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…

On Religious Freedom, Is Russia the Next Saudi Arabia?

by Hannah Gais

Russia

As Donald Trump’s newly-minted administration struggles to adhere to a concise foreign policy, an independent commission has thrown yet another cog in its long-lost dream of a productive relationship with the “very smart” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a recently released annual report issued by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)—an independent federal commission tasked with advising the State Department and other policymakers on matters of religious freedom—one country name stuck out like a sore thumb among the organization’s list of countries of particular concern (CPC): Russia. Continue Reading…

The Promise Behind “The Promise”

by Christopher H. Zakian

The Promise

In 2015 the victims of the Armenian Genocide—long referred to as martyrs—were formally acknowledged as Christian saints, as the world marked the passage of a century since their suffering. Authorities of the Armenian Church proceeded with the canonization ceremony despite some indeterminacy about the precise number of saints being identified, on the assumption that clarity would arise over time.

Nevertheless, with the Armenian Church having identified Christian martyrdom as the deepest meaning of the Armenian Genocide, it’s worth considering how, and to what extent, this theme arises in a new film set during the Genocide, The Promise. Continue Reading…