April 23, 2014

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...]

‘A Day of Public Thanksgiving’

In "Thanks to the Founders," Andrew Kadar recalls his arrival in America as a young boy, and explains why Thanksgiving is now his favorite holiday. Anyone from an immigrant background will be touched by his story. Some people lament that Americans treat immigrants unkindly, that we discriminate against them and make their lives more difficult. I never experienced that. To the contrary, Americans went out of their way to help me become one of them. My family's attitude contributed to our reception. We didn't come here to be Hungarians in America. We came here to be Americans. We made the effort to live and act like Americans to the best of our ability from day one. We all learned to speak English as soon and as well as possible. We eagerly absorbed American culture, history and customs, which we grew to appreciate and love. And on this day, let us give thanks, as did that revolutionary conservative George Washington, for the "great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty" we … [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...]

Turkey and Religious Liberty

My interview with Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol was published today in The Acton Institute's Religion & Liberty quarterly. Our talk focused on the prospects for greater economic and religious liberty in Turkey. Mustafa blogs at The White Path. Excerpt: Let's talk about religious freedom. There's a great tension between the modern secularist path of Turkey, going back to Ataturk, and the revival of Islam and its influence on politics. Will this be a winner take all battle, or is Turkey working out something a little more complex in the future? I say there will be room for all of these views, and Turkey will be more pluralistic than it used to be. Actually, right now, the battle is between the people who want to create room for pluralism and those who want to keep it homogeneously secular. Keep in mind that the founding idea of the Turkish Republic was very monolithic. It picked up the narrative of the French Enlightenment in that secularism would make the country safe from … [Read more...]

WCC’s ‘Homespun’ Economic Fallacy

The World Council of Churches, which claims to speak for most Orthodox Churches around the globe, has formulated a number of proposals to reform the global financial system because of its inherent "injustice." General Secretary Samuel Kobia sees the need for new transnational financial watchdog organizations that will "qualitatively regulate the growth in massive movements in capital." The problem here is that Kobia fails to understand that a global economy requires an international flow of capital -- along with an international flow of goods and services and, very often, labor (indeed immigrant labor). In cataloging a long list of ills flowing from the current economic crisis, and the "neoliberal economic myth" of efficient markets, Kobia neglects to mention -- or fails to see -- how markets work to create wealth, economic growth and jobs. These are not things created by, as he would have it, "democratizing all global finance and trade institutions" across international boundaries. … [Read more...]

Ataturk: Immortal Leader and Unrivaled Hero?

In "Turkey Shocked by Chain Smoking, Raki-Swilling Atatürk," Spiegel Online reporter Daniel Steinvorth reports on the controversy over a new film released to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. ... Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül showed that the seven-decade anniversary can also be celebrated in another way -- one perhaps more to the liking of the Kemalist Thought Association. At a ceremony at the Turkish embassy in Brussels, he gave a lecture on the difficult formation of the Turkish State and the expulsion of Greeks and Armenians, a fact which Gönül described as a "very important step." At the end of the day, he said, modern Turkey would not be as we know it, "if Greeks still lived on the Aegean and Armenians still lived in different parts of Turkey today." In other words: the historical expulsion, deportation and extermination of the two population groups, as the thinking goes, are to be welcomed. Between 1.5 and 2 million Anatolian … [Read more...]

Obamakis and Bidenopoulos

Opa! Obama!

Political candidates follow a time-honored campaign strategy of reaching out to ethnic groups and religious communities, and Orthodox Christians have been courted this way for years. It works both ways, of course. Now, little more than a week after the election, we're getting a good look at how politicians and political operatives of Greek descent -- many of them prominent in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese -- have been working for years to promote President-elect Barack Obama and running mate Sen. Joseph Biden. The Greeks for Obama group, for example, developed this catchy slogan: "If you are Greek and love Obama, clap your hands." On Nov. 5, the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes told supporters that it had raised $500,000 for Obama's campaign just weeks before the election. (full message appended at bottom of post). Andy Manatos, a public relations executive who also chaired last summer's GOA Clergy-Laity Congress, led the effort for this group. "Moving the huge American … [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...]

Thomas Sowell before the election

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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...]

California Bishops Support Ballot Initiative on Marriage

Orthodox bishops have announced their support for Proposition 8, known as the "California Marriage Protection Act." The measure would amend the state constitution by adding this line: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. More on this proposal on the Protect Marriage Web site. Here is the message from Orthodox bishops: A Statement of the Orthodox Christian Bishops of California in Support of Proposition 8: A Constitutional Amendment to Restore the Definition of Marriage The decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, unilaterally redefines the sacred institution of marriage in a manner unprecedented in human history — and alien to our Christian tradition. We, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, were saddened by this decision which constitutes a direct attack upon the longstanding role and freedom of religion in American life. A majority of the justices declared not only that same-sex couplings must be allowed … [Read more...]

Where are the Orthodox Dominionists?

A friend sent me an article from the Hellenic Voice titled, “Religious Right must not set agenda for Orthodox Church.” Well, reasonable enough. But the article got so many other things wrong that I was tempted to simply quit reading half way through. The author, Harry Katopodis, seemed not to understand the difference between religious doctrine and political activism (which was one of the main faults of the Religious Right). Amazingly, his article was aimed at those Orthodox brothers and sisters who have been received into the Church from other traditions. You know, converts. Their conversion, the author suggested, has been a Trojan horse that has allowed the Religious Right to stealthily creep into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Katopodis article begins with the assertion that “the Orthodox Churches in America are heading down two different paths over political involvement.” The article is much too long and repetitive to reprint so I’ll touch on just a few points … [Read more...]