August 29, 2014

Church vs. Reich


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...]

Russian Orthodox Church Canonizes New Martyr Who Died at the Hands of the Nazis


- Source: Orthodox Cognate The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has canonized Russian national Alexander Schmorell, a native of Orenburg, who was executed by the Nazi regime in 1943 for organizing an anti-fascist student group called the White Rose, the Church Bulletin publication reported. The ceremony to glorify St. Alexander of Munich, who was 25 yeas old when he died, ended in Germany this past weekend. He became the first new martyr glorified after canonical communion between the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) was restored in 2007 following 80 years of separation. [...] Schmorell, born in 1917, was the son of a German who moved to Russia in the 19th century. His mother was the daughter of an Orthodox Christian priest. In 1921 the family decided to return to Germany and moved to Munich, where Schmorell became a parishioner of a Russian Orthodox church. After returning from the front in 1942 following … [Read more...]

Renewing Christendom: T.S. Eliot – The Journey of the Magi [AUDIO]


Below is a rare recording taken from a live interview T.S. Eliot did for the BBC during World War II. Eliot reads his poem "The Journey of Magi" where the sojourner retraces the steps of the Magi in his own time and place. The poem recalls a time when the knowledge of Christ was more widespread than it is today, and those who have come to the Orthodox faith and grasped the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that rests at its center, like a babe lying in the manger, will understand its penetration into the symbolic, and thus sacred, dimensions of every day existence. I have included both the poem and a literary analysis alongside it that was written in 1956. We might quibble with the critic's exaggerated sense of existential despair when he asserts that the new birth brings no new hope or clarified vision (the latter apparent in the last line), but overall it's a fair-minded reading. Much literary criticism, like much historiography, was better before ideology captured the minds of … [Read more...]

The Limits of Secularism


An outsanding analysis by the Chief Rabbi of England Lord Sacks. Some highlights: In 1997...I argued that the world had moved on since (Isaiah) Berlin's great 1957 lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty" (.pdf), and that the threat to liberty was now different: not totalitarianism but rather the internal moral decay of free societies. So there it is: the evidence that intellectuals have systematically misunderstood the nature of religion and religious observance and have constantly been thinking, for the better part of three centuries, that religion was about to disappear, yet it hasn't. In certain parts of the world it is growing. The 21st century is likely to be a more religious century than the 20th. It is interesting that religion is particularly growing in places like China where the economy is growing. We must ask ourselves why this is, because it is actually very odd indeed. Think about it: every function that was once performed by religion can now be done by something else. … [Read more...]

Cultural Legacy of Communism: Armenian Women Still Have Average of 8 and as High as 20 Abortions in Lifetime


When the Berlin Wall fell everyone pondered the ramifications as East Germany rejoined their Western brothers and presumably in a few short years catapult Germany to even higher economic prominence. It didn't happen. As it turned out, all it takes to weaken a culture is one generation. Sixty years can wipe values and habits that took generations to accrue. Russia proves the same point. Cultural rebuilding is a slower process than we would like, which also compels us to protect the things that remain. If the first things are lost they take a long time to restore, if ever. In the essay below writer Ben Johnson examines the abortion rates of once Christian Armenia after the call of Communism and reveals that the restoration of human value will be hard fought. Fortunately the Orthodox Church is starting to speak out. Orthodox writer and ethicist Vigen Guroian is quoted: "I cannot understand why the Armenian people are committing genocide against themselves now, when they’ve endured … [Read more...]

WND: Bonhoeffer in Harlem

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When I attended seminary over 20 years ago, one of my favorite activities was the inter-seminary dialogues. Once a month about seven or eight of us would drive down to Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan to meet up with Jewish rabbinical students and seminarians from Union Theological Seminary (Protestant) and St. Joseph's (Catholic). You'd think the gathering would spark some lively and substantive debate, but the truth was the contest wasn't even close. From the very first meeting the Jews and Orthodox left the Protestants and Catholics in the dust. The participants from Union were caught in the worst sort of theological relativism, so much so that they were uncertain even of first principles. We just got tired of waiting for them to build up enough self-assurance to craft a coherent argument. The Catholics were reeling from the exposure of the sex-abuse scandals that were coming to light at the time and retreated into an obscure Marian piety that we Orthodox could … [Read more...]

Church that Held the 7th Ecumenical Council at Nicea to be Turned into Mosque


Source: Vatican Insider Hagia Sophia in Nicea, where the Seventh Ecumenical Council was held in 787, is about to be declared a mosque by the Turkish authorities. As the Turkish press reports, the call to prayer was sung from the Muezzin last Thursday, for the first time since the founding of the Turkish Republish in 1923. The minaret was added to the church in the city that the Turks called “Iznik” in the Ottoman age. Last year it was restored. With the prayer to be said at the beginning of the Islamic feast of sacrifice on Sunday morning, the former church will be ready for Islamic religious ceremonies. The decision by the office of the Administrative Council, the competent authority, has sparked fierce debate. Selcuk Mülayim, of the University of Marmara, an art historian, underlined the building's importance in the history of Christianity and warned that the move would mark the beginning of protests from all over the world. Iznik's chamber of commerce criticized the … [Read more...]

With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

The Acton Institute just published my essay. Source: Acton Institute | Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse The European religious press is abuzz over recent developments in Orthodox – Catholic relations that indicate both Churches are moving closer together. The diplomatic centerpiece of the activity would be a meeting of Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church that was first proposed by Pope John Paul II but never realized. Some look to a meeting in 2013 which would mark the 1,700th anniversary of the signing of the Edict of Milan when Constantine lifted the persecution of Christians. It would be the first visit between the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of Moscow in history. A few short years ago a visit between Pope and Patriarch seemed impossible because of lingering problems between the two Churches as they reasserted territorial claims and began the revival of the faith in post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The relationship grew tense at times and while … [Read more...]

Pastoral Message of Archbishop Demetrios (GOA) on September 11, 2001

Abp. Demetrios (GOA)

Very good talk, particularly about the sobriety the attack on 9/11 fostered not only on the people of New York mentioned by Abp. Demetrios, but also all over America. Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America … [Read more...]

Society for Orthodox Christian Church History Announces New Journal


The Society for Orthodox Christian History in the Americas (SOCHA) is pleased to announce a new, affiliated academic publication, the Journal of American Orthodox Church History (JAOCH). JAOCH is peer reviewed by established scholars within the field and published electronically. JAOCH is published annually and consists of articles, book reviews, and translations of historically significant texts. --Future articles will be developed from the upcoming history symposium at Princeton Theological Seminary: --Submissions are also encouraged. The journal is available through Prairie Parish Press and the cost is $10 per issue. More information, including the table of contents and an introduction to the first issue, may be found on the website of Prairie Parish Press: … [Read more...]

Father of Israeli President Owes Life To Greek Monks

At state dinner, Peres says that his late father, Yitzhak, as a soldier in the British Army, had been stationed in Greece.

Source: Jerusalem Post | Greer Faye Cashman | HT: Mystagogy The Second World War and the Holocaust figured in the official addresses by both President Shimon Peres and his Greek counterpart President Karolos Papoulias at the state dinner that Peres hosted on Monday night in honor of the president of the Hellenic republic. Peres said that his late father, Yitzhak, as a soldier in the British Army, had been stationed in Greece and had been captured by the Germans. He had managed to escape, but finding shelter was difficult because he knew no one in Greece, and not a word of Greek. But he had found his way to a Greek monastery, where for two years, he and six other British soldiers had been hidden by the priests who, at great risk to their own lives, fed them and ensured their safety. After two years in hiding, Yitzhak Perski and the other soldiers decided to make another bid for freedom, and attempted to sail out of Greece on a small dinghy that was quickly intercepted by the … [Read more...]

Where Heaven Falls Prey to Thieves: The Plundering of Turkish Occupied Cyprus [VIDEO]

Area north of the Green Line is occupied

Source: Vimeo A short documentary about the extensive art theft that has taken place in North Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish invasion. The theft has taken place with tacit or active approval from the Turkish army. The plunder not only served as a source of income for criminals in North Cyprus and shady antiquity dealers, it was also an act to eradicate the memory of Cyprus as a Christian country for almost two millenia. What has happened in the Turkish occupied zone constitutes pillaging of world cultural heritage and is a war crime according to several international conventions. … [Read more...]