Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On Godzilla

Sorry guys, but my daughter really wanted me to do a blog post with this picture of Godzilla, and since it doesn't really fit on Logismoi, and Protecting Veil is not being updated, I though I'd put it here. We were discussing whether Godzilla had become good at some point. Unfortunately, I've only seen the one (recent, Hollywood) film, so I don't know. But she has a friend who is a big fan, and I wondered if he had told her that on the basis of Godzilla's fights with such as Mothra, presumably helping to protect people. Anyone have any idea?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Good Idea, Aaron!

So...the failure of this blog lies largely on my narrow shoulders, I'm afraid. I think it would be great to keep this community blog going...the trick is for people to get re-engaged...I've been terribly disengaged (largely because of my latest undertaking, Max Patch Films)...but I'd be willing to commit to a few posts per month, if others are willing to make a similar commitment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Second Run?

Earlier today Christopher Orr suggested to me that we start up a team blog, and I thought, 'Why not just post on the team blog we already have?' Protecting Veil just sits there on my Blogger Dashboard, sad and forlorn. Could it not have a new lease on life? If any of the old contributors see this, how about posting a comment?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Veni Creator

Come, Holy Spirit,
bending or not bending the grasses,
appearing or not above our heads in a tongue of flame,
at hay harvest or when they plough in the orchards,
or when snow covers crippled firs in the Sierra Nevada.

I am only a human being: I need visible signs.
I tire easily, building the stairway of abstraction.
Many a time I asked, you know it well,
that the statue in church lift its hand, only once, just once, for me.
But I understand that signs must be human,
therefore, call one person, anywhere on earth,
not me-after all I have some decency-
and allow me, when I look at that person,
to marvel at you.

-Czeslaw Milosz

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Accidental Missionaries: The Philanthropy of the God-Bearing Greeks

By Christopher Orr

By way of introduction, I wrote this as an attempt to express what I have learned from attending and worshiping in a Greek Orthodox parish in America. I have tried to pull together the real stewardship of the Greek language that the Greek people see as a patrimony unique in comparison to other "Orthodox" languages, together with the sometimes contrary universalism and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity in religion that is a part of Orthodox Tradition of evangelization in the Balkans, Russia, Asia, and Alaska- and specifically contrary to the Roman Catholic practice of forced linguistic conformity and the heresy of trilingualism. This is an attempt at framing the issue in a way respectful of these two often competing poles within, specifically, Greek Orthodoxy outside of Greece when Greek emmigrants became "accidental missionaries" who never intended to give up anything for the Faith- or even to settle in foreign lands permanently. There are also obvious corollaries to the emmigration of the Orthodox of other linguistic backgrounds and their retention of their ancient liturgical languages.

Forgive me for any offense. I now plan on ducking for cover. -C.O.

The sons and daughters of Greece have made contributions to Christianity that the non-Greek world cannot ever thank them enough for. God has blessed them and their language to carry the Faith in a way (linguistically) similar to how our beloved Panagia carried Christ for us. Greek and the Greeks are therefore God-bearing (theophoros), and their love of mankind (philanthropos) is seen in how they have shared, preserved, and dogmatized Christianity via the original lingua franca, their Greek language.

For instance, the pre-Christian, Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint) prepared the way for the propagation of Christianity by making available to the world the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah. The Evangelists Mark, Luke, John and the Apostles Paul targeted Gentiles in their missions and therefore wrote in Greek. It has also been said that Jesus, born during the Hellenistic age of a Roman world, spoke Greek in the course of his ministry in the Decapolis of Galilee, a Hellenistic region. On the first Christian Pentecost, our Lord sent down the Holy Spirit to his simple, uneducated Apostles and who were then enabled to speak in Greek and all of the languages of those present to spread Christianity to all peoples. The Lord's commandment to “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” was not repeated in Aramaic because it was the ‘original’, but in a language understood by the one being baptized (i.e., most often Greek in the eastern Mediterranean). Pagan Greek philosophy had providentially sharpened the technical vocabulary of the Greek language over the previous centuries enabling it to fully express the Christian mystery of salvation revealed “in the fullness of time”. The Ecumenical Councils debated and decreed in Greek, and a proper understanding of this language is essential to the true understanding of the dogmas touching the Trinity and the Person of Christ. The Church of Old Rome and the West took into its own Latin Mass the Kyrie, eleison in Greek. The Orthodox Catholic faith was also experientially confirmed in Greek by the Athonite Fathers and St. Gregory Palamas, and it was preserved in Greek during the bitter, martyric centuries of the Turkokratia.

The importance of the Greek language and Christian Hellenism in the history of salvation cannot be minimized. In fact, we should recommit ourselves to inculcating them into our children and society at large. They should be the bedrock of a comprehensive Greek Orthodox educational system across the country.

At the same time, however, it is paramount to remember that our most important mission, as Church, is living and learning the Orthodox Christian faith itself. Let us not fool ourselves. Half of a Sunday morning Liturgy and a smattering of Holy Week services in Byzantine Greek will not teach our children Modern Greek. Neither will the casual teaching of demotic Greek in our parishes’ Greek Schools make the Greek of the Divine Services and the Septuagint intelligible to Greek-American children when the average, native born young person in Greece does not. The Divine Liturgy calls the laity “the rational sheep” of Christ, and it is irrational to worship and pray in a language unintelligible to us. We must either:

Ensure that every member of our parish is educated and fluent in the Greek of the Divine Services, or
Worship in the best form of the language of the people.

Summer trips to Greece teach a love of Greece and Greek, but what does a lifetime of incomprehensible Divine Liturgies teach? Our priests’ sermons are in English because it is important that we understand the Gospel. By leaving major portions of the Divine Services in Greek only, we are saying they are not important enough to need to be intelligible.

Has the Greek Orthodox Church become reduced to the Greek language alone? Does Greek Orthodoxy have nothing else of value to offer the world and other Orthodox churches? Of course not. St. Kosmas Aitolos struggled to preserve the Greek language so as to preserve the Orthodoxy of the persecuted Greek people, not simply out of love for the Greek language. The Greek Confessors who suffered and persevered under centuries of hostile Muslim rule teach us something no other Orthodox people can.

In fact, nurturing this specifically Greek kind of faith will help to keep 2nd and 3rd generation Greek-Americans faithful members of the Greek Orthodox Church in a secular world less overtly, though perhaps more vigorously, hostile to Orthodoxy than was the Ottoman Empire. As more Greek-Americans have English as their mother tongue, it will be through their Orthodox faith that they will learn to love Greece, the Greek language, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate – and find salvation.

Orthodox Christians are called to follow their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, sacrificing everything thing for the “one thing needful”. Muslims converting to the Orthodox Faith face murder at the hands of their own families. Some American Protestants are faced with being “shunned” by their families never to see them again after their conversion to the Orthodoxy. A shared pain of all converts is that public prayers for non-Orthodox parents and grandparents are not allowed- a blessing which is taken for granted by most Orthodox as they serve Memorials for their loved ones. However, as Jesus rose from the dead, so, too, the convert to the Orthodox faith gains Life beyond their previous imagining. Sts. Cyril and Methodios’ work to translate the Bible and the Orthodox services into Slavonic gained for the Greek Church the Slavic churches which dwarf the number of Greek Orthodox Christians. This gift of salvation in the Slav’s own language has only strengthened the love of these non-Greek peoples for Greece and the Greek language. These same Slavs, in return, have paid their debt to the Greek Church over the centuries by supporting the persecuted Greek people, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, as well as the Greek monasteries of Agion Oros and the Holy Land. This love for Greece and Greek can be had here in America, too, born from the salvation brought to them by the accidental, Greek missionaries that came to America as immigrants and refugees. The English-language worship of the Greek Orthodox faithful in America will spur the faithful (Greek and non-Greek) to love, learn and preserve the Christian Hellenism of those who preserved and taught them the Orthodox Faith.

But, how can America (and 3rd generation Greek-Americans) love the Greek Orthodox Church unless they understand it? When these Americans understand, they will respond to the saving philanthropy of the God-bearing Greeks by loving both Greece and Greek. Who cannot but love a people who would give so much?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

New "Eastern" Great Books College

Transfiguration College is a new Byzantine Catholic Great Books College being organized in Illinois. Somewhere on this site, you will find the phrase "Pope John Paul II, of happy memory".

Monday, November 28, 2005

God is not Wrathful?

"We are not saved from God's wrath, we are saved from sin and death..."


How do Orthodox define God's wrath and his anger? How do we deal with the many passages in the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Fathers, which describe God as being angry with us for our sins and wrathful?

The common Orthodox response is that described above with the contrast against the wrathful God of the West, as described in Kalomiros' "River of Fire", but where in the Fathers is this "wrath" and "anger" described as simply a manner of speech, an anthropomorphism, or as our experience of God as wrathful due to our sin?

I have had a difficult time finding patristic references to this effect, but have found many which speak quite literally about God's wrath and its appeasement. Could anyone help? A Lutheran is questioning whether this is simply a modernist Orthodox revision of the Scriptures and the Fathers since the wrath of God at our sin, his Justice, and his work to meet that Justice for us are central- in his mind- to Christianity.

How does Orthodoxy and the Fathers view God's wrath and anger in light of our need for salvation?