August 1, 2014

Giannoulias for Ill. Governor?

At least the "Obamakis and Bidenopoulos" crowd won't have to create a phony Greek name for Alexi. The Chicago Sun-Times in "Obama's Basketball Pal for Governor?": Giannoulias' close association to Obama, even if Obama does not formally endorse him, could be a big advantage to Giannoulias in a crowded primary, especially if no major African-American candidate jumps into the mix. [...] Giannoulias, 32, was born in Chicago to Greek parents, played professional basketball in Greece and got to know Obama shooting hoops on the University of Chicago campus when Giannoulias was a student and Obama a senior lecturer. He was a vice president in his family's Broadway Bank before being elected Treasurer. [...] Giannoulias faced heat last year when he had to testify about a $1 million loan he made to an 86-year-old woman described by her family as "feeble-minded." The woman initially applied for the loan with co-borrowers who had a history of fraud allegations against them. After … [Read more...]

Abp. Ieronymos: Redefine our message

During a visit to Ionian island of Zakynthos yesterday, Archbishop Ieronymos, the head of the Church of Greece, warned yesterday that the Church has to redefine its message for contemporary society. If today we do not, like [island patron saint] Saint Dionysios, give witness to the ecclesiastical truth in a spirit of humility, peace and unity, then we will be tragic and outdated figures of an atavistic past with an eccentric role in our popular and meaningless religious festivals. In Kathimerini's "Face to Face with Ourselves," Nikos Konstandaras includes the Greek clergy in the long list of those culpable for the current anarchy on the streets of Athens. … [Read more...]

‘Work to Eat, Steal to Have’

What a beautiful country and what a heartbreaking spectacle of anarchy and self-hatred. A friend forwarded me this note that he received from a relative in Athens. The matter-of-fact closing line is revealing. Athenians have been coping with this malaise for a long, long time: Every person you ask will have his own take on the riots/events in Greece/Athens, mine is the following: What Greece faces is a situation were you no longer have a society. You have people who happen to be at the same place and everyone is going for his own with no regard to anything. The "System" is considered unfair & ineffective by almost all. This attitude comes across in the quote: "work to eat and steal to have" The situation is the result of the bureaucratic nature of the State, the statist ideology of the Country, and a System/attitude that does not reword work nor allows the most competitive bids to usually win. Concerning specifics: Karamanlis is not considered to be making money … [Read more...]

Alexy II: A ‘Transitional’ Patriarch

Vladimir Berezansky, Jr., a U.S. lawyer with experience in Russia and former Soviet republics, recalls an interview with Patriarch Alexy II in 1991. Like many Russians at the time, the Patriarch was coping with a "disorienting change" following the fall of the Soviet Empire, Berezansky writes. At the time, he seemed overcome by the changes taking place around him, and he did not know where to begin. "For our entire lives, we [clerics] were pariahs, and now we are being called on to do everything: chaplains for the military, ministries to hospitals, orphanages, prisons," he said. He even voiced regret about taking the time to travel to the United States. But he had gambled -- correctly, as it turned out -- that he could do more for his flock by seeking foreign assistance than by staying home to manage the Russian Orthodox Church's destitution. His plate was full and overflowing, and he seemed keenly aware of the ironies of his situation. The Russian state was returning … [Read more...]

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...]

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. 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...]

Hope for the Future!(?)

The Manifesto is blessed

In Sweden, the Interfaith Climate Summit has issued forth with the The Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto, a perfectly ordinary amalgam of religious sentiment and environmental alarmism typical of ecumenical groups. Which is to say that there's precious little political, economic or scientific insight in the broadside from Uppsala. Of course, there's no indication from the summit's participants that the causes and cures proposed for global warming may be controversial, especially in the scientific community. Yet, what sets the Hope for the Future! manifesto apart from total banality, and makes it interesting, is its unmistakably coercive tone about what both developed and developing countries "must" do about climate change. Apparently, the "global village" ethic of environmental activists does not apply when demands are made of the powers that be. The manifesto was signed by Fr. John Chryssavgis, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch, and Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, director of … [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...]

Peace or Truth?

In "What is important and what is not," Fr. Alexander Schmemann looked at controversies in the Church and how these may have led to "more true love" for the Body of Christ. Reprinted here in full: When controversies are ignited and flare up in the Church, which happens and has happened often, alas, we inevitably hear appeals from Church circles to cease these controversies in the name of peace and love. Now, this would be cause for great joy, if only in these appeals there were no unmistakably different overtones: "Your controversy is not important. It is of interest to no one: only ‘specialists’ and ‘scholars’ can understand it, so all this argument leads only to seduction and harm." And here we must point out to these accusers something very important which they have apparently forgotten. They have forgotten that peace and concord in the Church are inseparable from the Truth. An outsider who does not believe and is not part of the Church would smile and shrug his shoulders, … [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...]