Theology and Pseudo-Theology in the Digital Age

by John A. Monaco | български | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский | Српски

There is little doubt that we are living in a “digital age,” an age characterized by a move to the virtual and the electronic. The COVID-19 pandemic simply accelerated this trajectory to the point of no return. From an ecclesial perspective, parishes are equipped to live-stream their liturgies, and the need for a functioning and updated website has never been greater. From an academic perspective, virtual learning has become mainstream, along with conferences and webinars that scholars can participate in from the comfort of their home. Amidst the flurry of these innovations, one shift has remained under the radar: the role of theological education in the Digital Age.

Since its genesis, Christianity has embraced the media necessary for effective communication. This is why, for example, St. Paul wrote letters to various church communities to convey his message as opposed to painting pictures on the walls of a cave. From writing letters to composing dense theological treatises, to radio and television, to our days of the Internet, Christian leaders have found it necessary to utilize the best forms of communication in order to spread the Good News. But the democratization of the Internet—the fact that anyone can publish a blog or upload a video—has had unfortunate consequences for theological education. While there have always been false teachers, never before have such teachers been able to reach millions of souls in seconds.

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Why Do Theological Pluralism and Dialogical Ethos Matter for Orthodoxy?
The Volos Academy for Theological Studies Blog “In Many and Various Ways”

by Pantelis Kalaitzidis | български | ქართული | Română | Русский | Српски

This post was originally published in Greek on the new blog of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, πολυμερώς και πολυτρόπως (“In Many and Various Ways”). Read the Greek original.

Because, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, in many and various ways God spoke to our ancestors in faith (cf. Heb. 1: 1), just as in these last days, as evidenced by the Pauline and the Catholic letters, the Gospel was preached and embodied in a diverse, pluralistic and ecumenical environment.

Because, today’s orthodoxism seems to have largely lost the wonderful balance of the Council of Chalcedon, a balance that is expressed in the “Chalcedonian adverbs” “unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably,” and has slipped more and more into one-sided and gnosiomachical practices, as well as into a theological monophysitism. It suffices to visit an Orthodox religious bookstore in Greece. One will find there that the Bible and the Fathers have been completely sidelined by all sorts of contemporary elders and their followers, who have occupied a privileged position for years!…

Because, modern Orthodoxy often tends to replace theological pluralism with all kinds of monophonic versions, and, moreover, to further the ecclesiastical/ecclesiological, as well as the juridical, fragmentation of the national churches and the Orthodox diaspora. Orthodoxy’s legitimate (and traditional) theological pluralism, its unity in diversity, has thus been replaced in many cases by spiritual uniformity and a theological entrapment in a single trend, in a homogeneous expression.

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Contemporary Orthodox Fiction

by Katherine Kelaidis | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский | Српски

Books

The Brothers Karamazov is unarguably one of the greatest pieces of prose fiction ever written. It is also a distinctly Orthodox novel, that is to say a novel infused with the theology, customs, and culture of the Orthodox Church. Much of the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky fits this bill. Of course, Dostoevsky is low-hanging fruit in this way, the Orthodox C.S. Lewis one might say. There will never be another Dostoevsky, clearly. But it does seem worth asking where his 21st-century descendants are, even if they do not quite meet the brilliance of their ancestor, because we have much to learn about the state of our Church, and its relationship with the faithful and to the world, by examining the secular art it is producing. This is true of music, painting, and literature, but I want to focus here on prose fiction, both novels and short stories. First, that is where my own training and expertise lie; I am in no way qualified, beyond the qualifications of an enthusiastic fan, to comment on the merits of symphonies or oil paintings. Also, and more importantly (because when did someone on the internet ever refrain from offering an opinion due to lack of expertise?), it is in prose fiction that modern Orthodox art found its best and fullest expression, from the great writers of the Russian Golden Age to those lesser known in the West, like the Greek writer Alexandros Papadiamantis and the Serbian Borisav Stanković. It was, in the novel and in short stories, from the 19th-century onward, that modern Orthodox culture found what the Catholic tradition had found in painting and the Protestant one in music: a complete and aesthetically beautiful secular artistic expression, an artistic expression that grappled with faith, the human, and the divine in a way deeply embedded within the tradition and capable of speaking as fully to those outside the tradition as within. And yet, in the past fifty years, it would seem, virtual crickets.

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Patriarch with Two Homelands

by Slavica Jakelić | български | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский | Српски

Building of the Patriarchate, Belgrade

On February 18th, the Serbian Orthodox Church elected its new patriarch—59-year old Porfirije Perić. The new Archbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade and Karlovac and Patriarch of Serbia, is a theologian who served for a year as the bishop of the Serbian army, represented the Serbian religious communities in his country’s Broadcasting Agency Council, and spent the last six years as the Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana.

Even before he was elected, those familiar with the Orthodox Christian world pointed to the difficult work awaiting the new Serbian patriarch. As Andreja Bogdanovski wrote on this blog, the patriarch will have to face the demands for the autocephalous status of the Macedonian Orthodox and Montenegrin Orthodox churches. While these requests are not new—in the Macedonian case, they are more than half a century old—that long history does not make them any less pressing. To address them, Porfirije will have to navigate the institutional and theological disputes along with profound political and territorial issues that still shape the life of the region.

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