August 27, 2014

The Late, Refined Flower of Culture

Russian emigre philosopher Georgy Fedotov (1888-1951) proposed two basic principles for all of the freedoms by which modern democracy lives. First, and most valuable, there are the freedoms of "conviction" -- in speech, in print, and in organized social activity. These freedoms, Fedotov asserted, developed out of the freedom of faith. The other principle of freedom "defends the individual from the arbitrary will of the state (which is independent of questions of conscience and thought) -- freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment, from insult, plundering and coercion on the part of the organs of power ... " In an ideal world, all of these freedoms would be present. But Fedotov also cautioned that "freedom is the late, refined flower of culture." For the flower to bloom, the roots need to be watered. A free society, from the ground up, requires a respect for the rule of law, a judiciary and police force that aren't easily bought, a political culture that knows how to rid itself … [Read more...]

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 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...]

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...]

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...]

Met. Kallistos Ware in Detroit

More than 500 people gathered at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in suburban Detroit last week to hear Metropolitan Kallistos Ware deliver a talk on "The Future of Orthodoxy in the United States." Metropolitan Ware's visit was sponsored by St. Andrew House -- Center for Orthodox Studies, also in Detroit. The author of The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way told the assembly that "we must say the catholicity and universality of the church are more valuable, more fundamental than our national, ethnic, and cultural identity." And, His Eminence added, "if the basis of the Church's existence is life in the eucharist, it means that the church is organized on a territorial, and not on an ethnic principle." Ancient Faith Radio recorded the event. It was sponsored and hosted by St. Andrew House, A Pan Orthodox institution dedicated to Orthodox unity. Listen to Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy) Ware's address: Listen to the Question and Answer session: … [Read more...]

Congratulations, We Are Healthier Than Ever!

I live in Amsterdam. For the geographically challenged -- or for those who have spent too much time in an American high school -- Amsterdam is in Holland. Holland is also called The Netherlands. This literally means "Low Lands", which is why in French it is called the Pays Bays. Low is the word to keep in mind when thinking of this land. There is a free market on sex. Drugs, some soft, and some bordering on hard (i.e., certain mushrooms) are tolerated, de facto legal really. Salaries are stifled (i.e., kept low) by an paternalistic tax regime. And the general culture here is currently competing with American popular culture to see which can slouch further and faster towards Gomorrah (in Robert Bork's coinage). Morality may be a least common denominator approach, live and let die may be the M.O. in all but aid for Africa, and the streets may look like a cross between Istanbul and Bunyan's 'Vanity Fair.' But one thing is for certain, we are sure that we are healthier than … [Read more...]

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: Liberal Christianity will not survive for a long time

Address at the opening session of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, Geneva, 13 February 2008. Source: Europaica I would like to draw your attention to the danger of liberal Christianity. The liberalization of moral standards, initiated by some Protestant and Anglican communities several decades ago and developing with ever-increasing speed, has now brought us to a situation where we can no longer preach one and the same code of moral conduct. We can no longer speak about Christian morality, because moral standards promoted by 'traditional' and 'liberal' Christians are markedly different, and the abyss between these two wings of contemporary Christianity is rapidly growing. We are being told by some allegedly Christian leaders, who still bear the titles of Reverends and Most Reverends, that marriage between a woman and a man is no longer the only option for creating a Christian family, that there are other patterns, and that the church must be 'inclusive' … [Read more...]

Conflicted Hearts: Social Justice and Orthodoxy

Conflicted Hearts: Orthodox Christians and Social Justice in an Age of Globalization, my article on economics and social justice, has been posted on the AGAIN Magazine Web site. Read the full article here. Just as there is no real understanding of many bioethical issues without a general grasp of underlying medical technology, there is no real understanding of “social justice” without an understanding of basic economic principles. These principles explain how Orthodox Christians work, earn, invest, and give to philanthropic causes in a market-oriented economy. Economic questions are at the root of many of the problems that on their face seem to be more about something else—poverty, immigration, the environment, technology, politics, humanitarian assistance. In the environmental area, for example, the current debate on global warming is just as much focused on how to finance the means of slowing the rising temperatures of the earth as it is on root causes. And the question always … [Read more...]

Amazing Grace — Nana Mouskouri

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear The hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come; 'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil, A life of joy and peace. When we've been here ten thousand years Bright shining as the sun. We've no less days to sing God's praise Than when we've first begun. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. John Newton (1725-1807) … [Read more...]