July 23, 2014

The Church and the Terror State

Priests, archbishops and a metropolitan imprisoned in the Solovetsky labor camp (1926). Solovetsky, a thriving monastery before the Bolshevik takover, was returned to the Russian Church in 1990. Source: Tomas Kizny

The Moscow Times reports on the funeral of Russian Patriarch Alexy II: Candles flickered and white-robed elders chanted prayers as the country bade farewell Tuesday to Patriarch Alexy II, who guided the country's dominant Russian Orthodox Church through its remarkable recovery after decades of Communist-era repression. Nuns, believers and government officials looked on as prayers filled the soaring Christ the Savior Cathedral at a six-hour funeral service for Alexy, who died Friday at age 79. He was buried later Tuesday at the Epiphany Cathedral across town in a ceremony closed to the public and media, the church said ... "We are burying a great man, a great son of our nation, a beautiful holy fruit grown by our Russian church," Reverend Dmitry Smirnov, a Moscow archpriest, said in an address at the funeral, which was broadcast live on state-run television. "Our whole nation has been orphaned." The BBC has a clip from the very moving funeral service here. I published "The … [Read more...]

‘Greece in Self-Destruct Mode’

From the Toronto Star: "The central core of Athens has been in chaos," says Andre Gerolymatos, a professor of Hellenic studies at Simon Fraser University, who was caught in the rioting when he arrived at his hotel. "There are anarchists, students, hoodlums and thieves breaking windows of stores and looting." From Alexis Papachelas, writing in today's Kathimerini: I feel a deep sense of despair as I watch my country roll down an endless hill. A good friend put into context well: “You remember the euphoria we felt when we won the European soccer championship or in the summer of the Olympic Games? Well, today I feel the absolute opposite.” The fatal shooting of the teenager in Exarchia and the destruction that followed struck a vein of rage and has created a wave of senselessness that has choked all reason. Teenagers are taking to the streets because they are disillusioned with the legacy they have inherited and know how hard it will be to maintain their standard of living in … [Read more...]

Russia Prays for its Patriarch

The death of Russian Patriarch Aleksy II, the man who guided the world's largest Orthodox Church during Soviet repression and then into a period of recovery and growth, will occasion a time of deep reflection and prayer for Orthodox Christians the world over. The Zenit News Service has published this touching account of the Patriarch's passing by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria, representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to European Organizations: In my memory Patriarch Alexy will remain first of all as a loving father, who was always ready to listen, who was supportive and gentle. Almost half of the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, including myself, were ordained into episcopate by Patriarch Alexy. We are all deeply indebted to him. The years of his patriarchate constituted an entire epoch in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church. It was precisely in this time that the resurrection of the Russian Church took place, which continues to this … [Read more...]

Met. Nicholas on Michigan’s Economic Crisis

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit discusses Michigan's severe economic decline -- caused by the state's close ties to the auto industry -- and its effect on the state's parishes in an interview with the Greek-American newspaper National Herald (available on the Orthodox Christian News site with free registration). To tell you the truth, our people have been affected in some ways, but not as strongly as some other communities because the majority of our people our educated people. There are scientists working for the auto companies and also people working in the lines, but many of those people have retired so either they received a buyout or pension. Most of the young people are working as doctors, lawyers, pharmacists. Interviewer Theodore Kalmoukos also asked Metropolitan Nicholas about the direction of the Church in America. The Metropolitan answered: I hope we are going to God’s kingdom, but in order to get there, we have to strongly proclaim the gospel … [Read more...]

Met. Jonah’s ‘Obama Moment’

The Washington Times' Julia Duin interviews Metropolitan Jonah who, she says, is enjoying an "Obama moment" because of his relative youth and sudden rise to prominence. In Duin's interview, the Metropolitan said he wants to expand outreach to youth and on college campuses. "The thing I am most concerned about is the despair that grips so many of the young people in our culture," he said. "There is so much nihilism and atheism, all a result of the broken families, drugs, social and economic ills that grip our culture. So many of the young are in a state of existential despair." Why Orthodoxy? "It is a very integrated way of life," he said. "It's a lifestyle, a way of self-denial as a way to greater fulfillment. It is a way of spiritual discipline to help people to bring themselves under control so they are not possessed by anger, lust and the seven deadly sins." He was persuaded to join Orthodoxy through the reading of one book: "The Mystical Theology of the … [Read more...]

Mattingly on Met. Jonah

In "Orthodox bishop on hot spot," Terry Mattingly looks at the improbable rise of Metropolitan Jonah -- in the span of about 10 days -- from newly consecrated assistant bishop of Dallas to head of the Orthodox Church in America. Snip: If nationwide change is going to happen, said Jonah, it will have to grow out of respect and cooperation at all levels of the church. "Hierarchy is only about responsibility, it's not all of this imperial nonsense," he said. "Thank God that we're Americans and we have cast that off. We don't need foreign despots. We are the only non-state Orthodox church. In other words, we are the only Orthodox church that does not exist under the thumb of a state -- either friendly or hostile. "So the church is our responsibility, personally and collectively, individually and corporately. What are you going to do with it?" … [Read more...]

Moral Tradition and the Assault of Gay Activists

Over at OrthodoxyToday.org, Fr. Hans Jacobse looks at why gay activists in California are now attacking places of worship: So what explains the aggression of homosexual activists especially toward churches in California and elsewhere? Is it just because they lost the vote or is something else at work? The homosexual lobby argued that marriage is a fundamental right denied to homosexual couples. They overlook the fact that homosexuals already have the "right" to marry. They just can't marry a member of the same sex, just as a man can't marry multiple women, a woman multiple men, a father to a daughter, a brother to a sister, and so forth. Nothing is "denied" to them that is not denied to everyone else. "Unfair" they protested and indeed it is. But fairness to those who seek new definitions of marriage is not a concern of the moral tradition. There are compelling reasons why the convention is what it is (children need both a mother and father being one of them), and tinkering … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Jonah: ‘Ability and Humility’

Terry Mattingly has been following the news coverage (non-coverage?) of the election of Metropolitan Jonah to lead the Orthodox Church in America and flags a story from the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Reporter J.M. Brown offered this: Longtime friends from Santa Cruz County said the 49-year-old bishop has the ability and humility to serve the entire church, which means ironing out a well-publicized financial scandal involving misuse of church funds and bridging gaps between various sectors of the orthodox faith, including the Greek, Arab and Russian Orthodox churches. "His election points to a very strong determination to change the way things have been done in the past," the Rev. Mel Webber, the pastor of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Santa Cruz for 11 years, said in a phone interview from Pittsburgh Thursday. "He's got the skills to become one of the most enlightened leaders this church has seen in a long time." … [Read more...]

Obama Defeats ‘Social Darwinists’?

Bishop Savas of Troas

Update (11/19/08) -- In "Bush's record in Africa receives well-deserved praise," USA Today's DeWayne Wickham gives us this: This year, Bush signed a bill that authorized up to $48 billion to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria — most of it to be spent in sub-Saharan Africa — from 2009 through 2013. Since 2003, the Bush administration has provided funding to increase the number of Africans receiving anti-retroviral drugs from 50,000 to about 1.4 million, Frazer said. -- End update -- Did God ordain an Obama victory? You get that impression from Sava on a Rolla, the blog of Bishop Savas of Troas. In a post titled, "This is the Day that the Lord has made!," the chancellor of the Greek Archdiocese celebrates the victory of President-elect Barack Obama in terms that can only be described as divine: Do I expect miracles from the President-Elect? Am I confusing the man with the Messiah? Of course not. But neither is he the Antichrist, as some of his opponents would have … [Read more...]

Another Brawl at the Holy Sepulchre

Maybe it's time to put these on pay-per-view, like they do for the cage fighters. Here's the report from AP on those brawlin' monks at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem: A bearded Armenian monk in a red-and-pink robe and a black-clad Greek Orthodox monk with a bloody gash on his forehead were both taken away in handcuffs after scuffling with dozens of riot police. Six Christian sects divide control of the ancient church. They regularly fight over turf and influence, and Israeli police are occasionally forced to intervene. Note to AP: The Orthodox Church is not a "sect." Note to monks: I teach my Sunday School class that Christianity is The Way of brotherly love, peacemaking, and mastery of the passions. You are not making my job easier. … [Read more...]

Heritage on Religious Freedom and Same-Sex Marriage

A new policy paper from The Heritage Foundation warns that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions "poses significant threats to the religious liberties of people who continue to believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman." These threats are acknowledged by both those who support and those who oppose redefining marriage, according to to Thomas M. Messner, a Visiting Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at Heritage. Some "talking points" from Same-Sex Marriage and the Threat to Religious Liberty: -- Judicial decisions redefining marriage to include same-sex unions state that limiting marriage to men and women is a form of unacceptable discrimination against homosexuals. -- The freedom to express the view that marriage involves a man and a woman will come under growing pressure as courts, public officials, and private institutions come to regard the traditional understanding of marriage as a form of … [Read more...]

In the Wake of the Election

Whether your guy won or lost on Tuesday (mine came in second) you have to marvel at this very exceptional nation called America. And, indeed, the whole world is doing just that. In an editorial, the Times of London described the election as a "Masterclass in Democracy": The world has been fascinated and profoundly moved by this election most of all because of what America is — a nation founded on universal aspirations, and thus a mirror to humanity. For two centuries that mirror has seemed irreparably cracked by the legacy of slavery and segregation, a pernicious and enduring racism that remains a factor in the blighted lives of so many of the poor blacks among whom Mr Obama launched his political career. He is not the last role model they will ever need, but he is the most powerful proof his country has produced that it is ready to judge them by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin. The world watched as 121 million Americans peacefully went to the polls and … [Read more...]