In the May 2008 issue of The Word,* published by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Gregory Cook looks at the ways Orthodox Christianity may “transfigure” America. “Orthodoxy has always been open to building on what is true and extant in any nation or culture,” Cook writes. “America should be no different.”
*Also republished here (non .pdf).
He quotes Metropolitan Antony Bashir:
Orthodoxy is a freedom-loving, democratic faith … it is at its best in our free America. If the best of Byzantium has survived, it is in the United States, and if there is an Orthodox political ideal, it is enshrined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Cook’s article, “Words We Live By: Orthodox and American Ideals in Foundational Texts” is an excellent reflection on what it means to be Orthodox in America and what America has given the Orthodox.
While we’re at it on this Fourth of July, read the Declaration of Independence. Can anyone not be moved by these words?
WHEN in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL; that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments, long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to threw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain, is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object, the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
And, finally, here is a collection of quotations on freedom by Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev. One of my favorites:
Man’s freedom is indissolubly linked with his obligations. Man’s freedom is not a claim, but a duty, not so much what he demands as what is demanded of him. Man must be free. God demands and expects this of him.