Category Archives: Orthodoxy in America

Patriarch with Two Homelands

by Slavica Jakelić | български | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский | Српски

Building of the Patriarchate, Belgrade

On February 18th, the Serbian Orthodox Church elected its new patriarch—59-year old Porfirije Perić. The new Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac and Patriarch of Serbia, is a theologian who served for a year as the bishop of the Serbian army, represented the Serbian religious communities in his country’s Broadcasting Agency Council, and spent the last six years as the Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana.

Even before he was elected, those familiar with the Orthodox Christian world pointed to the difficult work awaiting the new Serbian patriarch. As Andreja Bogdanovski wrote on this blog, the patriarch will have to face the demands for the autocephalous status of the Macedonian Orthodox and Montenegrin Orthodox churches. While these requests are not new—in the Macedonian case, they are more than half a century old—that long history does not make them any less pressing. To address them, Porfirije will have to navigate the institutional and theological disputes along with profound political and territorial issues that still shape the life of the region.

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Folklife and the Authenticity Politics of Orthodox Culture Creation

by Nic Hartmann | български  | ქართულიΕλληνικά  | Română | Русский | Српски

Easter celebration

Orthodox culture is alive and well. It is in the loaves of bread that are lovingly made by a Lebanese grandmother for her son’s birthday. It is in our Pascha baskets, our children’s hilarious mispronunciations of “Christ is Risen” in different languages, and in the community we have together. It is in our camping programs, our mission trips, and our Facebook conversations we have with our fellow parishioners or Orthodox moms. It is our folklife that keeps so much of it alive.

The Tucson-based Southwest Folklife Alliance, a regional folk arts nonprofit affiliated with the University of Arizona, identifies folklife and folklore as “the informal, familiar, common side of human experience not contained in the formal records of culture (often found in museums and universities). The study of folklore includes language, music, dance, games, myths, customs, handicrafts, architecture, food preparation, jokes and humor, and almost anything else that people say, make or do on their own, informally.” Folklife takes place within groups of two, schools, church congregations, cities and regions.

It was this field that ultimately led me, over a decade ago and during my graduate studies, to become an Orthodox Christian.

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Culture Wars Are Not Our Wars

by Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun | български | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Српски

Chess board

American society is polarized to an extent that one can hardly recall. It is as if we have entered a cold civil war. There is another name for this war: culture war, which is a literal translation of the German Kulturkampf. Culture wars are not proper wars, and they are not about culture. They are ideological clashes.

Ideologies are secular constructs. They emerged from the European Enlightenment as substitutes for what its inventors considered to be a delusional religious perception of the world. Ironically, these ideologies have affected not only secularized societies but also the Christian churches with which they are supposed to be incompatible. Hierarchs, priests, and theologians all too often indulge in these culture wars, throwing themselves into ideological battle.

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Black Voices in the Orthodox Church

by Fr. Matthew Brown | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский

Orthodox Saints of Africa

Black Americans make up a tiny percentage of Orthodox Christians in the United States. Considering how difficult it is for someone from our American culture to convert to the Orthodox faith, it makes the stories of the seven Black individuals in the most recent issue of Jacob’s Well—a magazine of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey (OCA)—rather amazing. Orthodoxy, from the outside looking in, can seem foreign, complicated, and confusing. But perhaps Black Americans are better positioned than any ethnic group in this country to traverse the convert’s journey. They are a people experienced in being “the stranger.”

Earlier this month, Jacob’s Well published a special issue featuring seven interviews with Black Orthodox Americans. It may be the first publication in more than 20 years devoted to Orthodox Christians who are Black Americans (the last we’re aware of was the essay collection, An Unbroken Circle, published by the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black in 1998). The issue was noteworthy both for the diversity of its interviewees and for the commonality among the stories. There were men and women of different ages, some descendants of American slaves, others recent African immigrants or of Afro-Latino backgrounds. They spoke English, Spanish, and French. Some came from Catholic backgrounds, and others from Pentecostal or traditional Black churches. Yet, threads of shared experience ran through them all.

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