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Public Orthodoxy

by Bogdan G. Bucur

byz-hymn-e1491498366215.pngDisturbing Words, Disturbed Emotions

The words in the title are from one of the stichera at the Beatitudes chanted on Holy Thursday evening (Triodion, 589). Similar references to “arrogant Israel, people guilty of blood,”  “bloodthirsty people, jealous and vengeful,” and “the perverse and crooked people of the Hebrews” occur in the unabbreviated English translation of the Lamentations service printed in the Lenten Triodion.

It is true that this kind of language appears less strident when considered within the context of Byzantine rhetoric; it is also true that the pattern is set by the prophetic literature of the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Micah 6:1-5; Amos 2:9-12); and it is, yet again, true that we must also take into consideration the larger context of the Church’s growth from a charismatic, egalitarian, theologically innovative, and administratively schismatic group within first-century Judaism into the increasingly Gentile reality of…

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The Russian state claims to be the defender of the Orthodox Christian faith. However, this latest ruling seems to be an utter denial of the mercy and compassion of Christ.

…having a form of godliness but denying its power…  (2 Timothy 3:5 NKJV/Orthodox Study Bible)


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This was originally posted by a friend of a friend:

“Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress,

One of the foundational teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church is that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Such a teaching resonates with foundational principles of the United States of America: that all humans are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights and dignity.
After one of the most divisive elections in U.S. history, I appeal to you to assure the American people that your presidency will continue to move our country forward toward the realization of our core principles: that all human beings must be affirmed as unique and irreplaceable. I ask that you use the power of the presidency to honor and value all Americans, over half of whom are women. I urge you to definitively disavow support from the various leaders and forms of white supremacist groups in the country. I plead with you to retract your order blocking Muslims from entering this country. I remind you that, as a Christian, affirming the uniqueness and irreplaceability of all human beings entails extending hospitality to the stranger, even if such hospitality entails risk.

Rather than a politics of divisiveness, please consider moving our country toward a politics of empathy where we are challenged to imagine what it would be like to be in the body of
a woman who has been physically assaulted;
a Muslim afraid to wear the hijab in public;
those who are fearful of a hate crime because of their sexuality;
individuals whose disability might subject them to mockery;
people of color who live in a country where slavery is its original sin and who endure continual suspicion due to the color of their skin.
Such a politics of empathy is part of what Orthodox Christians would call a politics of theosis—it is part of our struggle to love as God loves in the world.


Aristotle Papanikolaou
Professor of Theology
Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture
Co-Director, Orthodox Christian Studies Center
Fordham University
Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”

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This past Sunday was the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee, which means that the Lenten Triodion has been opened and we will soon be getting ready for the fast of Great Lent.

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