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Three Ways of Seeing A 21st-Century Gloss on How We View the World

by Susan P. Bachelder

Rowan Williams has often said that many things are said in his name, so I claim full responsibility for what is a personal and subjective interpretation of the keynote address His Grace, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, gave this June at The Patterson Triennial Conference. Hosted by the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University, the conference topic for 2019 was “Faith, Reason, Theosis.” His Grace’s was one of fourteen papers over the course of three days that explored the complex relationship between these terms.

As a practicing Episcopalian, the idea of hearing His Grace speak in the midst of this academic enclave of Orthodox Christianity that resides in the midst of Latin Catholicism was, for my way of thinking, the equivalent of extreme sport. The rigor of academic inquiry bumping into history, schisms, faith traditions, political assumptions and, in one paper, just who does have the last copy of a missing text in Syriac, led to some pretty intense intellectual explorations. As the keynote speaker, Rev. Williams, a thoughtful scholar, master of languages, a philosopher of history, and perhaps most importantly a poet in the service of God, spoke to the act of seeing. A concept as old as the ancients and as fresh as the morning light. Continue reading

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…