Forsake all for Christ

June 24, 2012 By Leave a Comment

Let them burn your body, let them fry it, let them take your property. Don’t worry. Let them have these, they are not yours anyway. You only have need of soul and Christ! These two, even if the entire world happens to fall on you, it cannot take these from you unless you give them up on your own.

- Saint Kosmas Aitolos

h/t Simply Orthodox


Patriarch Bartholomew Coddles Environmental Extremists

Yesterday, June 23, 2012, 6:01:51 PM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
– Taking care of the environment involves more than clean air, clean water, recycling and the other factors that we usually associate with responsible stewardship. It also involves ideas about the economy, human relationships, structuring communities, the meaning and value of work, the value of the unborn and aged and so forth. Every environmental program incorporates ideas about these factors even if they are not explicitly stated.

In order to think clearly about environmental care, we have to look past the surface and examine the ideas that make up any environmental program. We have to ask ourselves do the programs promote human flourishing or impede it? Are trees and animals valued at the expense of the human person? Is man a blight on the earth who should be restricted from meaningful work and prosperity, or is his role as steward of creation a blessing to it?

Below is an essay written for AOI by an anonymous author (I agreed to withhold the author’s name) that describes the ideas of presenters at Patriarch Bartholomew’s recent two-day Halki summit. I find the choice of speakers troubling. You may too. The speakers proceed from premises inimical to our Orthodox moral tradition — especially the precepts that protect human flourishing and freedom.

As always, comments are welcome.

By Anonymous

Sometimes Orthodox Christians develop a sense of inferiority when they compare themselves to the Roman Catholic Church. When we contrast the actions of the Holy See to those of the Ecumenical Patriarch before this week’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development it is easy to see why. The Papal delegation issued a statement putting the human race at the center of creation. The Patriarch of Constantinople however, hosted a conference praising environmentalist extremists and population control advocates.

Before Rio+20, the Vatican’s permanent observer mission to the UN issued a position paper reminding the global negotiators that, “Human beings, in fact, come first.” The papal delegation charged the world’s leaders to adopt “a way of life which respects the dignity of each human being” and promote “technologies which can help to improve its quality.” Mankind represents the crown of creation they argued, and the world’s leading economies should assure that technological progress continues to serve mankind’s well-being.

The Phanar took a different approach. It hosted a two-day conference on the island of Heybeliada, co-sponsored by Southern New Hampshire University. Its PR material referred to the “Halki Summit” as “a distinguished group of activists, scientists, journalists, business leaders, theologians, and academics” committed to inducing “healing environmental action” through “a fundamental change in values as manifested in ethics and spirituality.”

In his keynote address, His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I said, while he had “witnessed the positive changes over the last decade,” he remained “deeply frustrated with the stubborn resistance and reluctant advancement of earth-friendly policies and practices.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, and other clergy alternately spoke with and heard from a panel of environmentalist polemicists such as Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and Jane Goodall.

Bill McKibben author of the book, Maybe One, encouraged his readers to have, at most, one child In his book, McKibben implied our likeness to God is most reflected by our use of contraception. He wrote that mankind’s “ability to limit ourselves…makes us unique among the animals.” He went on to belittle the traditional concept of the Deity and man’s place in the created order:

And though it galls the apostles of technology, this idea of restraint comes in large measure from our religious heritage. Not the religious heritage of literalism and fundamentalism and pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die. The scientists may have drowned the miracle-working sky gods with their five-century flood of data. Copernicus and Darwin did deprive us of our exalted place in the universe…

According to McKibben, “this older, deeper, more integral religious idea” – which he traces, appropriately, to Yama, the Hindu god of death – survived:

In this long tradition, meaning counts, more than ability or achievement or accumulation. Indeed, meaning counts more than life. From this perspective, Christ’s resurrection is almost unnecessary: it is his willingness to die, to impose the deepest limit on himself for the sake of others, that matters (emphases added).

It is telling that McKibben received one of two prizes from The Nation Institute, the institutional arm of Nation magazine, in 2010. The other went to Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. Why was he elevated by the Phanar?

McKibben suffers for his beliefs – as misguided as they are. He spent days in jail for leading the demonstrations that single-handedly killed the Keystone XL Pipeline – which would have created between 20,000 and 250,000 jobs in the midst of a flatlining economy – a move the Halki Summit described as a “courageous act of ‘civil disobedience.’”

The activist discussed his courage with Dr. James Hansen, a former NASA scientist turned Chicken Little who once said global warming skeptics of “are guilty of crimes against humanity.” He suggested President Obama tax the price of gasoline to “$4/5 gallons again.”

Hansen exposed his view of mankind when he endorsed Time’s Up, by Keith Farnish, a blurb Farnish has written he never solicited. The book set a modest goal: “Getting rid of civilization.” “Industrial Civilization may have produced new and innovative ways of human disease,” Farnish wrote, “but at the expense of tens of millions of other animals each year.”

He suggested that to facilitate the creation of a world with “no cities, no paved roads, no pylons, no offices or factories” that “[n]ot having children could be a very useful strategy.”

Other speakers also shared the priorities of the Green Left.

Jane Goodall, the famed primatologist, called the Catholic Church “quite a major problem” in her quest to impose population control.

The clergy also heard from Pratrap Chatterjee, a political and economic radical who heads an organization known as “CorpWatch,” which describes itself as a project of the George Soros funded Tides Center.

Other distinguished experts included a public radio host and the former CEO of a yogurt company.

Why is the Ecumenical Patriarch shrouding an ideology that demeans the dignity of mankind? Why is he using his moral authority as chief shepherd of the New Rome to sanctify anti-life ideas?

One day we might see the Pope and the Patriarch meeting at a UN Climate Conference on opposing sides, one standing with Al Gore and Paul Ehrlich, the other waging a lonely campaign to uphold the value of human life.

Then, faithful Orthodox Christians will find themselves united with the See of Rome, if only until the close of the summit.

The End of America? The HHS Mandate’s Threat to Freedom [VIDEO]

Friday, June 22, 2012, 6:57:14 PM | Fr. Johannes JacobseGo to full article
Source: Acton Institute

The Obama’s Administration’s mandate requiring the Catholic Church to conform to government dictates on contraception and abortifacent drugs is more than a war on the Catholic Church argue Jennifer Roback Morse and Eric Metaxas. It’s a war on freedom.

Eric Metaxas and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse articulate the grave dangers of the Health & Human Services (HHS) Mandate with regard to religious freedom in America.

Eric Metaxas is a public intellectual and author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, the thrilling biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A German theologian in Nazi Germany, Bonhoeffer is remembered for his clandestine efforts to overthrow Hitler and the Nazis in the struggle for human freedom.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse is an economist. She is the Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, a non-profit focused on promoting the sanctity of marriage as the critical foundation for families, communities, and society.

Christian Environmentalism that ‘Costs me Nothing’

Thursday, June 21, 2012, 3:48:10 PM | Fr. Johannes JacobseGo to full article
By John Couretas

Ascesis in the desert?In his June 18 keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Halki Summit in Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew looked forward to the start of the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainability, June 20-22. He noted that attendees at his environmental gathering were “deeply frustrated with the stubborn resistance and reluctant advancement of earth-friendly policies and practices.” He called for greater sacrifice and personal responsibility (emphasis added in the quote below):

Permit us to propose that perhaps the reason for this hesitation and hindrance may lie in the fact that we are unwilling to accept personal responsibility and demonstrate personal sacrifice. In the Orthodox Christian tradition, we refer to this “missing dimension” as ascesis, which could be translated as abstinence and moderation, or – better still – simplicity and frugality. The truth is that we resist any demand for self-restraint and self-control.

[ … ]

Each of us is called to draw a distinction between what we want and what we need, or – more importantly – what the world needs. Greed and gratification reduce the world to a survival of the fittest; whereas generosity and gratitude transform the world into a community of sharing. We are invited to pursue a way of sacrifice – not a sacrifice that is cheap, but a sacrifice that is costly. As King David once said: “I will not offer to the Lord my God a sacrifice that costs me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24.24) We must be prepared to make sacrifices – material and financial – that are genuine and even painful. And in this regard, whether we like it or not, more is demanded from the rich than from the poor.

Speaking of cheap, this latest statement – in light of the actual environmental praxis of the Phanar and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America – is an exercise in cheap moralizing and empty Church-speak. For starters, the Halki Summit was held in the historic Halki Palace Hotel, “one of the oldest and finest hotels in the vicinity of the Princes’ Islands,” and which features satellite TV, mini-bar, laundry service and Jacuzzis in nine of the suites. So you can take a nice warm bubble bath while contemplating how “simplicity and frugality” will help avert a global environmental catastrophe. Then take a drink poolside and join in for some bracing conversation about how Summit attendees can “bring the global environmental discussion to a new and richer place.” Indeed.

At the same time, Bartholomew’s American church is preparing to gather in Phoenix for the 2012 Clergy Laity Congress, July 1-5. It is meeting at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa for five days. Yes, a luxury resort in the Sonoran desert in the middle of July. Abstinence? The Marriott features four acres of swimming pools. Can’t swim? The Spa’s steam, sauna and whirlpools might do the trick, or the facial and massage services which start at $330 and ratchet up to $481, for the “total indulgence” package which gets you the “Too Sexy for Your Shoes Pedicure.” Make your reservations now, presvyteres!

No wonder the Colorado River is drying up. Patricia Mulroy, a board member of the Water Research Foundation, which promotes the development of safe drinking water, told Smithsonian Magazine that people need a “fundamental, cultural attitude change about water supply in the Southwest. It’s not abundant, it’s not reliable, it’s not going to always be there.” Maybe the patriarch, who has held environmental cruises on major rivers such as the Danube and the Amazon, could hold his next summit on the Colorado. A raft would work better than a cruise ship there.

Speaking of “self restraint and self control,” recall that on his 2009 visit to the United States, the patriarch shuttled to and fro on a private jet. When he gathered with bishops and priests of the Ecumenical Throne at the Limani Restaurant in New York to toast Archbishop Demetrios, was that an example of the ascesis we’re being lectured about now? At Limani, you can get a nice cowboy ribeye for $48, or Canadian caught Halibut — steak-cut and charcoal grilled – for $35. Add Greek fries or horta for only $9.

Perhaps the patriarch can send a message to the Leadership 100 gathering in 2013 and remind the wealthy benefactors that “more is demanded from the rich.” They’re meeting at the Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Fla. The Ritz-Carlton is a favorite of this group (Laguna Niguel and Naples, in recent years), but they broke the mold in 2010 when they met at The Hotel del Coronado near San Diego in 2010.

Now, everyone understands why a church gathering needs a certain basic infrastructure to do its work: central heating and air conditioning, wireless Internet, refrigeration and modern sanitation, ready access to emergency medical care. But there’s a long stretch from basic necessities to the luxury spa in the desert or on the Florida beach.

The patriarch prayed at his summit in Turkey that those gathered with him, the “exceptional assembly,” would “explore ways and means to bridge the unacceptable gap between theory and practice, between ideas and life.” May his prayer be answered.

Metropolitan Jonah Addresses the Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America

Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 5:20:22 PM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
This talk is so clear about the emerging divide in all corners of Christendom (Orthodox included as the debate on these pages on same-sex marriage reveals) that anyone committed to the clarification and strengthening of the Classical Western Tradition should read it. That narrative shaped Christendom for centuries — both East and West — because it drew from anthropological constructs grounded deep in the Gospel of Christ that proclaims that man was created to be free.

Met. Jonah presses for the recovery and restoration of that tradition. Unfortunately, few in American Orthodoxy are aware of what may soon be lost. In Old World Orthodoxy, only the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church seems to understand it because of their first-hand experience with the materialism of Soviet Communism and the madness it unleashed. Constantinople increasingly adopts the ways of the European Socialist and the other Patriarchates are beset with local problems.

Here are three important excerpts:

There is another element in this which is of immediate importance, and directly follows on the above. As was written about by Robert Terwilliger, a great Anglican divine of the 20th century, there is a coming realignment within Christianity, one which we can already see the strains of. Whenever schisms happen within the Church, they are generally because certain individuals lead a group out of the Church, being disobedient to the Faith and Doctrine, and refusing to submit to the authority of the hierarchy, which is trying to discipline them and call them to repentance.

What is happening now is somewhat different: a split between those who hold to traditional, biblical faith as interpreted by the Fathers of the Church and the ecumenical councils; and those who espouse a secularized belief, subject to the rationalizations of the scholars according to contemporary philosophy, who dismiss the Fathers and the Councils as no longer relevant, who dismiss the moral teachings of the Scriptures and Fathers as culturally relative. This could be called, by one side, a break between traditional Christianity and post-modern worldly philosophy. Or it might be labeled as the freeing of people from fundamentalist oppression to the light of their own reason.

This is not the protestant/catholic divide; it is not the evangelical-charismatic vs. mainline divide. It cuts across all communities in the West, even affecting the Orthodox and Roman Churches in some degree. As Anglicans, you are no strangers to this: it is the reason you are here, and not in TEC. It is creating a massive realignment within Christianity; those who hold to the traditional Scriptural and patristic Faith and discipline of Orthodox Catholicism; and those who reject it, criticize it, and I will add, as you well know, persecute it. You and the ACNA are part of that realignment.

RIDGECREST, NC: Metropolitan Jonah Addresses the Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America

Source: Virtue Online | June 8, 2012

The following greeting and remarks were delivered by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, of the Orthodox Church in America, to the Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America, meeting in Ridgecrest, North Carolina. He was among some eight ecumenical visitors from various denominations who brought greetings to this orthodox Anglican body.

There is one Body and one Spirit, just as there is one hope in God’s call to us: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of all.

[Metropolitan Jonah] Brothers and sisters in Christ, It is good to be here with you again, three years after I first was with you in Bedford, Texas. I bring you greetings and, I hope, encouragement, from the Orthodox Church in America.

Over the past three years our churches have conducted a theological dialog, discussing the issues that separate us, issues that are not so much OCA vs. ACNA, but issues that separate Anglicanism from Orthodoxy. This has focused on the issue of the filioque, the addition by the Roman Church to the Nicene Creed, forced on the entire Western Church in the 11th century, and this, disrupting the unity of the confession of the Catholic Faith.

I would remind you that the root and foundation of the Church of England is not “Roman” but rather, the broader Orthodox Catholicism that prevailed until the Roman Church began massive changes in the Second Millennium. The English Church was a local Orthodox Catholic Church in communion with Rome and the rest of the Churches for most of the first millennium. Part of the English, and even continental, Reformation was intended to bring the Church back to its original roots, free from the changes that occurred during the isolation of the Western Church in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages. The Orthodox see the Reformation as having gone awry, and reinforced the very elements that made the Western Churches’ theological positions idiosyncratic, thus isolating it even more from Orthodoxy.

My hope is that we can roll this back. You have the opportunity to return your Church to its original heritage, and thus actualize the rich inheritance of English Orthodox Catholicism, in communion with its root tradition. This means the overcoming of generations of schism, a schism which was forced on the English Church, and then a perpetual state of schism for itself and the churches established by it in its colonies and missions. This needs to be healed.

The ecumenical hope is to overcome the schisms of the West, so that the English and Roman Churches can again take their place within the communion of the One Orthodox Catholic Church. You have an immense role and opportunity within this. Removing the filioque is not simply a nice gesture of ecumenical solidarity; it is, rather, an affirmation of the ancient faith of the Undivided Church.

Realignment

There is another element in this which is of immediate importance, and directly follows on the above. As was written about by Robert Terwilliger, a great Anglican divine of the 20th century, there is a coming realignment within Christianity, one which we can already see the strains of. Whenever schisms happen within the Church, they are generally because certain individuals lead a group out of the Church, being disobedient to the Faith and Doctrine, and refusing to submit to the authority of the hierarchy, which is trying to discipline them and call them to repentance.

What is happening now is somewhat different: a split between those who hold to traditional, biblical faith as interpreted by the Fathers of the Church and the ecumenical councils; and those who espouse a secularized belief, subject to the rationalizations of the scholars according to contemporary philosophy, who dismiss the Fathers and the Councils as no longer relevant, who dismiss the moral teachings of the Scriptures and Fathers as culturally relative. This could be called, by one side, a break between traditional Christianity and post-modern worldly philosophy. Or it might be labeled as the freeing of people from fundamentalist oppression to the light of their own reason.

This is not the protestant/catholic divide; it is not the evangelical-charismatic vs. mainline divide. It cuts across all communities in the West, even affecting the Orthodox and Roman Churches in some degree. As Anglicans, you are no strangers to this: it is the reason you are here, and not in TEC. It is creating a massive realignment within Christianity; those who hold to the traditional Scriptural and patristic Faith and discipline of Orthodox Catholicism; and those who reject it, criticize it, and I will add, as you well know, persecute it. You and the ACNA are part of that realignment.

There is a radical cultural shift away from traditional Christianity, toward something unrecognizable. The “Secularists” (for lack of a better, non-pejorative term) reject the virgin birth of Christ, the resurrection, even His Divinity; that His words are recorded in the Scriptures and that the Scriptures are even relevant to our days; rather they are oppressive and keep humans in darkness. Another Episcopalian bishop, a certain Mr. Spong, wrote that “Christianity must change or die,” referring to traditional orthodoxy, espousing the radical secularization of the Episcopal Church and all Christianity. It is my prediction that it is not the Orthodox Churches that will die.

Solzhenitsyn said that “what the Soviet death camps could not do, Western secularism is doing more effectively. In Russia, 20 million died in the last century as martyrs for the Orthodox Faith, and countless millions of others were thrown in the gulag, for standing up against militant secularism. Many perished because they resisted the Renovationists whose schism distorted the Orthodox Faith. Whether you call it Soviet atheism, or Western secularism, it is the same enemy.

Our battle is against secularism. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has called for us to stand together against this enemy. This is the realignment: to stand together for the faith once delivered by Christ to the Apostles, and thence to the Bishops, without alteration, without change, without revisions; against those who would submit their faith to the current of the age, the wisdom of this world. We must stand together, and we cannot stand alone. Even the immense Roman Church is buffeted by the militant secularists, who defy authority and criticize that which they know not, and we can see in this country how increasingly fragile their unity is.

Brothers and sisters, we must embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ, the foolishness of the Gospel, the wisdom that is not of this world. We must rejoice in the salvation that God has given us in His Son Jesus Christ, who was crucified for us and rose from the dead. We glory in His Resurrection, and await His Coming Again. We must overcome the divisions that separate us, so that we can stand united in one mind and one heart, confessing that God has come in the flesh to raise us to heaven. We must live according to the moral and ethical commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ enshrined in the Gospel, and reject sin and recognize its corruption.

This is the orthodox faith of the Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils and the undivided Church. We will have to accept the scorn and derision of those who are of this world, even those who call themselves brethren, being cast out of their synagogues and ridiculed, sued in civil courts, and count all things as worthless that we have lost for the sake of Christ. This, my friends, is our cross. We have to support one another in bearing it. The closer we come, the greater our mutual support will be, and we will not lose heart, or forget that Christ has already won the victory: He has overcome the world. By accepting to go by way of His Cross, we too will share in His Victory.

Let us listen to the words of St. Paul: 10 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? …
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17-25, Revised Standard Version)

Beloved, Christ is Risen.

Fr. John Whiteford Asks: What is the Mainstream Orthodox View on Homosexuality?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 10:15:56 AM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
Fr. John Whiteford comments on his blog News, Comments, & Reflections about an assertion made by Rebecca Matovic that professors, hierarchs, priests, and “many, many laypeople” agree with Dunn and his support of homosexual marriage. Matovic couches her views in the usual “I am loving but my opponents are bullies and dangerous” verbiage of the left, but Fr. John takes care of that in short order as well.

If Matovic is correct, why are they hiding?

Were they born that way? Have a listen:

Download audio file (Wizard%20Of%20Oz%20-%20If%20I%20Only%20Had%20The%20Nerve.mp3)

What is the Mainstream Orthodox View on Homosexuality?

Source: Fr. John Whiteford’s News, Comments, & Reflections | By Fr. John Whiteford

In the comments to a post by David J. Dunn on the flak he has been getting about his posts on Gay “Marriage” there was a comment that warrants some consideration:

Please hang around with people other than the Jacobse crowd! There are professors at our seminaries and hierarchs who agree with you; there are many, many lay people who are willing (indeed, anxious) to engage in meaningful dialogue around these issues; there are many, many priests who think about these issues in a loving, pastoral way and increasingly find themselves moving to the ‘left’ of Hopko. It says something rather sickening about the current state of affairs that I find myself hesitating to name names. But please don’t buy the PR of the AOI crowd that they represent the “true” Orthodox view, the universal Orthodox view, or even a particularly dominant Orthodox view. They are loud, and they are bullies, and the results are dangerous. But the only solution is for those of us who hold different views, while being fully and faithfully Orthodox (or endeavoring to be to the degree our brokenness and God’s Grace permits) to engage and to be heard. — Rebecca Matovic (signing my name because there’s too much silence and anonymity in the world these days)

There are several curious things about this comment. For one, if the views of those who stand against the acceptance of sodomy as compatible with the Christian life are really just a vocal minority, why are the priest and bishops that Rebecca refers to unwilling to come out of the closet and say what they really believe? In the history of the Church, I cannot think of a single example of a champion of Orthodoxy that hid his views until the situation was more favorable… though I can think of many heretics in the history of the Church who did so. If what they believe is true, they should be willing to stand up for it, and let the chips fall where they may. The fact is, however, that these clergy (whoever they may be) are clearly cowards, who will not say what they really believe, clearly and unambiguously, because they know their views are at odds with both the Tradition of the Church and the vast majority of the clergy and faithful of the Church. It is just a fact that every conciliar statement that has been made by the Orthodox Church on the question of homosexuality or gay “marriage” has taken a clearly Traditional view, and declared homosexuality to be a sin, condemned by both Scripture and Tradition, and gay “marriage” to be a distortion of the meaning of marriage and something that Orthodox Christians should oppose publicly — and that includes the OCA, the jurisdiction that Rebecca belongs to.

As for the charge of bullying, this is a typical liberal red herring when they find themselves without a substantive argument, and have nothing else to appeal to. If one takes a clear stand, and challenges their opponents to do the same, and refute their opponents, this is what is known as rational discourse. It is in fact those on the other side of this issue that prefer to engage in personal attacks rather than deal with the issues. All that they have are emotional Oprah-like arguments, and ad hominem. On the substance of the issues, they have nothing… and they generally don’t have the courage to come right out and say what they really believe.

And here are two lectures by Dr. Robert Gagnon that lay out how the other side has nothing, in great detail:

The Secular Argument Against Gay “Marriage”, and
St. Paul on Homosexuality.

Ancient Faith Live Tonight (Sunday June 17) at 8pm Eastern — Same-Sex Marriage

Sunday, June 17, 2012, 3:22:12 PM | Fr. Johannes JacobseGo to full article
Is Same-Sex Marriage a Church vs State issue? Does the Church have anything to say to the larger culture about marriage? No, argues David J. Dunn, the author of an opinion piece that ran in the Huffington Post several months ago (Civil Unions by Another Name: An Eastern Orthodox Defense of Gay Marriage). Dunn argues that traditional marriage (one man and one woman) is a moral construct invented by the Church and thus applies only to Christian believers and not the larger culture. Let the Church be Church and the State be State.

On the other side is Fr. John Whiteford who argues that traditional marriage is not merely a moral construct invented by the Church, but exists in nature. Nature itself reveals the law of God; the natural order reveals the social context in which children are brought into the world. How so? Check out the biological plumbing. One man and one woman create a new child. Homosexual relationships on the other hand are naturally sterile, biologically closed to procreation. This reveals an intent and purpose that has its source in God. That’s also why traditional marriage is practiced almost universally across all cultures and time.

Traditional marriage is blessed by God, even for the non-believer. If people live in accord with the law of God, even if that law is discerned only through the operations of nature, then they obey God. We should not erroneously conclude that no blessing exists merely because the marriage was not sanctified in the Church. To do so makes the same mistake Dunn makes but from the other direction. Natural marriage is as real as a sacramental marriage and should be honored and supported as such.

It is important for Christians to realize that Dunn’s distinction between the natural and sacramental is artificial. Sacramental reality never negates nature. Rather, the sacraments elevate nature because natural operations become a means by which God’s grace is imparted to us. Ritual purification by water becomes baptism for example. Anointing with oil becomes a means of healing. The transformed bread and wine maintain their capacity to nourish the body while becoming nourishment for the soul. Sacramental reality never, ever, negates the natural workings of the created order. Rather, those workings take on a divine dimension congruent with their natural function.

Finally, we hear that the State should have no interest in marriage and it would be better for everyone if the State removed itself from marriage questions entirely, even from establishing contract law around traditional marriage (libertarians are fond of this argument including the Orthodox variety). The problem with this argument is that State has an interest in cultural stability, or to put it more correctly, the culture has an interest in stability and thus grants the State authority to affirm those natural relationships in law. By decreeing that same-sex coupling is a morally legitimate marriage however, the State arrogates unto itself an authority that runs contrary to nature and proclaims itself as the source and arbiter of moral law. Under this scenario rights are not discerned in nature or, ultimately, seen as coming from God. Rather, rights emerge only from the will to power of the elites — those who pull the levers of State power. The moral barriers against tyranny are removed.

The program runs on Ancient Faith Radio (click link) starting at 8pm Eastern.

Addendum: While hunting for the link to Dunn’s original article I came across this: My Year as a Pro-Gay ‘Orthodox’ Heretic. Somebody sent me the link to his blog posting (same content) but I had not idea it was published on HuffPo. The title is a bit misleading (I never called him a heretic) and the only argument I put forward so far are the ones I posted above: Dunn ignores natural law and has a skewed understanding of how the sacraments work. He should have given me a heads-up, but I will craft a fuller response this week sometime.

Is Greece European?

Saturday, June 09, 2012, 12:12:47 PM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
I lived in Greece a while back and have returned five or six times since. The problems that caused Greece’s economic collapse were evident even back in the mid-1990s and like all Greeks, I learned how to play the system in order to survive. We really had no other option. Getting around the rules was necessary if you didn’t want to throw all your money and time away.

For example, when I first arrived I was told to go to this office and the next to pay what amounted to tribute. If you paid, you got a stamp. People warned me about this so I asked a friend who was a notary public to stamp and sign every page of every document I needed before I left. It was nonsense and I knew it but I wanted to be prepared.

The first few days I was reluctant not to play by the rules because I did not know what the rules were. But I found out soon enough. I went to one office and paid around $25, got the stamp and then was told to go to the next office. The trouble was that the next office was in another part of town and almost impossible to find. I found it, laid out some more cash and then was told to go to a third office.

These offices were not what you think. There were staffed by middle-aged men most of whom sat at their desks smoking. There were no computers, few storage files (the one I saw just had stacks of yellowed paper obviously sitting there for years), one phone — nothing to indicate that anything went on there except the collecting of money to get the stamp. I never found the third office but by that time I was so frustrated that I decided to dump the whole process. I went back to our apartment.

The next day I went to the university admissions office, pulled out my papers and said I was ready to register. She looked at them and told me I need to get them stamped. I replied that I already got them stamped in America pointing to the notary seal on each page. She looked at them, said fine and I was in. Bogus, yes, but that’s how it was done.

That winter I got my first sinus infection ever. I had no idea what it was and thought I had a brain tumor because the pain was almost unbearable. I didn’t want to go to the public hospital because several months earlier I spent an afternoon there too. I remembered knowing I was in trouble when I went to the reception desk and saw, again, two middle aged men smoking away and chatting. They directed me to a room far off down a thousand hallways. On my way I saw soiled linens laying on the floor. Not good, I thought.

I found the room for the blood test and noticed open vials of blood sitting in racks on different tables. Many students were already there. The procedure was to extract the blood with a hypodermic needle and the squirt it into the tube. The tubes held the names of the donors on a slip of paper rolled up inside them.

When it was my turn to draw blood the nurse came up with the needle. I told her I wanted to see the needle come out of the sterile packet. She was deeply offended by my question and it wasn’t easy asking it, but I had to be sure that the needles were not being reused especially with open vials of blood all over the room and soiled laundry in the hallways. She consented but not without expressing her displeasure.

Then it was time for the x-ray. I walked into another room and there was a man standing right next to the machine (which looked like it came from the 1950s) taking x-rays (he wasn’t smoking) and all the students lined up behind each other. “Don’t they realize that every time he presses the button they are getting radiated?” I thought. Apparently not. I stood in another room waiting for my name to be called.

I resolved I would never go back to the public hospital. But what to do about my sinus infection? I called a friend who had connections in Thessaloniki, he called someone else, and I got the number to a private hospital. The hospital was top rate, as good as many in the United States. I called, said I knew the director (I didn’t but that is how things got done), and set an appointment. It cost me $75 but I received a doctor’s consult, x-ray, prescription, and follow up. Pretty good deal I thought although my Greek friends thought it was an exorbitant charge.

I loved my stay in Greece and I still love the country. If I could return for a visit tomorrow I would. But the Greeks have a hard road ahead of them. We do too if we don’t straighten out our ways, but after the Wisconsin victory this week there is hope that we just might.

Source: Strafor | By Robert D. Kaplan

Greece is where the West both begins and ends. The West — as a humanist ideal — began in ancient Athens where compassion for the individual began to replace the crushing brutality of the nearby civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The war that Herodotus chronicles between Greece and Persia in the 5th century B.C. established a contrast between West and East that has persisted for millennia. Greece is Christian, but it is also Eastern Orthodox, as spiritually close to Russia as it is to the West, and geographically equidistant between Brussels and Moscow. Greece may have invented the West with the democratic innovations of the Age of Pericles, but for more than a thousand years it was a child of Byzantine and Turkish despotism. And while Greece was the northwestern bastion of the anciently civilized Near East, ever since history moved north into colder climates following the collapse of Rome, the inhabitants of Peninsular Greece have found themselves at the poor, southeastern extremity of Europe.

Modern Greece in particular has struggled against this bifurcated legacy. In an early 20th century replay of the Greco-Persian Wars, Greece’s post-World War I military struggle with Turkey led to a signal Greek defeat and as a consequence, more than a million ethnic Greeks from Asia Minor escaped to Greece proper, further impoverishing the country. (This Greek diaspora in Asia Minor was a massive source of revenue until the Greeks were expelled.) Not only did World War I have a bloody and epic coda in Greece, so did World War II, which was followed by a civil war between rightists and communists. Greece’s ultimate escape from the Warsaw Pact was a rather close-run affair: again, the effect of Greece’s unstable geographical location between East and West.

Greece struggled on. As recently as the mid-1970s it was governed by a particularly brutal military dictatorship (led by colonels from the backwater of the Peloponnese), which lasted for seven years, and fear of another coup persisted during the initial stage of its reborn democracy. Even though the Olympic tradition began in Greece in antiquity and the first modern Olympics were held in Greece in 1896, Greece was denied the right to host the centenary modern Olympics in 1996 owing to the country’s lack of preparedness in organization and infrastructure. Greece did host the 2004 Olympics, but the financial strain that the games put on Greece contributed to the country’s economic fragility in the run-up to the current debt crisis.

It is not entirely an accident that Greece is the most economically troubled country in the European Union. The fact that it is located at Europe’s southeastern back door also has something to do with it. For Greece’s economic and political development bear marks of a legacy not wholly in the modern West.

Roughly three-quarters of Greek businesses are family-owned and rely on family labor, making meritocratic promotion difficult for those outside the family. Tax cheating is rampant. The economy suffers from a profound lack of competitiveness, even as Greece is mainly a service economy, relying on tourism, in which manufacturing constitutes a weak sector. Of course, these features have much to do with bad policies enacted over the years and decades, but they are also products of history and culture, which are, in turn, products of geography. Indeed, Greece lacks enough productive land to be an agricultural power.

Then there is political underdevelopment. Long into the 20th century, Greek political parties had a paternalistic, coffeehouse quality, centered on big personalities — chieftains in all but name — with little formal organizational support. George Papandreou, the grandfather of the recent prime minister of the same name, actually headed a party called the “George Papandreou Party.” Political parties have been family businesses to a greater extent in Greece than in other Western democracies. The party in power not only dominated the highest echelons of the bureaucracy, as is normal and proper in a democracy, but the middle- and lower-echelons, too. State institutions from top to bottom were often overly politicized.

Moreover, rather than having a moderate left-wing party and a modern conservative one, as is common throughout Western Europe, in Greece through the early 1990s there was a hard-left party, the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which during the Cold War openly sympathized with radical Arab regimes like Hafez al Assad’s Syria and Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, and a somewhat reactionary right-wing party, New Democracy. The drift of both those leading parties toward the center is a relatively recent affair.

And so the creation of late of a hard-left party, SYRIZA, and a hard-right neo-Nazi movement, Golden Dawn (vaguely reminiscent of the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974), both harbor distant echoes of Greece’s mid-20th century past. Ironically, while Greece’s extreme economic crisis created these radical groupings in the first place, if these new parties fare badly in the upcoming poll it might indicate a firm rejection of extremism by Greek voters and a permanent turn toward the center — toward political modernity, that is.

There is a tendency in all of this to throw one’s hands up at the specter of the Greeks and declare them too much trouble than they’re worth, at least for Europe. But such an attitude reeks of hypocrisy, even as it denies Western self-interest. When Greece joined the European Union in 1981, its economy was manifestly not ready; Brussels had made a rank political decision, not an economic one — just as it would in admitting Greece to the eurozone in 2002. In both cases, the ground-level, domestic reality of the Greek economy was swept aside in favor of an abstract quasi-historical vision of Europe stretching from Iberia to the eastern Mediterranean.

Of course, Greece, during the 1980s — when I lived there for seven years — might have used the influx of cash from the European Union in order to discipline and reform its economy. Instead, then PASOK Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou used the money to swell the ranks of the bureaucracy. Thus, did Greece remain underdeveloped, and the dream-gamble of Brussels failed. The saddest irony is that the sins of the hard-left Andreas Papandreou were visited upon his well-meaning, center-left son, George, who had his short tenure as prime minister from 2009 to 2011 poisoned by his father’s economic legacy.

But Western self-interest now demands that even if Greece leaves the eurozone — and that is a big “if” — it nevertheless remains anchored in the European Union and NATO. For whether Greece drops the euro or not, it faces years of severe economic hardship. That means, given its geographic location, Greece’s political orientation should never be taken for granted. For example, the Chinese have invested heavily in developing part of the port of Piraeus, adjacent to Athens, even as Russia’s economic and intelligence ties to the Greek area of Cyprus are extremely close. It has been speculated in the media that with Greece short of cash and Russia enjoying a surplus, were the Russians ejected from ports in Syria in the wake of a regime change there, Moscow would find a way to eventually make use of Greek naval facilities. Remember that Greece and Cyprus both have modern European histories mainly because they were claimed by Western powers for strategic reasons.

In other words, from the point of geography and geopolitics, Greece will be in play for years to come.

The Orthodox Church of Tomorrow – Revisted

Thursday, June 07, 2012, 4:03:14 PM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
Four years ago Fr. John Peck published the essay below and boy did he get hammered. Creativity, a characteristic you would want to see in priests, is feared because sometimes it gets too close to exposing the sheer paucity of substantive ideas and compelling engagement with the larger culture that the Church, in order to be Church, should cultivate in their leaders. The truth is we have got some very fine men serving as priests. The other truth is that those who bring the most to the table are often the first to get their hands slapped, and if that doesn’t work their livelihoods threatened and sometimes taken away.

It’s time to revisit the essay. You will find I think that it is a prescient today as when Fr. John first wrote it. As always, comments are welcome.

First Published: September 16, 2008

There is an interesting phenomenon occurring in Orthodox Christianity in America today, and reflected powerfully in our seminaries. Seminaries are loaded almost exclusively with converts, reverts (cradle Orthodox who left the faith, and were re-converted to it again), and the sons and grandsons of clergy.

I believe we are looking at the future of the American Orthodox Church — today.

The notion that traditionally Orthodox ethnic groups (the group of ‘our people’ we hear so much about from our primates and hierarchs) are going to populate the ranks of the clergy, and therefore, the Church in the future is, frankly, a pipe dream. Orthodoxy, despite the failings of its leadership, has actually lived up to its own press. The truth of the Orthodox faith, as presented on paper, is actually being believed – by those who have no familial or historical connection with the Orthodox. These poor deluded souls (of which I count myself) actually believe what they are reading about the Orthodox faith, and expect the Church to act like, well, the Church. They refuse to accept the Church as a club of any kind, or closed circle kaffeeklatsch. No old world embassies will be tolerated for much longer – they will go the way of the dodo. No one will have to work against them; they will simply die from atrophy and neglect. The passing away of the Orthodox Church as ethnic club is already taking place. It will come to fruition in a short 10 years, 15 years in larger parishes.

This is a well known problem. Statistical studies taken a mere seven years ago predicted that within 10 years the Orthodox Church in the United States would for all practical purposes, no longer be viable. If nothing was done within five years (that’s two years ago) the decline would be irreversible. Demographics determine destiny, as they say. As you may have imagined, not only was “nothing done,” such reports were surreptitiously filed away, while the calls for a solution from clergy and laity alike only increased. Larger jurisdictions will, of course, have a little more time, but not a different result.

What we are looking at, of course, is of the highest concern to the hierarchy. They know, in their heart of hearts, that they cannot reverse this trend. Yet they fight a rearguard action, hoping against hope to forestall the historically inevitable movement toward an American Orthodox Church.

Statistical studies taken a mere seven years ago predicted that within 10 years the Orthodox Church in the United States would for all practical purposes, no longer be viable.

The laity has already moved on. Americans, generally, don’t fall for very much strong arm intimidation or brow beating, don’t go for bullying by insecure leaders, and certainly don’t see the value of taking on and promoting someone else’s ethnic culture. They care about the Gospel, and the Gospel does not require Slavonic or Koine Greek, or even English for that matter. The Gospel requires context, which is why it cannot be transmitted in any language unknown to the listener.

When we look at our seminaries, we are looking at the Church of Tomorrow, the Church twenty years from now. Indeed, this is the Church we are building today.

Twenty years from now, I anticipate we will see the following:

  • Vastly diminished parishes, both in size and number. There will be a few exceptions, (and they will be exceptional!) but for the most part, most current Orthodox parishioners will age and die, and have no one to replace them. Why? Because as they have taught the context of their culture, instead teaching the context of their faith. Some parishes will simply be merged with others. Many will close outright. A few will change how they do ministry, with a new vision of parochial ecclesiology. These newer parishes will be lighthouses of genuine Orthodox piety and experience. Some parishes, I believe, will actually be formed specifically, in the old fashion, by purchasing land, building a chapel or Temple in the midst of it, and parishioners building or buying homes around it. The Church will be the center of their lives, and many will come from far and wide to experience their way of life.
  • Publicly renowned Orthodox media and apologetic ministries. These ministries are the ones providing a living and powerful apologetic for the Orthodox faith in our culture (that is, our 21st Century life in the United States), and actually providing the Gospel in its proper context – engaged in society and the public arena. These will succeed in visibility and public awareness more than all the speeches before the U.N. and odd newspaper stories about Orthodox Easter or Folk Dance Festivals could ever do. In other words, the Orthodox Christian faith will become that most dangerous of all things – relevant to the lives of Americans, and known to all Americans as a genuinely American Christian entity.
  • More (and younger) bishops. If our current slate of bishops has been mostly a disappointment, reducing their number will only tighten this closed circle, making the hierarchy less and less accessible, and more and more immune to things like, oh, the needs and concerns of their flock. The process of selection for the episcopacy will contain a far more thorough investigation, and men with active homosexual tendencies, psychological problems, insecurities, or addictions will simply not make the cut. We aren’t far from open persecution of Christians by secularists in this country, and we need bishops who know the score. With better bishops, no one will be able to ‘buy’ a priest out of a parish with a gift of cash. Conversely, parish councils will no longer be able to bully priests into staying out of their affairs, and will be required to get out of the restaurant/festival business and get into the soul saving business.
  • A very different demographic of clergy. Our priests will be composed of converts, reverts, and the sons and grandsons of venerable, long-suffering clergy. These men all know the score. They won’t tolerate nonsense like homosexual clergy (especially bishops), women’s ordination, or financial corruption. They will not tolerate the Church being regularly and unapologetically dishonored by her own clergy. Twenty years from now, these convert and revert priests will be sending life-long Orthodox men, a new cradle generation, en masse to our seminaries. They will be white, black, Asian, Polynesian, Hispanic, and everything in between. Fewer will be Russian, Greek, or any other traditionally Orthodox background.
  • Orthodox Biblical Studies. Orthodox Biblical scholarship will flourish, and will actually advance Biblical Studies, rather than tag along for the latest trends, staying a minimum safe distance back in case the latest theory tanks unexpectedly. Septuagint studies are already on the rise and Orthodox scholars will usurp the lead in this arena, establishing a powerful and lasting influence in Biblical Studies for decades to come. Orthodox higher education — specifically in Biblical Studies in the Orthodox tradition — will finally have a place at the doctoral level in the Western hemisphere, and it will become a thriving academic entity. The whole Church will feed on the gleanings of this new scholarship and Scriptural knowledge, preaching, and Biblical morality will invigorate the Church for generations.
  • A much higher moral standard from all clergy. The next twenty years will see a revival of practical ethics. Instead of trailing military or business ethics, the Church will, once again, require the highest standard of ethical and professional behavior from her clergy — and they will respond! The clergy will not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing and hold to account those who practice these vices. They will vigorously defend the honor of Christ’s priesthood, and Christ’s Church. I dare say, even the clergy will finally respect their own priesthood.
  • Vocations will explode. As a result of the elevated ethical standard publicly expected from the clergy, candidates in far greater numbers will flock to the priesthood. There will be very full classes, distance education, self-study and continuing education going on in every location. Education at a basal level will disappear, except in introductory parish classes. Clergy will powerfully articulate Orthodoxy to the faithful and to the culture around them. Personal opinion will no longer be the standard for clergy when articulating Orthodox ethics and morality. Our seminaries must become beacons for this teaching, and give up “training culture” once and for all. We will finally begin to penetrate our society, rather than go along for the ride like a tick on a dog’s back.
  • Philanthropy will flow like the floodgates of heaven. Finally, the many Orthodox Christian philanthropists who annually give millions of dollars to secular institutions will finally find their own Church completely transparent, completely accountable, and worthy of their faith-building support. Let’s face it, there is more than enough money in Orthodoxy right now to build hospitals, clinics, schools, colleges, universities, and a new Hagia Sophia right here in the United States. The reason this is not being done is because these philanthropists are intelligent men and women who do not trust the hierarchy to do the right thing with their millions. This will change in short order once it is shown that transparency doesn’t destroy the Church, but strengthens it immeasurably. Frankly, I don’t anticipate every jurisdiction to do this in the next twenty years, but those that are practicing transparency will emerge as the leaders in every arena of Church existence.

Hope

This all may seem unlikely today, but it is coming.

How do I know this? For one thing, the last holdouts of corruption, Byzantine intrigue and phyletism (a fancy theological term for ethnic preference) are clinging desperately to a vision of the Church that is, quite frankly, dying fast. Oh, they are doing everything to shore up their power and influence, and busy serving their own needs, but their vision is dying. And where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

As frightening and disconcerting as it may seem to our leaders, they will learn that emerging from a cocoon, even a Byzantine cocoon, is not a bad thing. Orthodoxy is about to take flight on new beautiful wings. These are the birth pangs of a new era for Orthodoxy. God is giving us a time of freedom and light.

This new Orthodox Church will have a different face, will be ready for contemporary challenges, and will have begun to penetrate American society at every stage and on every level. This Church is the one that will be ready for the challenges of open persecution, fighting for the soul of every American, regardless of their genetic affiliation. This Church will be the one our grandchildren and great grandchildren will grow up in, looking back on the late 20th-early 21st century as a time of sentimental darkness from which burst forth the light of the Gospel. Let it begin.

Eastern Right: Conservative Minds Convert to Orthodox Christianity

Monday, June 04, 2012, 5:47:18 PM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
 
Illustration by Michael Hogue

Illustration by Michael Hogue

Source: The American Conservative | By Rod Dreher

- Since the Second World War, Roman Catholicism has had enormous influence on American intellectual conservatism. The postwar rebirth of conservatism had two sources: libertarianism—a reassertion of classical liberalism against statism—and cultural traditionalism. For Russell Kirk and other leading traditionalists of the era, the Roman Catholic church, with its soaring intellectual edifice and unitary vision of faith and reason, matter and spirit, was the natural conservator of Western civilization and the sure source of its renewal after the catastrophes of the 20th century.

The Catholic contribution to conservative intellectual life has been hard to overstate. It is impossible not to notice the steady stream of right-of-center intellectuals into the Roman church: Kirk himself, his libertarian sparring partner Frank Meyer, early National Review luminaries such as L. Brent Bozell Jr. and Willmoore Kendall, and many more. One does not—or should not, at least—convert to a religion for any reason other than one thinks it is true. But there is something about the intellectual culture of Catholicism that draws thoughtful conservatives, even amid an exodus of rank-and-file American Catholics from the church.

Prominent intellectual conversions have been notable among Evangelicals, many of whom find in the Roman church a more solid theological, philosophical, and historical grounding for their faith. As the Baylor University philosopher and former Evangelical Theological Society head Francis Beckwith told Christianity Today after his 2007 return to the Catholicism of his youth, “We have to understand that the Reformation only makes sense against the backdrop of a tradition that was already there.”

Much less well known is the small but growing group of American conservative intellectuals who embrace Christianity, but not in its Western forms—who are neither Catholic nor Protestant. There is a distinct set of conservative converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, which depending on your perspective either left, or was left by, Roman Catholicism in the Great Schism of 1054.

Since then, Western and Eastern Christianity developed separately, under very different social and cultural conditions. It is often wrongly assumed that Orthodoxy is little more than Catholicism without a pope, plus an ethnic gloss—typically Greek, Slavic, or Coptic. In fact, the differences with Catholicism are substantial and to a significant degree account for why these tradition-minded conservatives have found themselves looking past Rome to the churches of the ancient East, whose theology and liturgy centers on the thought and practice of Christianity’s first 500 years.

When I left Roman Catholicism for Orthodoxy in 2006, an intellectual Catholic friend said he couldn’t understand why I was leaving a church with such a profound tradition of intellectual inquiry—Scholasticism and its descendants, he meant—for one so bound up with mysticism. The comment was unfair, in that my friend didn’t understand that the Orthodox are not Pentecostals with incense and liturgy. Orthodoxy is about far more than religious experience; its theology is extraordinarily deep.

But his remark was accurate in that Orthodoxy is deeply skeptical of rationalism in religion. Orthodoxy always keeps before it the primacy of the mystical encounter with God, both through the sacraments and through the early church’s practice of hesychasm, or inward prayer.

University of South Carolina theologian James Cutsinger says that the point of all religion is “not only to experience God, but to be transformed into His likeness”—a process called theosis. For Cutsinger, a convert from Protestantism, the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church is far more important than Orthodoxy’s historical claims to be uniquely faithful to the apostolic tradition.

“Orthodoxy is alone among the Christian possibilities in offering its adherent the ancient treasures of a contemplative method, in the form of hesychasm,” Cutsinger has written. “Not that there aren’t Catholic and even Protestant mystics and sages, to say nothing of saints. That’s not in question. But which of them is able to tell the rest of us how to attain to his vision, let alone transformation? Where is there a step-by-step, practical guide to theosis outside the Christian East?”

Hugh O’Beirne, a corporate attorney in Princeton, NJ, was once an enthusiastic Catholic and fellow traveler of the conservative Opus Dei movement. He came to believe, though, that Latin Christianity is too bound up in legalism and philosophical speculation—a legacy of the Middle Ages. Though he remains an admirer of Catholicism, O’Beirne converted to Orthodoxy 12 years ago.

“Catholicism’s strong analytic ability overshadowed the primal religious experience,” O’Beirne says. “I think that’s a canard Protestants often level against Catholics, but there’s something to it.”

“I reject the idea that because you can talk about religious truths more exactingly that you have gained any more intellectual insight into them,” he continues. “Remember the mystical experience Aquinas had at the end of his life, which made him describe all that he had written as ‘straw’? After that, how can Catholics complain about our hesychastic approach?”

For most converts, Orthodoxy’s claim to be alone in its unbroken succession with the church of the Apostles—a claim also made by the Roman church—is a significant factor in conversion. Like Catholicism, Orthodoxy has an episcopal structure. Unlike Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox churches are not governed centrally, with power flowing downward from an ecclesial monarch (the Pope) at the center, but are run collegially, by bishops in council. The Orthodox view papal primacy as a Latin innovation driven by Frankish politics. As one Orthodox professor told me, “It’s not true that Catholicism is conservative. It is, in fact, the mother of all religious innovation, and has been for more than a millennium.”

Orthodoxy’s deep conservatism, for better or worse, has much to do with its ecclesiology. Little can change in Orthodoxy’s doctrinal teachings outside of an ecumenical council—a gathering of all the bishops of the church. Though there is some controversy among the Orthodox about when the last ecumenical council was, the last one everyone agrees on was in the year 787. Though some contemporary Orthodox theologians lament that Orthodoxy has no effective mechanism for updating doctrine, others see what innovation has done to Western Christianity—the chaos following the Second Vatican Council, for example, and the endless multiplicity of Protestant denominations—and count this procedural stasis as a blessing.

Baltimore writer Frederica Mathewes-Green, perhaps the best-known American convert, contends that Orthodoxy’s stability in this regard appeals to conservative Christians weary of doctrinal and liturgical tumult within their churches and traditions.

“The faith stays the same, generation to generation and from one continent to the next,” she says. “It’s kept by community memory, grassroots, rather than by a church leader or theological board. So someone who wanted to challenge it doesn’t have any place to start, nobody with whom to lodge a protest. I think this is a resource within Orthodoxy, a really central and indelible one, that helps it resist the winds of change.”

This is not to say that Orthodoxy exists in a bubble untouched by the cultures in which Orthodox Christians live. In fact, there is widespread agreement among believers that the worst problem Orthodoxy faces is phyletism—a heresy that makes the mission of the church perpetuating ethnic culture. This has a particularly troubling effect in the United States, blocking Orthodox unity and reducing parish life in some places to the tribe at prayer.

On a practical level, any conservative who believes he can escape the challenges of modern America by hiding in an Orthodox parish is deluded. All three major branches of Orthodoxy in America have suffered major leadership scandals in recent years. And while Orthodox theology does not face the radical revisionism that has swept over Western churches in the past decades, there are nevertheless personalities and forces within American Orthodoxy pushing for liberalization on the homosexual question. And in some parishes—including St. Nicholas OCA Cathedral in Washington, D.C.—they are winning victories.

Orthodoxy does, however, have certain advantages over both Protestantism and Catholicism. Men who convert often say that Orthodox worship and practice –especially the ascetic rigor—feels more masculine than the more emotional, consumer-driven atmosphere in the churches they left behind. “When I go to Russian churches, I see men; when I visit Protestant churches, I see a lot of men crying and holding each other,” says one convert. “And we don’t have Dunkin Donuts in the narthex.”

Although Orthodoxy lacks the administrative unity and strong teaching authority (Magisterium) of Catholicism, the theological and liturgical atmosphere in Orthodox parishes is usually far more traditional than in contemporary American Catholic parishes. Converts from Catholicism fed up with post-Vatican II liberalism frequently observe that Orthodoxy is what Catholicism once was.

When Frederica Mathewes-Green and her husband, now an Orthodox priest, realized that they could no longer remain in the fast-liberalizing Episcopal Church, they assumed Rome would be their new home. They were put off by the drab modern Catholic liturgy, which struck them as too irreverent. But there was more.

“We were also concerned that so much of American Catholicism, in practice, was theologically and socially liberal,” she says. “We were told that that was not important, the important thing was that the doctrine taught by Rome was correct. But it wasn’t enough for us. We could see that things every bit as strange as current Episcopalian doctrine was being promoted and taught all over American Catholicism. It did not look like a safer place for our kids to grow up.”

Though many vote Republican, nearly all the conservative intellectuals I spoke with for this essay express gratitude that Orthodoxy avoids the “Republican Party at prayer” feeling that pervades some Evangelical churches.

“Kirkean, Burkean conservatism finds its paradise in Orthodoxy,” says a professor who teaches at a Southern college. “It is non-ideological and traditionalist to its bones. It collects and preserves and quietly presents the organically grown wisdom of the past in a way that’s compelling and, literally, beautiful.”

Alfred Kentigern Siewers, a literature and environmental studies professor at a mid-Atlantic college, says the social teachings of the church fathers, as adapted by modern Russian Orthodox theologians, taught him to think of society “more as an extended household, and less as an impersonal economy, whether free market or socialist.”

“Orthodoxy taught me how Christian notions of human dignity are more central to being authentically human than impersonal notion of rights by themselves alone,” says Siewers. “I think Orthodoxy encourages an awareness of the importance of living tradition and community and the need for caution in embracing either free market or socialist economic models as social models.”

In part because Orthodox countries did not undergo the Enlightenment, the Orthodox way of thinking about social and political life is so far outside the Western experience that it can sometimes seem barely relevant to American challenges. On the other hand, Orthodoxy’s pre-modern traditionalism can be a rich new source of spiritual and cultural renewal.

Pope Benedict XVI, who has made generous and well-received overtures to Orthodox Church leaders, has said that the regeneration of Western civilization will depend on a “creative minority” of Catholics willing to live the Gospel in a post-Christian world. Whatever role Orthodox Christians in America have to play in this drama, it will certainly be as a minuscule minority. In worldwide Christianity, Orthodoxy is second only to Roman Catholicism in the number of adherents. But in the United States, a 2010 census conducted by U.S. Orthodox bishops found only 800,000 Orthodox believers in this country—roughly equivalent to the number of American Muslims or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Yet converts keep coming, and they bring with them a revivifying enthusiasm for the faith of Christian antiquity. One-third of Orthodox priests in the U.S. are converts—a number that skyrockets to 70 percent in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, a magnet for Evangelicals. In the Greek Orthodox Church, around one-third of parishioners are converts, while just over half the members of the Orthodox Church in America came through conversion. For traditionalist conservatives among that number, Orthodoxy provides an experience of worship and a way of seeing the world that resonates with their deepest intuitions, in a way they cannot find elsewhere in American Christianity.

“From the outside, Orthodoxy seems exotic,” an Orthodox academic convert tells me. “From the inside, it feels like home.”

Rod Dreher is a TAC senior editor. His blog is www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher. 

Reflections on the Ancient Faith Today Progam: Christianity and Same-Sex Attraction

Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 2:52:50 PM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
This past Sunday (May 20, 2012), Ancient Faith Today interviewed Dr. Philip Mamalakis and Andrew Williams who specialize in counseling people with same-sex attraction. It was hands down one of the most illuminating and informed presentations I have heard on this complex and often contentious topic in quite a while.

Without going into particulars (you can listen to the interview below), their grounding in Orthodox anthropology enabled them to avoid the common misconception that the object of a person’s sexual desire forms what I call a “foundational characteristic of personhood.” In practical terms this means that we error when we see a person first and foremost as either “straight” or “gay” believing that “sexual orientation” sums up much of who and what he is.

This way of understanding the human person is taken at face value in the larger culture, but in Orthodox self-understanding it misses the mark completely. We are not to conform our understanding of the human person to whether he prefers men or women because we don’t define a person in terms of his sexual desire. Desires are malleable, they require self-discipline and self-mastery (this is what fasting is about for example). And the knowledge that directs this path of mastery can only be uncovered if there is a deeper understanding of the purpose, meaning, and destiny of the human person.

This deeper understanding has been lost in the larger culture — including in some quarters of the Church — although not by the two presenters in Sunday’s program. They framed same-sex desire in the larger context of the inherent value of the human person and his created destiny to become a son of God (male and female alike). As such we heard no condemnatory language that you might hear from moral rigorists who correctly see homosexual behavior as sin but lack the insight about how the struggle with same-sex desire might actually be a means of transformation, or the moral relativism of those who believe that if something feels good it must be right.

The idea that desire defines personhood also gives rise to the notion that ‘orientation’ is a fixed and objective category of human ontology. In English this means that the thinking — the orientation or outlook that results by acting on desire — is itself the source of the desire. The orientation is understood to be something fixed and unchangeable, similar to say, hair color or race.

Yet, all passions (desires) affect an orientation, especially the inordinate ones. A person addicted to food will have an inner orientation geared toward the acquisition and consumption of more food, the alcoholic to alcohol, a person motivated by anger to anger, and so forth. In sexual terms this is true of the heterosexual as well. A man who fails to master lust will have an inner orientation towards, say, fornication and so forth. His self-understanding is no different from the homosexual activist.

Sexual relationships are properly expressed only in the context of marriage between one man and one woman in order to create a family and continue the human race. The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s overthrew this common wisdom. It created the condom/contraception culture that divorced sexual activity from procreation. The idea that the two parent family was crucial for interpersonal and thus cultural stability was undermined, and sexual activity outside of marriage was seen as a natural and positive good.

Homosexual activism then is a predictable outcome of heterosexual irresponsibility. Anytime sexual activity is divorced from procreation, any notion that the family — the union of one male and one female — is the proper social context for sexual relations erodes along with it. And where sexual desire is elevated as a primary constituent of self-identity, then marriage becomes little more than a legal framework in which sexual desire is actualized. ‘Gay marriage’ seems like a reasonable arrangement under these conditions.

Further, it is not true that the heterosexual model is an ‘orientation’ even though heterosexual desire can be misused. Heterosexual relationships, when properly understood and expressed as one man and one woman joining to create a family, lie within the order of creation, within nature. Put another way, same-sex unions are naturally sterile (not the same thing as infertile). They are biologically closed to the creation of new life. Nature itself rejects the premise that same-sex unions correspond in any meaningful way to the heterosexual family.

These ideas are self-evidently true even though many people have an increasingly difficult time seeing it. The cultural shift in the West is anthropological first, and only political second. Unfortunately this is also true in the Church where some activists work to bring this impoverished view of the human person into Orthodox thinking and praxis. They are not enemies necessarily but they are deeply confused, and their confusion should not be allowed to stand under the rubric of fairness, compassion, or any other appeal calculated to create moral parity.

The person authentically struggling with same-sex desire will learn to bring that struggle to Christ in ways that allow for a deeper transformation into Christ. If the ideas about homosexual orientation prevalent in the larger culture are imported in the Church however, then that struggle will either be truncated or abandoned altogether because of the false anthropology that it posits.

We are more than our desires. The activist seeking to create a moral parity between homosexuality and heterosexuality seeks the dominance of homosexual behavior in the end, and either has a poor understanding of the human person or deliberately set out to change the core anthropological teachings of the Church. Aberration replaces truth when this occurs, and the image of Him into Whom we are to be transformed is distorted.

Listen to the interview on Ancient Faith Today here:

Download audio file (aft_2012-05-20.mp3)

 

“Atheistic five-year plan” Was Announced in the USSR 80 Years Ago [VIDEO]

 
Friday, May 18, 2012, 8:10:06 AM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
Click to enlargeAggressive atheists don’t like either Communism or Nazism referenced as atheistic ideologies because it implicates atheism in deaths of millions killed by Communists and Nazis. They go to great lengths to dispute charges including claims that Soviet Communism adulterated Marx (Hitchens) to arguing that the Nazi appropriation of Christian symbols to justify Nazi barbarism proves it was Christian. It’s historical revision of the first order. Historical memory is full of inconvenient truths in a civilization built on the precepts of the Christian faith.

Source: Interfax

Moscow, May 15, Interfax – On Tuesday, there will be 80 years since the Soviet government issued a decree on “atheistic five-year plan.”

Stalin set a goal: the name of God should be forgotten on the territory of the whole country to May 1, 1937, the article posted by the Foma website says.

Over 5 million militant atheists were living in the country then. Anti-religious universities – special educational establishments for training people for decisive attack against religion – were organized.

According to the plan on religion liquidation, all churches and prayer houses should have been closed to 1932-1933, all religious traditions implanted by literature and family – to 1933-1934, it was planned that the country, and firstly, youth would be grasped by total anti-religious propaganda to 1934-1935, the last clerics were to eliminated to 1935-1936, the very memory about God should have been disappeared from life to 1937.

However, census 1937 where a question about religion was included on Stalin’s instruction puzzled Bolsheviks: 84% of 30 million illiterate USSR citizens aged over 16 said they were believers, the same said 45% of 68.5 million literate citizens.

Churches were again closed in big numbers in 1937. About 10 thousand churches were closed in 1935-1936, eight thousand in 1937, over six thousand – in 1938. According to the modern data, about 350-400 churches from pre-revolutionary churches were open in early war years.

When bishops were arrested, Metropolitan Sergy (Stragorodsky) had to dissolve the temporary Synod on May 10 and administer all dioceses with the help of his vicar bishop and chancellery, which included a secretary and a typist.

Source: My Footage (Historic and Contemporary Stock Footage)

Clip Title: Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda 1930s

RU 14, Antireligious propaganda: revealing the relics of Saint Mitrofanii (early 1930s). Bell tower, WS people gathered on marketplace, man showing religious articles, remains and relics, to the crowd, CU faces in crowd, woman speaking to crowd (talking about her lack of faith in God). People applaud, demonstration against church.

The Antietam of the Culture War

Monday, May 14, 2012, 8:01:05 PM | Fr. Johannes JacobseGo to full article
Source: Real Clear Politics | Patrick J. Buchanan

It took Joe Biden’s public embrace of same-sex marriage to smoke him out.

But after Joe told David Gregory of “Meet the Press” he was “absolutely comfortable” with homosexuals marrying, Barack Obama could not maintain his credibility with the cultural elite if he stuck with the biblical view that God ordained marriage as solely between a man and woman. The biblical view had to go.

Obama had to move, or look like a malingerer in secularism’s next great moral advance into post-Christian America.

Consider. Obama had an appearance coming up on “The View,” where Whoopi Goldberg would have demanded to know why he lacked the courage of Biden’s convictions. He has a $40,000-a-plate fundraiser at George Clooney’s, where the Hollywood crowd would want to know why he does not end discrimination against homosexuals.

He has appearances lined up before gay activists raising millions for his campaign. Monday, his press secretary was pilloried for his feeble defense of Obama’s now-abandoned position.

His hand was forced. Yet the stand Obama took could cost him his presidency. Same-sex marriage may yet be a bridge too far, even for a dying Christian America.

On the plus side for Obama, his decision is producing hosannas from the elites and an infusion of cash from those who see same-sex marriage as the great moral and civil rights issue of our time.

But Obama may also have just solved Mitt Romney’s big problem: How does Mitt get all those evangelical Christians and cultural conservatives not only to vote for him but to work for him?

Obama, by declaring that homosexual marriages should be on the same legal and moral plane as traditional marriage, just took command of the forces of anti-Christian secularism in America’s Kulturkampf. And Nov. 6, 2012, is shaping up as the Antietam of the culture war.

Obama’s second problem is that he may soon be seen as America’s champion of same-sex marriage, but an ineffectual advocate. For Obama can do nothing, as of now, to impose homosexual marriage on the American people.

Thirty-one states have voted to outlaw it. A constitutional amendment supporting same-sex marriage could not win a majority of either house of Congress, let alone the necessary two-thirds of both.

Hence, Obama is going to spend six months winning cheers by calling for same-sex marriage. But the price of those cheers will be the rallying of millions of opponents of homosexual marriage, who will fight this battle where they are winning it, at the state level.

Only six states have approved homosexual marriage, while 30 have imposed a constitutional ban. In North Carolina, a ban not only on same-sex marriage but also civil unions, though opposed by Obama and Bill Clinton, carried on Tuesday with 61 percent of the vote. Republican turnout in North Carolina’s primary was up half a million, the highest in history. And this is a state Obama carried in 2008, a state whose largest city, Charlotte, will host Obama’s convention.

Even in liberal California in 2008, while John McCain was getting a smaller share of the vote than Barry Goldwater in 1964, Proposition 8, restricting marriage to men and women, won.

How does Obama propose to win this battle?

He has one path to victory—the Supreme Court.

The New York Times, declaring that homosexuals’ right to marry is “too precious and too fragile to be left up to the whim of states and the tearing winds of modern partisan politics,” is looking to the court as the last, best hope to impose same-sex marriage on the nation.

Can’t trust voters, can’t trust elected legislators, can’t trust Congress. Homosexual marriage, says the Times, is too important to be left to democratic decision. The republic must be commanded to accept it by unelected judges who serve for life and against whom the people have no political recourse.

That process of judicial tyranny has begun. A California judge has overturned the decision of California’s voters to ban gay marriage, and his ruling is headed for the high court.

The Supreme Court thus will tell us whether this issue is to be decided democratically by voters and their elected state and federal legislators, or dictatorially by themselves.

Four liberal activists on the Supreme Court—Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor—are probably ready to declare that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right, as their predecessors declared abortion to be a constitutional right.

But Obama needs one more justice. If elected, he will get it, and same-sex marriage will be forced on all of America. If Romney wins, the Supreme Court will likely leave the issue of same-sex marriage to be decided by the people and their elected representatives.

Thus everything is up for grabs this November: the House, the Senate, the presidency, the Supreme Court and whether we still call the United States of America God’s country.

Game on!

The False Promise of Green Energy [VIDEO]

Friday, May 11, 2012, 7:06:37 PM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
Economist Andrew Morris on Patriarch Bartholomew’s ideas on sustainable energy: “[H]e’s asking the wrong questions.”
 

Source: Acton Institute Power Blog | HT: Koinonia

For PowerBlog readers, we’re posting the video from Andrew Morriss’ April 26 Acton Lecture Series talk in Grand Rapids, Mich., on “The False Promise of Green Energy.” Here’s the lecture description: “Green energy advocates claim that transforming America to an economy based on wind, solar, and biofuels will produce jobs for Americans, benefits for the environment, and restore American industry. Prof. Andrew Morriss, co-author of The False Promise of Green Energy (Cato, 2011), shows that these claims are based on unrealistic assumptions, poorly thought out models, and bad data. Rather than leading us to an eco-utopia, he argues that current green energy programs are crony capitalism that impoverishes American consumers and destroys American jobs.”

Morriss, an Orthodox Christian, begins with a quote from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the Istanbul, Turkey-based hierarch. Bartholomew said this in response to the March 2011 tsunami in Japan and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that followed:

Our Creators granted us the gifts of the sun, wind, water and ocean, all of which may safely and sufficiently provide energy. Ecologically-friendly science and technology has discovered ways and means of producing sustainable forms of energy for our ecosystem. Therefore, we ask: Why do we persist in adopting such dangerous sources of energy?

“The Ecumenical Patriarch and I don’t see eye to eye on this,” Morriss said. “I think he’s asking the wrong questions.”

Also see the PowerBlog post “Green Patriarch: No Nukes.”

In his book, Morriss and his co-authors warn that “the concrete results of following [green energy] policies will be a decline in living standards around the globe, including for the world’s poorest; changes in lifestyle that Americans do not want; and a weakening of the technological progress that market forces have delivered, preventing us from finding real solutions to the real problems we face.” Many of those lifestyle changes will come from suddenly spending far more on energy than we’d like. Green technologies mean diverting production from cheap sources, such as coal and oil, to more expensive, highly subsidized ones, like wind and solar. These price spikes won’t be limited to our electricity bills either, the authors argue. “Anything that increases the price of energy will also increase the price of goods that use energy indirectly.”

The better solution to improving America’s energy economy, the book shows, is to let the market work by putting power in the hands of consumers. But “many environmental pressure groups don’t want to leave conservation to individuals, preferring government mandates to change energy use.” In other words, green-job proponents know they’re pushing a bad product. Rather than allow the market to expose the bad economics of green energy, they’d use the power of government to force expensive and unnecessary transformation.

Morriss is also an editor of the forthcoming Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson (Cato, September 2012) with Roger Meiners and Pierre Desroches. The blurb for the Carson book notes that she got a lot wrong:

Widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement when published 50 years ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had a profound impact on our society. As an iconic work, the book has often been shielded from critical inquiry, but this landmark anniversary provides an excellent opportunity to reassess its legacy and influence. In Silent Spring at 50: The False Crises of Rachel Carson a team of national experts explores the book’s historical context, the science it was built on, and the policy consequences of its core ideas. The conclusion makes it abundantly clear that the legacy of Silent Spring is highly problematic. While the book provided some clear benefits, a number of Carson’s major arguments rested on what can only be described as deliberate ignorance. Despite her reputation as a careful writer widely praised for building her arguments on science and facts, Carson’s best-seller contained significant errors and sins of omission. Much of what was presented as certainty then was slanted, and today we know much of it is simply wrong.

Morriss is the D. Paul Jones, Jr. & Charlene Angelich Jones Chairholder of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law. He is the author or coauthor of more than 60 book chapters, scholarly articles, and books. He is affiliated with a number of think tanks doing public policy work, including the Property & Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana, the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, the Institute for Energy Research, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In addition, he is a Research Fellow at the New York University Center for Labor and Employment Law. He is chair of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. His scholarship focuses on regulatory issues involving environmental, energy, and offshore financial centers. Over the past ten years he has regularly taught and lectured in China, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, and Nepal.

Morriss earned an A.B. from Princeton University and a J.D., as well as an M.A. in Public Affairs, from the University of Texas at Austin. He received a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After law school, Morriss clerked for U.S. District Judge Barefoot Sanders in the Northern District of Texas and worked for two years at Texas Rural Legal Aid in Hereford and Plainview, Texas.

He was formerly the H. Ross and Helen Workman Professor of Law & Professor of Business at the University of Illinois College of Law and the Galen J. Roush Profesor of Business Law & Regulation at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chorale Delivers Superb Concert in NYC [VIDEO]

Friday, May 11, 2012, 4:59:59 PM | Fr. Johannes JacobseGo to full article
YONKERS, NY / SVOTS COMMUNICATIONS] St. Vladimir’s Seminary Chorale delivered a stunning performance of sacred music in the heart of Manhattan on Monday evening, May 7th. With artistic execution and prayerful potency, the singers filled the warm and inviting space of St. Malachy’s Church with a sound fitting for heaven?and needful on earth.

Through a multi-media presentation titled “ORIENT: Sacred Song and Image” the chorale combined word and image to create an evangelical message that proved to be both spiritually powerful and aesthetically absorbing. The performance employed a variety of iconographic projections and liturgical compositions from the Orthodox Christian tradition, seamlessly matched to create a joyous yet profound experience for concert goers, who listened in rapt attention to the 22-voice chorus and expressed their appreciation to the chorale with a long lasting and standing ovation.

Matushka Robin Freeman, a staff member in the Advancement Office at the seminary who holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Indiana University?s Jacobs School of Music, created the concert format and conducted in its premiere at IU’s Jacobs School of Music in 2010. She served as one of the concert conductors for the New York City premiere, along with Hierodeacon Herman, lecturer in Liturgical Music and Chapel Choir Director at the seminary.

Seminary Chancellor and CEO, Archpriest Chad Hatfield served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening, and in keeping with concert’s theme, he delivered a homily about the Resurrection of Christ, near the conclusion of the program. Following Fr. Chad’s homily, the producer of the concert, Dr. Nicholas Reeves, assistant professor of Liturgical Music at the seminary, expressed his profound gratitude to Father Richard Baker, rector of St. Malachy’s Church (The Actors’ Chapel), and to his parishioners, for their generous “gift of space” for the concert venue. The evening concluded with the entire crowd joyously singing the traditional Paschal hymn to the Mother of God, “The Angel Cried.”

View a video clip of the concert here, and the full story at http://www.svots.edu/headlines/listen-st-vladimirs-seminary-chorale-delivers-superlative-concert-nyc.

One Real Leader Makes a Big Difference

Friday, May 11, 2012, 6:42:40 AM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse
 
Patriarch Ilia baptizing a baby

A priest at Sameba Cathedral, the main cathedral in Tbilisi, Georgia baptizing a baby.

Patriarch Ilia II of the Georgian Orthodox Church is on a one man crusade for life, and he is making a difference. The AP reports this story through lens of American pragmatism (the only reason for children is to increase the birth rate) but anyone familiar with the soul-stultifying and life-denying precepts of Marxist ideology (and its materialist premise that has gained hold in the West and manifests itself as the culture of death) knows that this is a cultural shift of the first order. It’s drawn from the moral precepts of the Christian tradition. Christian teaching, properly understood, holds life inviolable.

One way to reduce abortions is to start valuing life again. Imagine that.

 

Georgia’s Patriarch Baptizes 400 Babies

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — The patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church presided over the baptism of hundreds of babies in a Tbilisi cathedral on Sunday as part of an effort credited with helping raise the birth rate in this former Soviet nation.

Patriarch Ilia II has promised to become the godfather of all babies born into Orthodox Christian families who already have two or more children. Since he began the mass baptisms in 2008, he has gained nearly 11,000 godchildren.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has said the patriarch deserves much of the credit for the rising birth rate, which in 2010 was 25 percent higher than in 2005. The number of abortions also declined by nearly 50 percent over the same five-year period.

Parents of the 400 babies baptized by an array of priests Sunday said the patriarch was instrumental in their decision to have a third or fourth child.

“This is a wonderful day for my family,” said Tamar Kapanadze, a 33-year-old father of four. “Our fourth son, Lashko, was baptized by the patriarch himself, and before this he baptized our daughter Liziko. This is why we decided to have a fourth child.”

Lamara Georgadze, whose fourth child was among those baptized on Sunday, said she and her husband also answered the patriarch’s call to have more children.

“The Holy Father reminded us all of the importance of increasing the birth rate,” she said. “There are too few of us Georgians and therefore this is very important.”

Saakashvili has set a goal of increasing Georgia’s population from 4.5 million to 5 million by 2015.

Since coming to power in 2004, Saakashvili has focused on modernizing and expanding the economy, attracting foreign investment and pushing for closer ties with the United States and Europe. With Georgia’s population aging, he is eager to see a new generation born that could help secure the country’s future.

In his annual address to parliament in February, he said the government would give parents a one-time payment the equivalent of about $600 for a third child and double that amount for a fourth child.

“This will help raise the birth rate,” Saakashvili said. “The patriarch has already taken steps in this direction. We should be thankful to him for continually reminding the Georgian people that we should multiply.”

The president and his Dutch wife have two children.



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DISCLAIMER NOTICE: The views expressed at this website regarding any article not directly connected to religious content is the opinion or commentary of the author which we may not necessarily believe in, accept or support, and some religious articles we may not accept or support either. We take no responsibility or liability for the content of any news item or article presented as any information provided which you rely upon requires that you, the reader/viewer, take action to verify its worthiness on your own.  We have deduced to a minor degree, that the information provided by the author is such that warrants posting for you the viewer/reader only... and that any statements or purported facts, including any news item, is for you to verify as to its authenticity.  We take no liability and no responsibility for its accuracy whatsoever! You who are new visitors, may wish to read a very short article below entitled "The purpose for presenting our Daily News section" Sadly to say, we take no pleasure in stating that some of the items we post are not from what we would call true "Christian" organizations. But we post it because it provides another side of the proverbial story.  The Church, after all, is supposed to be a temple for sick souls (sinners) without distinction between their worse sins or otherwise, but it seems to some organizations that they say much about others, but fail and refuse to upbraid themselves and their members for their own sins...)

 

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The purpose for presenting this Daily News section:

Daily News is very important to those who are true Orthodox Catholic Christians.  For without knowing or gaining information for understanding about what is happening in one's local area and around the world, you could  find yourself faced with denied services in the secular area, lack of income, even (although it sounds far-fetched) ability to worship openly for the time is not far off when all will have to decide if they wish to follow the Anti-Christ through the One World Church and One World Government as prophesied by the Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation of St. John or follow the faith delivered once and for all which will cause for many to be denied the abilities to survive under those kind of conditions, causing for one to consider other options. 

 

Many of those who subscribe to, and some who have caused or are the cause for, these things to happen are involved in or with the Roman Jurisdiction of the Catholic Church (which is not the seat of all things "Catholic") as well as its protestant daughters such as the cultic Jehovah's Witnesses, the Pentecostal Churches, the Church of Latter Day Saints also known as the Mormon Church and far too many more to list. 

 

Yet, at this web site we do provide some of the reasons about why they are opined to be the harbingers of that which is prophesied in Holy Scripture for the bringing about of the End Times which we have already entered.  It is not necessarily their individual members or parishioners that should be blamed since they are only the "Sheep" and not the Shepherds... So do not think we castigate individual people of themselves as we castigate those "money changers" who Jesus Christ chased out of His Father's House as the Bible Describes; for they exist in these present times too.

 

Events are already rushing toward that time in which this is beginning to happen and will become more fully wide-spread. In these present times all you need to really do is look around both your local and larger areas as to what is really on-going through.  Things so very little or miniscule that they are barely noticeable except to the more informed observer may become apparent. 

Those little things are the laws of the land, economics, politics, the degrading and erosion of those rights and liberties afforded by the Constitution of these United States of America and many other things such as the manner with which entertainments have taken over much of the populace, entering into and becoming a major focus in worship, and more. 

We ask you, if you don't want to believe us... Have you heard, seen or found what is termed (of the many terms being used) that there are "holding areas" or "camps" or "Closed/Fenced communities" being built by GOVERNMENT? 

Here in North America, especially in the United States of America, we must admit that what Russia has come out of (a communistic, atheist country) we are entering into.  And one last thing that needs also to be understood... Something very important to those of you who are "Catholic" in the Roman sense of its jurisdiction....   And, we believe this also holds true for many who are "Orthodox" whether "Eastern" or "Western"....

[ * Non-Denominational = Synchrestic Ecumenism, Disease of Scholasticism, altering the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ to accommodate the disease of Political Correctness and CULTIC PROTESTANTISM, and the Roman Jurisdiction (Latin Church = Vatican) of the Catholic Church) breaking of - or failure and refusal to respect and abide by  - the ancient Seven Ecumenical "Do Not" Canons which leaves everything else open to God's gift of creativity... failure & refusal to abide by and have respect for those who diligently protect one of the other Pillars of the Church, the Seals of the Confessional, but "Non-Denominational" also includes worshiping Satan's religion of Muslim, Islam by praying with them and other heretics such as 'Pentecostalism,' 'Jehovah's Witnesses,' 'Mormons,' 'Church of Christ,' any so-called church with "Community Church" in their nomenclature and others who by their false and misleading dogmas and doctrines are actually against the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ upon whom and for exacting reason we are called "Christian" in both spirit and truth from which non-denominational protestant sectarian claimants have departed from as being so-called Christian] Only a skilled spiritual father can help you!

Remember: You cannot ride two horses or serve two masters for one of them will be harmed by your thoughts, your very words and your actions which is to blaspheme the Holy Ghost (Spirit) who will depart from you.  And when the Holy Spirit departs, the great deceiver (unbeknownst to you) will rush in to fill the void under disguise of being the Holy Spirit!  Testing of the Holy Spirit to insure it is the Holy Spirit does not, for many a Sectarian Protestant and Roman, work because the Great Deceiver (Satan) is most skilled in worming and snaking his charms around your mind and heart to feign being the Holy Spirit.  Remember, Satan has the same gifts similar to the Holy Spirit but Satan's gifts are UN-HOLY and lead all who accept him (unbeknownst to you) to perdition.

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