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Orthodox Christianity: Offering Material Piety to Twenty-first Century America

by Carrie Frederick Frost

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Material piety was central to the early Church and it flourishes to this day within Orthodox Christianity. That Christians would love the material, created world makes perfect sense—their God took on matter in order to appear in the world of His creation. And early Christians understood that their path to God would be walked in that world; embodied as a human, among the other animals, alongside the trees, over the earth, beneath the sky.

Early Christians expressed this love for matter through their ornamentation of the catacombs of Rome, which were places not just of burial of the dead, but of gathering, of worship, and of praise. The same goes for outside spaces in later centuries, when noble women gathered in cemeteries to care for the graves and their park-like surroundings. The faithful also crafted religious objects: rings, bracelets, and ampullae for oil from holy sites, thus feeding their proclivity for, as Robert Wilken calls it, tactile piety: “worship with the lips and fingertips.” Continue Reading…

“Taking Orthodoxy to America” – Thirty Years Later

by Fr. Marc Dunaway

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Thirty years ago this month, Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese began the process of bringing into the Orthodox Church seventeen “Evangelical Orthodox” communities from across America. At that time, he declared Orthodoxy to be “America’s best kept secret,” and he urged us as new converts to do something about this. “Take Orthodoxy to America,” he said.  This is surely a work that will continue for many generations, and I am grateful that on this anniversary our Metropolitan Joseph has pledged to carry on this task. Thirty years later, however, I would offer a few suggestions to consider from our experience so far. Continue Reading…

On Ecumenoclasm: Who Is a Heretic?

by Paul Ladouceur

One of the preferred weapons of Orthodox opponents of ecumenism is to call ecumenism a heresy and to refer to non-Orthodox, and indeed often Orthodox who support ecumenism, as heretics. Examples abound, for example in documents emanating from the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR) and in the writings of St. Justin Popovich. For ROCOR’s Metropolitan Philaret, Catholics and Protestants are “modern preachers of heresy” and the World Council of Churches, the union “of all possible heresies.” In a 1974 letter, Justin Popovich refers to all non-Orthodox Christians as “heretics.” But the ultimate weapon of Orthodox anti-ecumenists is to describe ecumenism as “the heresy of heresies.” Continue Reading…

War and Peace in Today’s World

by Nicholas Sooy

“The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World” offers timely statement on war, peace, and justice. The nature of conflict has evolved and the Church needs to counsel the faithful on the peacemaking vocation. This document offers an authoritative peace stance, and makes recommendations, but these are mostly too vague and incomplete. In particular, more should be developed regarding faithful responses to violence. Continue Reading…