Why Should Orthodoxy Remain Public in Coronavirus Times?
Reflections in the Aftermath of an Unprecedented Easter

by Panagiotis G. Pavlos

Greek Church

As a Greek Orthodox living in the Western world and experiencing this new “Corona era,” one feels that Orthodoxy needs to decide today, globally and locally, on the following: to what extent do we, as Orthodox Christians, truly believe that Christ is the Son of God, the Son of Man?

For what we have been seeing and experiencing the past several weeks, alongside the turbulence caused by a frightening virus the spread of which was quite early identified as pandemic, is a totally novel thing. And those among us who were lucky enough to serve as the “necessary personnel” in empty, locked churches experienced an ultimate ambiguity, at least.

On the one hand, we read and chanted Services consisting of hymnological and liturgical artifacts of a unique, terrific treasure, a treasure containing the quintessence of the Orthodox life, experience, tradition, doctrine, theology, mysticism, and art, visual and audio-visual, and all that simultaneously assumed by the unparalleled, incomparable, and irreplaceable daily Services of the Holy Week and the Easter.

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Can Persons Be Saved?
Part Three of an Interim Report on That All Shall Be Saved

by David Bentley Hart

Read part one and part two of series.

Before resuming my “itinerary” of the argument of That All Shall Be Saved, one additional point seems worth stressing. Though in the last installment the issue was raised of whether God intends or permits evil, the book’s argument has nothing to do with the traditional problems of rational theodicy. The question is not “Why does God permit evil if he is both omniscient and omnipotent?” or “Why is the possibility of evil necessary for creation?” or even “Is this the best of all possible worlds?” All of those are perfectly interesting queries in their proper place (or so I hear); but that place is not this book.

It is a good mereological rule that to try to understand the whole in terms of its parts and to try to understand the parts in light of the whole are two very different operations of reason (induction and deduction, to be precise). It is one thing to attempt to judge the relative goodness or badness of a discrete evil in relation to some final purposes we cannot see, but another thing altogether to judge the goodness or badness of a supposedly total narrative that pretends to describe the whole rationality of all its discrete events. The former judgment can never be more than conjectural; the latter is a matter of logic. There may logically be such a thing as an evil that is redeemed in the greater good toward which it leads; there is no such thing as an unredeemed evil that does not reduce any good end toward which it might lead to a mere relative value. In the former case, it is logically possible that evil may be non-necessary in the ultimate sense, but a real possibility in a provisional sense—though even then only as a privation that will ultimately be effaced from the “total picture.”

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“Remember, O Lord…”: Liturgy, History, and Communion Spoons in a Time of Pandemic

by Daniel Galadza | ελληνικά | ру́сский

Receiving communion with a spoon

In recent weeks, Church authorities have been looking for historical precedent to find ways of continuing ministry to the faithful and maintaining worship in churches during a time of global pandemic—because, as others have pointed out, closing houses of worship and ceasing to serve the Liturgy is not an option for the Church, even if certain saints were able to attain holiness without a regular sacramental life or participation in communal worship.

Despite everyone’s desire to return to normalcy, this is currently impossible in most regions. For example, in Germany, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Augustinos has informed the faithful that, despite the reopening of churches for worship, government regulations make it impossible to give the faithful Communion from a common spoon. In neighboring Austria, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Arsenios has found a solution to this problem by removing the spoon from the equation and communing the faithful in the hand, guided by historical precedent and “the liturgical and canonical tradition of the first millennium and the time-honored and proven Communion practice of the Divine Liturgy of St. James the Brother of the Lord.”

Finding a solution to provide the Eucharist for the faithful is commendable; however, one might ask if such a justification is necessary, since it manipulates liturgical history to fit today’s difficult circumstances. In order to better understand why, I will provide a summary of what is known about the history of the Divine Liturgy of St. James and the use of Communion spoons.

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We Are under Care, Not at War
For a New Metaphor for Today

by Guido Dotti

Nurse holding a patient's hand

No, I will not resign myself. This is not a war; we are not at war.

Ever since the dominant narrative in Italy and in the world about the pandemic has assumed a war terminology—that is, immediately after the health situation in any given country changes drastically for the worse—I have been looking for a different metaphor to describe adequately what we are living and suffering and at the same time to offer elements of hope and of sense for the days ahead.

The recourse to the war metaphor has been pointed out and criticized by some commentators, but it has a fascination, an immediate reach and efficacy, so that it is not easy to stamp it out. With great interest I have read some contributions—not numerous, as far as I can see—that have appeared in Italian media: the article of Daniele Cassandro (“We are at war! Coronavirus and its metaphors”) for Internazionale, the mini-inquiry of Vita.it on “The virulence of war vocabulary,” the entry by Gianluca Briguglia on his blog Il Post (“No, it’s not a war”), and the excellent work of Marino Sinibaldi on Radio 3, who has dedicated one episode of “Language hits” to this very theme and has also introduced a possible alternative metaphor: the “vocabulary of tenaciousness.” The dozens of artists, scholars, intellectuals, and actors invited to choose and illustrate a significant word in this moment of history have furnished a valuable list that goes from “harmony” to “closeness,” but I cannot find there a term that might be a metaphor for the entire narrative of the reality that we are living.

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