Some Common Misperceptions about the Date of Pascha/Easter

by John Fotopoulos

This essay was originally published in 2016. It has been updated for the current year.

There is a common misperception among Orthodox Christians that the reason why Orthodox Easter (i.e. Pascha) often occurs so much later than Western Christian Easter is because the Orthodox Church abides by the rules for calculating the date of Pascha issued by the 1stEcumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 AD and thus the Orthodox must wait for Passover to be celebrated by the Jewish community before Pascha can occur. Despite this view being held by so many Orthodox Christians as well as being promoted in popular essays written by some Orthodox priests, it is not accurate. The reason why Orthodox Pascha frequently occurs so much later than Easter celebrated by Roman Catholics and Protestants has nothing to do with the Orthodox Church following the Paschal formula of Nicaea and the Western Churches not doing so, nor is it because the Orthodox must wait for Jewish Passover to be celebrated. Rather, Orthodox Pascha frequently occurs later than Western Easter because the Orthodox Church uses inaccurate scientific calculations that rely on the inaccurate Julian Calendar to determine the date of Pascha for each year. Some background information is in order to help explain precisely what the problems are. Continue Reading…

Our Neoliberal Orthodoxy

by Davor Džalto  |  српски

This essay is about the institutional church, and about the way it operates in the countries where Orthodoxy has been the dominant and traditional faith (so called “Orthodox countries,” which, although effective, is essentially an oxymoronic phrase). The basic thesis here is that the leadership of the Orthodox church (that is to say many, although not all of the church leaders) seems to be accepting and applying many values and methods that we normally associate with the functioning of the neoliberal business world.

Of course, the neoliberal ideology (which, in its core, is neither new nor liberal) is not something that characterizes the business world alone. Over the last couple of decades, its logic has been applied to practically all the segments of our social, cultural and political life. Continue Reading…

Women’s Gifts and the Diaconate

by Carrie Frederick Frost  |  ελληνικά

The reinstitution of the ordained female diaconate in the Orthodox Church today would result in a much-needed and transformative outpouring of women’s gifts into the Church and into the world.

In order to appreciate the positive potential of the female diaconate, we must understand the absolute parity of women and men in the eyes of the Orthodox Church. The Church has always understood men and women to be equally created in the image and likeness of God, even if its broader cultural surrounding was highly patriarchal.  As such, statements like this from Saint Basil were nothing short of radical:  “The natures are alike of equal honor, the virtues are equal, the struggle equal, the judgment alike” (On the Human Condition). This thinking is representative of early Church Fathers, including Gregory of Nazianzus and Clement of Alexandria, and amounts to a rejection of any hierarchical understanding of the relationship between men and women in the Roman world. Indeed, this understanding of women and men as equal in their creation by God is one of Christianity’s great gifts to the world. Continue Reading…

A New Step Towards Pan-Orthodox Unity: The International Orthodox Theological Association

By Alison Kolosova  |  ελληνικά

Jerusalem was an appropriate location for an international group of scholars to meet after the feast of Christ’s Nativity to present their vision of how Orthodox scholarship could engage more effectively with the issues of our contemporary world. A fifteen-minute walk from our hotel through the chic, modern shopping arcades of downtown Jerusalem brought us to the Old City where before breakfast one morning we found ourselves standing at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher alongside a Coptic bishop, priests and nuns. They gladly gave us their blessing and holy bread as crowds pressed in to take selfies of the exotically-clad clergy. In the courtyard before the nearby Western Wall we stood with Jewish women as they swayed and prayed with words of holy texts pressed to their faces.  An elevator ride into the tower above our hotel opened up vistas of the sprawl of modern buildings that today fill the steep hills and cliffs of the city. The Wall separating Palestinian and Jewish sectors was clearly visible in the distant haze. During the short bus ride that took us to join the throngs of pilgrims in Bethlehem we drove past the Walled-Off Hotel, Banksy’s evocative graffiti, and his wry words of comfort ‘Nothing lasts forever’.

This is a land and city where every stone speaks of the ancient tangled roots of three Abrahamic faiths, yet every step you take comes with a reminder of the tensions and divisions of modernity.  It was this, rather than simply the proximity of the holy places, that made Jerusalem an appropriate location for the first meeting of Chairs of the twenty-five Groups of the recently-formed International Orthodox Theological Association. Continue Reading…