July 28, 2014

Fr. Gregory Jensen On Our (Orthodox Christianity’s) Cultural Failings

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Fr. Gregory Jensen wrote the following response to my essay (Catholic Online: The Republic is Finished and the America We Knew is Gone). It's good, really good in fact, and I am posting it here to generate discussion that not only analyzes the reason for the present decline but to generate discussion of where to go from here. Excerpt: American Orthodoxy is as secular as the rest of America. Like the Catholic Church and the various Protestant communities...we have discovered that he who drinks the king’s wine sings the king’s song. Thank you to Fr Hans Jacobse for his recent essay (Catholic Online: The Republic is Finished and the America We Knew is Gone) and for the many thoughtful comments it has inspired. As to whether or not the latest decision of the SCOTUS supporting the constitutionality of the Patient Affordability Act is the end of the Republic or not I can’t say. If however our' Republic is rooted in virtue understood as the … [Read more...]

Silent Clergy Killers: ‘Toxic’ Congregations Lead to Widespread Job Loss

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- Source: Huffington Post They are called "clergy killers" -- congregations where a small group of members are so disruptive that no pastor is able to maintain spiritual leadership for long. And yet ministers often endure the stresses of these dysfunctional relationships for months, or even years, before eventually being forced out or giving up. Adding to the strain is the process, which is often shrouded in secrecy. No one -- from denominational officials to church members to the clerics themselves -- wants to acknowledge the failure of a relationship designed to be a sign to the world of mutual love and support. But new research is providing insights into just how widespread -- and damaging -- these forced terminations can be to clergy. An online study published in the March issue of the Review of Religious Research found 28 percent of ministers said they had at one time been forced to leave their jobs due to personal attacks and criticism from a small faction of their … [Read more...]

Is This the Most Beautiful Orthodox Church in the World?

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Below are some pictures of the consecration of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Kronstadt, Russia. A window to heaven has opened and the harmony of the unseen and uncreated are made visible to man. The Church is nothing short of astonishing. The only other place I have seen such depth of beauty outside of nature is in the iconography of the new chapel in Ossios Lukas monastery in Greece. There the icons possess an ethereal but ordered brilliance that reflects the harmony that must have existed at the beginning of creation and points to its final restoration; a non-material and dynamic logic that infuses all created things and establishes their material limits and governs their workings. I see the same revelation here. Harmony is revealed through art. If art touches that non-material logic, the pulse that runs through all things like the steady note that rings off the tuning fork, the divine is discerned and the soul is elevated and nourished. If art rebels against harmony and order, … [Read more...]

60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians

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Source: The Atlantic APR 23 2012, 8:46 AM ET 280 By Robert Wright Last night's 60 Minutes segment about the plight of Christians in the West Bank has gotten a lot of attention, in part because of the attempt by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren to intervene with CBS brass while the segment was being put together. (See the 11-minute point in the video below, where CBS correspondent Bob Simon confronts Oren with this fact.) You can see why Oren might rather the piece hadn't aired. Things that Palestinian Muslims routinely say about the Israeli occupation may get more traction in America when Palestinian Christians say them. Such as this, from a Christian clergyman: "The West Bank is becoming more and more like a piece of Swiss cheese, where Israel gets the cheese--that is, the land the water resources, the archaeological sites, and the Palestinians are pushed in the holes." Also, Oren clearly doesn't want this document, mentioned by Simon, to get attention. In it an … [Read more...]

Ancient Faith Goes Live! First Program this Sunday at 8pm Eastern

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I hope all of you tune in this Sunday. Along with Dr. John Mark Reynolds, I will be discussing "Atheism" particularly the New Atheism, our responses to it as informed by our Orthodox faith, and so forth. It holds great potential and promise. The purpose of the program is to bring timely and important topics to a larger Orthodox audience. The show will be live and include caller questions and challenges. We've picked topics that we think are compelling and on many people's minds. You can see a full schedule by clicking the link below. Ancient Faith Radio announces the launch of the first ever Orthodox live call-in show, Ancient Faith Today, this Sunday, April 22, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Chesterton, IN —Ancient Faith Radio is pleased to announce the broadcast of a live call-in show. Ancient Faith Today, hosted by Kevin Allen, is what Ancient Faith Radio and Orthodox Internet radio have been missing -- a live interactive conversation program. Now that void has been filled! … [Read more...]

Attn: Grand Rapids, MI — Edith Humphrey Speaks Tonight (March 23, 2012) at 7:00pm

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The West Michigan Orthodox community is gathering for the 4th Salutations to the Theotokos (Akathist Hymn) on Fri., March 23, at 7:00 pm at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church. Following the Akathist, a Baker Publishing Group author, and Orthodox Christian, Edith Humphrey will be speaking. Last year, Baker published her marvelous new book on liturgy, "Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as in Heaven." Humphrey (Ph.D., McGill University) is the William F. Orr Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She is the author of several books, including "Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit," and of numerous articles on the literary and rhetorical study of the Bible. Here are some links that explain more about her work: Click the cover to learn more. Book sample from Baker Books. Edith Humphrey website. Also, the newly consecrated Antiochian Bishop – Anthony – will be in attendance Friday evening along with Ancient … [Read more...]

Egypt’s Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III dies

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Source: BBC Egypt's Coptic Christian Pope Shenouda III has died at the age of 88, state television has announced. The leader of the Middle East's largest Christian minority was reported to suffer from cancer that had spread to several organs. Coptic Christians make up 10% of Egypt's population of 80 million. After attacks on Coptic Christians in recent years, Pope Shenouda urged officials to do more to address the community's concerns. Pope Shenouda led the church, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, for four decades. His political adviser Hany Aziz told Reuters news agency that Shenouda "died from complications in health and from old age". He had returned recently to Egypt after seeking treatment abroad. Pope Shenouda was born Nazeer Gayed into a devout Christian family on 3 August 1923 in Asyut, Upper Egypt, and became a monk in 1954, taking the name Shenouda. After Pope Cyril died in 1971, Shenouda was enthroned as Pope of … [Read more...]

Fr. Peter-Michael Preble: Sunday of Orthodoxy Calls us to Emulate the Courage of our Fathers in the Faith

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Fr. Peter-Michael Preble tells us just as our Orthodox Fathers fought to preserve the sacred images (because they knew that destroying the icons of Christ would lead to a denial of the Incarnation in the end), we are called to defend the icons of "flesh and blood" -- the human person. It's a strong sermon but entirely fitting for our times. Source: Fr. Peter-Michael Preble Blog To the glory of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory Forever! Today we commemorate the restoration of the Icons that took place at the 7th Ecumenical Council in 787. Prior to this Council Icons had been declared Idols and therefore were not allowed to be used or created. Many of the images from those early days had been destroyed, although some were saved by hiding them in various places. Today, on this first Sunday of the Great Lent, we remember that day and reaffirm our belief is what is Orthodox. At the close of the Liturgy we will recite the Synodal … [Read more...]

Advice Orthodox Can Heed — Abp. Timothy Dolan: A Good Time to Revive Your Faith

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Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan offers advice that applies to Christians across the board. Some highlights: If there is not some sacrifice, hardship, and challenge to living our Catholic faith, we usually end up taking it for granted and setting it aside. Dr. Philip Jenkins, the scholar of religion at Penn State University, observes a bit of raw data: the Church grows rapidly, and the faith of her believers is deep and vibrant, in countries where there is persecution of the Church; the Church languishes and gradually loses its luster in countries where it is prosperous, and where it is privileged. The great Father of the Church, Tertullian, made the same claim 19 centuries ago as he watched the Church suffer persecution in the Roman Empire: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith.” Uh-oh...what’s that say about us? We live in America where there is religious freedom (even though it is under pressure!). Here we are in a country where there is no danger or … [Read more...]

Urban Mission Retreat — Equipping Orthodox Missionaries — June 20-24, 2012

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Webmasters: Download the code (text file) to display this flyer on your site. How can I make a difference here at home? In June 2012, St. Raphael church is hosting a hands-on missionary retreat to take on that very question. Held at the St. Andrew Center in Detroit, the retreat will focus on the church's mission and ministry to those in need right here in our own back yard. For high school, college, and adult Orthodox Christians and catechumens. The faithful will stay in the historic St. Andrew Center in Detroit, Michigan, and pray and worship together, share meals, and fellowship. We will receive practical instruction in the Church’s mission and ministries for those in need, and work together on some projects in the neighborhood. Many of our youth and adults hunger to experience missionary work firsthand, but only a small portion are able to go abroad. While there is important work to be done here as well as overseas, our suburban parishes find little direct … [Read more...]

Deconstructing the ‘Internal Contradiction’ in the GOA

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Andrew Estocin asks: Father JJ, how do you see this internal contradiction playing out with regards to the riots and unrest in Greece? The GOA has never addressed the moral and social underpinnings of these problems. Is the GOA so captive to the fantasy narrative of the Greek Community in America that it is unable to engage on these issues? Athens burns but the party at the Ritz Carlton in Florida goes on. How do you celebrate Greek Independence day at the White House when your homeland is in the midst of a social and economic collapse? If 79th Street does not pay more attention it find that people will turn on the GOA leadership very quickly as being overpaid and out of touch while common people suffer. Honestly, though I wonder what the real reason is for the GOA not even acknowledging Greece’s problems. Its amazing the disconnect between the idea of being “Greek in America” vs. being “Greek in Greece” Fr. Hans Jacobse responds: Andrew, there is truth to the assertion … [Read more...]

Catholic Politicians Who Attack Church Should Remember God’s Judgment

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With stern words Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois warned Catholic politcians last Friday that any collaboration with "assaults against the faith" would one day face the judgment of God. Orthodox bishops should take notice. The report states: When asked specifically about recent actions of Democratic Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Bishop Jenky replied “I am utterly scandalized.” “The Lord once said ‘if you deny me at the end, I will deny you,’ this from our most merciful, good Savior. And so if it is a choice between Jesus Christ and political power or getting favorable editorials in leftist papers, well, that’s simply not a choice.” Some leaders in the Catholic Church compromised with secular politicians for many decades, just as Orthodox leaders have done. The difference is that the Catholic Church remained clear about the moral precepts protecting innocent life while in some … [Read more...]