July 30, 2014

Independence Day

Thoughts on freedom as we approach the celebration of another Independence Day: From the beginning the Creator allowed human beings their freedom and a free will; they were bound only by the law of his commandment. St. Gregory the Theologian (Orations 14.25 ["On Caring for the Poor"], PG 35:892A) Freedom means being one's own master and ruling oneself; this is the gift that God granted to us from the beginning. St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and Resurrection, PG 46:101CD) Man is made in the image of God, Who is humble but at the same time free. Therefore it is normal and natural that he should be after the likeness of his Creator -- that he should recoil from exercising control over others while himself being free and independent by virtue of the presence of the Holy Spirit within him. Those who are possessed by the lust for power cloud the image of God in themselves. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 9; St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 73) The idea of … [Read more...]

The Cohabitation Bomb

In the most emphatic fashion, reports the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod yesterday declared its opposition to the government’s bid to give unmarried couples greater rights by stating that any form of relationship other than a couple married in an Orthodox Church is tantamount to “prostitution.” The Synod said that a draft law under consideration constituted a “catastrophic bomb” being placed under the foundations of Greek society. Archbishop Ieronymos II, the new leader of the Church of Greece who arrived with the reputation for being a moderate, was pushing for a moderate position on the issue. But the other 12 members of the Synod would have none of it. “The Church accepts and blesses the established wedding, according to Orthodox traditions, and considers any other type of similar relationship to be prostitution,” the Synod said in a statement. … [Read more...]

The Tithe of the Year

In his latest podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, Fr. Thomas Hopko looks at Great Lent as the "tithe of the year," during which believers try to be what they ought always to be. Fr. Tom, an advisor to AOI, shares his Lenten maxims, the things a believer would do if they were really a believer and wanted to live as God wanted us to live. At the top of Fr. Tom's list: "Be always with Christ. Trust God in everything. Never forget God." Listen to "The Tithe of the Year": All of Fr. Tom's podcasts are archived here. … [Read more...]

Guroian on ‘Youth, Unity and Orthodoxy in America’

Dr. Vigen Guroian delivered a talk on “Youth, Unity and Orthodoxy in America” at the 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting of Orthodox Christian Laity in Glenview, Illinois, in November. The theme of the OCL conference: “The Need for a Great and Holy Council.” Here's Dr. Guroian (an advisor to AOI) on Orthodox youth: The college or university is a synecdoche -- a metaphor – representing in microcosm the diverseness and pluralism of America. Likewise, the Orthodox students who arrive at our colleges and universities represent a microcosm of the entire Orthodox presence in America in all of its variety. They come to college for many reasons, with little thought, however, about joining in the great experiment of Pan-Orthodoxy and church unity. Unlike their immigrants forebears who came to America, these young people do not bring to college all of the institutional paraphernalia of their churches. They do carry, however, an Orthodox identity that they feel a need to share and explain … [Read more...]

Solovyov on Economic Morality

Towards the end of his life, the 19th century Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov published his "On the Justification of the Good: An Essay on Moral Philosophy" (1897). In this book, wrote historian Paul Valliere, Solovyov abandonded his vision of a "worldwide theocratic order" in favor of the more concrete demands of building a just society. With "Justification of the Good," Solovyov (1853-1900) presented a general theory of economic and social welfare based on the idea that all human beings have "a right to a dignified existence." The following excerpt is from the chapter, "The Economic Question from the Moral Point of View" in Solovyov's … [Read more...]

OCN: Fighting for Life

Here's a great resource for Orthodox Christian educators. The popular Come Receive the Light programming on the Orthodox Christian Network is archived along with a one-page study guide. These could be used in religious education classes and adult study groups. Those of us with wireless access at churches could listen to the archived program on a laptop and work through the study guide afterward. In this recent program, host Fr. Chris Metropulos speaks with Frederica Mathewes-Green about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Orthodox Christian understanding of life, and how Orthodox Christians throughout the centuries have turned belief into practice by reaching out to women and children in need. Listen here: Here's what Brad Borch wrote in the study guide: In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled to confirm a woman’s right to an abortion. Since that time, the conflict over this decision has, in many ways, cast a dark pall over our nation. Some have likened the babies lost to … [Read more...]

Gnostics, Then and Now

The current issue of Christian History & Biography magazine takes a look at Gnosticism, or what editors rightly label, "The Hunger for Secret Knowledge." The issue features an article by Fr. John Behr, dean and professor of patristics at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, which describes how the "Great Church" in the apostolic age was able to discern the truth about the Christian faith despite the best efforts of the Gnostics. Fr. John writes: This [true] faith, according to Irenaeus, is found in the Scriptures and summarized in the Rule of Faith. The proof that this is the true faith is that the "Great Church" could point to a visible succession of teachers, presbyters, and bishops who taught the same things throughout the world: This is the teaching common to all the apostles and the churches founded by them. The leaders of many of these churches had been taught by the apostles themselves, or disciples of the apostles, and they "neither taught nor knew of anything … [Read more...]

Met. Kallistos Ware in Detroit

More than 500 people gathered at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in suburban Detroit last week to hear Metropolitan Kallistos Ware deliver a talk on "The Future of Orthodoxy in the United States." Metropolitan Ware's visit was sponsored by St. Andrew House -- Center for Orthodox Studies, also in Detroit. The author of The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way told the assembly that "we must say the catholicity and universality of the church are more valuable, more fundamental than our national, ethnic, and cultural identity." And, His Eminence added, "if the basis of the Church's existence is life in the eucharist, it means that the church is organized on a territorial, and not on an ethnic principle." Ancient Faith Radio recorded the event. It was sponsored and hosted by St. Andrew House, A Pan Orthodox institution dedicated to Orthodox unity. Listen to Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy) Ware's address: Listen to the Question and Answer session: … [Read more...]