body of Christ into little more than the home of a set of tribal gods and a museum of cultural relics.

    In short, such a mentality was rightly condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the 19th Century as undermining the very foundation of Orthodoxy’s claims to be not only a Church, but the Church of Christ outside of Whom there is no salvation.

    The real politik of St. Tikhon, the OCA and the EP to unite various ethnicities by adding multiple, parallel, ethnic jurisdictions under a ruling Synod or Patriarch simply reinforces this mentality. This will do much in the short term, and terrible damage in the long term. The Orthodox Church will be left as ethnic cul-de-sacs for slavophiles, russophiles, philhellenes and orientalists – but not as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

    That being said, you are also correct that history is at work here and it will not be undone in a day. A good start would be for our leaders – bishops, priests, monks and theologians – to begin acting like each parish is meant to be open to and serving all Orthodox and all non-Orthodox in that region (not only to those of a given ethnicity or theological preference).

    You are also correct that too easily are this or that ‘group’ vilified as what is ‘wrong’ with Orthodoxy in Western Europe, the Americas and Australia. In the US the finger is quickly pointed at the Greeks because they are the largest, the most insular, richest, and have a cultural history in the Balkans, the Middle East and Rus that has bred suspicion regarding the true motivations of ‘the Phanariotes’. If the Greeks were small in number and poor, no one would be paying attention to the EP’s own (faulty, unilateral) opinion of its own authority over most of the globe. But, since they are the big boy on the block, they must be acknowledged.

    To their credit, the GOA and the EP seem to have decided to address the issue head on. Unfortunately, it seems to have as much to do with the demographics of the Greek community in Turkey (small, old, dying) and the US (high rates of intermarriage and apostasy, a graying population of first generation Greeks loyal and generous to the ‘Greek church’) as it does with a desire to evangelize. The GOA and the EP will be in a very different position come the next generation, so the issue must be dealt with now. Cyprus this June will be the start of haggling over all these issues; I would not be surprised if Moscow and the EP horsetrade over Ukraine, Estonia, Finland, Western Europe, the Americas and Australia giving some to each and some their autonomy/autocephaly in some fashion or another with guarantees of financial support, respect for traditional local practices, and support for the Phanar and Northern Cyprus.

    A very important practical step that you brought up should be discussed in far greater detail: how to reflect in the local typikon of a parish the competing local traditions and practices of the entire Orthodox ecumene. That is, how do you ‘do’ services in a parish that incorporate Greek and Russian and Georgian and Romanian particulars without it turning into a mish-mosh? How can this be done in an Orthodox fashion? Musical choices are the least of the concerns; there are differences in the service texts themselves, Holy Week traditions, on kneeling, prostrating, fasting, etc. – and that’s just the traditional differences from the Old Country not to mention the more modern ‘traditions’ that have crept in over the past decades in the US based on this or that ‘expert’ opinion.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    IMHO, the best way would be to have all (40+) canonical bishops come together, divide up the fifty states between them, and make strictly delimited dioceses. As for the individual parishes, they can go along as they are, ethnic, mixed, convert. As long as there’s a bishop in the nearest big city (250,000+), and a strong presbytery made up of all the parishes in his diocese, then people won’t feel threatened and the synthesis to a newer type of liturgicon and hymnody will proceed apace. Also, monasteries should be encouraged, in that they are valid spaces of spiritual retreat and pilgrims can go back to the parishes and influence Orthopraxy.

  18. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Richard Barrett says:

    Orrologion:

    To their credit, the GOA and the EP seem to have decided to address the issue head on. Unfortunately, it seems to have as much to do with the demographics of the Greek community in Turkey (small, old, dying) and the US (high rates of intermarriage and apostasy, a graying population of first generation Greeks loyal and generous to the ‘Greek church’) as it does with a desire to evangelize. The GOA and the EP will be in a very different position come the next generation, so the issue must be dealt with now.

    Hypothetical situation: what if Turkey actually winds up being part of the EU, and has to abide by EU standards with respect to policies of religious freedom? Presumably this scenario brightens the prospects of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, yes?

    I’ll note that, as written, your second sentence above could just as easily say that it has as much to do with a desire to evangelize as it does with the demographics of Greeks in Turkey and the US.

    In terms of dealing with that issue head-on, I’m told that on the West Coast in particular, the Greeks are becoming pro-active in terms of missions.

    A good start would be for our leaders – bishops, priests, monks and theologians – to begin acting like each parish is meant to be open to and serving all Orthodox and all non-Orthodox in that region (not only to those of a given ethnicity or theological preference).

    I agree that this would be a great start. Still, what if it’s simpler than that? Years ago, when I was still an inquirer, somebody told me that the only meaningful metric for determining the spiritual health of the Church, wherever she may be, is whether or not saints are being produced. That’s something that’s really stuck with me throughout the years, and it’s readily apparent to me that the vast majority of our so-called “American saints” were either born elsewhere or active elsewhere. I wonder if we need to have American saints before it will be meaningful to have an American Church. In other words, far more than figuring out how to best run this or that administrative function, maybe what we need are native, and recent, models of holiness imaging Christ in our own day — saints of our own age and culture. Maybe if we had more of them to emulate, the way to a unified American Church would make itself clear.

    Just a thought. I could be way off base.

    Mr. Michalopulos: definitely agreed on monasteries.

    In Christ,

    Richard

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Richard,

    of course we need to produce saints native here in America. Part of that comes from martyrdom however. A daunting prospect.

Care to comment?

*