December 8, 2013
American Orthodox Institute
Tough words, certainly politically incorrect, but true. Source: Jihad Watch.
Pat Condell on Ground Zero mosque: “Is it possible to be astonished, but not surprised?”
If memory serves, there was a GOA parish that was destroyed in the rubble of the Twin Towers. If we Orthodox in America were morally upright, we’d demand that it would be an Orthodox church that should be rebuilt on this sacred ground. No other parish, mosque, temple, etc. would do. Period. But of course, the six or seven Orthodox “bishops of New York” are too busy figuring out seating arrangments at their various confabs.
Great idea George. Ground Zero is holy ground as is Ellis Island and Appomattox (I’ve been meaning to write an essay on this for a while). There may be other places too. It should be an Orthodox Church that is rebuilt there, and it should be built as a place of pilgrimage and remembrance for all of America. Pity that we are so short-sighted.
The concept of holy ground is foreign to Americans but not Europeans and it is deeply grounded in Christian insight on the redemptive character of historical catastrophe. All memorials must reference in some way the God of Abraham for whom suffering has redemptive character. We Orthodox have a tradition that understands this deeply, and we have the sensitivity and experience by which this kind of remembrance can be appropriately expressed through architecture.
The destruction of an Orthodox Church lends us the moral authority to demand a rebuilding with an even greater boldness than the Muslims display. We don’t have the courage to even see this (vision withers where there is no courage), preferring instead to focus on questions of no real consequence.
Demanding no Muslim mosque at Ground Zero is a worthy goal. It still falls short of what ought and could be, however.
I don’t understand (once again) WHERE IS THE PUBLIC OUTRAGE? This is the first I hear of this Cordoba House project (now more discretely named Park51). Why have the newsmen sat on this story? Why does not the GOARCH stand up for its own property at the WTC? Why is Mayor Bloomberg doing nothing to prevent a horrible mistake that will place his name on the “S” list forever? Does he want to be remembered as the leader who helped usher in the Islamization of NY and the whole US?
I absolutely hate to be cynical – we can’t afford to affect an unengaged attitude. In all likelihood, this is a Saudi project (we ought to be able to learn that). Has discourse in America gotten so distorted that it’s not obvious, or not tolerable to listen to the voices of the people of NY who say nay to this planned atrocity? We need to bring back real public dialogue about the place of religion in this country, for as long as it is largely absent and people are unable to speak clearly, we cede the forum to the worst, most compromised power brokers and spin doctors.
I am a reader of speculative fiction for fun. Lately I have been reading novels set in a future Islamic States of America. Who’d have thought the islamization could begin so soon. This Cordoba House project is a harbinger of the relentless attack from the Muslims we and the Brits have set up for world domination.
The problem is that speaking from a place of solid scholarship as regards history has been replaced by the soundbite for the sake of profitability. We have substituted the almighty dollar for Western values (secular or religious). So we are left in a vacuum, defenseless before a concerted ideological and symbolical attack from oil-money empowered Islam. Because we have gone along with the ‘wisdom’ of big business (i.e.XIX c. Liberalism), we have precious few cultural weapons left at hand. I hate to admit that Huntingdon was at all right, but it looks like it’s time for West to rearm for the sake of our society and civilization.
The problem is that speaking from a place of solid scholarship as regards history has been replaced by the soundbite for the sake of profitability.
The Ottoman authorities always stressed on the conversion of Christians to Islam.
The resistance of the Albanian Skanderbeg (1405-1468) made him a hero throughout the Western world. The wars on the pre-Islamic Albania were among the bloodiest in the Balkans. Today Albania is a mostly Muslim nation. It seems that people have forgotten the massacres, the inhuman devshirme tax, the tribute of forcibly obtaining Christian children to be converted to Islam and trained to becomes Ottoman soldiers. Scanderberg was abducted as a child, brought up as a Muslim, and became the first Albanian Freedom fighter, and was named by Pope Calixtus III “captain general of the Holy See”.
When Skanderbeg died , the sultan reportedly exclaimed, “Asia and Europe are mine at last. Woe to Christendom! She has lost her sword and shield.”
Europe did not become Muslim, as the shield was restored. This time the protagonist was Stephan the Great (1432 – 1504) also known as Stephen the Great (Romanian:”Stephen the Great and Holy”)
Stephen achieved fame in Europe for his long resistance against the Ottomans. He was victorious in 46 of his 48 battles, and was one of the first to gain a decisive victory over the Ottomans at the Battle of Vaslui, after which Pope Sixtus IV deemed him verus christianae fidei athleta (true Champion of Christian Faith).
Christianity was defended by sword or the laying down of ones own life. The unshaken Christian belief and the spirit of sacrifice is highly ilustrated by St.Martyr Emperor Constantin Brancoveanu. He was a brilliant scholar, a wise and experienced diplomat who was tempted by the Ottoman rulers to convert to Islam in order to save his wealth, his life and the lives of his four children (See Saints Branconeni Icon) :. All of his family was arrested by Turks and jailed in Constantinopol, the men in Edicule Prison and the woman in Fornetta prison. Among Brancoveanu’s last words are the memorable “We lost everything, let us not lose our souls!”. As a culmination of cruelty, his children, four boys (Constantin, Stephen, Radu, and Mathew) were killed before his eyes. Terrified, the youngest (12 years) of them, Mathew, felt tempted, for a moment, to renounce faith in Christ. His father said to him: “Our blood has never lost faith. If possible, it is better to die a thousand times, than to lose your faith of our forefathers and live several more years on earth.”. Reborn , the child addressed the executioner “I want to die a Christian death.”.
For St. Barancoveanu the spiritual death was infinitely more terrible than death by sword of the executioner.
As such are those who follow Christ-the Lover of Mankind.
Eliot, how far we have fallen. Just look back at the EP’s visit to Coca Cola and his bestowal of a “Holy Qu’ran [sic]” to the CEO there.
It is unbelievable how far we have fallen …
I am confused, to say the least. Such an affirmation seems like a slap in the face all Christians. Is he confused? Were his history books fake? Is he playing the game of worldly diplomacy? He is posing as “the spiritual leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians” and is mostly concerned with politics and other worldly affairs.
Elder Paisios of the Holy Mount Athos:
but the resulting persecutions will lead Christians to unite completely. However, they won’t unite in the way desired by those who are now engaging in various machinations to create a single church united under a single religious leadership. Christians will unite because the unfolding situation will naturally separate the sheep from the goats. Then the prophecy: “one flock and one shepherd” will actually come to pass.
Are Amercians irredeemable in their steadfast ignorance of history? It’s not just willful ignorance, it’s a lacuna, a hole in the soul where memory should be. Are we going to stand by mutely as Islam undermines democracy by parodying it and manipulating our legal code, as they are wont? I have friends who still protest that Islam has been unfairly villified, but they seem to be mouthing platitudes.
I see major polemical problem as regards wariness of Islam. It’s that it falls pretty much across the political divide. Just as support for Georgia among Americans (for what their mere opinion is worth) fall salmost entirely on the right, while left-leaning folks somehow revel in Putin’s savage attack, mostly because Saakashvili is seen as a patsy for the Bush Admin., just so, the only voices cautioning us about the implicit jihad in Islam are typed as rightwing. What we need are voices which champion the true root liberal values of America and have no truck with ‘political correctness’, and state their case for the protection of our liberties. That is, someone who does not critique Islam in the same tones that are recognized as Neo-Con, etc. I guess Christopher Hitchens is disqualified. A religious leader will simply be construed as biased.
We need to face the fact that America is a pretty liberal place and that the ascendency of what has been sold as conservative is relegated off the center. What I don’t understand is why culturally liberal Americans are not more jealous of what we have built here in the West. We need to bring back a middle-gtround, instigate rapprochement between the alienated communities. What sane liberal would want Sharia in effect in his city or state?
We need to reinvent a plausible moral conservatism which is humane and not patsy for capital, a conservatism of regular people not mouthing schizoid platitudes. Then we can confront the menace to our liberal western values. To recapture sane conservatism within our liberal democracy, we need to start the process of education. A good case for Orthodox Liberal Education.
Jr. John, you say… “We need to face the fact that America is a pretty liberal place and that the ascendency of what has been sold as conservative is relegated off the center. What I don’t understand is why culturally liberal Americans are not more jealous of what we have built here in the West..What sane liberal would want Sharia in effect in his city or state”
Aside from the fact that the most liberal folk may not be sane, many on both the right and the left are not social liberals, they are statists masquerading as social liberals. Statists flock together until they turn on each other and fight it out for supremacy (see WWII and the non-agression pact between Hitler and Stalin).
And yes, most Americans, courtesy of the public schools, have neither any knowledge of nor appreciation of history. Multi-cultrualism is an active attempt to destroy any hope that any sense of history might be introduced.
I find myself in agreement with you we need to push the issue of an Orthodox Church. If not a Greek one maybe one of the other bishops will step up and do it but your right we need to push this trhough. It is Holy Ground and should be treated as such.
Well, I just wrote an editorial for Catholic Online (explaining the holy ground concept and why any memorial must remain Christian) and the Hellenic Voice to reach the GOA Metropolitans and others with the idea. If, and when, they pick it up I will publish it here.
I would add Ft Ross to this list of American Holy Ground as well.
Also Pearl Harbor.
This is abouot a month late, but my wife would never forgive me if I forgot to mention the Alamo. (She’s from Texas.)
I don’t know if Fort Ross qualifies. Usually it is places of great trauma, although not always. It can also be a place of supernatural blessing.
Saint Luke, Bishop of Simferopol and Crimea, the Blessed Surgeon, was asked by prominent communist leaders to forget the past. He answered ‘I forgive, but I do not forget’. History can be used to our advantage. When we apply the lessons of history we can avoid repeating the same mistakes or we can allow to repeat what was favorable.
THE VERY REVEREND ATHANASIUS, FORMER BISHOP OF ZAHUMILJE AND HERZEGOVINA:
The ideal of man, either as an individual or as a community of beings in the image and likeness of God, cannot be those famous ‘standards’ of Europe, Euro-America, globalism, or whatever else. All this is paraphrased only a little differently from what the Marxists tried to impose on us, when everything was turned into certain ‘classes’ and certain ‘movements’, mass ‘happiness’, mirages and abstractions, the results of which we have seen and felt in our own skin. As a clever man from Novi Beograd said at the time: ‘The working class has abolished the worker. We, the workers of Novi Beograd, want a church. We collected countless signatures in one of the tower blocks in Novi Beograd during the sixties. But they would not let it happen. The Communist Party would not have it! The obstacle was a few people, the upper echelons, who decided our fate, supposedly ‘in the name of the people’ and in the name of the working class’.
Fr. Andrew Phillips:
The Church is neither conservative nor liberal, both those attitudes are purely secular. Conservatism and liberalism are the two sides of the same secular coin. The Church is above secular attitudes, which are all more or less conservative, or more or less liberal. The Church is of the Tradition, that is to say, of the Holy Spirit, as has been received by the Saints of the Church. The Tradition is living, it is spiritually inspired, it is not mere human customs and inventions, more or less conservative or more or less liberal.
Is this really accurate? It presumes an unbridgeable chasm exists between Church and culture and implicitly counsels a radical disengagement with culture.
Now it is true that the terms conservative and liberal mean different things to different people. It is also true that reasonable people can reasonably disagree about many things, and that much discussion about religion, politics, and culture is contentious and ill defined.
But is it true that the distinction between Church culture and secular culture even exists; that the distinction between sacred (Church in this case) and secular is at all congruent with real life and experience, even for the secularist? I don’t buy it. The Church cannot be separated from culture because culture grew from the soil of Christianity. The Communists tried to erase the historical memory of Christianity and all they accomplished was the worst sort of poverty of the soul that impoverished culture on all levels, economic, sociological, artistic, familial, and so forth.
Moreover, the author misunderstands secularism. He thinks of secularism as a fixed and permanent cultural state. Secularism is really a movement, and our current epoch is equivalent to a layover between two cities (this trip takes a few centuries, not hours). Thus, positing that the Church somehow exists above secular culture, and that any political or sociological distinction thereby ought be tossed into the the dustbin of irrelevancy, in fact posits a Church that in the end will having nothing at all to say to the culture, or if it does, won’t be able to engage culture in any meaningful way.
I understand the author is saying that you cannot define the Tradition in contemporary political/cutural categories. That’s clear. Yet secularism, even atheism, could only have arisen in a culture shaped by Christian morality, sensibility, etc. Secularists are profoundly shaped by Christian thinking despite their denials. It would be far better (more truthful actually) to recognize this and engage it, rather than posit an ecclesiology that counsels that the present culture has no real value because it does not conform to the Tradition.
Thus, if the sacred is so far above the secular (if the Church is so far above culture), you essentially argue that the religious ideas that shaped culture no longer have any redemptive value either, not in any real sense anyway — which is exactly what the Marxists believed. The author, it seems, sees Church and culture in very secularized terms. And, if the Marxist vision holds here, the only possible interaction between Church and culture is one of power, which may mean the Church unwittingly accedes (and perhaps even contributes) to its own persecution.
It is true that the morals still existing in our culture are rooted in Christianity. However, they were and are being plagiarized, deformed by rational-humanism. Concepts are being redefined (ex: marriage), moral values are being “reinterpreted”. The result of humanism is corruption of society, and corruption of the ‘human side’ of the Church. Humanism cultivates goodness-without God. In its extreme form, it promotes the destruction of all forms of religion because they consider god a delusion-something created by the human mind. The same human mind, more ‘evolved’, wants to annihilate all those who believe that there is a God or gods.
In the same article Fr. Andrew says:
If you wish to know what the Church is about, do not pick up a nationalist leaflet, or read the gutter press, but read the Lives of the Saints. In the same way, if you wish to live in the Church, do not imitate crude nationalists, or secular-minded journalists, but live as the saints. For the Church exists for this one reason only – to make saints. Any organization which does not do that, even though it may call itself a Church, is not the Church. And any individuals who do not have this as their aim, however weakly they may try to achieve it, do not belong to the Church.
The devil loves to engage people in ‘friendly dialogues’ in order to prevent them from having a ‘dialogue’ with God. The Apostles were sent to preach the Gospel and were told: “Do Not Worry About What To Say; The Spirit Of The Father Will Be Speaking Through You.”
Saint John of Kronstadt said “No matter how many times I prayed with faith, God always heard me and answered my prayers.” What can be said stronger than these words?
It’s not the exhortations to read the lives or the Saints, and other calls to virtue I have an argument with. It’s reducing all creative effort in the culture to a “nationalist leaflet” or “gutter press.”* This simply is not true.
Further, how does Fr. Andrew deal with the problems within the Church? How does he reconcile his vision of absolute light within vs. absolute darkness without to the fact that sometimes authorities outside of the Church (secularists he would call them) force the Church to deal with its own failings and sin? Here the Church is judged by others because it lacked the integrity to judge (and therefore cleanse) itself. It’s tragic, but also necessary sometimes.
It is true that people exist who hate the Light and thus hate the Church. It is not true that everyone outside the Church is in abject moral darkness.
One final point. The Church does not exist to make Saints. The Church exists to manifest Christ in the world. Fulfilling that commission responsibly may bring one the trials that might make one a saint, but even this is accomplished through love of the neighbor, and many neighbors outside the Church are neither enemies nor irredeemably deluded.
*(I’ll bet when Fr. Andrew gets an abscess tooth he doesn’t ask his dentist about his faith, or demand that the researcher who developed the healing techniques be an Orthodox Christian. I’m sure the creative prowess in the culture serves him just fine in those situations.)
how does Fr. Andrew deal with the problems within the Church
I believe here is the answer:
When individuals nominally belonging to the Church are corrupt, it is precisely because they do not follow the Tradition of the Church, but rather the things of men.
If individuals are corrupt, it is for us all the more to pray for them, not to try to destroy the Church on account of them. When the Anti-Church operates within the Church, as it always has done and always will do, it does not mean that the Church Herself is corrupt. When Judas operated among the Twelve, it is did not mean that Christ and the Eleven were corrupt.
The Saints always saw each person as an image of God, unique and unrepeatable. St Arseny (Boca) said that “God loves the worst sinner much more that the holiest saint loves God”.
Certainly, those outside the Church are neither enemies nor irredeemably deluded. The example of St. Cyprian leaves no doubt about it.
The Lives of Sts. Cyprian and Justina
Cyprian was an evildoer
a friend of the demons, he performed all their works, causing evil to people and deceiving them. Living in Antioch, he turned many people away to every kind of lawless deed; he killed many with poisons and magic, and slaughtered young men and maidens as sacrifices for the demons. He instructed many in his ruinous sorcery: some he taught to fly in the air, others to sail in boats on the clouds, still others to walk on water.
Cyprian turned to Christ when he learned that the demons could not conquer maiden Justina because they saw on her a certain sign of which they were afraid.: “We cannot behold the sign of the Cross, but flee from it, because it scorches us like fire and banishes us far away.”
Having become convinced that nothing could conquer the power of the sign of the cross and the name of Christ, Cyprian came to his senses and said to the devil: “O destroyer and deceiver of all, source of every impurity and defilement! Now I have discovered your infirmity. For if you fear even the shadow of the cross and tremble at the name of Christ, then what will you do when Christ Himself comes to you? If you cannot conquer those who sign themselves with the sign of the cross, then whom will you tear away from the hands of Christ? Now I have understood what a non-entity you are; you are not even able to take revenge! Listening to you, 1, wretched one, have been deceived, and I believed your tricks. Depart from me, accursed one, depart! For I must entreat the Christians that they might have mercy on me. I must appeal to pious people, that they might deliver me from perdition and be concerned over my salvation. Depart, depart from me, lawless one, enemy of truth, adversary and hater of every good thing!
Cyprian had frightening power when the demons were serving him, but they were trembling before the sigh of the cross. The Saints have the power, given to them by God “to manifest Christ in the world”.
They are often miracle-workers and able to inspire tremendous confidence. Quite sure that one cannot be persuaded to turn to God by means of logic and argument. At best a shallow and short-lasting result…
From Wikipedia: Cordoba still means Islamic conquest. It’s been an age old act to erect a monument of conquest on the rubble of the conquered. It’s plain as day why it’s called Cordoba House.
Córdoba (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkorðoβa]; also Cordova; Qurṭuba قرطبة) is a city in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. An Iberian and Roman city in ancient times, in the Middle Ages it was capital of the Islamic caliphate which conquered and occupied Spain for nearly 800 years. During this time Cordoba was one of the largest cities in the world whose name continues to represent a symbol of Islamic conquest to many faithful Muslims around the world. Its population in 2008 was 325,453.
Right on, Mr. Condell! Our spineless politicians should have been uttering these very same words, along with the Orthodox clergy here in America; however, the Orthodox clergy are too busy being “the best-kept secret.” If there is anything that should be built at Ground Zero, it should be an Orthodox Church on the site of the former St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, which prior to the diabolical deeds perpetrated by those of “the religion of peace,” housed ancient Christian relics dating back to the sixth century.
Thank you for this website, as I have just found it today. It focuses on real issues in a stern and sobering Orthodox manner. Most importantly, it challenges us to take a stand like those before us who were martyred for the one true faith. Continue the great zealous work! IC XC NI KA!
Alexis, Ground Zero may very well be providential. Not only was this a Greek church (named for St Nicholas), but it was endowed by the glorious Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. If anything, the ONLY thing that should be built at Ground Zero is a pan-Orthodox church named St Nicholas. It should have two side-chapels: one honoring the martyrs of Sept 11 and another for Tsar Nicholas. Perhaps a community center can be built adjacent to it, a museum that runs videotape from that tragic day and publishes sayings from the Koran on its walls. The passages which justify murder.
We Orthodox have the moral high ground in this. It’s a shame that our bishops don’t see it. And it’s a damned shame that the Greek-American bishops are more concerned about getting Turkish passports. Can’t piss off the Muzzies now, can we? Wouldn’t look good at the next inter-faith conference where we’ll be feted, would it?
My question is this. All of the places we have mentioned are ineed Holy Ground. Should we build churches on all of them? Is a monument enough to remember?
Pearl Harbor, although I have never been there, is a great example. Also, I was just at the Gettysburg Battle ground, very Holy place and no church as well as the Vietnam memorial in Washington, DC.
So do we need a church for ti be holy?
Also consider adding the cemetery and monuments the French keep in immaculate condition at the WWII D-Day landing sites in Normandy. I’ve been in churches that were more poorly maintained than those many acres.
Equally impressive in a very different way is Peace Park in Hiroshima.
No. The Church essentially confirms the sacredness of the place. I mentioned Pearl Harbor and the Viet Nam memorial in my editorial BTW. It’s very interesting that as I talk to people about the idea, they all mention the same places.
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