July 26, 2014

Church vs. Reich

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What happened to Christians under the Nazi Regime? The traditionalists went to concentration camps, many fell away and adopted the Nazi neo-paganism, and some clergy actively supported the Third Reich. From the essay: [T]he persecution of the Church was camouflaged as “positive Christianity,” which claimed through the use of quotations from the Bible to be fulfilling God’s commandments: “They thus built up an enormous propaganda-machine, which resulted in a general inflation of values, because it sanctified anything it wanted to, so that finally nothing remained sacred” (p. 98). Only then did the full persecution come. Source: The Living Church | Leander S. Harding Man’s Disorder and God’s Design, published by Harper and Brothers in 1948, is a remarkable collection of essays prepared for the first assembly of the World Council of Churches at Amsterdam. The authors include some of the most respected theological voices of the 20th century: Karl Barth, H. … [Read more...]

Fr. Hans Jacobse: Liberty

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I love my country and several years back I wrote an essay expressing my gratitude to her. It describes immigrating to America when I was a young boy. "Wake up," my father whispered. "We're almost there." It was a cold March morning. I was six years old. My family was sailing from The Hague, bound for New York,a single Dutch family aboard a ship crowded with Hungarians in exodus from their abortive revolution. The voyage had been thrilling, at least to the wide eyes of a six-year-old. My parents, my two sisters, my brother, and I had spent the trip in a cabin the size of a small bedroom, but I had enjoyed virtual free run of the ship and its seemingly endless maze of hallways. We roamed for hours at a time, peering behind each open door. Occasionally, a Hungarian family would invite us into their cabin. There we would sit, not understanding a word that was spoken, but basking in the warmth of welcoming smiles. One night, during a storm, the steamer's engine failed. … [Read more...]

C.S. Lewis on Dictators and Totalitarians

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Source: The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment by C.S. Lewis Highlights: Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. For if crime and disease are to be regarded as the same thing, it follows that any state of mind which our masters choose to call ‘disease’ can be treated as a crime; and compulsorily cured. Excerpt: It is, indeed, important to notice that my argument so far supposes no evil intentions on the part of the Humanitarian and considers only what is involved in the logic of his position. My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position would act as cruelly and … [Read more...]

Can There Be Morality Without God?

Introductory remarks given at the debate held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. By: Fr. Hans Jacobse I want to thank the Orthodox Christian Fellowship and the Secular Student Alliance of UMBC for their invitation to debate this evening. I am looking forward to a healthy and vigorous debate that is not only academically interesting, but I think is one of the central questions of our age. We live in what some people call a post-Christian or post-modern society – an assessment I generally agree with, but like most sweeping claims it can mean different things to different people. It’s prudent then that we define our terms. The question we are discussion this evening is: Can there be morality without God? I argue no it is not possible. But before giving you my reasons, let me rephrase the question more in line with atheist presuppositions. Atheism, properly understood, allows for no objective existence for anything non-material, not made of matter. Materialism … [Read more...]

Saint John Chrysostom and 21st Century Christians

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Taken from a lecture by Fr. Josiah Trenham and republished on Mystagogy. From Mystagogy: [The following portion of a lecture (all of which I recommend to be read) delivered by the Very Reverend Josiah Trenham in 2007 I found to be a very edifying piece on how Christians can implement at least some of the counsels of St. John Chrysostom into our own lives today. Of course, this is by no means exhaustive, but it gives us enough to think about and to hopefully inspire us to dig deeper into the rich treasures of one of the great Fathers of the Orthodox Church. - J.S.] Fr. Josiah Trenham: In this last portion of my lecture I would like to focus upon what I perceive to be several areas in which Saint John Chrysostom’s life and teachings may render the 21st century Christian particular assistance. The Church finds Herself in this new millennium faced by unique particularities, which demand an articulate word from the Holy Fathers to guide us through the unique challenges … [Read more...]

Fr. Steven Kostoff: Reflection on Archbishop Job – A witness to the truth

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Fr. Steven Kostoff asks, why wasn't Bp. Job's courageous stand for the truth during the OCA's recent time of trial acknowled at his funeral? His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest fell asleep in the Lord on Friday, December 18.  His funeral services were held in Chicago on December 22 & 23, and he was buried in Black Lick, PA on Saturday, December 26.  Thus, we have lost an able archpastor who served us well in the Diocese of the Midwest. This was during a time of great distress throughout the entire Orthodox Church in America, when we were forced to come to terms with a "Church scandal" that exceeded the boundaries of the merely "financial."  I have no intention of rehearsing the facts of that story beyond what would be essential here, as I offer a personal assessment as to how I now understand the role of Archbishop Job in serving the Church throughout this "time of troubles."  I believe that his role was essential, decisive, and yet painful for him … [Read more...]

E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?

The American Orthodox Institute has published a new paper on Orthodox unity by George Michalopulos that examines the historical usage of the title "metropolitan," the role of the metropolitan in Church administration, and the "crucial" pastoral duty defined in the Divine Liturgy as "rightly dividing the Word of [God's] Truth." In "E Pluribus Unum: One Church From Many?" Michalopulos takes it a step further. He offers a "sketch" of how an American Orthodox Church might be structured along traditional lines. In a unified American Orthodox Church, for example, the Archbishop of Washington would be the primate of the American Church and also carry the title of Patriarch. Rather coincidentally, AOI published "E Pluribus Unum: One Church from Many?" just a day after the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis delivered his speech "Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate" at Holy Cross seminary. The Ecumenical Patriarchate sees … [Read more...]

Obama and Moral Imagination

Newly elected President Obama, writes John Couretas, Executive Director of AOI in his essay "Obama and the Moral Imagination" frequently makes use of the phrase "common story." This phrase "may sound strange to the ears. But it is impossible to understand the new president unless his brilliant use of narrative is first grasped," Couretas says. It's a page taken from the Reagan playbook and masterfully executed. Couretas writes: Reagan biographer Lou Cannon told the Chicago Tribune last year that Obama has "a narrative reach" and a talent for story telling that reminds him of the late president. Reagan "made other people a part of his own narrative, and that's what Obama is doing," Cannon said. "By doing it, it expands his reach because he isn't necessarily just another partisan Democrat." … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah: Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches

In June, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America delivered a talk on "Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches: A Monastic Perspective" at the Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary. The audio of the talk is available on Ancient Faith Radio along with the other presentations from the conference. The PDF version of Metropolitan Jonah's presentation is available on the OCA site, where the Church is also archiving his articles and speeches. On the subject of the Mother Churches and the “Diaspora,” Metropolitan Jonah has this to say: ... almost all national Churches have extended their jurisdictions beyond their geographic and political boundaries to the so-called diaspora. But Orthodox Christians who are faithful to the Gospel and the Fathers cannot admit of any such thing as a diaspora of Christians. Only ethnic groups can be dispersed among other ethnic groups. Yet the essential principle of geographic … [Read more...]

“On the Advantages of Dying Young”

Jonathan David Price, editor of "The Clarion Review" (published by AOI) wrote the essay "On the Advantages of Dying Young ", that was recently published in First Principles ("the home of American intellectual conservatism"). Price writes: There is so much talk about the advantages of long life nowadays that when confronted with "tragic" young deaths our only response is pity. Obsession with longevity is no longer merely an existential anxiety; lifespan has even become a key measure of the health of nations. We are concerned with it collectively. And since quantity of life is what we value, death is the enemy. There is no such thing as a good death at any age, much less in youth. . . . Read the essay in the First Principles Journal. This essay was also blogged by Benjamin MacConchie: http://benjaminmacconchie.wordpress.com/. … [Read more...]