Salvation and the “Pursuit of Happiness”

by Paul L. Gavrilyuk

selfhelp

Our pop culture is presently awash with books offering assistance in the “pursuit of happiness.” A search for “happiness” on amazon.com produces nearly 250,000 results, with books ranging from The Positivity Kit (“instant happiness on every page”), to a volume that more realistically guarantees to make you 10% Happier, to a teen’s guide How to Like Yourself, to How to Be Happy in an Unhappy World, to Happiness is a Serious Problem, to, finally, Authentic Happiness. Then there is more specialized literature, such as The Happiness Diet (featuring a yummy chocolate-dipped strawberry on the cover), The Weight of Happiness (combining both a diet and an exercise program), Financial Happine$$ (with the appropriate dollar signs), and of course, Complete Guide to Sexual Happiness after Age 60 (this one is self-explanatory). Should you feel cheated in this brave new world, there are also titles such as Who Stole My Happiness? and even The Happiness Trap. The books that tap into the spiritual dimension of happiness generally serve “religion lite,” such as Gratitude Works!, which assures us that becoming more grateful helps with depression. While there are notable exceptions,[1] the vast majority of self-help books confidently locate happiness in this life and this world.

In contrast, the Christian understanding of salvation, as it is traditionally expressed, involves everlasting life and the reality that transcends this world, namely, the kingdom of God. Continue Reading…

My Silent Church

by Katherine Kelaidis

silence

Above my desk is a sign I bought years ago in an antique shop in the town where my Yiayia Kay grew up. It says, “No Dogs, No Greeks.” I originally bought it with a fair amount of Millennial irony, too gleeful at the fact that it would preside over a room that normally contains only  me and my 4.5 lbs Maltese named for the fourth Musketeer. On the same wall is hung a framed copy of the famous Life Magazine cover of Archbishop Iakovos standing next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have fixed in the frame a handwritten slip of paper with Dr. King’s words, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” These words serve as a reminder to me each time I sit down to write: Which friends will remember my silence today?

However, over the past few weeks, these words have become a sort of accusation each time I see them, particularly resting as they are under an iconic image of a Greek Orthodox Archbishop’s friendship with one of the great heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement. Continue Reading…

Orthodox Social Thought: A Primer

by Nicholas Sooy

samaritanicon

Two Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Reince Priebus and George Gigicos, are in high ranking positions in the Trump administration, meaning that Orthodox Social Thought (OST) is as relevant now as it has ever been. I offer here a brief look at OST with special attention to issues relevant to American political discourse.

The most authoritative contemporary conciliar source for OST is the Mission document from the 2016 council in Crete. This document was crafted by the 14 autocephalous churches prior to the council, and though not all were present to approve its final form, none of the non-attending churches critiqued the substance of the document. The second source is the Basis of the Social Concept (BSC), which is less authoritative, and has only been adopted by the Russian Church. I will also reference Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s views where possible. Continue Reading…