Category Archives: Church and Public Life

What’s Missing from the Pope and Patriarch’s Statement on Climate Change

by Dylan Pahman  |  ελληνικά   |  ру́сский

On September 1, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued a joint statement in commemoration of the ecclesiastical Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. As has become typical, this statement expressed concern for the well-being of the poorest of the poor while simultaneously overlooking the primary means by which their poverty has been and is being alleviated: development through industrialization and liberalization.

The hierarchs warn, “The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe.” Indeed, if trends continue, many project that climate change could increase the spread of disease, famine, water contamination, and so on in the developing world, which is currently most vulnerable to such dangers.

But there are serious problems with this point of view. Continue Reading…

John the Baptist and Capital Punishment

by Kevin Beck  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

For the better part of a decade, I lived in Mansfield, Ohio. As a rust belt city, Mansfield had to reinvent its economy following its deindustrialization. The town of old factories pinned its hopes of revitalization on tourism.

The crown jewel of Mansfield’s tourist economy is the old Ohio State Reformatory. The Reformatory housed prisoners from 1896-1990. Known for its haunting architecture and the violence suffered by the inmates, today the Reformatory hosts tours, welcomes ghost hunting expeditions, and serves as a set for films like The Shawshank Redemption. When the Reformatory closed, the new Richland Correctional Institution opened less than three miles away. The RCI housed Ohio’s male death row inmates until 2005. Living near facilities associated with the violence of killing led me to reflect on capital punishment in practice and in scripture, especially the execution of John the Baptist.

The facts of John’s case are familiar. John was arrested for criticizing the adulterous relationship of Tetrarch Herod Antipas and his sister-in-law Herodias. The Gospel according to Matthew says that Antipas had imprisoned John and wanted to kill him. Antipas, however, feared public opinion. This alone indicates the arbitrary nature of capital punishment. His fear of the crowds prevented him from taking John’s life. If Antipas had been bolder or if John had not been so popular, the tetrarch might have summarily executed the Baptist without a second thought. Instead, he jailed the Baptist. While John languished in the dungeon, Antipas threw a party.  Continue Reading…

Deafening Silence

by Inga Leonova  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

Three years ago, a scandal broke out. An outspoken white supremacist by the name of Matthew Heimbach was received into the Orthodox Church on Lazarus Saturday. A few days later, on Bright Monday, Heimbach and his cohorts from the Traditionalist Youth Network (a white supremacist group affiliating itself with Orthodoxy) beat up a protester at a hate rally with an Orthodox wooden cross.

The story went viral. There were multiple demands on the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America (ACOUSA) to speak out against the white supremacy and the racists’ claim that it is “ontological” to Orthodoxy. Quoting Heimbach,

“As an Orthodox Christian I believe in the separation of races into ethnically based Church’s. That is why even in Orthodoxy there is for instance a Greek, Russian, Romanian, Serbian, etc. Orthodox Church. Regional and racial identity is a fundamental principle of Christianity, must to the dismay of Leftists. I believe black Christians should be in their black Church’s, with black priests, having black kids, going to black Christian schools, etc.”

Instead, the Antiochian Archdiocese quietly dealt with the matter by excommunicating Heimbach and his mentor Matt Parrott (another chrismated Orthodox and leader of the “parent” Traditionalist Workers white supremacist group) and posting a notice on the parish website. No public statement was ever made by the bishops of either the Archdiocese or the Assembly. Continue Reading…